Fighter jets versus health -do Uganda’s leaders really care about the people they lead?

08 Apr

By Drew Ddembe


I see that all of the usual suspects are claiming overtime trying to “combat lies”! And there are some new ones who have failed to add value to the debate.

Today I caught up with some recent health stories from Uganda. And tried to justify the recent purchase of jet fighters at $1.2 billion by the government in light of our decrepit health services or crubling agriculture.

I came to the conclusion that this country is led by callous people who do not care at all about the well being of ugandans!

25 years ago, a younger Museveni castigated leaders who flew to New York for the UN General Assembly in jet planes and large retinues when their people were barefoot and dying of jiggers at home! Another person asked how African leaders of jigger infested people hoped to negotiate as equals with well fed well paid people! Surely the ground cannot be level!

I see a lot of nvuunza ridden negotiators in this deal! As Christine says, we bought a bunch of fighter jets we cannot afford with money we do not have in order to impress people who do not give a damn!

The capabilities of the Sukhoi SU 30 Mk2 does make one really wonder whether the people we trust with our security, really are qualified to plan for it. This is a highly capable aircraft but the specs suggest that unless we are planning to attack South Africa or Egypt both of which are out of our reach anyway, we have bought a hummer when we really need a Bajaj scooter!

The way i see it, our air capabilities would be served very well by transport planes and helicopter gunships as our main interests are internal and regional. Long range fighter aircraft with maritime capabilities actually designed for a different kind of warfare are way too expensive and innappropriate.

I have had a look at our upstream potential enemies such as Sudan and Egypt both of whom eclipse our air capabilities. Quite frankly it would be stupid to even attempt to squander our resources on an arms race with Egypt which has the largest airforce in the Arab world and the 4th largest force of F-15 numbering well over 200 in the world. With a fighting force of over 30,000 men in the aiforce and an inventory of over 1000 planes, its kind of like a mosquito trying to bring a grown man down let alone thinking about it! Yet drunkards like Jimmex, try to shut people trying to make sense of this by claiming they know about security!

While Sudan cannot match Egypt in anyway, it too has a much larger airforce with over 200 planes in service. Kenya too has a much larger airforce. 15 of their 20 something F-5’s were bought second hand from Jordan for 23 million -less than the cost of one su30 Mk2!

Tanzania which took 7 of our MIGS after trashing Amin who had a superior airforce at the time, is now dependent on much cheaper chinese aircraft with lower capabilities.

Rwanda, Burundi, Congo -nothing really to write home about.

The reality is that Egypt and SA would wipe Uganda’s airforce off the ground even before they got off the ground. Air defence capabilities have got to be combined with other defences -its not just having fighter jets. Ground radar, anti aircraft, SAMs etc.

I applauded the purchase of helicopter gunships due to their ability to change the balance of power between two matched landborne forces or small mobile guerilla units. That of course was before we learnt that we were ripped off and sold junk!

The only campaign that Uganda’s jet fighters were deployed in was the attack on Garamba commanded by none other than the first son! In that attack, an air attack was comined with a major ground assault designed to fix the LRA problem once and for all! The whole attack was bungled as apparently Kony had advance warning! How could a rag tag rebel who is probably loopy be able to tap into a state actors communications and have advance intelligence of their plans. Are our military intelligence people so incompetent as to be infiltrated by kony?

Even more appaling was the fact that the ground support troops arrived almost 96 hours after the bombing campaign -“due to the terrain”! Didnt they plan for the terrain?How could this happen? This of course demonstrates that fighter jets when used innapropriately may not change the outcome of the war.

Our country is poor. Whenever people complain here of government wastage and failure to provide services, various government lackeys and eaters come in to remind us how poor our country is!

But then you wake up to the news that we are competing with the big boys for the same toys and wonder where our priorities are!

Today I read several articles both here on FB and in the press about various health related issues in Uganda.

First, a man in Kibaale hospital who should not have died died because the hospital he went to did not have the supplies for his operation but his family too did not have a paltry 70 dollars to buy supplies! This man was killed by this government -negligence and failure in their duty of care.

Just last week, there was news of over a 1000 TB patients, 1.5 % of whome are multidrug resistant in Jinja. TB, an ancient disease, largely eradicated in the rest of the world continues to kill our people!

Uganda has a total of 127,800 TB cases about 40,800 cases of whom are highly infectious and 27,900 of whom are expected to die every year with 60% co-infected with HIV.

16 women dying per day is 5696 women a year and someone wants us to talk about birds? Uganda has got one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world!

15% of Ugandans life years are lost to premature death due to malaria —Families spend 25% of their income on treating the disease.

45,000 stillbirths, 45,000 newborn deaths in Uganda each year and an even larger number of childhood deaths

That we have the fifth highest mortality rate in Africa and rank number 21 of 189 countries in the world -from the bottom!

That jiggers and scabies have reached epidemic proprotions -who ever heard of jiggers in epidemic proportions in this day and age? I dont even remember ever having had a jigger so what is going on in Uganda?

That 13 % or one in seven children born in Uganda will die before their fifth birthday! No wonder Ugandans feel the imperative to reproduce like rabbits! its the only insurance that at least some children will survive beyond their childhood!

Breast cancer a disease with 91 % long term survival rate has 200% the mortality rate in Uganda and a survival rate of less than 50%

That despite agreeing to a target of 15 % of GDP for health expenditure, uganda is one of those African countries that has failed to reach the target.

That previously eradicated diseases such as polio have recently re emerged suggesting a breakdown of public health education and vaccination programmes!

That we are losing the war on HIV because according to Musa Bungudu, the coordinator of the UN programme on HIV/AIDS, Government agencies and local charity organisations concentrating on holding workshops instead of doing “real work” that could deter new infections.

A survey conducted by New Vision discovered that the only bed in the hospital’s theatre is torn and cannot be tilted or moved. The operating theatre also has only one light instead of over six lights required. This is the same hospital that a man just died in unnecessarily!

I will not go into all of the other annoying things like the billions used to bribe voters, MP’s and LC’s in the last elections nor the stupid new ministries now being created for each village that wants one in a parody of the phenomenon that saw each village being given its own district!

Now that the threat to despotic regimes is not necessarily internal as any state can chose to bomb them if they are “intransigent” to borrow from Sarkozy, we have to pay for fighter jets just to boost peoples egos!

When is Uganda going to get leaders who really care about Ugandans?


Posted by on April 8, 2011 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs


3 responses to “Fighter jets versus health -do Uganda’s leaders really care about the people they lead?

  1. Twino Speaks

    April 8, 2011 at 21:23

    Surely Uganda cannot think of military jets before food or basic health care. Military jets are items that can be thought of by a well-off country that wants to exert control or a sick one with leaders that don’t know the priorities of their people. How many countries have sought to attack Uganda in its history? The only deduction has to be that these jets are being purchased by Uganda to fight Ugandans.

    For Uganda to spend $1.2 billion on military jets in light the many issues that need attention in the country, I honestly think it’s a misplaced priority. I honestly think our leaders could have chosen better. My opposition to this purchase is based on genuine observation of the country’s priorities and has nothing to do with my opinion of government. This purchase and most of the recent expenditures don’t seem to take the sensibilities of the general Ugandans and their needs into consideration.

    We all know war and destruction are bad. I was a young boy in Mbarara when the Tanzanians raided to overthrow Amin. By that time I had just joined a boarding primary school and standards were very high. Without understanding what was going on, I was rushed by an aunt from the school to Kazo village because the war had arrived. Our other family had left in a hurry minus me. In fact talking of jets, I remember one time during break-time the whole school – teachers and kids alike – stood in the compound as we saw Amin MIG 21s head in the direction of Tanzania. Of course nobody could convince us that with such a force, Amin could run away.

    When I returned after the war, the previous town we knew was lying in rubble as most of the outstanding buildings has been bombed by ‘saba saba’. The same story of destruction lay in Masaka. Life became extremely hard after that war – just like it will be in Libya. All the things we had in school had gone. We studied and grew up under the difficult condition that existed in that school. The Obote regime did not help matters either as things deteriorated at an alarming rate. All of this originated from Amin’s bad rule – which in a away preserved some things – and then the ensuing invasion from Tanzania, even though the invaders were liberators.

    I therefore don’t wish to see any further destruction in Uganda or an invasion. I would be willing to stand up and defend our country if somebody wanted to destroy what we have. Many people have set up their permanent structures and livelihoods in the cities and these need to be protected. However, Uganda is not about to face any attack – unless of course we aggress a country. Even Sudan that had many reasons in the past to attack us did not do so. Therefore very expensive military jets is not what we need now.

    If we woke up and heard that government had bought scholastic materials worth $200 million for schools, equipped hospitals to the tune of $300 million, renovated poor schools to the tune of $300 million, built water supplies to the tune of $150 million, renovated and upgraded roads up to the tune of $245 million and possibly stole a mere $5 million, I can tell you we would be jubilating. I would have a lot of hope for my children.

    Right now I surely don’t know what to think. I don’t know who advises on priorities. I don’t know if the president acts alone but if he is listening to some people, then he is not listening to the right voices. In fact over the past few months, there have been very deeply lamentable and probably ill-advised decisions involving public money.

  2. Drew

    April 9, 2011 at 01:57

    A few things keep getting repeated in this debate. One of those is that jet fighters were responsible for ‘triumphing’ against kony. Am yet to see any argument that demonstrates that fighter jets are the ones that changed the balance of power. I personally believe that helicopter gunships and transport planes /helicopters would have been more useful and decisive than fighter jets without the necessary ground support and HUMINT for accurate targeting. As it is the prey got away and had 96 hours on the ground support troops!

    Our best regional defence is diplomacy not fighter jets.

  3. micheal

    June 17, 2011 at 19:59

    Are some of you military experts, or naive and desperate western sycophants how can not help build an emerging economic giant called UGANDA. NATO is desperately trying to re-plunder Lybia do you advocate that we should surrender our sovereignty, are you a voter and do you pay taxes in Uganda, then how old are you? This country deserves every thing better weather fighter jets or health services okay my friends.


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