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Mugisha Muntu’s Maths Don’t Add Up

By Ofwono Opondo

Having been strangulated for the last three years, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) President Maj. Gen. (rtd) Greg Mugisha Muntu on Monday emerged from the woods in an angry and dispirited tone to ‘unveil’ the “FDC Policy agenda for Uganda’s Leap Forward,” which got gullible supporters cheering. Unfortunately he didn’t provide figures and so we can’t add the maths. To “leap forward,” there must be a strong base, which NRM is building, and this four point leap policy is too little, too late. It was more to close gaps left by Olara Otunnu and Norbert Mao exist and stomp internal rivalry.
In 2010, Muntu claimed that foreign investors he now castigates were closing shop in Uganda, which wasn’t accurate. Most recent data by reputable institutions like the IMF, World Bank, Fitch credit rating agency, and UBOS show that Uganda is an attractive investment destination.
Last month Fitch upgraded Uganda's long term credit rating to B+ from B, citing strong economic growth, improved revenue collection, diminishing dependence on external aid and relatively low debt burden. All figures show that over the years, poverty, maternal and infant mortality rates are dropping steadily, while literacy, doctor-patient and teacher-pupil ratio, per capita, and GDP are improving. Accessibility to universal healthcare, education, clean and safe water is growing. Tertiary education figures show that females have caught up with males both at enrollment and graduation. On agriculture, agro-processing, and manufacturing Ugandan enterprises are putting more goods on shelves and exporting, while construction industry is expanding.
NRM has never said that FDC does not have a policy agenda, but rather that what is usually presented especially around elections is unviable and unrealistic to solve socio-economic strategic bottlenecks. The “leap forward policy,” is heavy on fingering, spending and so little about revenue generation. Muntu, to give a “hand up,” instead of “a hand out,” government must first generate reliable and sustainable revenue sources, which only comes when we resolve the strategic bottlenecks of security, stability, transportation, energy, ICT, technology, capital, skills and entrepreneurship.
FDC criticized the NRM government for basing Uganda’s progress on the failures of the past rather than plans for future “opportunities and shared prosperity.” NRM is successfully dealing with that past, and creating broad as well as specific opportunities for the future, the reason Muntu vacated UPDF in favour of politics.
FDC deliberately ignored NRM’s glaring achievements on strategic bottlenecks, and chose social sectors it perceives as affecting everyday person leading them to sweeping and empty statements to attract public attention. The hurdle is to convince Ugandans how it intends to achieve the things it claims are so easy to address having failed in previous elections. NRM has created special funds for education, energy, road, innovation, and youths, in addition to many social action programs for small and medium enterprises, and those previously on the fringes whose impacts are fairly visible.
Muntu promised Ugandans that under him government bureaucratic red tape won’t exist, but instead, FDC will “promptly and expeditiously,” reduces the cost of getting and doing businesses. FDC doesn’t have the courage to admit, but the NRM government is always working continuously on several fronts to attract and lower the cost of doing business in Uganda. These measures include but not limited to continuous repairs of old and constructing new roads to transport people, goods and services. Massive road construction is opening up and connecting the whole country for the first time.
Construction of power dams to make energy more available, accessible, reliable, sustainable and affordable in the long run, and be an attraction to investments to Uganda. Some of these dams are Bujagali, Kiira, Kabalega, Nyagak, and Karuma, Isimba dam and Ayago (600MW) and others across the country which combined will generate up to 8000MW.
President Yoweri Museveni is continuously engaging and attracting investors to set up industries that employ Ugandans mainly while foreigners bring in the much needed capital, entrepreneurship, managerial skills, and business ethics. The private sector is growing and thriving.
In 1993, Uganda launched the decentralization policy where planning and implantation takes place to improve access to services especially primary education, healthcare, roads, agriculture and management of natural resources. The central government provides much of money those services, and measures to enhance accountability at the lowest possible level are available.
Muntu claimed that the UPDF has been reduced to serve individual interests and doesn’t respect civilian authority, but we hope that he will disband this “personal army,” should he assume office
Muntu ought to know that the UPDF which he once which he led for eight years before fleeing in the midst of LRA, ADF and Karimojong cattle rustlers was built from scratch. Muntu, look back at the UPDF then and now, and honestly tell Ugandans the difference. The army has transformed from the scoundrel it was to a pro-people professional institution.
Surely, it isn’t for nothing that the UPDF is respected globally having defeated rebellions back home, and now on stabilization and peace missions around Africa. An army serving Pan-African causes cannot be a personalized army unless if Muntu is saying the UPDF is a mercenary outfit.
FDC should join the campaign against poverty by encouraging every Uganda to get to productive work and especially agriculture instead redundancy in towns. Those who have or whose parents own land can engage in rural based enterprises as they seek formal employment. FDC cannot promise to hand the youths well paying jobs without encouraging investors to come to Uganda and guiding courses relevant to the labour market.