Archive for September, 2012


The Country for the Future of our Children
By Nicholas Ddumba Katumba

This year, 2012, Uganda is celebrating 50 years of self-rule. I am skeptical to call it independence because for sure there is almost nothing to show that the country is independent, but there is everything to show that we have been ruling ourselves into failure and stuntedness.

Uganda at 50 is like a 15 year child who looks and behaves like a 5 year old. The ‘leadership’ of this country for the last 50 years has sunk us in; they have all disappointed. Uganda at 50 is comparable to a child born and his parents put her in the care of a relative; they go away to an outside country to work for 20 years. When they come back, they are sure that this child is grown and now 20 years old, must be at university, all looking good and able to have a meaningful conversation with them. To their disappointment, they find the child, yes grown and 20 years old, but still in senior one at a certain low quality school somewhere deep in the country, looking thin and stunted. They are disappointed because they have been sending money (taxes) for up-keep and all the other necessary support. That is how Uganda is. The options they have are to take away the child and go with her or leave her with a more ‘trustworthy’ caretaker.

For these coming 50 years, therefore, Ugandans should decide to change the way child Uganda is going to be looked after. They can either choose to put her into the hands of a more ‘trustworthy’ caretaker or go with her to the outside country where they stay. However, leaving child Uganda with another trustworthy caretaker has a risk of repeating the same earlier mistake when she was neglected despite all the financial support given, just because trust is only perceived and this may be a wrong perception.

I would therefore think that the best option is to take the child with the parents, stay with her, making sure that she enjoys her parents’ sweat in full. In other words, Ugandans should come up and out to take back the power of running our own country instead of entrusting it to people we perceive as trustworthy, but end up disappointing us. We should take back the power and authority of running the affairs of our country starting by changing the leadership structure of the country and the system of governance if we want to have something to show by the time we celebrate 100 years of self-rule.

Ugandans are crying foul today because the leadership of this country has failed and totally disappointed us in terms of service delivery, which is the main and most important measuring factor that manifests effective leadership. We should drop the complacency and mediocre contentment, come up and out to demand what we exactly deserve from the leadership. In this endeavor, therefore, I suggest the following leadership structure and system of governance for the next 50 years. I am not an expert in all, therefore, I will welcome expert opinion and discussion, not to criticize or negate, but to add on more knowledge to come up with a complete and comprehensive structure and system:

The Legislature:- this should consist of two houses

1) House of Representatives – this should take on much of the representation that is currently done by constituent MPs, but this time representing districts. This district representation should be by one male MP and one female MP, making it two people representing every district. The election of these two representatives should be by voting (universal suffrage). This should bring about effective representation, devoid of political patronage and at the same time bring down the wage and welfare bill of this arm of government.

Their eligibility should be minimum Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education; the person standing should not have any kind of criminal record or have been imprisoned due to financial fraud of any kind; should be a citizen of Uganda for at least 10 consecutive years and with a known address in their area of intended representation.

2) The Senate – this should be the upper house whose composition should be based on regional authorities/governments, recognized cultural and faith-based organizations. They would include federal/regional tier states having one Senator each, one Senator for each faith-based organization and one Senator for each cultural grouping. Faith-based organizations and cultural groupings should be those recognized by the constitution and with a sizeable membership of followers.

The Senate will take on the role of making and approving major laws, advisory services to the president and make major decision, for example those concerning the army and the more sensitive matters of the state.

Their eligibility should be minimum of a Diploma from a nationally recognized institution; a citizen of Uganda with a good social standing; a person who has individually/privately achieved some level of success in their field of play/occupation. He should have been living in Uganda for at least 20 consecutive years and with a known address.

In both the House of Representatives (HOR) and the Senate, there should be one representative for People with Disabilities (PWDs). No other special focus groups should be considered.

The leadership of both houses: there should be a Speaker and Deputy Speaker. Where the Speaker elected belongs to the presidency winning political party, the Deputy Speaker should be elected from among the opposition members and vice versa. There should as well be Leader of Government Business and Leader of Opposition in both houses.

The Presidency and/or Prime Minister

There should be either of the two and not both. They currently both have executive powers, which leads to duplication of duties, resources and sometimes lead to execution clashes. In my opinion, we should have only the president with a vice president, whose minimum qualification should be that of a Senator; should also be at least 35 years.

The president and vice president must have been elected under universal suffrage as running mates. A person should be president for only two 5-year consecutive terms as maximum. However, the running mate (vice president) can also run as president and if elected, can occupy office to maximum two 5-year consecutive terms. This person running as president should be fronted either by a political party/coalition of political parties or an independent candidate who should be nominated and endorsed by at least one-third of all district authorities in Uganda.

The president should have executive powers mandated to him by the constitution and the legislature. He is answerable to the legislature and under his office there should only be the vice president and cabinet ministers. No presidential advisors and RDCs and all those other offices or positions of political patronage.

The Cabinet Ministries

These should be kept as few as possible:
(i) Ministry of Education and Human Development
(ii) Ministry of Health and Medical Services
(iii) Ministry of Finance and Planning
(iv) Ministry of Trade, Industries and Economic Affairs
(v) Ministry of Security and Internal Affairs
(vi) Ministry of External Affairs and Regional Co-operation
(vii) Ministry of Defense
(viii) Ministry of Works and Physical Infrastructure
(ix) Ministry of ICT and Media
(x) Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs
(xi) Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities
(xii) Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources
(xiii) Ministry of Culture, Humanities and Religious Affairs
(xiv) Ministry of Water and Environment

Each cabinet ministry should be headed by a minister and a deputy minister and no ministry should have more then one deputy, there should instead be directorates, which should all be answerable to the Permanent Secretary.

The eligibility of ministers should be minimum requirement as that of a member of HOR in addition to proven leadership and managerial experience in identifiable fields of play or occupation. He should be at least 30 years of age.

The Judiciary

All justices and judges should be nominated, seconded and recommended by the Senate. They should have at least 10 years of judiciary/law practice.

The Electoral Commission

All commissioners and some senior managers should be nominated, seconded and confirmed by the Senate in consideration with the different registered political parties. The commissioners should have the same eligibility requirement as that of member of the HOR.

Security Agencies

The Army – should have a national character, answerable to the Senate in consultation with the president. The head of the army, the deputy and some senior appointments should be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The Police – should also have a national character and answerable to the ministry of Security and Internal Affairs in consultation with the HOR. The head of the Police, deputy and some senior appointments should be nominated by the Minister of Security and Internal Affairs and confirmed by the HOR.

The Prisons Department – should be answerable to the Ministry of Security and Internal Affairs in consultation with the HOR. The head of Prisons, deputy and some senior appointments should be nominated by the Minister of Security and Internal Affairs and confirmed by the HOR.

All the other intelligence agencies like investigations and national intelligence should operate under the Police and Army respectively. No other form of security agency should be formed or allowed to operate other than those two.

The System of Governance

The system of governance should be in such a way that there are regional governments arranged in federal states or regional tiers, whichever offers more effectiveness in terms of service delivery, governance and decision making by every citizen of Uganda. These should be organized around cultural groupings, putting into consideration size of membership/population numbers. These regional governments should be headed by governors, with executive committees and legislative councils. The other departments should be extensions of the central government departments/directorates; such these may include the judiciary, the police, prisons, electoral commission and such others as may be deemed necessary.

Below the federal states, should be District Authorities headed by District Chairmen and other Councilors representing counties. There should also be set up county leadership, sub-county, parish and village leadership.

Political Parties

This system of governance should allow different political parties to form and play in a leveled ground. However there should be a maximum number of political parties whose leadership should qualify to be members of the Senate. These parties should be vetted and approved for registration by the Senate. They should be national in nature, non-tribalistic and not religiously inclined and with clear national objectives and agenda agreeable to the national constitution.

Cultural Groupings/Institutions

These should be recognized and represented at the Senate level. Cultural leaders are only allowed to play an indirect political role through their elected Senate representatives. Only those cultural institutions with a sizeable number of membership and recognized by the constitution should be considered for representation.

Faith-based Organizations/Religious Groupings

These should also be recognized and represented at the Senate level. Their leaders are only allowed to engage in politics indirectly through their elected Senate representatives. Only those faith-based organizations or religious groupings with a sizeable number of following and recognized by the constitution should be considered for representation.

The National Constitution

It should be revised to take care of the suggested leadership structure and system of governance. But also most importantly, it should be made in such a way that no self-seeking person(s) should attempt to tamper with any article in a way of changing it, removing it or replacing it with another on for the next 50 years or even beyond.

The national constitution should be given the utmost respect for it not to be changed as rulers wish to meet their personal and selfish gains.

Why These Changes?

Currently and for the best of the last 50 years of Uganda’s independence, the country has actually been more dependent than independent. Dependent on donors, foreign ideologies, strategy and planning, programmes by world bank, IMF and so many others who think that one size fits all, bringing policies that work in different countries and geographies to work here. Hence the results have been more foreign, failing to meet and address the realities on the ground. There have been more workshops, more seminars, more commissions of inquiries, taking the biggest chunk of both donor and taxpayers money than what is put into service delivery.

Uganda has never seen or experienced any form of leadership for those last 50 years. We have only seen rulers and dictators who have all been just pushed out of power. Everyone who has ruled this country has changed the supreme law, the constitution, to meet their personal agenda, and not even the agenda of their political parties at most.

No president of Uganda has been truly a statesman, working towards a national vision for the generations to come. Those who have tried, have only scored about 20%, which in effect is failure. Many people, scholars, political commentators and analysts have tried to point out issues they think have led to the failure of state Uganda, but they have not touched thoroughly the core, the root of the issues, which is total lack of leadership, or if it’s there, then total disrespect to leadership principles, which are integrity, honesty, humility, proactivity and a national vision. We have seen more arrogant, selfish people is positions of responsibility. A leaders is supposed to be empathic, should seek first to understand then to be understood, should be visionary, should be proactive, should put first things first in this case Ugandans and should think and act in a win-win style. He should also always seek creative cooperation, have respect for all people and especially those he leads. Among all the presidents we have had, I don’t see anyone with such qualities.
Therefore, until we sort out the leadership issues, the next 50 years may even become worse considering the fact that everything is becoming globalized. We may not have anything Ugandan, we may not be able to compete and we may lose the Ugandan heritage. Where there are no effective leaders, the core of national development is dead. So many people have talked about empowering the people in terms of financial handouts, UPE, USE, Prosperity for all, Entandikwa, etc. All these are good to have, but only secondary, they cannot work where the modus operandi us non-existent. What I call true empowerment it this:

a) Streamline the leadership structures that will ensure service delivery effective and felt down to the individual Ugandan;
b) Work on the infrastructure that will spur economic activities, i.e. work on the road network for people to move faster and transport merchandise faster to the markets;
c) Work on energy for people to access it more affordably so they can add value to what they produce before getting it to the market;
d) Work on the health sector so that parents and caretakers are sure their sick children and other relatives will get the required medical attention and care, hence this will give them a relaxed mind to concentrate their energies on other productive activities;
e) When you provide UPE and USE make sure the standards are the same and regionally or internationally comparable, there is food, there is teacher motivation and the quality of education is good for even a minister’s and a president’s child to attend the same school.
f) Uganda ranks high among countries with people who come up with ideas to start up new businesses. But also ranks high on failed businesses. Reason is people who start these businesses do them for daily survival – feeding, renting, bills (medical and school) old age relatives upkeep, hence the business starts spending before any form of revenue or profit is realized and after a few months the business winds up. It is foreigners branded as investors that are considered for tax waivers and other incentives, including capital grants, mainly because most of these are fronted by powerful politicians or well connected (politically) people, and to your and my surprise this same politician will not even think about fronting a local person with a brilliant idea to access capital, because possibly he will not be able to give a ‘cut’. There is need for clear policies and strategies to grow and support local start-ups.

When people are sure that they have food at home, their children are getting quality education and their sick are getting the required medical attention and care, they will then focus on more productive activities that will increase their earning capacities and also enlarge the government tax base. Today the government, for example charges up to 40% as PAYE, meaning that if you earn 2m/= per month as salary, the government takes 0.8m/= off before it reaches your bank account for yet other charges like bank charges, taxes on groceries, airtime excise duty, etc.

If and when the government can focus on service delivery and infrastructure development, then they should expect that the private sector will do very spurring the economic development. I and I guess you too, would not mind a lot for the taxman to take 40% of my salary as long as I know that there are government hospitals in my area and there is medicine and motivated medical staff to take good care of my sick; as long as I am sure that there is quality education and food in the UPE and USE schools where I take my children; as long as the roads that lead to my upcountry farm are good enough for me to transport my farm produce to where that market is; as long as there is electricity on the national grid and affordable enough in my home area to process and/or preserve my produce in a way of adding value/preserving it for the next day without it getting spoilt; as long as I can access clean water. I really wouldn’t mind a lot and I guess you would not mind a lot either.

This leadership structure is meant to ensure that there is effective service delivery up to the lowest levels. It is meant to ensure that power really belongs to the people. They choose their leaders right from the lowest levels to the top and the leadership is answerable to the people. That the people hold their future, their destiny in the hands.

This leadership structure is meant to ensure that we do not have a single-man vision state. It is meant to ensure that there is no big-man syndrome, that security agencies work for the good of the entire nation, not for one man or a few individuals.

It is meant to ensure democracy with its true meaning at all levels of governance. It is meant to create a self-determining Uganda for today, tomorrow and years to come. It is meant to ensure that the wage and welfare bill of government officials is manageable. That 80% of government expenditure goes to actual service delivery – hospitals, schools, clean water, energy, roads, security.

At the time when Uganda will be celebrating 100 years, i.e. the next 50 years, at least 60% of Uganda’s population should be middle class citizens; the country with oil, gold and a number of other mineral resources, abundant farm produce, should be at least 50% industrialized. 60% of farm produce should be able to reach the market with added value. GDP should have increased by more than 150%. Per capita income should be more than $5,000.

Electricity on the national grid should cover over 70% of all urban areas. Clean water should be accessible by over 80% of the population. The country should have several well organized cities other than Kampala and a few others. 70% of Ugandan urban dwellers should be able to afford decent housing. Poverty line levels and below it should be at the bare minimum.

50% of the road network should be tarmacked; we should have fly-overs to deal with traffic jams and give a modernized look; we should have a fully function passenger railway network.

The country should be able to have enterprises on international standards that are capable of employing 10,000, 20,000 and more Ugandans. Teacher to student ration should be at least 1:30 maximum. Doctor to patient ration should be 1:20 maximum.

Places like Katwe, the so called jua-kalis should turn out to be high precision industrial areas.

Internet penetration should be at least 70% of the population. With natural resources and world-class tourist attractions, the tourism sector should have grown more than 150% with several 5-star hotels and lodges.

With the country’s central location in the east and central African region, Uganda should be a major business destination as a trade hub linking such countries like DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, Southern Sudan to commodity transit routes of Kenya and Tanzania, and vice versa.

I also expect the presidency of the country to have changed at least 5 times minimum. This Uganda at this level by the time we celebrate 100 years of self-rule is very much possible. We just need to put our minds together, synergize and we shall achieve it.

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