By Akantorana Nobert Bwana
The pillars of government policy are strangely similar to Mbabazi’s eight points manifesto
On the June 15, Amama Mbabazi announced his presidential bid promising change through his eight point manifesto. This excited the nation, especially the social media users. However, after weighing his manifesto and letter to the president declaring his presidential bid, many will be disappointed. Although his manifesto is inclusive, focusing on approaches to reduce poverty in Uganda, it only seeks to polish already existing government policies and not real change as promised. In his interview with BBC, he confirms this by saying that the election is about consolidating the gains and achievements delivered by the government and the new challenge to transfer the economy.
In the past (1997 –to date), government policy was guided by the Poverty Eradication Action Plan (PEAP), which was later replaced by the National Development Plan. PEAP had four major pillars upon which resources were directed towards poverty eradication. A closer look at these pillars will show you a strange similarity to Mbabazi’s eight points manifesto.
The first pillar of PEAP focuses on creating a framework for economic growth and transformation. This is in line with Mbabazi’s second point in his manifesto, which is about transforming the economy and attracting both local and foreign investment.
The second pillar of PEAP focuses on ensuring good governance and security. This resonates well with Mbabazi’s first, fifth and sixth points on his manifesto. Mbabazi’s first point is about reviving democracy and institutions. His fifth is about observing and respecting the rule of law. His sixth point is about observing and respecting the rule of law while ensuring security for all.
The third pillar of PEAP focuses on increasing the ability of the poor to raise their incomes. This is in line with Mbabazi’s forth point which focuses on creating jobs that are fit for the 21st century.
The fourth pillar is about increasing the quality of life for the poor through accessible health, education and social protection for the vulnerable groups. This pillar combines Mbabazi’s seventh and eighth points in the manifesto, which are about providing good quality health care and enhancing quality education.
One of PEAP’s shortcomings is regional disparities that still remain high especially in the northern and eastern regions of Uganda. Mbabazi sought to tackle this under his third point, which is about encouraging equitable developments for all regions of Uganda.
Mbabazi acknowledged that much had been achieved by the government. This is true because governments programs against poverty have seen it reduce from 56.6% in the nineties to 19.7% as of today. This is has been registered as a success in the fight against poverty according to the millennium development goal of reducing poverty by 50%.
In his reaction to Mbabazi’s presidential bid, President Yoweri K. Museveni argued that, until he was removed, Mbabazi had been in position to rectify the weaknesses in government policy implementation. As prime minister being in charge of supervision and monitoring of government programs, Mbabazi was more aware and responsible for the current weaknesses in government. There is a lot of speculation as to why Mbabazi was fired as prime minister of Uganda. Given the explanation given by the president, one wonders if incompetence was one of the reasons that led to Mbabazi’s dismissal.
Although Mbabazi promises a change in systems (not a mere change in leader), there are some who are still not convinced about his promises of “change”, especially given the similarities between his manifesto and current government policy.
Akantorana Nobert Bwana is a voter in Rukiga County, Kabale