By Kisembo Elia
The spiritual aspects that informed the NRM ideological commitment to the people’s plight is being eroded.
Africa is a continent that did not form a political and economic ideology of its own in the recent past. The political and economic ideologies that we use were just imposed on the continent. Currently Uganda operates on an economic ideology that promotes primacy of private business corporations in the economy. This model also eschews governmental interference in the marketplace and speaks strongly against entitlement programmes, minimum wage laws, labour laws that enhance the position of trade unions, universal health care and other issues that would promote better life for ordinary citizens.
For long the people in Uganda have not questioned the driving forces of political and economic development. This has been due to the fact that majority of our population were operating agrarian economies that survive on natural rainfall. With the diminishing economic opportunities in rural places, a new trend of rural-urban migrations has reached its peak. This social and economic arrangement influenced by the economic crisis is now forcing the people to ask important questions on the underlying philosophies that guide government decisions.
On coming into power the NRM government had refused to embraced classical economic policies that are based on demand and supply. It argued that the government was pro–people not pro any ideology. Later the NRM government shifted positions and embraced World Bank and IMF policies of liberalisation, privatisation and currency devaluation. These policies have been the basis of our economic and political foundation. Privatisation was not a success story for Uganda; these policies seem to favour the few middle class people than the majority poor. The policies have created a big gap between the poor and the rich; this threatens the stability and growth of the economy. The World Bank and IMF monetarist policies break the power of the working class and promote the monopolistic power of the capital owners. Privatisation enlarged the middle class monopolies to resources thus enlarging the gap between the rich and the poor. The challenge is how to find a solution on the distribution of the benefits of growth among the few rich and majority poor, if the NRM ideology is still pro-eople .
Politically the classical economic policies call for limited administrative expenditures. However NRM government has been creating new districts, increasing RDCs, and increasing the numbers of MPs among others. This is done to enlarge political patronage and control over the people than deliver services to them. If the government can bend rules on administrative expenditures, why not intervene in the current crisis? Why justify inaction on claims of operating a liberal economy?
The spiritual aspects that informed the NRM ideological commitment to the people’s plight is being eroded. Is the party becoming extremely materialist? Can this account for inactions on corruption scandals, insensitivity to service delivery breakdown and the misery we experience in this country? Why does the NRM bend rules in election periods, with supplementary budgets, offers of Shs20 million to Members of Parliament, but fails to intervene in an economic crisis? Why should the government take Shs1.7 trillion to buy fighter jets and later claim that it can do nothing to save the rising cost of living in the country? Why does the NRM government cut the budget of the Health Ministry to refund about Shs2 billion on behalf of individuals who stole Global Fund money instead of punishing the culprits and make them repay the stolen cash? The NRM needs not to be enslaved by economic principles but to be inspired into action for the good of the people. Otherwise it is facing an ideological contradiction of its original cause.