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Uganda’s strategic dilemma Part2

Why Uganda’s economy is dominated by multinational capital and what cannot be done about it

THE LAST WORD | ANDREW M. MWENDA | We begin from where we stopped last week. Uganda’s growing economy served three critical purposes: It increased government revenues, gave greater confidence to donors to give more aid, and increased resources available to government to pay for patronage, provide basic public goods and services and fight armed insurgency thereby aiding legitimacy and political consolidation. Consequently, Museveni gradually shifted from implementing these reforms as an opportunistic beneficiary and became a believer in their efficacy.

The donors also were keen to cultivate political support among Uganda’s elite class – politicians, the civil service, the mass media, academia, private sector and “civil society” (a motley collection of NGOs).

To understand the trajectory Uganda took from the late 1980s, one has to first understand how the donors shaped our post conflict recovery by building the ideological base for these policies among key individuals and groups. We shall see the interests that consolidated during this period.

Every reform benefits some and disadvantages others. The losers become militants determined to resist it. The beneficiaries form the cadre of individuals and groups to defend the new order. These reforms generated resistance, most especially from Makerere University students whose allowances were removed. But resistance was limited because economic collapse had discredited the beneficiaries of the old order.

For example, it was not difficult to return businesses, properties and industries confiscated by Amin in 1972 to their previous owners because those who had taken them over had run them down. Failure had discredited their cause and their resistance to reform did not attract much public sympathy. Equally, the corruption, favouritism and incompetence in public enterprises had discredited them as vehicles for serving the common good. And most importantly the NRM had been a largely rural based movement and these institutions and their office holders did not form its core political base. So there were hardly any bureaucratic and political insiders to sabotage reform from within as happened to many other African countries. Besides, Museveni enjoyed such widespread dominance inside the NRM that his left-wing allies simply deferred to him on these reforms.

Most of Uganda’s reform was carried out by civil servants led by Tumusiime Mutebile in the Ministry of Planning which later merged with the Ministry of Finance. Around him was a group of officials like Chris Kasami, Keith Muhakanizi, Lawrence Kiiza, Damon Kitabire (left for ADB, later to IMF), Mary Muduli (left for ADB) and Mary Kutesa (left for IMF) etc. This group was inherited from the Milton Obote II administration where they had tried to reform Uganda’s economy to a more liberal dispensation. They were convinced that liberal reforms are necessary for Uganda’s economy to recover.

Donors proved adept at patronage. They pampered them, supplemented their salaries with dollar stipends, organised trips abroad for conferences and workshops for them. They took them to do fellowships at prestigious universities in America and Britain. They also gave them internships at the head offices of IMF and World Bank in Washington DC.

4 comments

  1. 1.This article has melted the stone hearted like Rajab and Adhola.
    2Anything goes when a nation has had a series of misfortunes and during that critical moment that’s when donors and development partners reap big.
    3.It is easy to manage a nation effectively when it has just come out of war coz that’s the period what citizens are timid and obedient currently; the Ugandan elites have become ungovernable in that they have began poising the minds of the peasants therefore affecting implementation of govt polices .A good example is the politicians in the North chasing away investors with their naked bodies.
    4.Brain washing the minds of African leaders with the 1st world ideology at times helps for example; in the 1990s’the major reforms like privatization and other economic reforms led to the devaluation of the Ugandan currency(which had Obote’s face) enabled Uganda’s currency to be easily equated to other international currencies.
    5.Uganda still has the oligopoly advantage in the region in areas like electricity,minerals,conflict resolution and oil we better utilise it effectively.Yes i said conflict resolution
    6What happened to barter trade?it seems old school but it can still work effectively for example, what would happen if we exchanged some few minerals for development of social infrastructure?

  2. 1.This article has melted the stone hearted like Rajab and Adhola.
    MAYBE RAJAB BUT ADHOLA KNEW ALL ALONG HOW IT IS DONE BECAUSE HE WAS ONCE AND MAYBE STILL IS A CONDUIT OF THE WHITE-MAN’S NONSENSE THAT HAS CAUSED ALL THIS UNTOLD SUFFERING TO EVERYBODY; ADHOLA HIMSELF NOT SPARED
    2Anything goes when a nation has had a series of misfortunes and during that critical moment that’s when donors and development partners reap big.
    YOU ARE RIGHT IN THAT (LIKE TAMALE MIRUNDI WOULD EXEMPLIFY) IF YOU MEET A WOMAN WHO HAS JUST BEEN CHASED AWAY FROM A HOME AFTER DELIVERING A CHINESE BABY WHEN THE HUSBAND IS A MUKONJO AND SHE HERSELF IS A MUTOORO (BOTH OF BLACK STOCK) WHAT CAN’T SHE CONCEDE TO? ANY AND ALL PROPOSALS ARE AND WILL BE WELCOME. SHE CAN’T GO BACK TO HER FATHER, SHE CAN’T GO TO COURT SO SHE WILL WILLINGLY ACCEPT ANY WOLF.
    3.It is easy to manage a nation effectively when it has just come out of war coz that’s the period what citizens are timid and obedient currently; the Ugandan elites have become ungovernable in that they have began poising the minds of the peasants therefore affecting implementation of govt polices .A good example is the politicians in the North chasing away investors with their naked bodies.
    WHEN A HATION HAS JUST COME OUT OF WAR, THERE ARE MANY VANQUISHED WHO HAVE COMMITTED WAR CRIMES BUT STILL ROAMING FREE, SO THEY MUST HIDE THEIR HIDEOUS PAST IN CHURCHES,MOSQUES AND OTHER PRETENCES. THERE ARE WOMEN WHO WERE VERY SOCIAL TO UNCOUNTABLE MEN BUT MUST OF NECESSITY BEHAVE AS THOUGH THEY ARE VIRGINS/WIDOWS OR PRETEND THEY DON’T WANT TO SEE A MAN HAVING WITNESSED WHAT MEN DO TO EACH OTHER. THEN THERE ARE VICTORS WHO PLAY gods AND WANT EACH AND EVERYTHING(NOT FORGETTING MISTRESSES) TO THEMSELVES AND TO APPORTION WHAT THEY DON’T NEED TO THEIR INFORMERS. AFTER CIVIL WAR, CIVIL PEACE THAT FOLLOWS IS NEARLY BUT AS BAD AS THE WARTIME ITSELF. THEN THERE ARE THE GULLIBLE IGNORANT SURVIVING PUBLIC WHICH BELIEVES PEACE (ABSENCE OF WAR) ALONE IS THE ONLY HUMAN RIGHT THEY NEED (OTURO) AFTER SOMETIME, A NEWER GENERATION GROWS UP AND STARTS CLAIMING REAL RIGHTS, THEN MAYHEM IS LET LOOSE…JUST WAIT FOR PEOPLE POWER A LITTLE.
    4.Brain washing the minds of African leaders with the 1st world ideology at times helps for example; in the 1990s’the major reforms like privatization and other economic reforms led to the devaluation of the Ugandan currency(which had Obote’s face) enabled Uganda’s currency to be easily equated to other international currencies.
    IT IS NOT BRAINWASHING…MOST DICTATORS ARRIVE WHEN OLD OR MIDDLE AGE…..A PERIOD IN HUMAN LIFE WHICH HAS ITS BIOLOGICAL PROBLEMS. THEY WANT THE TRAPPINGS OF YOUTH BUT THINGS ARE NO LONGER PALATABLE BECAUSE TASTE BUDS ARE OLD, THEY WANT THE WOMEN BUT DOWNSTAIRS IS DISAPPOINTINGLY IS FRAIL AND FEEBLE, THEY WANT TO BE EVERYWHERE AT THE SAME TIME, A POWER POSSESSED ONLY BY GOD SO THEY USE SPIES (WHO LIE TO THEM) AND ARE CONSEQUENTLY MISLED, MISINFORMED AND MISDIRECTED. THEY USE RELATIVES WHO ARE MOSTLY INEFFICIENTLY UNSATISFACTORY. AS FOR PRIVATISATION, IT DID NOT PRODUCE THE RESULTS INTENDED AND SHOULD HAVE BEEN REVERSED IMMEDIATELY BUT MAYBE SOME OTHER POWER WAS BEHIND IT. VALUE OF CURRENCY DOES NOT DEPEND ON WHOSE PICTURE IS ON THE NOTE BUT WHAT BACKING THE MONEY HAS WHETHER IT IS REDEEMABLE OR JUST PAPER TO DECEIVE THE PEOPLE….OBOTE WAS A VERY DISCIPLINED AND PRINCIPLED MAN BUT HE USED(LIKE Gen LUTWA SAID) THE EARS OF RWAKASISI, THE EYES OF ANOTHER AND THE MIND OF YET ANOTHER HENCHMAN.SO HE ENDED ACTING ON WRONG INFORMATION AND DOING WRONG.
    5.Uganda still has the oligopoly advantage in the region in areas like electricity,minerals,conflict resolution and oil we better utilise it effectively.Yes i said conflict resolution
    UGANDA HAS AND WILL ALWAYS BE BETTER OFF THAN THE SURROUNDING NEIGHBOURS BECAUSE OF ITS GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION,FERTILITY AND WATER BODIES DISTRIBUTION. HOWEVER, IT HAS LATELY BEEN MANAGED SO BADLY THAT IN THE MIDDLE OF ALL THAT ABUNDANCE, PEOPLE ARE GOING HUNGRY, FOOD IS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN IN NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES’ CITIES….DON’T COUNT SOUTH SUDAN OF COURSE AND PUBLIC SERVICES HAVE DETERIORATED THAT EVEN COSASE WAS RECENTLY BRIBED TO COSMETISE THE SALE OF PRIVATE BANKS BY BOU AS NOT THAT SERIOUS. ONE INCURABLE FATAL DISEASE THAT UGANDA IS NOT GOING TO SURVIVE IS RUNAWAY CORRUPTION. IT IS EVERYWHERE INCLUDING IN THE MOST UNLIKELY PLACES…CHURCHES AND MOSQUES….MOSQUES WHERE THEY PLAN A KIDNAP-FOR-RANSOM IN ORDER TO BUILD FOR ALLAH…..ISN’T THAT DECAY WINNIE?
    6.What happened to barter trade?it seems old school but it can still work effectively for example, what would happen if we exchanged some few minerals for development of social infrastructure?
    CEASE TO EXPLORE ANY ALTERNATIVE BECAUSE WHENEVER GREED HAS BEEN INSTITUTIONALISED, NOTHING MOVES FORWARD. BARTER, INFRASTRUCTURE,EDUCATION ALL BECOME USELESS….YOU STUDY AND QUALIFY BUT DON’T GET A JOB……YOU BUILD BIG HOUSES BUT NO BUSINESS…………YOU SELL AND THEY DON’T PAY(South Sudan food debts)..you produce and get a bumper harvest but the Rwanda border, which is the only access to Eastern Congo too is closed due to meddlers who support insurgents….etc…
    things must be revisited and a route chartered towards where things went wrong else, anarchy may soon reign……police shooting a person going to visit schoolchildren, covering themselves up and newsmen supporting them then…shortly after a totally different opposite picture is displayed…..ISO kills a policeman and hides the body, then people say it is ISO which took him when he was alive, then people start shouting….al this points to a system that is going downhill.

  3. Most of the time I hear the word ideology my mind races to those tattered copies of the ‘ Juche Idea’ and’ the Green book’ which as youths we religiously read in the 1986 and 87 in order to comprehend the liberation that would propel our state to the much admired First world status. Sadly as it is clear to all, we have maintained our position among the poorest nations on earth as it was in the beginning. the fellas in the EPRC in Makerere with a few exceptions like Dr. Fred Muhumuza will teach the best economic theory until they are rewarded with those juicy perks in government offices and all semblance of logic goes south .Sadly what we are facing is not what you would term as a dilemma it is intellectual dishonesty and when this feeds in the political arena we will always get our scapegoats ever ready. Ideology is not ugandan and nothing will ever make it so. Everything revolves about who is eating what. the cronies of Idi Amin. the praise singers of Obote and the sycophants
    of Museveni are all well educated men and women.

    • Kambere, you are still trying to relate theory with the cold hard facts of life and you are terribly disappointed that they don’t tally. You are not the only one.
      A country like Uganda can be compared to a beautiful innocent helpless girl. The parents will either be drunks who will pimp her shamelessly to any asian or european in exchange for a little monies and beer or they can be stoic christians who will wait for opportunities or die in poverty but dignified.
      Dr Ateenyi should not be bored by my concern about the railway though I come back to it every now and then. What will you tell the descendants when they labour to pay an impossible-to-pay debt for a railway which was uprooted when it was functioning?
      As for the theories of book-educated economists, they are just that. In military training they teach soldiers how to kill but not be killed…. same goes for professional soccer coaches. But as an adult you know what takes place when the battle starts……………. nothing goes according to book anymore.
      As for the educateds of Museveni government, many other uneducated people who wield the real power undermine them from behind rendering them impotent.

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