On November 25, Daily Monitor published the list of presidential advisers, assistants and resident district commissioners. The list also carried the disparity between salaries of these presidential assistants, who are political appointees, and senior civil servants including permanent secretaries and doctors. The list showed that RDCs are paid three times better than doctors and slightly above the permanent secretaries, the highest paid civil servants in the country. The story attracted rage from the president who vowed to 'sort out the negative press' which was turning Uganda into a laughing stock. He said his NRA rebels [now UPDF] did not fight and spill blood for five years in the Luwero jungles (1981-86) in order to turn Uganda into a laughing stock.
Since last year, many journalists have been arraigned in court on various charges related to undermining the government. Whenever the government makes a mistake and the press reports about the mess, the State instead heaps blame on the journalists.
Mr President, let's take audit of who is making Uganda a laughing stock. In 1997 you introduced Universal Primary Education, a very noble programme which would provide education to all Ugandan children. But the programme has been messed up by corruption and incompetent strategic planning by government. The results have been disastrous.
According to the Ministry of Education's performance review report released last year, the majority of the UPE products cannot speak English at P.7. More than 50 per cent of the pupils who enroll in P.1 drop out before P.7. The major reasons are that the pupil enrollment has more than tripled without a corresponding increase in teacher recruitment. You have banned lunch in UPE schools. So at lunch time pupils escape from school and roam trading centres to look for what to eat. Those who can't afford the snacks, dose off during lessons due to hunger. There is basically no serious learning/teaching you can talk about amidst such unpleasant environment in most UPE schools.
As an inevitable result, you have an irreversibly intellectually stunted generation at P.7 who can't express themselves in English, a national medium of instruction. These are then shipped into Universal Secondary Education, where the situation is not any different.
Mr President, you also tell us you are inviting investors to create jobs for Ugandans, but the 'unpatriotic' press is scaring them away. Which investor is going to employ such UPE products as accountants, human resource managers, public relations officers when they can't speak English or have the required technical skills?
The Ministry of Education report said one of the causes of the high school drop-out rate in UPE is shortage of teachers and poor pay. You said the government cannot recruit more teachers or increase their salaries because it does not have the money. But you have 86 RDCs and their assistants who hardly do any serious work apart from presiding over government functions, and presidential advisors and assistants, who hardly offer any advice, but continue to draw huge salaries. A salary of one RDC at Shs2 million can pay for 10 UPE teachers at Shs200,000 each a month. A doctor is paid a mere Shs600,000, three times less than an RDC. A permanent secretary, the top civil servant, is paid about Shs1.9m, below the salary of an RDC who also has a free house and a chauffeur-driven car plus other allowances.
When the NRA spilt blood in Luwero, wasn't it among its objectives to have a well paid civil service? If in 22 years your government has not created a well paid civil service, when do you hope to achieve that? Fifty more years? Did the NRA spill blood in order to pay political appointees better salaries than the professional civil servants like doctors? So Mr President, who is making Uganda a laughing stock?
To date, Uganda has failed to equip the heart institute at Mulago National Referral Hospital with the required machine to enable doctors perform complicated heart operations, because government 'does not have money.' As a result, we continue to lose many children and adults with curable heart ailments because they cannot afford the cost of going abroad for treatment.
The required heart machine costs about Shs 6 billion and a Saudi Arabian prince has pledged to contribute half of the cost. This means the Uganda government needs to raise only Shs 3 billion! You say the government does not have this money to save lives of hundreds of Ugandans who die of heart complications. But you have just ordered a luxurious presidential jet, the Gulf Stream V (the first of its kind on the African continent), at Shs 88 billion! So Mr President, who is making Uganda a laughing stock?
In 1992 the NRA made the first major retrenchment of its soldiers, and retired others in 1994. There have been many other retrenchments since then. Most of these veterans have not received their gratuity to-date. Some of them have died, their children have since dropped out of school due to lack of money and their families have been frequenting Ministry of Public Service or the army general headquarters for their deceased relatives' entitlements but they have not gotten anything. There is doubt whether they will even ever get that money.
But at every election time when the veterans complain, you say their money is available. You even wonder why they have not been paid! These veterans are the very people who spilt blood in Luwero to bring the NRM government to power. I am sure if you asked them today who is making Uganda a laughing stock, their fingers would not point at the media; you definitely know whom they would point at.
When the NRA captured power in 1986 there were well maintained army barracks all over the country. Most of them have since decayed after many years without renovation. Some of the barracks today are a concentration of grass-thatched huts built by soldiers themselves from their own savings. It used to be the duty of the government to build and maintain barracks. Today, it's the soldiers building barracks for the government. After 22 years in power, why should a soldier of a national army roam the wilderness looking for grass to thatch his house in a government barracks? Mr President again, who is making Uganda a laughing stock?
When your government arrested your closest political rival, Col. Kizza Besigye, in the run up to the 2006 presidential election on trumped-up charges of rape, which the High Court described as 'laughable and amateurish,' just to deny him opportunity to campaign fairly against you, did you believe that was the democracy and freedom the NRA spilt blood for in Luwero?
Mr President, stop passing the buck. The bulk of the blame on who is making Uganda a laughing stock flatly rests on your shoulders, not the media or any other party for that matter.
written by zzkk201110, November 14, 2011
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