Finance Minister Matia Kasaija has called for the establishment of a special affirmative action program prioritizing interventions for Busoga sub region. Speaking at the launch of the EPRC-authored report on “Agro-Industrialization Agenda for Uganda” at Golf Course Hotel Thursday, Kasaija said he had regularly interacted with eminent Busoga leaders like Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and the emerging consensus is the sub region requires a special economic intervention program to come to par with the rest of the country.
Saying he often travels the entire country in the course of his duties and knows the situation in other regions, Kasaija said its very shameful to him as a political leader to see the rest of the country economically progressing and Busoga (which isn’t very far from the capital) merely retrogressing.
“Busoga needs special attention and I’m not sure if I allocated them as much money in the budget as my sister [Kadaga] has been demanding. We shall learn more about that during budget reading but I think we shall have to get for them a supplementary because the situation is really very bad,” Kasaija said.
The context in which Kasaija came to say this was that he wanted to challenge other senior leaders present who had showed skepticism there would be sufficient political will resulting into adequate funding to implement the transformative recommendations highlighted in EPRC’s 110 page agro-industrialization report.
Praising the NRM for political stability and adequate investment in the road sector that has made the entire country now motorable from one border to another, Kasaija said: “What is it that NRM hasn’t done? This country has totally transformed and in my area [Kibale] you can’t find any grass-thatched houses anymore. Everyone has built iron-roofed houses and its only electricity they are now demanding. Dr. Kisamba Mugerwa I’m sure it’s even better in Bamunanika where you come from. I’m sure the whole country has transformed except Busoga. Haa those people with their duma [maize] and sugarcane. It can simply not work. How do you transform someone with just a half acre of duma?”
Kasaija said program interventions, similar to what continues to be implemented for Luwero Triangle and Rwenzori regions, must be designed to emancipate Busoga out of poverty and ensure its populace gets to benefit from the inclusive economic growth and transformation that Dr. Sarah Sewanyana preaches in her agro-industrialization report. “Those people of Busoga have limited acreage and there is no way duma and sugarcane is going to get them out of poverty unless we implement a special program for the region and that we must do now,” said Kasaija who also bragged about NRM winning the 2021 general elections more easily than they have done any other previous election.
Boasting being a very rich man, Kasaija said he knows how much poverty pains and can’t be one of those reacting indifferently “seeing our brothers and sisters in Busoga wallow in abject poverty.” He also challenged NRM leaders not to allow opposition propagandists to base on the massive poverty failure in Busoga to bad mouth the ruling party. “No that can’t be. We must always be able to use the tongue to keep our people hopeful. Let’s not be demoralized by those areas where we haven’t done well. It’s like at home when as the head of the family you have no money and the children are all looking at you. You pretend to be okay because if you lament, you are finished. When you lose hope, you die. Let’s keep saying things that can give our people, even in Busoga, hope that we haven’t forgotten them.”
Kasaija said “even my elder Nsibambi; he was my boss and I have been visiting him regularly but he would say tugenda kulwana tulabe [we are going to overcome this illness] and I would say let’s pray hard yet I knew what he was suffering from and wasn’t going to survive.” He added: “It’s a very big problem even in government but as finance minister I have told them I don’t want to hear any government officials lamenting.”
Kasaija said, desirable as it is, he was fearful the rolling out of the urgent interventions Busoga desires could take a while to come through “because in government, unlike private sector, you have many power centers and must consult very many people and thereby waste a lot of time.” (For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).