April 30, 2011 § 2 Comments
In the last two or three years, I have been wondering, occasionally that is, why a lot of pain and suffering in Africa almost goes unnoticed by the rest of the world. Some readers will say: that’s a no-brainer, because Africa is just a business and political pawn to the rest of the world; and the pieces are set just perfectly in their quest for checkmate. I agree; even to the no-brainer part. But I also know that when the collective conscious of statehood is lifted, each and every individual who plays the political chess game, with Africa as a mere sacrificial pawn, wonders about the suffering of the African people and certainly feels compassion towards them. It’s called the humanity in all of us! That’s the way God/Allah made us. You can’t run from it unless you are psychopath.
So, if the players of this chess game are humans with humanity, then you have to wonder why no world power will call an African leader to order when he starts raping the civil rights and coffers of his fellow countrymen. As far I know, if the US or UK or EU or even the already emerged Asian tiger, China – not that they care less about human rights – , wish, they can call an errant African leader to order and he would certainly fall into line; else his tiny-weenie life gets on the line. Who does not know about the geographic precision of a Tomahawk missile? Simply assuring Mr. Mugabe, for instance, that the coordinates of his State mansions and private property have all been pre-programmed onto the computers of a couple Tomahawks would eliminate any illusions he has about being untouchable (unbwoggable in East Africa); or even the occasional belief in his immortality. You don’t have to be in Zimbabwe to know that Mugabe’s ogre-like brutality has unleashed lots of terror in that once breadbasket in Southern Africa. Likewise, you don’t have to know more than the definition of the word “democracy” and it’s relation to the pragmatic logic of “term limits” to know that Museveni (Uganda), Biya (Cameroun), Jameh (Gambia) and many more are doing more harm than good by sinking their teeth deeper into the pantry of state power. I believe just a growl from a world power would make these African tyrants fumble to order. Some of you will say: where does that leave the sovereignty of these banana republics? My answer: would an everyday African, whiplashed by his fellow African (President) choose sovereignty over good governance which translates to respect for civil liberty and opportunity? Certainly not me!
So then why is the rest of the world impassive to the self afflicted sufferings of the Dark Continent? The answer lies within the question: Africa is a Dark Continent comprised of “dark” humans. “It’s a jungle out there“, is a common phrase you here in the Western world! The situation is comparable to the lives of the beasts in the breathtaking savannas of the continents; animal law of birth, survival and ultimately death – however savage and revolting it is! A beautiful natural story of nature.
So this is how I look at it: Africa is a kraal, manned by our own Presidents, to confine the “uncivilized vestiges” of human evolution away from the rest of the world. This is the apparent silent agreement that the West has with our oppressor leaders. In the deal room, it may sound like this:
“You can do whatever you want with your people but give me what I want (named resources), and make sure those animals don’t flood into our spaces. Occasionally for PR purposes, I may call you to book and give escapees of your brutality asylum. But don’t mind; it’s business.”
The West is certainly not to blame because for the inhumanity of our leaders. It probably astounds them that African leaders can be alarmingly pathologically indifferent to the sufferings of their own kind. Some suppressed theories they habour about the comparatively higher quotient of homo-sapien savagery of Africans maybe warrant more acknowledgement perhaps.
As I wind this up, I throw this to the everyday African. It’s upon us to clean up our house because our internal suffering is quite strategically beneficial, and amusing, to the on-lookers standing outside the aquarium. The power of the presidency should be demystified and the army should be repositioned to look at our detractors outside the aquarium instead of test-firing foreign made weaponry onto their own folk. If we do that, then the rest world can honestly believe we are just as good as they are.
April 28, 2011 § 4 Comments
The news that Gen. Museveni plucked 740 million dollars from state coffers (UShs 1.7 trillion) to buy 6 Russian Sukhoi Su-30MKK fighter jets, at a time when food prices are running amok, has already riled the Ugandan populace. It’s equivalent to a UPDF soldier’s boot into the gut of the typical Ugandan, in whose wildest dreams, flying in a jet liner remains just that: an elusive dream.
So alarming was it at first that many Uganda missed the smelly rat in the deal. But anyway, every Ugandan, by rule-of-thumb, knows that corruption is pervasive is most government deals. So I trust they would have eventually smelt and seen the rat after recovering from the anger and hunger. Yes hunger! To keep perspective on the involved finances, I’m not gonna go into the question of if we need these jets: in summary we don’t! Gaddafi will probably tell you the same 🙂
So folks here is the gist: A Russian Sukhoi Su-30MKK costs $ 53 million. That’s a brand new one. These jets were first commissioned in 2000. So they are relatively new models of flying killing machines. So assuming that the UPDF indeed ordered for spanking new ones, – try to forget the junk helicopters scandal for a moment and give Gen. M7 a benefit of the doubt – the six jets would cost us about $318 million! Okay let’s add another 100 million dollars for delivery of the jets and training of the dimwit Ugandan pilots. Let’s also add another 100 million dollars for the after-sales maintenance of these jets, even when I know the Ministry of Defence will request a totally different maintenance budget for these sophisticated toys of ours. That brings the total to 518 million dollars only!!! So where is the 222 million benjamins and franklins going folks??? Kagina may spring in to save the situation and say tax issues. To her, I will say: stick that horse crap into your fanny ma’am; am already miffed at your callous taxation on me!
So people, a good 222 million dollars, and more, has disappeared into thin air. The figures in this grand-theft-fighter are so big for the goons to crunch properly; hence this blatant exposure. I will welcome the comments of anyone who disputes the mathematics of my investigation. I dare you even!
April 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
Does money really buy a vote? Or: would you vote for a candidate you had no intention to vote for because he gave you money? That’s a question I found myself asking myself this morning in the bathroom. The news that the NRM pumped an estimated 600 billion of public money into their 2011 campaigns is still haunting me; it dangles like a pendulum bob – in and out of my mind. I am not going to go into the macro-economics of this brazen economic assault. All I will say about it is that I told a buddy, last November, that Ugandans will have brace themselves for the shock economic after-effects of shillings gone wild.
So to the question: Would you vote for me because I gave you money? Apparently that’s what happened this February. Okay to be objective, some of the voters who got this money were probably genuine NRM voters. Same goes to FDC voters; word is they dished out money too but details are scantier compared to their arch nemesis, NRM. So money was cake-icing for them. Right? In a moment of mental lapse, the minister who survived death in her, rolled over 4 x 4 would say that all the money went to genuine NRM voters for instance; or the guy who lost the money to hooker in the lodge. When common sense makes a comeback to the NRM candidates, they would say the money was for funding campaign expense and not bribing voters. My ass! In a small country like this, the expense should be a trickle of the figures we got wind of. So we firmly agree then that money influenced a large section of the vote as the Common Wealth observer team pointed out.
Now what makes a Ugandan vote for money? Figuratively about 70% of Ugandans don’t understand clearly what the Government’s responsibility towards them as citizenry is. Supposedly that they do understand, it is for academic purposes only. People power is an amusing illusion to them, and it is manifested by the spectacle of elections. Much of this electorate is the rural folk, who’ve stratified into a unique social class. They are your and my relatives; your uncle, cousin and village buddies. These folks live lives where they don’t see the positive role of government in their lives for more than 99% of every presidential/parliamentary term: no paracetamol in dispensaries; no cash flows; no engineered water; estimated education; no electricity; and yes no tax-collectors these days … that too. Many crimes like voodoo related deaths, or sexual abuse of minors, even go unreported and are instead resolved locally. That’s the life of rural folk people; year-in year-out. There role of government is almost entirely absent. So election time hits our villages into life. The miracle of government suddenly appears in the remotest village paths and the smell of fresh bank notes hits the pure rural air. Ask BoU’s Mutebile if in doubt. Then the trade in values and sense, for cash begins. I have had the chance to witness one such spectacle; there used to be this semi-illiterate renowned cigarette smuggler in Tororo, whose campaigns boys would dish out cash, then he says habari yenyu and the convoy speeds off. He won. His opponent was an old doc who wanted to hang up his stethoscope.
Does this mean the greatly handicapped opposition has no chance to scoop a chunk of this electorate? Does it mean that a man or woman, born free, would trade his convictions because of 5,000 shillings without a breaking a sweat? This is about what defines a person in the walk of his or her life. Am I for instance, writing from my swivel chair, so detached from the hopeless reality of rural life so as to question the merits of switching a vote for money? The answer lies with all of us: the handicapped politician and the rural voter. The handicapped politician should make the rural folk his parliament for 99% of his presidential/parliamentary term. Tell rural folk about what they deserve. Tell them government responsibility is not a privilege unto them and reassure them that eating a briber’s money is okay as long as you don’t trade in your values. There will always be such money.
As I end, on a lighter note, the rivers of money kept his Evilness Kakooza Mutale out of the scene this time round. Certainly many lives were saved by his absence 🙂
April 21, 2011 § Leave a comment
This is it! I have reached breaking point. Another policeman’s bullet has snapped off the life of another innocent citizen. Yes innocent because he/she was only 4 years old. His/her crime was being at the wrong place and the right time. Yes right time!
The Uganda Police is fast looking like an official murder squad than a protector of the law. So am asking the IGP, Kale Kayihura, to issue a clarification statement on what his organization really is:
One: Is it acceptable and sensible for Police officers to use AK-47s when the crowd they are confronting have no guns? You may reply that you can’t take that for granted but then I will reply: Tell me of an incident when Police exchanged gunfire with the crowds. Mr. (sorry Maj. Kayihura) Police in Europe face more rowdy and brave youths every year. All they normally posses are glass shields and batons. But how often do you hear a policeman/woman shot a protestor dead in Europe? Tell me Major. Tell me! On the rare occasions a protestor is shot, an inquest is done and if found that the officer in charge acted upper-handily, he is prosecuted. Mr. Kayihura, we are Ugandans (not wild game), not by choice but by virtue of natural fate; so are you.
Two: From previous personal brushes with Ugandan police, I now know they hardly know anything about the laws of Uganda. These guys cannot execute independent assessment of what is law and not law. The “law” they know is panda gari. Amin would be proud of them. So it brings me to asking: What is your lower threshold of recruitment, other than brawn? Mr. Inspector, do you give your boys crash lessons on what the, repetitively raped, constitution of Uganda says? If you don’t, you have to admit that you are manning a trigger -happy militia, rather than a body to protect the rights of Ugandan citizens.
Three: To the Ugandan public and media, at this rate of police brutality, we have to start publishing the identity of every guilty police officer, alongside that of his/her victim. By doing that, we will alienate the cushion of collective responsibility ,that they enjoy, and thrust the burden guilt to each perpetrator. They will never be prosecuted but the currency of that responsibility will follow them all their lives; all because they decided to let better judgment take a backseat!
Lastly: Why don’t you, Mr. IGP, seem bothered by the desperate situation of the Uganda Police? It only takes looking at a police building in Uganda to know it is semi-broken institution. The old buildings are the silent voices of your boys who don’t have the balls to speak out; yet they let out their brawn, teargas and bullets mercilessly at protesting Ugandans. I know that you agree with almost everything I have said but you too have to take orders. But when you go back home to sleep (depends on how tainted your conscience is already), are you at peace with yourself? Is one man’s apparent self-aggrandizement worth the labours of your lifetime; especially because you know what your profession demands of you? Will you genuinely believe your children tell you that they are proud of you? Am not asking you to do much: JUST MASTER THE COURAGE TO TELL THE EMPEROR THAT HE IS NAKED!
April 18, 2011 § 8 Comments
For starters, I commend you for your courage to pitch into the deep dip of socio-economic and political fiasco in Uganda right now. Yes fiasco it is!
Your article: High costs: Government could start austerity measures (DailyMonitor, April 17), is good academic piece; which points to a journey along the corridors of top-level academic institutions. But Ms. Mbabazi, the situation in Uganda cannot be solved by well argued academic view points. Apparently none of the key functionaries who run the show in this country care about the time-tested theories of running a successful government for the people.
Take One: For years-on-end, MPs and business leaders have advised the government to establish national fuel reserves. But this plea have fallen on deaf ears. Fuel reserves that were established and maintained during the so-called “repressive regimes” have fallen into private hands. Now from your elementary economics, you know private businessmen care about profit and not the strategic interests of the public at-large! Of course the President does know how important it is to have fuel reserves but he is evidently reluctant to reinstate them. The reasons for this are obvious and there for all to see. Look at the mushrooming fuel stations with dodgy names. In short, the lucrative fuel business has been awarded to private individuals who of course are close associates of the NRM machinery. Of the 195 countries in the world, Uganda ranks about number 35 for the highest fuel prices! So we lead the world’s banana republics in pricing a basic commodity like fuel. Do I have hope that the cost of fuel will drop when we start drilling ours? Nope. You know in Uganda, every time price climbs, it stays at the new mark! Tell me that is not true!
Take Two: Food is new gold. Ummm true. But is there logic in selling food across borders when you cannot satisfy the local need at reasonable prices? Oil producing countries sell us their oil but the cost of fuel within the boundaries is amongst the lowest in the world. For instance Nigerians pay about three times less what Ugandans pay for a litre of petrol. That’s business sense. Not this crap of saying high food prices internationally is good for us when Ugandans have to ration what they eat because prices are running wild. Again, when the NRA/M came to power, there was a national infrastructure for PMBs and Cooperatives. All that was needed was for rebuilding the infrastructure that was destroyed at the time of war. But what happened instead, President Museveni disbanded the PMBs and Cooperatives because they were apparently projects of the past “repressive” regimes! What’s worse about Uganda’s agricultural sector is that there is no thorough information/data on the flow of agricultural produce; we have no comprehensive understanding of our national markets! That’s why for instance, at the height of the milk production season, a farmer in Bushenyi will sell his milk for pennies when the price of milk in Gulu is 500/=. It is the same reason a maize farmer in Busoga will sell his crop at less than 100/= at the peak of harvest when a couple of months down the road, better prices will be available.
President’s Museveni’s privatization and economic liberalization policies have not enriched Ugandans at-large but instead created an oligarchy in which the so-called “patriots” of the bush-war live large. What we presently have is a water-shade economy that supports a thin base of “middle-class” and keeps blue-collar civil-category preoccupied; which probably keeps them off thinking about the issues of importance. To complement this (shadow-economy), there is syndicate structure designed to maintain the population in a state of perpetual pauperism; this is effected through targeted patronage. The era of listening to sensible intellectual debate is long gone. Instead we have dimwits like Kabakumba Matsiko, who can only say the people can go to hell, running the affairs of state. Real crony-ism!
So as I end this letter, I remind you that your academic argument is a good piece of writing on common-sense driven governance. But in relation to Uganda, am sorry to say that it remains only that: a good academic piece! Not for actual consideration.
(Anonymous for fear … yes fear!)
April 13, 2011 § Leave a comment
For the last couple of years, every time a big corruption scandal hits mainstream news, I spend days-on-end seething. In recent times, as I age, I have realized that this rage is not good for my health at all; I love my free-spirited life so much to die because of some accident-of-birth thief!
From junk helicopters (Saleh and crew), to 1 dollar UCB (Saleh), to Tristar (‘investor’), to valley-dams (Kazibwe) to Global Fund (Muhwezi, Mukula and crew), to NSSF -Temangalo (Mbabazi, Jamwa, Nzeyi and crew), and now to CHOGM2007 (Bukenya, Kutesa, Hope Mwesigye and crew). My friends, am sure 2011 will not end before another big one is brought to light. I won’t say what the sums of these financial scum monoliths could do; that’s in plain sight for all to see.
I keep wondering where all these monies are stashed. At the height of Gen. Muhwezi’s woes, we were told of lavish homes in Jo’burg as cake-icing to the uncountable-bedroom mansion at Kololo; he even invited Kool-and-the-Gang, his favorite band to jam for HIV/AIDS, wow! Fat-cat Jamwa, we were told, had a 1 billion shilling mansion at Kololo. There are slick ones; the likes of Mbabazi whose cash-flows are under the radar. What is undoubtedly clear is that the stolen public money is part banked/invested abroad and a reasonable chunk stays within our borders!
Despite that no new major government hospital has been built in recent years, Kampala is sprouting with new high-rise buildings of late amidst a shoddy spate of prime land bonanza within the city. My bet is that these buildings belong to the honorable thieves; talk of ‘investor’ is swine crap. New bungalows are cropping up on every hill of Kampala. Working class middle-age and young Ugandans are voraciously buying land within the precincts of Kampala to build their nests. Imports of cheap Japanese cars are climbing but they are yet to catch up the peak of the true demand for thousand-dollar FOB cars. These are just the visible indicators of somewhat genuine pursuit and attainment of happiness by Ugandans lucky enough to have jobs. You see, it seems corruption has a trickledown effect. For instance, when Dr. Kazibwe misappropriates money meant for water dams for cattle keepers, the construction industry gains (ref. Baskon hostel); student housing is improved and some below-minimum wage jobs are created! The losers in this equation are the official designated beneficiaries of such monies, of who a large section are the rural folks; aka NRM bulk electorate. The pattern of theft and reinvestment is consistent, whoever the thief may be. So the Ugandan economy is growing and dying in the towns and villages respectively.
When you look at it from this angle, you come to see that we somewhat have ‘constructive’ corruption. The true potential of this constructive corruption is unknown for ethical reasons. But close your eyes and picture for a minute how much cash we could have flowing in the veins of the Ugandan economy if the thieves were bold enough and free to invest their bounties??? More companies would mushroom and with it comes more opportunity for below minimum wage job opportunities! No kidding here! To many Ugandans who’ve never seen a 50K note, a below minimum wage job kicks the ass of being jobless and wallowing in some unknown Ugandan town.
So what/should we do to get this black-cash into the economy (where it was meant to be in the first place)??? Our 300 plus MPs should be asked to get a law that legalizes corruption in Uganda. Given that the bulk the thieves are NRM MPs, bulldozing such an inglorious law into reality should not be a hassle. With this law in place, these accident of birth thieves will freely invest their loot, therefore keeping the money in the economy. Kampala and Uganda will stagger into a future of a semblance of development (some genuinely good by the way). We will save on waste of public money through hopeless commissions of inquiry. Ordinary Ugandans will be saved from the dangers of too much expectation, and I certainly will have less press reports to seethe about.
Thank you fellow citizens.