Members of the public too no longer switch on their radios or Television sets to listen to the Presidentâ€™s annual address; they donâ€™t expect anything new and exciting. The President does not show any respect and does not hide his dislike for those who dare question his ideas, policies, style of leadership and quality of governance.
THE PARLIAMENT OF UGANDA
OFFICE OF THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
THE STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS
DELIVERED TO THE 9TH PARLIAMENT ON 5th JUNE 2014
WAFULA OGUTU PHILLIP, MP
LEADER OF THE OPPOSTION
JUNE 19TH 2014
Rt. Hon. Speaker,
Hon. Members of Parliament,
1. Article 101(1) of the Constitution provides that “The President shall, at the beginning of each session of Parliament, deliver an address to Parliament on the state of the nation”. In this address the President is commanded by the constitution to inform the country about the state of the nation since his last address the previous year, including what he or his government did during the year, what he plans to do this year and the enabling policies and laws that he is going to pursue and/or propose to Parliament and the country in the year ushered in by his address.
2. Unfortunately in the long tenure of President Museveni he has not managed to fulfill this duty, even though every year he duly makes a speech at the beginning of every session of Parliament saying anything he likes. This could explain why many of his assistants in this House, technocrats, and invited guests go into a slumber mode when he is delivering his address. They know he is going to repeat what they have heard many times over and over again.
Members of the public too no longer switch on their radios or Television sets to listen to the President’s annual address; they don’t expect anything new and exciting.
3. As always the President makes a sort of campaign speech, with the same aspirational statements on roads, electricity, health, education, agriculture etc that will not be fulfilled spiced with abuses and insults to those leaders in the opposition he considers to be his enemies.
The President does not show any respect and does not hide his dislike for those who dare question his ideas, policies, style of leadership and quality of governance. He has failed to embrace our political diversities.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, Hon. Members, we are not in opposition for the sake of opposing everything that government does or that we dislike any individual leader in government. NO, we are opposed to personal rule, impunity, patronage, militarism, corruption, injustice and the system that perpetuates these evils.
4. Rt. Hon. Speaker, it may perhaps be prudent for Parliament to agree with the President on a proper format for the State of the Nation Address to enable him adequately fulfill his duty as commanded by the Constitution. It wastes a lot of time for so many people to listen to almost the same speech every year and then listen to its variation when the Minister of Finance, on his behalf and in his presence, reads the Budget a few days later, followed by his long explanatory comments.
5. Rt. Hon. Speaker, on behalf of the Opposition in Parliament and all Ugandans, let me extend our condolences and sympathies to all the families which lost their loved ones, some in avoidable circumstances, especially our soldiers who died or were injured in Somalia, South Sudan and elsewhere on duty.
Our condolences also go to those who lost children under the age of five due to avoidable causes and mothers who were needlessly lost in child birth.
We wish also to extend our condolences and sympathies to those who have lost loved ones in or have been displaced by natural disasters like those in Kasese, Sironko, Bududa, Kabong, Bulambuli and many other places.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, we take this opportunity to send our condolences to the people of Kenya on the loss of so many lives of their dear ones to terrorism in the recent past.
6. Rt. Hon. Speaker, our soldiers have been in Somalia for many years now and we commend the work they have done on behalf of our country and thank them for enduring the sacrifices their service requires of them. However, we do not think they should still be that country because by now they should have trained more than enough Somali soldiers to protect their own country. If Somalis do not want to fight for themselves, then it does not make sense for our soldiers to stay for so long whereby they eventually may be regarded as a sort of occupation army.
7. Already some of our officers are under trial for alleged criminal offences committed in Somalia. What capacity is there to properly investigate activities so far away in order to avoid miscarriage of justice? Secondly is there any specific law that allows alleged criminal offences committed in Somalia to be tried in Uganda?
Rt. Hon. Speaker, the country wants to know the time table for bringing back home our troops from Somalia. They cannot be a permanent substitute for a Somali national army. It is not a desirable development as it may prove detrimental to the security of the country and the people of Uganda and the region.
8. Rt. Hon. Speaker, similarly our troops continue to die in South Sudan in a senseless war long after fulfilling the initial mission for provision of a safe passage for our nationals who were trapped in South Sudan when the war began.
9. Rt. Hon. Speaker what is the current mission of our troops in South Sudan? Who is footing the bills of that mission? Why should Uganda take sides with one protagonist in what is essentially an intra SPLM struggle, an intervention that is proving to be a stumbling block in the peace negotiations between the belligerent sides.
10. Rt. Hon. Speaker, Ugandans and the world at large need to know the time table of the withdrawal of our troops from South Sudan. We want to know whether President Yoweri Museveni would welcome a similar open intervention by another country giving material support to the side against him in the ongoing internal NRM power struggle. This is exactly what his current belligerent intervention in South Sudan amounts to.
C. STATE OF GOVERNANCE
11. Rt. Hon. Speaker, allow me to make a few comments on the state of governance in our country which the President omitted in his address.
12. Rt. Hon. Speaker, the major failure of the President is not that he just makes a ritualistic aspirational speech instead of a State of the Nation Address. His major failure is his refusal to effect a transition to a democratic multi-party system based on good faith, tolerance, trust and dialogue among the various political forces and actors and building national consensus.
13. Whereas Uganda is by law supposed to be in a multi-party system, the facts are to the contrary as on one hand there is the NRM Party fused with the state and government and on the other hand the opposition parties strangled by the Police and security agencies and whose members are classified as enemies of the state and their political party activities regarded as enemy activities. Persecution of political parties and their leaders is getting more intensified.
14. Rt. Hon. Speaker, the driving force behind whatever the regime is doing is the pursuance of a narrow political agenda focused on regime survival rather than nation building.
15. Regime survival has led to undisciplined patterns of expenditure of tax payers’ money such as the President’s permanent and continuous election campaigns, huge public administration costs, patronage, corruption, fraud, wastage and mismanagement of public resources.
16. Rt. Hon. Speaker, the only solution to this political question, is the separation of the NRM Party or any other Party that will come to powerin future, from the state so that it is a normal political party competing fairly with other political parties. A party that is dependent on state funds, institutions and structures is a total sham. History has shown that such parties never survive long, after they lose state power.
88. Rt. Hon. Speaker the administration of justice has been adversely affected by a number of undesirable developments. There has been a failure or rather a refusal by the President to appoint a substantive Chief Justice (CJ) after the retirement of the former CJ on attainment of the mandatory retirement age. There is also no substantive Deputy Chief Justice (DCJ).We now have a situation where a person not substantively appointed is acting in both positions of CJ and DCJ. This situation has affected morale in the Judiciary and the public thereby affecting the quality of administration of Justice.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, how long can this August House effectively function without a substantive Speaker and without a substantive Deputy Speaker? This is the situation in the Judiciary for almost two years now.
89. Secondly, there has been a progressive appointment of NRM political cadres, former NRM Secretariat officials, former ministers and politicians who lost elections, to judicial positions in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Whereas there is nothing that bars NRM cadres from appointment as judicial officers, it becomes worrying when it is part of a general policy of turning all facets of public life into a political tool of the ruling Party. What will happen to our judiciary and indeed other state institutions when this government is gone?
The Judiciary must be seen to administer justice impartially, but it is becoming impossible when appointments are made with political partisan activism and bias as one of the primary qualifications.
.D. POLITICAL PARTIES
17. Rt. Hon. Speaker, the role of political parties is fundamental to the building of democracy, as they are the means through which citizens aggregate their political preferences, participate in the governance of the country and voice their concerns.
18. For political parties to operate effectively there must be freedom of speech, the right to assemble and organize, there must be respect for human rights and the rule of law and there must be a level playing field for all political players.
19. If our country had moved to a true multi-party system, institutions of state should have disengaged from the ruling party. This has not yet happened, but it needs to happen, even in the interests of the NRM’s survived when out of power.
20. In a normal democratic multi-party system there are three essential conditions:
i. Meaningful competition for political power among individuals and organized political parties;
ii. Inclusive participation in the election of leaders at various levels and selection of policies through free and fair elections; and
iii. A level of civil and political liberties sufficient to ensure competition and participation.
21. Rt. Hon. Speaker, allow me, at this juncture to congratulate Hon. Brenda Nabukenya, a gallant young lady who despite all obstacles put forward by the state machinery and the Head of State himself won the Luwero by-election. Congratulations Hon. Brenda Nabukenya. Welcome back to Parliament to continue your resourceful service to the country.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, it is sad to note that the President after so many years in power has still failed to embrace all the people of this country in their diversities, including political diversity and continues partisan activities even where he is expected to behave as the Fountain of Honour and President of all Ugandans.
22. Rt. Hon. Speaker, Hon. Members, while democracy can take many forms, no system can be called democratic without a meaningful level of competition, participation and civil and political liberties. These three conditions are largely absent in Uganda. Instead, we now have a system of personal patrimonial rule and impunity based on a mixture of fear, intimidation, repression and patronage. Power is exercised without restraint, un-encumbered by rules, regulations or the law or the Constitution. What matters is what the President wants, not what the country needs. The ongoing humiliation of the Lord Mayor of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) despite a High court ruling in his favour is good example of his government’s impunity
23. Rt. Hon. Speaker a supposedly multi-party system is superimposed on a Movement System superstructure or at best running side by side with the Movement System, where the government, the presidency and the ruling party are one and the same thing.
24. Herein, lies the major failure of the President. Thirty years in power is enough time to have put in place and consolidated the necessary robust institutions and systems for a truly democratic order. Instead the President is often heard lamenting and complaining that there are not enough cadres and trusted agents to do his work or takeover from him as if he is not the one who has been in charge and failed to create enough cadres even for his party. Now, he has resorted to handing over civilian government work to soldiers, including agricultural extension services and the compilation of a voters’ register.
E. CALLS FOR INCLUSIVE NATIONAL CONFERENCE
25. Rt. Hon. Speaker, Hon. Members, behind every well-functioning democratic system lie not only just constitutions, institutions and systems but also a series of unwritten rules. For example:
(i) That the army, security agencies, civil servants do not get involved in politics; they remain neutral and impartial;
(ii) That certain level of social justice must be preserved so that those who are in power must govern for the good of the country and keep personal enrichment within constant checks.
(iii) There must be clear rules about the use of force by the armed forces and security agencies.
26. Rt. Hon. Speaker, once these unwritten rules are agreed upon, they will not be easily torn up as they are based on mutual trust. The most important unwritten rules actually relate to abuse of trust. Trust is required concerning both the basics of the constitution – how power is distributed and how it is restrained – and about the operation of individual organs of the state. So long as this confidence and trust are not abused, the rules are capable of surviving many storms. Our country needs the unwritten rules for peace, national unity and a smooth transition. That is why there are numerous demands for a national consultation conference to agree on how to move our country forward.
27. Like Rt. Hon. Madam Speaker, did at the opening of this Session of this August House, we too have been calling for a national dialogue and national healing and forgiveness. This is the best way Uganda can realise a well-functioning democracy in which politicians live in mutual respect and peaceful co-existence. If this is done, public officials will not think of taking bribes, judges will not contemplate giving way to government pressure and politicians will not plan going in exile when they lose power.
28. Rt. Hon. Speaker, once enough of these elements are established, then the system of governance as a whole can sustain and develop trust among the members of the public. This is what is known as “soft power” and democracy is upheld by soft power, not by obnoxious public order management laws and patronage.
29. Rt. Hon. Speaker, we just took the liberty to dream, as the reality facing us is an authoritarian system, which is the easier route those who control the regime have taken, to retain power through personalising the army, police and security agencies, which use force, violence and fear to maintain a relatively stable and self-sustaining system but built on the sand.
Hon. Speaker, this is what is known as “hard power”.
30. Rt. Hon. Speaker, militarism is a serious problem in Uganda. Militarism in this country comprises the following:
i. Use of the military, police and other security agencies to solve political issues;
ii. Regimentation of society (cadre formation through chakamchaka; every thorny political issue is referred to Kyankwanzi for deliberation under military discipline by privates (MPs), chaired by a General cum President) and proliferation of security organizations;
iii. Use of confrontational methods and lack of compromise since political disputes or differences are regarded as enemy acts;
iv. Use of absolute, final or terminal violent solutions instead of dialogue;
v. The concept of security being based on maximum armament; and
vi. Security being considered first national priority.
31. Proof that this country is under militarism is found in the priorities in the Budget Framework Paper 2014 in part 2 titled “Programmes for Social and Economic Development and Indicative Expenditure Framework”, which indicates “Maintenance of National Security and Defence” as the number one priority for allocation of funds in the FY 2014/15 Budget. This should not be the case for a country which for over 30 years have never been invaded by any neighbour.
32. Hon. Speaker, the solution for the situation we have outlined above, demands the holding of an all-inclusive national conference bringing together representatives of government, political parties, civil society, faith based organizations, business community, academia, youth, women and other sectors of society to agree on theway forward for the country.
33. We sincerely and firmly believe that the time to talk is now, not when the regime is crumbling as the signs of decay and inevitable disintegration are already accelerating and evident to everyone. The responsibility of dialogue largely lies on the President to take the initiative as long as he agrees to moderation by a neutral, independent mediator(s); or to accept an opposition or civil society initiative as long as it also is inclusive and mediated by an independent person(s).
F. ELECTORAL LAWS
34. The Rt Hon. Speaker, Elections involve high stakes which may precipitate violence a country . Kenya 2008/09 is a recent example. Though the winning or losing of elections is tied to a political party, ultimately the credibility of elections is linked to national stability. Elections must exhibit an over-riding concern for the greater good of the country and the people as opposed to the good of special interests or party interests.
Essentially elections must be a nation building exercise other than a divisive one. Indeed regular elections are held in our country but like they used to be in say Egypt or Iraq or Tunisia, by design the state party and its leader must win them, thus ensuring that candidate choices whether at primaries or general elections are hardly reflective of genuine preferences.
35. Rt. Hon. Speaker, electoral and other attendant laws in our country are designed to deny political space and funding to the opposition parties. That is why the government has refused to implement the law on funding political Parties passed by this August House several years ago. Elections therefore are for the purpose of window dressed democracy and legitimization of flawed processes.
Hon. Speaker, this is why most of our people, especially the youth unfortunately, now believe that there are no chances of changing government in Uganda through elections. They are instead asking for guns to fight the regime.
36. This situation is dangerous and it must be addressed and changed, otherwise the country could be plunged into a catastrophe in the not so distant future.
G. INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION
37. Rt. Hon. Speaker, this is why the Electoral Commission (EC) becomes an important institution to review and reform as the EC makes and implements important decisions that influence the outcome of elections. Thus the EC must be seen to be impartial and independent of government and other influences, which is not the case now.
38. The composition and formation of the EC affects the credibility of an electoral process. Therefore, it is important to get consensus of government, political parties, civil society, media and the public about the formation, composition, functions, jurisdiction and operation of the Electoral Commission. If the electoral process is not cleaned up, voter apathy will set in and participation in elections will be greatly reduced further.
H. NEW ELECTORAL SYSTEM
39. Rt. Hon. Speaker, all the electoral reform proposals being made are predicated on the existing electoral system of the individual member constituency, First Past the Post or winner takes it all system that is prevalent in the former British colonies and the United States of America, remaining in place.
40. Whereas the institutional and legal frameworks may have problems, most of the elections and problems in Uganda including monetization, rigging, violence, tribalism, religious bias etc which we experience during elections are associated with our electoral system.
41. We have the single member constituency, First Past the Post in which the winner is the one with most votes but not necessarily the majority of votes.
42. Rt. Hon. Speaker, no electoral system is perfect but in a transitional phase in which Uganda currently is; the most important requirement for an electoral system is that it should maximize inclusiveness and present minimal areas for potential pre-election and post-election conflicts.
43. The most suitable electoral system for Uganda where elections have been so monetized may be the List – Proportional Representation System in which voters vote for a party rather than an individual candidate and Parties receive seats in proportion to their overall share of the total votes cast.
44. Each party presents a list of candidates at the time of nomination and the winning candidates are taken from the list in order of their respective position on the list.
45. Rt. Hon. Speaker, we wish to propose that we could start with the women special interest group so that women seats are allocated to parties according to the proportion of votes received by each party. Once the country gets used to the new system, then it could be expanded to cover all electoral offices. This system is used in continental Europe, Latin America, Southern Africa and all former African French, Spanish and Portuguese colonies. In East Africa it is used with variations in Burundi and Rwanda and in Kenya and Tanzania only for special interest seats.
46. Rt. Hon. Speaker, Hon. Members, we wish to commend government for returning to Buganda recently some of their properties, they have demanded for so long. However, rectification of past errors is a necessary national matter which should be in good faith handled without political calculations in mind.
47 We appreciate that Buganda could not refuse to receive what is theirs but for this to be irreversible, there is need for retrospective national consensus on the matter; and similar restitution must be done for all areas of the country. It is not only Buganda or only areas with kings whose properties were appropriated by the central government. We believe it is time to start finding an answer to the persistent question whether there should not be a Buganda government or Bunyoro or Tooro government with real power in those kingdoms near to what was provided for in Schedule 1 of the 1962 Constitution.
48. The current situation that puts centrally and the strategically located Buganda in a perpetual struggle with the central governmentcannot allow the Kabaka to stay aloof from politics because he still has to negotiate with politicians who hold power at the centre.
49. Again we must emphasize that a national conference is necessary for the proper conclusion of the Buganda question and all other issues related to the correction of past errors.
J. THE ECONOMY
50. Rt. Hon. Speaker, Hon. Members over the last twenty eight years it is true that substantial resources have been invested to stimulate development, increase growth and reduce poverty. In spite of all this, virtually everyone, citizens, policy makers and experts agree that the expected welfare dividends for the ordinary person have not materialized.
51. Rt. Hon. Speaker, government programmes have largely remained unimplemented or poorly implemented despite large amounts of money expended on them.
52. Rt. Hon. Speaker, official statistics show that chronic poverty levels remain high at about 12 million people. Our National economy remains largely a nature-based economy while progress to industrialization remains marginal. The road infrastructure, especially rural feeder roads and urban roads in the suburbs, are in a sorry state.
Hon. Speaker, there has been no visible socio-economic transformation and improvements in the quality of life for the majority of Ugandans. There is therefore, need for new national initiatives to reverse this “No Change” trend starting with economic, political and governance reforms.
53. Rt. Hon. Speaker, government is ever boasting of having registered impressive achievements, such as macroeconomic stability, low inflation rates, stable Uganda Shilling, liberalization of domestic market and exchange rates, privatization of public enterprises, diversification of exports and elimination of state intervention in the economy. However, the situation on the ground is completely different. Take for example the following government programs in Agriculture.
54. Whereas it is true that there have been many well designed programmes what have been their end results? Largely failure. What have been the outcomes of barter trade of the 80s, the Poverty Reduction Action Plan? What about Plan for Modernization of Agriculture (PMA), NAADS, Environment Action Plan and the more recent Prosperity for All (Bonna Bagagawale of Shs. 20 million shilling per household)? These have largely been mere political slogans with minimal results. They all failed. Where are the six heifers per family which the President promised Ugandans in his last year’s State of the Nation Address?
55. Hon. Speaker, the growth rate in agriculture has declined from about 5% in the late 80s to about 1.5% presently yet population growth is about 3.5%. Agricultural contribution to GDP has also declined to around 15-20%, which significantly accounting for the acute poverty situation in the country.
56. Hon. Speaker, it is a shame that a sector which accounts for over 70% of the population generally gets less than 5% of the national budget allocation. The challenge to achieve faster modernization, growth and higher productivity in the agricultural sector calls for the budget allocation to increase to 15% over the next 10 years.
57. Rt. Hon. Speaker, our agriculture is still primitive, characterized by using the hand hoe, low yielding seeds and relying on rainfall rather than irrigation and fertilizers despite the decades’ long song of modernization of agriculture.
58. Rt. Hon. Speaker, over 50 years after independence and for about 30 years under one government, Uganda is sadly still a “subsistence farming” country dependent on a few crops and few domestic animals as acknowledged by the President himself
59. Rt. Hon. Speaker for transformation of our country to take place, there must be a transformation of the productivity of agriculture. Agriculture must move from the hand hoe to appropriate mechanization-oxen ploughs, hand held tractors and tractors.
60. Government intervention must make available improved quality seeds, farming equipment, irrigation facilities, fertilizers, affordable finance and access to markets. There should be promotion of agro-processing to add value to agricultural produce.
61. Cooperatives, both producer and marketing cooperatives, should be seriously revived to enhance capacity to ensure quality control and to bargain for better prices.
62. There should be agricultural banks or suitable agricultural products in commercial banks. Farm institutes should be revived and increased to district levels.
63. The transformation of agriculture would create a huge market thus making it possible for attraction of investment into industries and the consequential general raising of living standards and the creation of jobs for the millions of young people coming out of education institutions.
64. Rt. Hon. Speaker, there is a saying that a rich powerful king (president) must be a king of rich and powerful people, not poor ones. The President of Uganda is not a powerful President because he is a President of poor people, with 70% of the people living on land and accessing only 15-20% of GDP while the rich 20% enjoy a share of 70% of the income of the country. This is a situation that must change.
65. Rt. Hon. Speaker, education standards (outcomes) are deplorably depressing at all levels of the education system to the extent that lawyers have now to sit entry exams to LDC. All education programmes like UPE and USE have resulted into poor quality of education and the increasing abandonment of government schools for private ones?
66. To raise the standard of UPE, USE and thereby raise the quality of education requires raising remuneration and terms and conditions of teachers, start a school feeding programme, ensure that there are enough teachers, strict inspection and improved parent-teacher relationship.
67. At university level all students should be eligible for a share of the government sponsorship fund and a loan to top up the difference for those who need it. Bursaries should replace automatic government sponsorship which benefits mostly the children of the rich.
68. Rt. Hon. Speaker, infant and maternal mortality rates have stagnated at high levels. At any one time about 43% of the population is sick, the proportion of the population with access to government health unit is about 7%. About 40% of those seeking medical treatment have resorted to herbs and witchcraft. Public hospitals are sick themselves. Government has totally disregarded and disrespected the cry of the people to have the medical personal well paid and facilitated and government hospitals revamped and well stocked with medicine. The quality of health services continue to deteriorate or is non-existent in most parts of the country.
69. The countryside is going through extensive de-vegetation, including degradation and clearance of wetlands, adversely affecting regularity and amount of rainfall. The situation is bad both in rural and urban areas. Kampala, the capital city that has spread into Mukono and Wakiso districts, is a sprawling slum with frequent fatal floods. The NRM programmes on environment have largely failed and there is need for policies to arrest the situation before desertification spreads to vast areas of the country.
70. The President has been proud that there has been structural change of the economy and that the service and industry sector are now bigger than agriculture, to him a sign of modernization.
71. Rt. Hon. Speaker, Industrialization calls for the introduction of a minimum wage and laws that protect workers while at work so that no “sweatshops” are transferred from other regions of the world to exploit the hardships of our people. Wages should frequently rise proportionate to inflation.
72. Rt. Hon. Speaker, industrialization can be spurred by government insisting in big contracts, for example, hydropower or roads, having linkages to the national economy.
73. It is known that the building of dams requires a lot of cement and steel, but where will these materials be procured from? If there is no insistence that cement and steel will be procured from Ugandan sources, the linkages generated by the construction of a dam will be with cement and steel manufactures in country of origin of the contractor e.g. China, Italy or Israel.
74. Internal production would increase and create employment and generate more revenue for government. Nothing of the sort is done and therefore the impact of these projects on the national economy is not maximized.
75. Rt. Hon. Speaker, this is what we would do if we were the government. We would also ensure that our industrialisation is largely linked to our agriculture and other natural resources.
76. Rt. Hon. Speaker, we need to examine the financing of those projects. When AES had been contracted to build Bujagali with government borrowing the money, the cost was around $ 500 million. But when it was later given to another contractor, connected to the Aga Khan establishment, with the task to raise the required funding, the eventual cost more than doubled the original AES cost thus making it one of the most expensive power dams in the world.
77. Why doesn’t the country borrow to fund these projects and contract only the construction work? A sovereign country borrower is generally charged a lower interest rate than a company, which is considered to have a higher risk factor.
78. Rt. Hon. Speaker, if we were in government, we would borrow directly and hire technical skills for big projects but not borrow through a contractor like is the case of Bujagali or Karuma power dams.
79. Rt. Hon. Speaker, there are many opportunities for linkages missed through bad policies. Go to supermarkets like Uchumi, Nakumatt, Game or Shoprite and check the goods sold there. They are mainly from the home countries of those supermarkets. Uganda is just an extension of the economies of those countries since those establishments are not linked to the Ugandan manufacturing or farming sector.
80. Even such things as chicken, meat or milk are from the home countries of those companies. Can this be allowed by the home countries of those supermarkets? Most unlikely.
81. Rt. Hon. Speaker, many foreign companies are investing in this country without a requirement for local participation. Many of those companies are from countries, like Nigeria just to take one example for illustration, where local participation is mandatory.
82. Why doesn’t government insist on similar conditions or arrangements as those pertaining in the countries of origin of companies or individuals who invest here?
83. If Ugandans cannot freely engage in retail trade in India or China, for example, then Indian or Chinese nationals should not engage in retail trade here.
84. This is what is done all over the world. It will not in any way discourage foreign investment. What discourages foreign investment is lack of the rule of law, poor infrastructure, clear signs of instability as is the case now on the horizon and extortionate commissions from officials.
85. Security, peace and stability are a prerequisite for transformation, business growth and development to become durable. Therefore, it is important to ensure that we have a well-trained and motivated police, army and prisons services (not forces) properly remunerated and with improved welfare and housing.
86. Although the President has promised to modernize the army, police and security forces, this has not been done and their welfare remains neglected, largely because by the nature of their service they cannot complain. It is therefore important that the welfare, with special emphasis, on remuneration, housing, health care, dependents education and retirement benefits are attended to.
87. There is need to protect the vulnerable members of society. We had promised in our manifesto to “pay Shs. 50,000= to persons over 65 years” without any formal retirement benefits. This should be done by increasing the coverage of SAGE from the present 14 districts cover to the whole country and increasing the amount to over Shs. 50,000. 90. In addition, there is need for a health insurance and social security coverage for all.
K. ASPIRATIONS OF THE PRESIDENT:
Rt. Hon. Speaker, before I come to the conclusion of my reply, I wish to comment on some issues raised in the State of the Nation Address, which I would rather call a statement of the aspirations of the President.
91. Routine abuse of the opposition
I would like to thank the President for breaking from his tradition of abusing leaders in the political opposition, civil society and religious leaders. I hope this civility; will continue throughout the session he opened and thereafter as a permanent feature of his speeches.
92. Misinformation to the public about MPs:
Rt. Hon. Speaker, in an apparent bid to attract sympathy from the public, the President accused us, members of this August House of earning a lot of money, yet doing nothing to develop our constituencies. He was setting the voters against the Members of Parliament. He then misinformed the nation that he does not earn any more money than Members of Parliament and that in any case he does not need it, when in fact for the last 30 years his entire family and close relatives have lived on the tax-payers sweat and have been guarded by a whole Division of army, Special Forces!. Today Uganda has one of the most expensive President in the world.
93. Budget Framework Paper
The Budget Framework Paper seems to be a better indicator of what government priorities are likely to be than what the President said in his State of the Nation Address. In some instances the two are contradictory.
Rt. Hon. Speaker, allow me to highlight some of these inconsistencies:
For example, The President declared government’s basic priorities to be: agriculture, industry, services and ICT and indeed he dwelt a great deal on the potential of agriculture in his Address.
94. However, the Budget Framework Paper 2014 on the other hand in part 2 titled “Programmes for Social and Economic Development and Indicative Expenditure Framework”, indicates that “the following priorities underpin allocations in the FY 1014/15 Budget”:
i. Maintenance of National Security and Defence;
ii. Accelerating Infrastructure development in roads, railways, electricity, ICT and Industrial Parks;
iii. Enhancement of Science, Technology and Innovation for Industrialization, Competitiveness and Employment;
iv. Enhancing Productivity in Agriculture and Tourism sectors with specific emphasis put on provision of planting, breeding and restoring materials for agriculture and water for production, tourism promotion, training and infrastructure development;
v. Human Skills Development relevant to market labour demand; and
vi. Public Sector Reforms for improved accountability and enhanced service delivery.
95. The Budget Framework Paper continues to elaborate that this “national security and defence” number one priority will “continue to facilitate the Government on professionalization of the army, consolidation of peace, defence, security and maintenance of high professional standards by all the security organizations”.
96. Clearly, defence and security, which are not mentioned by the President, are a higher priority for the government than agriculture, industry, ICT and services he mentioned.
97. With regard to agriculture, the President informs the country that after his three decades in power “commercial farming still has challenges such as high costs of inputs, underdevelopment of water for agriculture, the low use of fertilizers and poor management skills by the farmers themselves”.
98. He then goes on to state that agriculture grew by 1.5%, which is a disaster when considered in the context of 3.5% population growth and inflation rate in double digits.
99. He wishes that “if all homesteads were converted to commercial farming, the size of agriculture would be much bigger”. Why has he not translated his wishes into reality?
100. Then he goes on his decades’ log song about the potential earnings from oranges, poultry, pigs, mushrooms and fish basing himself on global demand figures for these items which are in billions of dollars. Included in the wish list is that Uganda will soon produce 10 million bags of coffee, making “Uganda second only to Brazil in the global coffee production”.
101. The President, however, keeps it a secret as to what his government will do to enable the people produce and export and earn the billions of dollars of global demand he tantalizingly mentions.
102. His analysis of the rosy prospects for agriculture can be likened to that of the salesman who was sent to an African country in the 1960s to make a market study for shoes and on visiting the capital and a few areas of the country, he sent a quick report that the market was so huge because most people were barefoot, ignoring the major factor of purchasing power.
103. The President reports some successes in the agricultural sector. He reports that “We are now dominating milk sales in Uganda and also exporting to the entire East African region, Nigeria, Mauritius, the Middle East and also India and the USA”. He however, found it unnecessary to substantiate this tremendous achievement which would have been helpful, as these huge exports are yet to be reflected in the domestic trade statistics and those of the countries mentioned. Uganda exports to USA in 2013 were worth $47 million; it would be interesting to know how much of this were for milk or milk products.
104. Ugandans might perhaps get the impression that Brookside branded milk products sold in supermarkets in Uganda and Kenya are Ugandan products or remain wondering which Ugandan milk brand is sold in Kenya, Tanzania, India or the USA.
105. He reports another achievement in irrigation. “Within our own means we are continuing to roll out the irrigation schemes” but surprisingly what is being rolled out happen to be the Obote era irrigation schemes such as Mobuku, Doho, Olweny, and Agoro irrigation schemes that were run down by his government.
106 Rt. Hon. Speaker, NAADS which has proved to be a failure, largely because it has been turned into a political slash fund, is slated to be made even worse if it is placed under UPDF officers as the President announced. He has since given some details about the deployment of soldiers in every constituency. Since when did agriculture become an area of military expertise and where did these officers train to perform extension services?
107. Rt. Hon. Speaker, the UPDF was involved in farming at Kisozi Kiryandongo, Ibanda., How did they perform? They totally failed.
108. Instead of establishing army shops for the welfare of soldiers, like all armies the world over, the country was further given evidence of the creeping militarization of governance whereby everything is being placed under military control and management, the latest being voter registration camouflaged as National Identity registration.
We must point out here that militarization makes two statements that the President has failed to build robust national institutions and two, that the President now wants to rule by commands and decrees through the army.
109. To the industrial sector he promised electricity at $0.04 cents equivalent to about Shs.100= per unit and we would like to welcome this if it is not another unrealistic wishful thinking. Why not for example start with a special low tariff for areas near electricity generation plants, like Jinja and Njeru, where distribution costs are at a minimum?
110. It seems the first to take advantage of cheap electricity will be young graduate scientists who are entering manufacturing and whom the President has tasked to work on solar water pumps but whose names are only known to him.
111. Rt. Hon. Speaker, these young graduate scientists, might perhaps remind Ugandans what happened to the Presidential initiatives for growing of ginger, chilies in Butambala and elsewhere, the Masese fish factory, the grain silos to which many foreign dignitaries made conducted tours, the barter export of beans to Cuba, the AGOA girls bubble and many other similar highly advertised initiatives that had been touted as vehicles for the “leap forward” to a middle income country.
L. SERVICE SECTOR
112. The President was lyrical about the service sector which he said contributes 45.4% of GDP. We are also informed that this sector employs 2,684,290 workers which is wonderful. But we are not informed about how many millions of tourists, actually visited the so called best tourist destination in the world.
113. For comparison purposes during the week the President made his State of the Nation Address Israel, not declared the best tourist destination, announced that 382,000 tourists had visited the country in just the month of May. How many tourists visited Uganda in 2013?
114. The biggest achievement in this sector is that Uganda was declared the best tourism destination in the world and perhaps as proof of this a conference of the World Association of Tourist Operators would take place in Uganda. However, is it not true that our neighbours, like Kenya and Tanzania actually still attract more tourists and earn much more than the best tourist destination?
115. The service sector includes banks, insurance companies, airlines. But where are the Ugandan banks or insurance companies or airlines that are said to have grown at 5.6%?
116. Then we are informed that the ICT sector employs One (1) million workers which is most wonderful information if only it was true!
117. Surely even if you take those workers digging trenches for internet cables (and possibly this comprises the largest number) the country would be interested in substantiation of this claim. Besides, we do not believe that such a large number of highly trained people in ICT do exist in Uganda today
118. Similarly the millions of tons of iron ore, phosphates, cement, copper, cobalt, wolfram, aluminum clays, tin, gold, salt, uranium, are interesting statistics of potential but what is more interesting is how much is being produced and exported. Setting up a phosphates industry in Tororo has been the President’s song for over twenty years.
119. Instead we are given a rationalization of why nothing has been done in this sector when the President postures by saying that “Pressure is already on for exporting these minerals in unprocessed form. I will not accept these pressures”. “Most of these minerals will be processed here ……”.
120. But who stopped the President from having them processed in almost thirty years of his rule? Why was mining of copper which used to be processed to almost 100% stopped?
121. Then he goes rhetorical about going nuclear in order to generate 50,000 megawatts because there is not enough hydro power potential to generate that much electricity. True, but why has he not even developed all the potential hydroelectricity power there is? Was he really stopped doing so by the Opposition, his usual punching bag or scapegoat?
122. Rt. Hon. Speaker, when one is in power one does everything to turn dreams and aspirations into reality within the limited time there is and stops articulating them as if he has eternity ahead of you.
That sums up the State of the Nation Address, just a statement of aspirations or wishes of the President already heard innumerable times.
123. Rt. Hon. Speaker, some of the things the President said with regard to the economy do not add up. May be the Minister of Finance will put things right. But even then, why should there be such inconsistencies considering that the whole staff of government is at the disposal of the President?
124. For example, the President said that electricity coverage is around 14% and there is no quarrel with that. But that the share of rural areas is 7% is highly doubtful as this means that all the urban areas remain with a share of 7% as well.
Kampala and its environs alone consume more than 50% of all power distributed, which would account for all urban share of 7% and thus leaving all other urban areas with zero power consumption. This obviously cannot be the correct state of the nation with regard to electricity coverage.
125. Similarly if the proportion of people living below the poverty line is 24.5%, how would this be reconciled with the fact that 70% of the people who are in the subsistence agriculture sector have a share of less than 20% of GDP?
126. Secondly, how come that the absolute number of the chronically poor has risen to over 12 million rather than fallen and that alone is about 30% of the population?
127. Thirdly the employment figures of 2,684,290 (service sector)+ 841,704(industry) + 4250 (Business Processing Outsourcing) plus other formal sectors not included like civil service, civil society organizations, religious organizations, sugar and tea plantations etc. do not look real.
128. For a quick check take a look at the figures of NSSF membership or PAYE tax payers and they are nowhere near these figures of the President which make employment in the formal sector probably as large as five million.
129. If indeed the formal sector is so large how do you reconcile this with a very large subsistence sector of about 70% and a very large proportion of the population that is under 15 years?
130. The 2013 Human Development Report, which probably is nearer the correct position, indicated Uganda to be in a low development category at No. 161 out of 187 countries with a Human Development Index of 0.456 which is below the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 0.475 and below the world average of 0.466 for countries with low human development. This shows that Uganda is not doing very well contrary to what the President informed the country.
131. Secondly, the income poverty measure, which the President uses, tells just part of the story. There is another measure, which reflects the Ugandan situation more accurately, that is the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) that includes multiple deprivations of education, health and standard of living.
132. In 2011 Uganda lived in a multidimensional poverty of 69.9% of the population (coincidentally equivalent to the subsistence sector) plus an additional 19.0% vulnerable to multiple deprivations, adding to a disturbing 90%.
133 The intensity of deprivation was at 52.5% and the percentage of population living below income poverty line set at PPP of $ 1.25 per day was 51.5%.
134.Uganda Multidimensional Poverty Index (2011) Percentage of Population:
· Living in Multidimensional Poverty 69.9%
· Intensity of Deprivation 52.5%
· Vulnerable to Poverty 19.0%
· In severe Poverty 31.2%
· Below Poverty Income Line (US$ 1.25 per day) 51.5%
135. The President said nothing about the Public Debt yet it is becoming a big burden as debt servicing repayments are quite heavy on the budget and they affect adversely the capacity to deliver services.
136. As of 31.12.13 the external public debt stood at UD$6.40 billion, having doubled in the last five years from about US$3.2 billion in the financial year 2008/09. It is now hovering around US$7billion.
137. The external public debt is rising very fast and will soon reach the same level as a percentage of GDP experienced before HIPIC and MDRI relief initiatives. It is not clear what the borrowed money has done, though there are reports that an unexplainable failure to utilize borrowed money that lies idle with the Bank Uganda for long periods or remains undisbursed by the lenders while attracting interests.
138. If domestic debt, which is also growing at a faster rate than GDP but difficult to accurately estimate because it includes procurement (central and local governments) and pension arrears which are continuously incurred, is added to the external debt, then it becomes clear that the country is in a stressed financial situation.
139. If the unofficial funding of the President’s continuous campaigns are factored into budgetary expenditure, then clearly the country’s financial prospects become terribly bleak.
140. The next budget which is about Shs. 15 trillion is tax-laden and clearly anti-poor people.
141. It, easy to foresee that fiscal policy will be tighter and GDP growth will be adversely affected. This is why the President steered clear of this subject and left it to the Minister of Finance to bear the responsibility of bad news.
142. The country should, therefore, not be surprised if the people go to the streets to protest against the consequential adverse economic conditions.
143. Rt. Hon. Speaker, the President accepted his late friend’s (Ghadafi) advice that revolutionaries do not retire. Let us also remind him that revolutionaries do not steal public funds, they do not misuse public assets and they do not personalize public resources as they have done in Uganda.
144. Hon. Speaker this government destroyed the Railway, now they are turning round to promise the “revival of the rail network”. They destroyed the cooperative movement, now they promising to restore it.
145. They let roads deteriorate and then promise to rebuild them.
146. They destroyed the public education and public health systems and then boast of achievements in these areas which are largely attributed to the private alternative that have arisen as a result of destruction of the public establishment.
147. The President talks of modernization of the economy by creation of a service dominated economy. But where are those types of services outside the telecommunications companies? They are bodabodas, security guards, washing bays, markets, salons, street vendors, lodges, bars and night clubs? Which country has been developed by such activities?
148. They abolished UDC and now they propose to recreate is as their new innovation.
149. They wound up Cooperative Bank and sold Uganda Commercial Bank and now propose to recreate them after the entry into the market by Kenya Cooperative bank and Kenya National Bank.
150. They sold off Uganda Airlines while they travel first class in Kenya Airways and other foreign airlines.
151. They created the most corrupt system in Uganda’s history and now they promise to fight corruption with an empty slogan of “Zero tolerance for corruption”.
152. They talk of women emancipation yet turn them into just clapping and kneeling human beings for crumbs. Where are economic empowerment programmes for our women?
153. The President endlessly talks of modernization of the army, police and security agencies and instead demoralises them by fo