Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Ramifications of Overextended Stay in Power!

"Museveni speech: Here is what sent cabinet to sleep"

By Augustine Ruzindana | Daily Monitor Wednesday, June 9 2010

In the play, Joan of Arc by George Bernard Shaw, there is a soldier character called “a saint from Hell”. This is the soldier who gave Joan two sticks to use as a cross while she was being burnt at the stake. This was the only good thing the soldier ever did in his life. For this good act, the soldier gets one day out of Hell every year.

On Friday June 4, the Red Pepper had its one good act that may earn it a reprieve of one day out of Hell. This time, the tabloid had pictures to prove that it had a real scoop. The pictures said it all about the state of the government of Uganda and the quality of the State-of-the-Nation-Address by the boss of the 26 sleeping Cabinet ministers and NRM MPs. The sleeping cabinet could easily plead that they were following the example of their boss who is often seen in public in a similar restful repose.

However, in follow up comments by the VIPs the next day, Hon. Wopuwa gave an honest explanation: “I was bored.” That is what all the sleeping VIPs seemed to say, they have heard many times and they therefore had a peaceful sleep until their boss raised his voice to berate the opposition by menacingly emphasising that there would be elections but also carefully omitting that they would be “free and fair”.

The sleeping ministers can never have a better public accountability showing why the system is dysfunctional. If these people can afford to sleep while their benefactor is performing one of his most important public functions and while he is watching them, then what happens when they are on their own is obvious. The system is tired and those managing it are even more tired. For capturing the rulers in anaesthetic state, the Red Pepper deserves its one day out of Hell.

What is most noteworthy about this public slumber of the rulers is the sheer impunity exhibition. They knew that there was live TV coverage and photographers around but it did not matter. This is the same attitude to corruption. Corruption is so blatant that people steal public funds and take bribes and kickbacks without caring about the harm done to the public or whether it will be found out.

Thus the conservative estimate is that about 50 per cent of the public budget is stolen. Coming to the President’s address, it was more of a campaign address full of promises and aspirations of “transforming Uganda from a Third Word to a First World country”. Mulago to be rehabilitated, Kampala to get two more big hospitals, 11 referral hospitals to be rehabilitated, Karuma Dam construction to start next year, Entebbe Road to get four lanes, directing that wages close to international levels be paid to scientists etc.

Between July 2009 and March 2010, 313 projects were licensed by the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) but how many of them have actually been implemented is what should have been reported. The whole speech was just the usual promises. How many times has Gayaza-Zirobwe-Wobulenzi, Ntungamo-Mirama Hill/Kagamba-Ishaka, Fort Portal-Bundibudyo roads etc appeared in his speeches in the last 25 years?

The speech contains a table showing improvement of taxation since 1986 but the ratio has stagnated around 13 per cent of GDP for almost 10 years and is yet to reach the African average of 18 per cent. More important would be a table showing how much of the revenue collected goes to corruption and how much to services to the public. The repetition, for three hours, of what has been said so many times is what sent the cabinet to sleep.

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