Who Are You?
This is one question majority of us find challenging to answer. As a matter of fact, most of us fail before we even start speaking; we are often introducing ourselves to the wrong audiences. Believe me or not, the above question no longer requires your name for an answer in this era. For that matter, I am also positive this question is best responded to by other individuals eager to speak on your behalf, the magic is in them not realizing they are doing so. How is that possible? – You will probe, and my response will forever be, once you do quality work in an efficient way, references will forever favour you. Just like a good reputation, people will deal and make business with your track of success instead of you as self. This will therefore give you room for better and better performance if you establish strong principles and etiquette.
With my informed landlord we have numerous educative chats ranging from day-to-day life stories to the historical facts half told if not never by the media and many writers. I came to appreciate the fact that people rich in age are often rich in knowledge, however, many of these endangered species – the likes of my landlord, have no clue on how to pass on these crucial pieces of knowledge and information to the younger generations given the continuous shifts in both the modes and priority mechanisms of communication, not forgetting the jet speed at which technology is evolving, always leaving these aged Ugandans miles back on the path of information flow.
The blame I take on behalf of our generation- the young and perceived “elite”. First and foremost the partial reference to our history, this self denial of our core roots plus the doctoring of past political statements will do us no long term good. Just like a business man only willing to share the success stories minus detailing his struggles and challenges, individuals learning from his path will never know what turbulences to expect along the way. Yes you make quick money through cheap popularity as editors in these well known media houses, which for your information are in some unworthily cheap competition, struggling with brand survival. Why are you my dear youths letting your values and tags bleach and leach? It baffles me when you are so quick to tell me your social media usernames before saying out your botanical and indigenous names. For my editor friends twisting Uganda’s tales to fit your story perspectives, a quick question I pose to you: How do you expect the nation to solve its jigsaw puzzle when all you do is hide the pieces?
Secondly on my count of blemish, this childish belief we all have in us. We see ourselves more informed and above these ageing persons, forgetting they refer to their memory as we type search queries in Google once asked who we are. I am not disqualifying the fact that you know quite a bunch of stuff that the endangered species fail to comprehend, point is I bet you would beat them had such stuff been invented in their days. Do you ever reflect on how shaming it gets every time you rely on some online company in the United States to tell you of what your fore fathers did in your own country?
What went wrong?
All through the colonial rule, as maintained by Uganda’s leaders before 1985, politics was more of ideological capacity to rule, guide and spearhead the nation than the opportunity to grab power and control as is of now.
The Mengo government had well established leadership where appointments to various positions in the royal government were based on one’s potential to govern, direct and guide fellow citizens. The Sub county appointees termed as ‘Abaami’ for instance were given control of all duties and works of the ‘Gombolola’-Sub County. This structure borrowed from the colonial rule by the Buganda government provided technical assistance to the Ssaza chief through his council of knowledgeable citizens, these were skilled practitioners in the various relevant fields such as agriculture, health, financial management, to mention but a few.
The likes of President Tito Okello Lutwa and his predecessors embraced the purpose and essence of the rule on appointment because it always meant the appointed council was accountable of any resources forwarded from the central government to their respective local governments. In addition and enforcement of the above, there were prisons at every sub county, most especially in areas of Buganda where culprits were held in case of any mismanaged resources and other civil offenses committed by citizens. The other key motivation for transparency and commitment in service that the appointees had was building continued trust by the public, they worked so they could be favored by the royal appointments over and over again thus corruption was unheard of because of the personalities that servants had to build.
With such setups, the colonial rule was guaranteed of some level of success to the extent that governments that still apply such political principles are obviously way better than this mother nation.
In trying to build a new model of leadership, President Yoweri .K. Museveni in 1986 dug a pit. He came with principles that he thought were to be better. Among many I will point out the change from appointment rule to these local leaders being elected by citizens, this was a good idea considering the flaws of appointments however he never thought through the necessities and requirements for conducting these elections at Sub county level lest other offices below and under the “Ssaza”.
With poor organizational structures of this exercise, people could wait at the sub county headquarters for hours and hours before hearing from their aspiring leaders, imagine the hunger and anger of voters waiting from 8am only to hear from their leaders when it was approaching sunset, Out of humor thereafter, in order to sink their message, the aspirants saw it wise to feed their supporters before talking to them. The pit dug by a simple principle passed by a fresh president in Y.K. Museveni grew deeper and wider with time as aspirants had to sell their cattle, land, farm produce and among other belongings in order to feed their supporters.
With the minor effects from various local governments slowly but steadily amalgamating to affect the national political system, it took the president years to learn of the now wide and deep pit for which he cast the first scoop, Votes at that moment were being bought indirectly. Considering the high expense in campaigning, the public servants now needed to cover-up their costs thus turning politics more into an investment than service delivery. That aside, when it got to a time when all aspirants fed supporters, it became a competition in its self, leading many to “invest” more than they would be rewarded/paid for serving in the respective offices, leaders thereafter resorted to diverting central government remittances from what their sole purpose to catering for their debts incurred during campaigns.
The rot grew from the smallest unit of leadership in local governments high up the political structure until it became the order of the day. By 1995, regarding offices given minus elections, politicians had began giving out their possessions to responsible decision makers for appointments on ministerial posts as well as other desired offices in the national administrative structure.
You may ask, weren’t there laws to protect the national resources from such laundering? Yes. – the laws were clear that mismanagement of public funds was punishable by refund, imprisonment and at times even loss of office. With this in mind, various political leaders had to take more caution in covering their expenses, the only way out was to get extra revenue by off-book charging the people seeking services from their offices. Eventually this grew into a national norm with of course charges differing basing on how known you could be to the officer in charge. In fact, this is how aspects of tribalism ended up in Uganda’s politics: Probably explaining why throughout H.E Museveni’s reign, majority of the top serving government officials tend to share a tribal root.
Uganda’s informal sector contributes the biggest proportion of the country’s GDP. It however suffers more off book penalties than paid to the national treasury.
As I conclude in good faith, fighting corruption is the only straight path we have to take in order to revamp Uganda’s economy. The beginning point I suggest is us stopping referring to this crime as a necessary evil. It begins with you: stop buying your right to public services, if you hold an office, work for the better of this mother nation. Be blessed.