Busoga can overcome poverty with clarity of ideology, unity

Apr 18, 2018

Busoga is in the news for wrong reasons involving wrangling among senior leaders. Such feuds partly explain why the sub-region lags behind at a time when national poverty levels are declining.


By Faruk Kirunda

A new report by Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) has been published ranking regions in poverty prevalence.

Busoga came bottom of the rung. The report could not have come at a better time as eye-opener. Busoga is in the news for wrong reasons involving wrangling among senior leaders. Such feuds partly explain why the sub-region lags behind at a time when national poverty levels are declining.

Is Busoga cursed?

No! Its problem is ideological. Our people still do not see the opportunities they are blessed with and agree to work together to exploit them. Busoga is blessed with fertile soils; below the soils are minerals of immense value that I have written about before.

Its strategic location is rich for tourism and is know world over while all its districts have direct access to water bodies. The gods were generous to us but we lack focus and positive admiration of well-performing regions. Our children have read books and acquired skills, thereby finding placing in important positions but that has not translated into development or competitiveness.

Another factor why Busoga is comparably (still) poor is lack of exemplary leaders. There are no living examples (of progress) to emulate. Majority of leaders make names for notoriety as they engage in fights with colleagues or as social media celebs.

Rarely are they celebrated for demonstrating zeal and industriousness for development. A few I have seen setting great examples in enterprise; (former minister) Daudi Migereko is the biggest coffee farmer and also hotel owner, Moses Balyeku (Jinja West MP) is in hotel business, media and printing industry; Igeme Nabeta (former Jinja East MP) is in hotel and media business. Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, is engaged in hotel business. There are other few, no more than 10, who have anything to demonstrate to their people in the last 20 years.

Other acting as demonstration ventures, such projects create jobs and act as fall-backs for proprietors once out of public office. It would be very lovely to have local investors involved in processing and value-addition through small and medium scale industry for a start.

Commercial agriculture is also a good area to take advantage of, not only in Busoga, but the whole country because with agriculture, we can never go wrong. I have been engaged in media projects but wish to go into major agricultural production-and tourism. 

Grand development initiatives by the Government cannot succeed, if leaders have not prepared themselves ideologically and practically to implement them, let alone mobilise the people around them. Many such initiatives have failed or been abandoned due to lack of follow-up.

Recently, President Museveni donated four cows each to RDCs, LC 5 chairpersons, NRM district chairpersons and MPs. Within four months, some have already sold off the animals. The purpose of the donation was to popularise rearing of domestic animals-for beef and dairy-and diversification for increased household income.

The culture of "today's consumption" and selling of inputs and land is self-defeating. There are no "candidates" to take through the four-acre model which is the simplest route to large scale commercial farming.

In the past, Basoga were agriculturally advanced. They lent money to whites out of their prosperous farms. Today, land is badly fragmented. Where it is in one sizeable parcel, it is used to grow sugarcane; sugarcane which cannot be eaten as a meal and which takes two years to mature, plus a year to find a buyer and earn out of sales.

Basoga have not invested in their locality but shifted their projects elsewhere, especially non-politicians. Some of the best schools and factories in central region are for Basoga.

At every election, Busoga changes leaders like clothes; then losers refuse to concede and power struggles ensue. Inexperienced ones take charge as the sub-region loses direction in sharing the national cake.

President Museveni directed the Prime Minister's office to develop an action plan for Busoga after the local leadership failed to come up with one. How many have followed up that plan aside from demanding from a special minister for Busoga?

The president has been there for Busoga and set up a demonstration farm in Mayuge to teach best practices to the people. How many are implementing the knowledge he shares? With a lagging mindset, no other leader will help.

Poverty is a creation of our minds, failure to harness human and natural resources. Policies are in place, with wealth creation programmes to aid production. I encourage the people to work and stop habits which don't take us anywhere and which may cause our ancestry to collapse because of selfish interests. This we should do while we still have a friendly NRM government.

Busoga is bigger than all of us but we have a common destiny. Our generation owes Busoga a prosperous future.

The writer is a Private Secretary to the President in Charge of Media Management

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