An open letter to President Museveni (2024)

Saturday, 5th March 2011

An open letter to President Museveni

By Sunday Geoffrey Kisangara

Your Excellency,

The 10 days allowed by the Ugandan constitution for anyone to challenge the outcome of the presidential elections has elapsed. We can safely say that candidate Museveni of the NRM won.

Now that you are back in State House as President of the Republic of Uganda with an NRM-dominated parliament to rubber stamp your wishes, I hereby counsel you on the way forward.

You either change course straightaway or risk facing the French-style revolution in Uganda. Lessons from Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Ben Ali of Tunisia and Gaddaffi of Libya — all of whom were your best friends should teach you what to expect when Ugandans eventually get fed up with you.

Please be informed that political leaders are servants of the people and are elected to serve the interests of the people that elect them. The people have put their trust in you to manage the affairs of Uganda on their behalf and not on behalf of your family and cronies. Interestingly, if you didn’t know, all political careers normally end up in failure.

Fight Corruption

Museveni and the NRM are synonymous with corruption. This corruption starts at the heart of what Museveni cherishes most — and that is power. Power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely.

You remember the talk that Uganda and Africa in general are poor and backward because we tend to have presidents for life. Museveni promised to change that and end presidents for life in Uganda . He said that his new NRM brand of leadership is not “a mere change of guards” but intended to bring a “fundamental change” in our politics and our society. That was in 1986. Sadly, all that was thrown out of the window by Museveni because of the “absolute power” he craved for and now wields.

Museveni and his family desperately want to rule Uganda like a fiefdom. In Museveni’s Uganda , it is not what you know but who you know that matters. Museveni’s family seem to have its fingerprints on every contract in Uganda , on every lucrative business deal in Uganda, on every decent employment opportunity in Uganda and on every sensitive position that matters in Uganda — despite all being of mediocre level of intelligence.

In Museveni’s world, his family, friends and relative have been caught red handed stealing from the national treasures and doing dubiously stinking filthy deals with the state with a sole purpose of enriching themselves. These guys are professional broad-day light robbers, robbing the poor tax payer, the sick and weak and our future generation.

The evidence is there for you all to see: The CHOGM scandals; NSSF-Temangalo scandals; Global Aids, Malaria & TB fund scandals; AGOA-Kananathan deal scandals, the government scandals in bailing out of Hassan Basajjabalaba and his business; the rotten or junk helicopters scandal; the misappropriation of NAADS funds; the Danze Trading Co scandal; Museveni’s land giveaway scandals, the ghost govt workers, ghost soldiers and ghost medical centres scandals; Vice President Kazibwe and the cattle-dips scandal; SWIPCO scandal; BIDCO scandal, the Shs 26billion given to Uganda Railways broke investor; the corrupt sale of our public institutions under the theme of privatisation in which the state lost billion of dollars, etc.

The list is long.

In Museveni’s Uganda where a petty thief is either lynched to dead by the mob or handed down a stiff punishment by the courts, Museveni on the other hand is always on hand to shield his family members, relatives and cronies whenever caught up in mega corruption scandals and strangely, Museveni always rewards those culprits with promotions. A case in point is Sam Kutesa, Amama Mbabazi, Gen Salim Saleh, to mention but a few.

Museveni must fight corruption and must be seen to fight corruption otherwise his credibility as a leader is dead in the water and to succeed, he must start with himself, his family, relatives & cronies. You must fight corruption, the causes of corruption and the corrupt, Mr President.

Institute the rule of law

In Museveni’s Uganda, justice is dispensed depending on where you hail from, what political party you support and also depending on who you know that holds power. Even some concerned judge recently said he was tired of trying “tilapias” and would like to see real “crocodiles” brought to his court for trial too. This was in reference to a CHOGM case where engineer Bagonza was tried and sentenced for his part in those scandals yet the real untouchable crocodiles in the case remained truly untouched.

Museveni and his elusive military squads wearing black (black mamba) invaded and defiled the High Court and rearrested and detail the suspects that were about to be released on bail. That is something that only Gen. Idi Amin could do in our history of Uganda. Museveni refers to court orders as illegal, something that shames every law-abiding peace loving human being.

President Museveni is on record directing executive organs of the government not to comply with court orders. Even the Uganda Law Society agrees with me on this. Sometime back they wrote to the president and said that they were gravely dismayed by a series of events in the country that his government was doing that undermined the constitution.

There is no serous investor that would invest serious money in an economy where it is widely known that there is no rule of law. You end up attracting the corrupt investors who are after short term personal gains at the expense of the country.

The rule of law, fairness, democracy, dignity and justice are birth rights of every citizen in the country. The NRM has presided over the most notorious torture chambers (safe houses) in our history. Thousands of Ugandans are suffering day and night in these so-called safe houses all over the country.

Justice delayed is justice denied. Museveni must stop interfering with the judiciary. He must release all suspects held in illegal safe houses and hand them to the Police. The constitution need to change and allow the creation of a body of senior judges to appoint fellow judges. The president must stop appointing judges. In doing so, the judiciary shall be made completely independent of the Executive.

Education – Revisit UPE & USE policies

Museveni must address the mountain of problems of bigger numbers of students in our classrooms, epidemic poverty among teachers, low teacher morale and lack of scholastic materials.

On top of all this, the new government must enhance the leadership qualities of our head teachers both in primary and secondary education. All head teachers ought to be trained in business management, leadership, innovation and creativity. All teachers need to be trained in customer care, leadership, creativity and health and safety.

There must be comprehensive research in education undertaken by the government and we need to carry out studies on the rates of return in education. In short, Uganda deserve an education system fit for the 21st century as the current one is not fit for purpose. We need an education system that will enhance the mental faculty of every student and prepare them for bigger things in the world of business.

Failure to visit the UPE and USE policies will see Uganda remain a third-world country. Uganda also needs an assessment and review of its post secondary education system. Not every student is academically gifted for university education. We therefore need a lot of investment in vocational training which at the moment is dying a slow death.

In today’s world, businesses tend to be attracted to countries where the population is well educated, highly innovative, very creative, shows a lot of flexibility and is hardworking.

Job creation

In Uganda today, nobody know the rates of unemployment in the country. Sometime back it is understood that the Japanese government had wanted to help Uganda to create the first accurate national Identification register. My understanding is that this computer system was not going to be narrow but rather so broad that at a stroke of a keyboard, you could tell how many Ugandans are in meaningful employment, unemployed, in education or training, sick or health, dead, or new born. The IT system was such a good project that it would give you that information based on age, gender, districts or national level if you wanted it.

Ironically, Museveni refused that free Japanese offer and opted for a very expensive German one in which the tax payer has so far lost billions of shillings and which was not going to be robust enough in the monitoring of society. We all know why he declined the Japanese offer. It is because it could not have allowed him to cheat in the elections, hide nepotism in employment, etc.

In Museveni’s Uganda , unemployment is so high but we don’t know the rates at which it is standing. The number of jobs created in Uganda per year is dismally so low. There are so many people chasing too few meaningful jobs.

You will be surprised to meet university graduates with better degrees selling tomatoes in Owino market or riding a boda boda. In Museveni’s Uganda , it is not what you know but who you know that matters.

We have a system of government that has been churning out graduates but throwing them on the streets with little hope of ever getting a meaningful job. A classic case in point is in educational sector where the government is the biggest employer. Up until recently, we had teacher-students graduating each year but unable to get jobs because the government had a ban on teacher recruitment. This went on for over 12 years. Yet, our teacher-student ratios throughout the county are appalling.

Some people might say, why can’t these young educated people start their own businesses rather than wait for the government to help create jobs for them. The answer is not simple. Many of these young graduates lack capital to start serious business with hence end up selling tomatoes, charcoal, alcohol, pan cakes on streets as well as running barber shops and boda bodas, etc. a good number of them are from poor backgrounds, have no land titles as security for bank loans and some are afraid to get bank loans due to the higher rates of lending.

Unless Museveni is serious about job creation in Uganda , we might witness a serious uprising of the young against this NRM regime that is heavily filled with old dinosaurs unwilling to give way to the young. Remember, an idle mind is a devil’s workshop. What started in Tunisia, then to Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Libya might soon reach the streets of Kampala.

Healthcare

Museveni must address the acute shortages of medicines and supplies in all government medical centres in the country as well as the shortages of medical staff, poverty among the medical staff, and low morale within the medical profession. He must address the acute lack of beds in hospitals. He must improve the diagnostics in every medical centre.

On top of all this, the new government must enhance the leadership qualities of our medical superintendents and OC’s. All medical superintendents and OC’s need to be trained in business management, leadership, innovation and creativity. All medical staff, right from doctors to nurses, needs to be trained in customer care, leadership, creativity, counseling and health and safety.

While Museveni and his cronies can afford the luxury of treatment abroad, 85% of Ugandans can’t even afford treatment in a private clinic in Uganda . A healthy population is a good incentive to attract foreign investors.

Transport & Telecommunication

Uganda lacks an integrated transport strategy. All roads need to be upgraded and completely new ones built. Our roads are in chaos. Even the standard of the newly built ones is poor that they can’t last for over 2-5yrs. Uganda needs a public bus-transport system that is organised, efficient and economic. That would cut off the traffic jam chaos that we see in Kampala .

Serious thoughts need to be put in building a new railway system that is fast and efficient. This would in turn help cut down costs for business, improve mobility, create jobs and decongest the large metropolitan towns and cities. This should be developed hand in hand with a tram-system of transport for the metropolitan towns and cities.

Special attention too needs to be put on developing an internal air transport system that is equally regional and international. At least five more airports are needed to be built in Uganda as well as establishing a national airline.

Besides transport, a new powerful fibre optical network ought to be laid alongside every good road or railway and into the rural Uganda . This is very good for ordinary telephone communication as well as for faster broadband internet services. The cheaper communication gets the better for economic growth. Cheaper and faster transport and communication services act as incentives to attract real investors and not the thieves we see in Uganda.

Agricultural development and industrialisation of the rural upcountry

I am an opponent of the NRM’s destruction of our co-operative movement. The co-operative movement was successfully used as a political vehicle in our struggle for independence and remained the only safety net (Social Security) to many poor Ugandans against abject poverty. Parents were able to put their kids to good education thanks to this co-operative movement.

Ever since the NRM killed the co-operative movement, we have seen abject poverty cripple into many homes in Uganda . I am a stronger advocate of the co-operative movement as a vehicle to develop a nation, empower its citizenry and even industrialise a country.

Countries like the UK, Japan, etc. successfully used the co-operative movement for capital creation and generation. What’s annoying is that Uganda lost a lot in the destruction of its co-operatives and in 2006 Museveni and his cronies in the inner sanctum begun to see the importance of the Co-operative movement. With his bona baggagawale programme coming into effect, he started waking up to realise what many of us had been saying that Uganda needs the co-operatives movement as a vehicle against poverty.

I am going to use a very simple language on this point because I want Ugandans to read and understand what I am saying. Equally I want to dispel the myth in Museveni’s assertion that he is the only Ugandan with a vision for our country.

Rather than wholesale privatisation as we had in Uganda , we could have developed our co-operative movement and move it to a higher level. This could only have happened if there was a political will. The basics are simple.

You allow the individual co-operative unions to get credit guarantees backed by the government through the central bank to set up a minimum of 3 – 4 manufacturing industries that are not agro-based within their areas of jurisdiction.

You then technically help these co-operative unions to borrow technology, capital and technical know-how from the developed world as well as from the new industrialised countries of South East Asia, Brazil and China and you ensure they are supervised for a minimum of 3 – 5 years by the providers of that technology to allow the transfer of knowledge to our local people.

You then ensure that all members of those cooperative unions become shareholders and are issued with a promissory note that guarantees them a share of profit for a period of 10 years. After 10 years of successful operations, those industries are then floated on the money markets and the farmers’ promissory notes are automatically converted into share certificates. In doing this you instantly create a culture of small shareholders living in the rural but having a stake in their nation’s economic well being.

Local farmers would however be encouraged to have their land surveyed and issued with land titles. These titles would then be deposited with the unions in exchange of the promissory notes. The issuing of titles should be made easy to ensure that they are issued at local district levels rather than from Head Office in Kampala . After 10 years, all land titles would be handed back to their rightful owners.

In a just 10 years, you would have created a manufacturing industrial base in the rural Uganda that would automatically stem off the epidemic rural-urban migration with all its associated social ills. That manufacturing base would create jobs for the local people, provides income to all workers and shareholders and increases the tax base for the government as well as creating new vibrant towns.

With their improved incomes, farmers would be encouraged to engage in modern methods of agriculture to increase their farm output. Large scale agricultural modernisation in the rural Uganda is difficult especially when you have poor people living a peasantry lifestyle relying on small plots of land.

Low taxes, reduce bureaucracy and red-tape in business

Private companies that set up their operations in the upcountry should be given longer periods of tax exemptions as well as pay a lower rate of corporation tax than those setting up in the capital Kampala or Jinja.

We need a low tax economy. Lower taxes are an incentive in attracting businesses in the economy. Higher taxes reduce the company’s ability to expand and hire more staff. The more industries are attracted in an economy the wider the tax base from which a country can collect its revenue.

The cost of setting up a business in Uganda as well as the time it take to set up a business must be reduced drastically. Bureaucracy and red tape kills business creativity and innovation.

Electrification of Uganda

When Museveni and his NRM came to power in 1986, they used to tell us of “rural electrification by the year 2000”. That year came and passed but there was no constant supply of electricity even in Kampala.

For any country to experience economic and industrial development, power generation has to be given a priority. One of the impediments of industrial & economic development in Uganda is lack of sufficient supply of power and extremely high power tariffs.

The problem is not the shortage of electricity but lack of political will to invest in the energy sector, poor planning and lack of leadership to expand capacity, plus outright corruption at the heart of the NRM government.

With all our natural resources, only the myopic can’t see the potential Uganda has to generate enough electricity necessary for our economic development.

Smaller but efficient and transparent government

Museveni must reduce the ever ballooning cost of bureaucracy in his government. Waste must be cut right from the President’s office to the local sub county level. Every government initiative or project must pass the “good value for money” test. The president doesn’t need a brigade for protection. The president doesn’t need 100 presidential advisors when he has a cabinet. Uganda can’t afford a big cabinet.

In conclusion, If Museveni can implement all the above in a fairly and transparent manner within this term, believe me, all Ugandans would vote for the NRM in 2016. If you fail to heed my advice, expect some trouble from the angry Ugandans Mr Museveni. To a smart leader, all these projects needed only 10 years to implement not the 30 years Museveni needs to think about them.

Knowing the answers means asking the right questions but finding the right questions is an art of true leadership. From where I stand, Museveni has not asks the right questions for Uganda for 25 years.

Viva la Presidente!:evil:

END

(The writer is a London-based Ugandan freelance journalist)

An open letter to President Museveni (2024)

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