Election campaigning engulfs East Africa as a five-year, full-time affair! With Baba and Hustler as busy as today’s Kenya general election and now Tanzania’s intra-CCM fighting touching every contest in the ruling party, we have to accept that politics is East Africa’s main occupation, which unfortunately isn’t well done either.
Uganda’s big issue just six months after taking office is changing the way the president is elected, after a bunch of general election losers suggested the ruling party elect the head of state from MPs instead of universal suffrage .
To see opposition MPs – some of them pretty decent fellows actually – fuming about the petty proposal shows the opposition’s pettiness in wielding power. Because the proposal is irrelevant in the current constellation, since it neither increases nor decreases the opposition’s chances of victory or defeat. Those who want to wrest power from Yoweri Museveni and the NRM party continue to focus on the wrong things, as they have every five years since his first campaign in 1996.
Our opposition politicians are like a Crowds of prisoners trying to break down the prison gate even after the prison cells and walls are destroyed by a storm, but standing in the open continue banging on the inconsequential gate. They’re stuck in the post office box era, crying about the price of postage when nobody mails letters anymore.
Nothing underscores the impotence of today’s political opposition quite like the current education financial crisis, as schools after two calendar years reopened after closure as parents spend far more on school fees and so-called requirements than they can afford.
Two years ago, when Uganda instituted the Covid-19 lockdown, there were 15 million learners. The figure should have risen by about two million, assuming three million entered the school, but one million finished or outgrew the school. The parents, sponsors and relatives of 17 million students in a population of 45 million should outnumber all the country’s voters.
For the past 25 years, opposition leaders have tried to persuade Ugandans to get angry enough and kick out the incumbent government but have not convinced them that the change would be for the better.
The change seekers don’t even seem to notice what Equity Bank is doing, apparently because the bank is does not do politics. But as things stand now, if the CEO of Equity were interested in governing Uganda, he would stand a good chance of winning the next general election by giving credible hope to Uganda’s desperate students and their parents.
The Equity people award full merit-based scholarships to thousands across the country. While the “most respectable” state schools have been on the verge of selling places for children who were accepted to the richest bidder on merit by eliminating the qualifying children due to delays in paying for “other requirements”, Equity Bank is recovering the bills for Thousands of poor kids across the country who qualified for Form One. Unknowingly, politicians are busy talking politics, just like a carpenter swinging a hammer at a mosquito perched on his child’s head.
Our government today controls such a small fraction of resources of the country that leaders could focus on guiding the public to seek happiness by using their resources instead of crying about government failures would have the populace eating out of their hands. In addition, the government is such a poor revenue collector that it barely collects 13 percent of GDP, and half of revenue goes to paying down debt, so it borrows more and more to pay off debt.
Yet like a sick body tormented by her tenth stage cancer, much of what she collects is stolen by corrupt officials. A wise leader should educate the populace about the resources and opportunities that are beyond government control. Telling people the government is incompetent is a waste of time.
Wherever the equity guys get all the money to help our kids, there sure is plenty of it, and whoever wants people Support should focus on. As well as Uganda, the Equity guys should step up their good work in South Sudan and DR Congo, swing down through Tanzania and back to Kenya. People need more economy in the now unbalanced diet full of politics.
Joachim Buwembo is a Kampala-based journalist. Email: [emailprotected]