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DIASPORA UGANDAN TELLS THINGS M7 MUST PRIORITIZE IN NEW TERM

By Yusuf Mutembeya 

As Uganda gears for President Museveni’s swearing-in next month, it is no doubt important to make a preview of expectations, including comprehensive overhauls in promoting a common goal for the good of our nation. We look forward to the next mandate and expect the President to find common ground, the sense that there’s a larger national cake that benefits all Uganda folks. The President’s expected address to the nation would be incomplete without a total reassurance to his fellow citizens that the discovery of the oil resources would bring immense structural development, shape, and bring meaning to our lives. Further Uganda folks expect the President to invent new internal political rapprochements, assertive socio-economic policies. fresh ideological guidelines, and international strategies as follows:

RAPPROCHEMENT WITH BUGANDA:

Along with other top priorities, President Museveni ought to enter his next mandate by fixing the current resentful political terrain in Buganda with a soul-searching judgment, steady temperament, caring heart, and a good sense of humor. Currently, a common theme trading in Buganda is that people are dissatisfied and resentful.  Most youths feel or have been made to believe that the system denied them access to State House in the just concluded general elections. It is therefore important for President Museveni to create a structure to find out what went wrong between him and Buganda. As the engine of the economy of the nation, Uganda needs Buganda’s confidence, nor would any Ugandan wish for uncertainty in Buganda which would inflict a heavy toll on the country’s economy.

After the ups and downs of the recent chaotic elections, President Museveni must think deeply for a new rapprochement to provide win-win strategic directions for both President Museveni and Buganda so as to give chance to future stability. We all know that the President is still engulfed in a hot temperament! Nevertheless, the most suitable option is for President Museveni to deescalate this stalemate with his Bazukulus now!

In any case, NRM leadership and candidates made NO SERIOUS efforts to get down to the ground level in Buganda villages to win the confidence and trust of mostly youth populace during the just concluded general elections. How do you neglect your strategic political base where the military struggle was launched in 1981 and where folks sacrificed everything in their lives and actively participated in the struggle?

LARGEST OPPOSITION PARTY IN PARLIAMENT:

At the same time, while NUP, is credited for sweeping Buganda, on the other hand, the top leadership of the party must lend new importance to new democratic tactics and strategize fast enough.  The impulse of the recent elections in which many youths had engaged in as a “last-ditch” to dislodge President Museveni’s regime, must be refined with fresh, firm, secure, and reassuring long-term democratic motivations. Much as NUP is a new and largest political party, however, the party’s Parliamentarians set to be sworn in next month must appreciate the heavy task that they are expected to serve with spirited energy, diligence and high standards without disengaging themselves from the grassroots folks.

THE UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF ALL POLITICAL  PRISONERS AS A SIGN OF GOODWILL:

Much as President Museveni may be furious to most of the opposition youths for crossing into his political lane, clearly, the currently incarcerated young opposition supporters feel the same way.  They provide a sensible argument that the democratic dispensation as enshrined in our constitution gives them the right to support a candidate of their choice. The characterization of the imprisoned opposition youths as enemies of the state has internally ignited anger and is already damaging the credibility of the government internationally. President Museveni should give a good deal of thought to the situation of the youthful political prisoners as their continued imprisonment would not be helpful to his presidency. Many International Human Rights Groups are continuing to release reports of political prisoners being court-martialed, the really sick are not allowed to access treatment or their personal doctors plus alleged severe general mistreatments of the prisoners. In some cases, these reports of subjugation by the military apparatus hold true and have exposed Uganda’s reputation to taking severe regular hits. President Museveni should simply revert to the past strategies of persuasive engagement!  If honestly applied with a forged honest commitment, this will help check and phase out the strategy of a protracted militaristic purge of young political opponents

ENERGISING AND GETTING THE COUNTRY READY FOR TRANSITION:

A peaceful transition which has been an awkward issue should feature high on President Museveni’s new mandate. President Museveni should emulate the CCM of Tanzania by refashioning the NRM party into a solid, disciplined structure, strong enough to handle an orderly transition and to withstand any unforeseen circumstances. The key to creating a strong and solid structure is to elevate young, hardworking, loyal, and intellectually gifted pro-peoples cadres. Over the last thirty years of NRM rule, President Museveni should have long studied and identified many young, intelligent, loyal, incorruptible, highly educated, hardworking, and well-natured party cadres capable of steering the party beyond his presidency.

TRIMMED CABINET COMPRISED OF YOUNG, HEALTHY, HUMBLE, HARDWORKING, INCORRUPTIBLE, HIGHLY EDUCATED, AND LOYAL AND GRASSROOTED INDIVIDUALS:

Ugandans vill feel good and reassured if the President unveils a new cabinet with a fresh outlook. (a) VICE PRESIDENT: Ugandans would expect President Museveni to announce the selection of a healthy, experienced, knowledgeable, confident, energy, hardworking, loyal, grassroots-oriented, and able to articulate both government policies as per the NRM manifesto. The President should be flexible enough and set up a cabinet that is effective by delegating some identifiable roles to the Vice President. in trust.  The President should create a culture of entrusting confidence in his Vice President (b) PRIME MINISTER:  Here President Museveni should appoint a very loyal person who is healthy, humble, hardworking, highly educated, experienced, confident, sound in judgment, with a steady temperament and articulate.

The President should identify and appoint an individual who would ensure that ministers are orderly and effective in service delivery to ordinary citizens. Ugandans are looking forward to a next Prime Minister who would liaise effectively with all cabinet members plus Parliament in an orderly way, sustain and coordinate the flow of information to the public at large. Above all, the public is yearning for an appointment of a Prime Minister who will be accessible, able to articulate government policies more effectively, able to stamp out corruption from OPM through effective control and accountability of taxpayer’s money. (c) CABINET MINISTERS: The public would appreciate a trimmed but very effective cabinet made up of mostly young personalities, who are healthy, humble, hardworking, incorruptible, highly educated, loyal, grassroots-oriented, accessible, and who will very ably articulate government policies countrywide.. (d)  FEWER BUT EFFECTIVE PRESIDENTIAL ADVISERS` Many Ugandans are convinced that having a large pack of idle Presidential Advisers for appeasement purposes is a waste of national resources.

What is the purpose of engaging many Presidential Advisers who don’t have direct access to him nor feel free to express their concerns and views without passing through Security or State House Filters? It is important for President Museveni to realize that the next mandate will be decisive in defining his legacy and must therefore appoint cabinet figures on merit and whose performances must exceed expectations. Therefore, the President ought to create a culture of giving total confidence and trust to the Vice President, Prime Minister, and all Cabinet Ministers so as not to feel threatened by his relationships with their subordinates or other contacts.

NATIONAL ECONOMY: 

As President Museveni sets to be sworn in for a sixth consecutive term, he will be faced with an economy that will stoke volatility intermittently according to the Global Economist Intelligence latest Publication.  Following a recession in 2020 induced or influenced by the coronavirus pandemic, the economy is expected to recover at a slow pace in real GDP growth in 2021/2022. Core inflation is also expected to hit the 5% target by June while the central bank is likely to make a small rate cut in late 2021.

Now on Monday, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija revealed that the country’s debt loan is surging past 50% of CDP by the of the current financial year in June. Consequently, he hinted at plans to approach creditors such as China, the World Bank, IMF, and others requesting for servicing of these huge loans for maybe two years!. In the fiscal year beginning July 2021, the country will use 20% of all its planned domestic tax revenues to repay interest rates on public debt. This is alarming because debt repayments are swallowing up an increasingly disproportionate chunk of the country*s public resources President Museveni’s economic team led by Minister Matia Kasaijja, State Minister of Finance Bahati plus Permanent Secretary & Secretary to the Treasury Keith Muhakanizi had done a good job by being instrumental in policy, planning and growth of the financial sector.

Of late, however, the successes of the (3Amigos) Kasaijja, Bahati and Muhakanizi have been overshadowed by the poor performance of the economy created by the COVID19 crisis .The State Minister of Finance David Bahati has particularly been facing the wrath of legislators for regularly seeking approval of supplementary budgets from Parliament and excessive borrowing. The Finance Ministry is perceived to share the enthusiasm for a regular tax increase, thus creating a heavy burden on the taxpayer without the citizenry realizing the benefits in innovation, structural developments, service delivery especially in the health sector, or marshal income generation projects for the youths.  The Finance Ministry has also been subjected to regular severe criticism by legislators for allocating lion’s share of the national budget to Defense and other security organs every financial year.

This has put a strain on the economy which is reeling from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of increasingly taxing Ugandans, the Finance Ministry should seek relief under the G20’s Debt Service Initiative (DSSI) that some other nations have made use of, or under a different mechanism. To alleviate the burden of servicing debts servicing!  Apart from the hitherto energetic trio of Finance Minister Matias Kasaijja, State Minister of Finance David Bahati, Permanent Secretary & Secretary to Treasury Keith Muhakanizi, looks like the President needs to hire possibly two accomplished and thoughtful economists to help re-design our economic strategy.  President Museveni cannot expect to advance his economic policies in line with the NRM manifesto without tuning up his economic team to help contain the triple shocks of COVID19.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS VIS-A-VIS FOREIGN AFFAIRS:

There exists a vacuum in our international relations domain and this is where the President ought to focus and make a complete overhaul if he is to redeem Uganda’s International image dented by events culminating from the just concluded elections! First. President Museveni needs to appoint a Foreign Minister plus a State Minister of Foreign Affairs who is tenacious, innovative, and knowledgeable in diplomacy, thoughtful, charismatic, articulate, loyal, skillful, and energetic to help him lead the effort to streamline the mismatch of our foreign policy.  Currently, Uganda’s foreign policy is very ambiguous and needs to be vigorously refined and clearly articulated,  Yes, some few diplomats like Uganda’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to United Nations, Mr. Adonia Ayebare is performing exceptionally well but the President should not base the whole cradle of our foreign policy on a handful of trusted diplomats.

Additionally, President Museveni should abandon the habit of posting individuals who are political liabilities at home to foreign embassies. Instead, the President should re-structure the foreign missions by appointing professional and skillful diplomats to take charge of our foreign missions or embassies so as to assertively articulate our foreign policy.  Politically appointed diplomats posted abroad tend to cross the lanes of professional diplomats leading to complications and policy disputes. It is common practice in some Uganda missions abroad for subordinates to usurp the powers of the Ambassador or Head of Mission.

It is therefore irritating, embarrassing and a nightmare to read screaming headlines or watch dramatic scenes of gross human rights violations at home with no effort being done at our embassies to repair the damaging exposures to our country’s image and credibility. However, repairing the damage to our international reputation and credibility must start from the top executive and the security apparatus at home. The President should NOT allow acts of abuse of human dignity to happen on his watch, by individuals for whose conduct he is ultimately responsible! Human rights violations at home have turned destructive to our foreign policy and President Museveni must make overhauling the entire foreign ministry and foreign missions or embassies a big factor in his sixth mandate if our international image is to be redeemed.

Let the President not miss the point.  We say all this because we wish him success in his sixth term, and also for the love and stability of our motherland. The International community is also watching and our country will be highly judged in the next mandate. Yusuf Mutembeya is a Ugandan based in Stockholm Sweden. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at mulengera2040@gmail.com).

 

 

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