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Monthly Archives: June 2010

Uganda’s corruption is the new AIDS

By Stephen Twinoburyo

The case of Samson Bagonza’s jailing for CHOGM corruption  to the tune of Shillings 1.6 billion refers. This would be good if it was applying evenly. However, the authorities seem to be sacrificing small people to give a semblance of fighting coruption while the real culprits laugh with the president. Uganda seems to no longer have a government but rather a catel that plunders the nation wantomly. CHOGM is one case in point where government ministers even built roads to their own homes and labelled them CHOGM projects. There are also the Global Fund millions of dollars assignde for the TB/HIV fight that went missing. All involving top people.

I don’t expect anybody above this man to be prosecuted unless he has greatly fallen out of favour with Museveni. When you look at the CHOGM report and the submissions to parliament, you see that it’s the people close to the president that massively swindled CHOGM funds or diverted them for personal gains. There’s nothing to show for CHOGM just like. SA has alot to show for World Cup. Institutionalised corruption in that country has gone to terrible levels such that if there’s any country in Africa that is worse than Uganda, then that country needs to bewritten off.  Corruption is the new AIDS in Uganda.

Uganda’s case is greatly disturbing. Why should the country continue to have Museveni as a leader when he is sitting over such corruption? He very well knows he is no longer benefiting the country and the best giift he would give it would be to leave the presidency. It is difficult to keep quiet when one sees a beloved country continuously sliding into disrepair – socially, morally, economically and politically – at the hands of a few self-seeking individuals that have little, if any, concern for the country or decent living of other people. Needless to say, indefinate rule and plunder of resources always go hand-in-hand.

It doesn’t look likely that sense and good values will ever return to the current leaders. The cancer is so deep-rooted that there doesn’t seem to be any chemotheraphy capable of allevaiting it. The body is gone.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2010 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs

 

What happened to Uganda’s honesty and national spirit?

By Stephen Twinoburyo

Having lived in South Africa right from the time of its first bid to host the World Cup up to the time it has hosted the 2010 showpiece, I marvel at the great work that has been done in order to host this tournament. In building and upgrading infrastructure, the South African government took long term goals into consideration in that the developments made will help the country for very many years to come.

All planned projects were completed and there is value for money to be seen. Even perennial critics will find it difficult to pick fault. Though there was an added emphasis, this was a continuation of the way things are normally done. Money allocated for projects is usually used to complete those projects and there is proper accountability for that. There could be an inflation of the cost but there is hardly a delivery of less value than budgeted for but where this happens and is discovered, consequences follow.

While having a discussion with a friend, the talk shifted to the general behaviour in Uganda. Corruption has become so engrained that the majority of Ugandans hardly think about the general good of the society they live in but rather individual acquisition, even if that means taking what belongs to the rest of the population. No national or social project in Uganda can be completed at its proper cost and value. The people involved ensure that they take as much out of it as to barely leave something to show that some work has been done. Unbelievable as it may sound, some people in highly respectable positions use all the money allocated for a project and the project never takes off at all.

The leaders are quick to blame colonialists as the cause of the country’s problems yet one wonders who of the two is the cause of greater misery to the people. One wonders who of the two has led to greater suffering and done less for the people. The situation as it is in Ugandan has largely risen out of the country’s leadership. 

When President Museveni came to power 25 years ago, he raised so much hope by promising to fight corruption and build ethics among the people. For a while, many people believed him and donors poured money into the country, especially after his impressive fight against HIV/AIDS. However this promise quickly grew into the most extensive corruption machinery Uganda had ever seen. When top Museveni aides and cronies started massively taking public money with impunity and without any consequences, the public trust vanished. It has become a norm for anybody to “milk” the public purse to dryness, with only paperwork or a scant cover-up to show that something has been done. Sadly this now even happens when individuals are dealing with each other.

Foreign investors in Uganda say they find the cost of running business in the country so high because of the massive bribes they have to pay at every turn. They can never get even a simple document signed without bribing somebody. Some potential investors have reconsidered their investments due to the prohibitive costs of corruption. One investor recently reconsidered a power project to Uganda because of the costly bribes required but engagements went smoothly in DRC and other SADC countries where the project will be launched. Anybody who has visited Uganda knows about the incessant power failures.

Is it not a shame that millions of dollars allocated by the Global Fund to the fight against TB and HIV/AIDS disappeared into the bank accounts of top government officials? As such the fight against the diseases was frustrated and thousands must have lost their lives while a few people that happened to be in the path of that money have become massively rich. As usual, after exposures of such, some kind of investigation follows and a few inconsequential people are thrown in prison to placate foreign observers and media until the case is forgotten. For the Global Fund, the money was never recovered, the implicated people are free, the government promised tighter controls and more money was released.

In another case, it is unbelievable that money allocated to prepare Kampala city for the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) summit, among other malpractices, was diverted by government ministers to build roads to their homes and claim they were upgrading the city. Needless to say, all the public roads that were upgraded got washed away within 6 months of the summit’s end. That summit was another enriching scheme for top officials and people connected to the president. Ugandans as usual, sank deeper into poverty and misery. There is nothing to show for CHOGM.

DRC is another example. State resources were used to fight an unnecessary war and wreck communities but what it produced were massively rich Ugandan politicians and top military personnel. Meanwhile many foot soldires that stood to gain nothing perished in that war. I am told that the difference with Rwanda is that Rwanda used what it acquired in DRC to build its infrastructure. Meanwhile the DRC may never recover in this century and the international community will write this off as one of those unfortunate moments.

This conduct has now pervaded all sectors of society in the country but there is nowhere it pays better than in politics because of the ability to make decisions and be within earshot of the president. It goes without saying that to be massively wealthy one needs to be close to the president as that will open channels of unmerited opportunities as well as instil fear in anybody, be it in police, public or private office, that may want to pose a challenge. Ironically, many people refer to somebody who exhibits non-corrupt tendencies as “a fool” and say he/she will die poor.

Somebody told me that people, even in respectable professions like the medical field, exploit or do unimaginable things to their clients so as to raise huge monies from them.

One wonders what will be done to change the mentality in Uganda. Any government that comes after the current one, as long as it’s not from the current leadership, faces a daunting task. Rebuilding trust, honesty and respectable institutions will not be an easy task. It will require great leadership and selflessness to turn around the current state of Uganda. Currently, hardly anybody cares about the country, much less the leaders.

It is regrettable that sometimes one meets Ugandans outside the country that say they have given up on what is happening in the country and will never return. There are those who never even visit. Then there are those one speaks to in the country that are so frustrated that they have given up on ever seeing goodness in the country and would get away if they got the opportunity.

Undoubtedly, the majority of Ugandans want to live orderly and decent lives. As long as such a desire exists, there is hope. There is hope that Ugandans one day will turn their country around. However, to achieve this will require strong will, great determination and sacrifice.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2010 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs

 

Why is Uganda run like a spaza shop?

By Stephen Twinoburyo

In South Africa, a spaza shop is one that would be found by the road side or outside a taxi park or anywhere informal. It is of a temporary nature and offers small goodies, usually eats. Its mode of operation is what is interesting. The owner can open or close it any time, or not open at all therefore, its reliability is quite low.

It is in the mode of operation that I find similarities with the way Uganda is run. I will look at a few headlines that have come out of Uganda over the past few years.

The Guardian, 28 May 2010: Uganda president orders public servants to retire at 50.

This is as ridiculous as it sounds. Uganda does not have the economic capacity and freedom to retire people at such an early age. To do so, would mean that the government would have to look after these people since they will be unproductive. Currently, most European countries – France, Germany, Spain e.t.c – are considering raising the retirement age so that people can work longer, thus earning an income and reducing the burden on the states. The average retirement age in USA is 60.

Besides, these are not the kind of decisions that are made at the whim. They must be planned. What then happens to workers’ retirement arrangements and actuarial calculations made on their pension contributions based on their expected time of retirement? It is the manner of such decisions, taken according to the way the ‘owner’ wakes up feeling that morning, that makes decision-making in Uganda similar to that of a spaza shop.

The main motivation for this decision is ostensibly to create jobs for youngsters who are increasingly getting unemployed and hence becoming explosive. Going for the elder citizens wont help. Over 80% of Uganda’s population is below the age of 50. I then don’t see how taking a small percentage of people out of the job market will create an abundance of jobs for the majority. President Museveni himself is approaching 70 and has been president of the country for close to 25 years and unchallenged as chairman of the ruling National Resistance Movement for close to 30. He could show a good example by retiring first.

Now look at other decisions, most of them announced while addressing a gathering and at the spur of the moment:

The African Conservation Forum: Uganda: Museveni Orders Kaloli Birds (Marabou Storks) Relocated, 04 January 2008:

The days of scavenger birds at State House Nakasero are numbered following an order by President Yoweri Museveni to relocate them. “An official from State House called last week saying that Museveni loves birds, but the Karoli was becoming a nuisance” according to Venice Mirembe, Uganda Wildlife Authority acting PRO.

Radio Netherlands International: 17 Sept 2009:

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has ordered that all radio talk shows, commonly known as bimeeza, should be off the air and the immediate arrest of propagandists who have been using them as a platform to destabilize the country’s peace.

The Observer, 21 April 2010:

President Museveni has ordered the Attorney General and Minister of Local Government to create at least seven new constituencies before next year’s elections.

UG pulse.com, 30 April 2010:

Museveni orders CHOGM committee to give Vice President second chance

256News.com: 7 June 2010:

President Yoweri Museveni has directed the National Agricultural and Advisory Services (NAADS) to set conditional ties for the model farmers who benefit from the programme during the time of selecting the prospective beneficiaries.

The President was speaking at a rally in Kyankwanzi on Friday on the last day of his 2-day popularization and sensitization tour of Kiboga district in his current Bonna Bagaggawale (Prosperity-For-All) programme in Uganda ’s Central Region.

New Vision: Sunday, 7th March, 2010:

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has directed the army not to leave Namashate parish in Bududa district until all bodies buried by a landslide one week ago have been recovered.

Monitor, 5 May 2010:

Museveni Orders CHOGM Arrests.

Daily Nation, 7 June 2010:

Museveni orders probe into Kazini death

New Vision, 11 April 2010:

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has ordered an investigation into the death of Beine Rukaari, the 22-year-old son of minister Bright Rwamirama.

Mathaba News Agency, 30  October 2006

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has ordered Tamoil East Africa Ltd to be investigated.

Uganet, 2 Feb 2003:

Expand Varsities, Museveni Orders

There you have it. One wonders, are there any institutions still standing in that country? Is there anybody else able to take a decision in Uganda? For spaza shops, it is usually just the owner – or his wife.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2010 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs

 

Uganda Embassy in S Africa Deserves Kudos

 By Stephen Twinoburyo

Two years ago, I wrote an article in this newspaper praising the work done by the Ugandan embassy in South Africa.

Those who know me are aware that I have raised and continuously raise my concerns about governance and delivery in various areas of government and administration in Uganda . However, it is a civil requirement to give credit where it is due if one is genuinely concerned about the country’s development and is proud of its achievements. I again would like to give my thumbs up to the Ugandan embassy in South Africa .

The High Commissioner, Mr. Kweronda Ruhemba, and his staff have made the embassy open to all Ugandans from various walks of life. I have heard from various Ugandans that have received the required service at the embassy and have not heard anybody that has complained about lack of service.

Like many government departments, it obviously faces its own challenges but on the whole, the embassy staff have made a great improvement to it compared to what it was in the past. As chairman of the Association of Ugandan Professionals in South Africa (AUPSA), and in my personal capacity, I have from time to time sought some services or information from the embassy and this has been forthcoming.

For the second year running, last year they organized a huge independence party for Ugandans and many flocked to the embassy grounds. This is of course what we would expect of our embassy but the fact that it was non-existent before, one has to be glad that it is now being done.

I wish the embassy staff well and thank them for the good work. One will of course welcome any improvement where there are hick-ups.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2010 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs