Snap out of your nap Ms. Nina Mbabazi :)
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!)