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The President Shouldn’t Entertain Pettiness

By Ofwono Opondo

June 21, 16  
The appointment by President Yoweri Museveni and swearing-in of the nearly ninety member cabinet has left bitter tastes in mouths, and tears rolling down many cheeks, even from political quarters that should have known much better. First, it should have been understood that the appointment of cabinet ministers is the sole prerogative of the president, and as such, it is really pointless to lose sleep, cry loudly and seek to blackmail him as many including political veterans have done the past weeks.
So, among many things, during this term, President Museveni ought not to entertain and promptly deal with the pettiness and unprincipled conflicts among some of the ministers and MPs which often lead to un-ending squabbles and paralysis of government business. There are ministers and MPs who still think it is cool to ask for school tuition for their children from Museveni. We all ought to be aware that now that the cabinet is in, the political battle fronts will certain be transferred into the NRM parliamentary caucus and parliament itself where the losers will gang up with the opposition to try to filibuster and derail ministers. There will also be intrigue and fights between those posted to ‘dry’ against those in ‘wet’ dockets.
Yes, while President Museveni during the campaigns and other political engagements might have promised different groups various goodies including ministerial appointments, it is necessary to underscore that in forming the government many issues usually come into focus and therefore must be taken into consideration.
Those who are complaining that their tribal, ethnic, religious and geographical areas haven’t received a piece of the ‘national cake’ in the form of ministerial appointments should know that main “cake,” is in the NRM election manifesto which will be translated into government policies and programs for implementation. The main plank of government programs have been ably outlined as security and stability, infrastructural development particularly road, rail and water transportation, affordable and sustainable energy, water, and countrywide low cost ICT network which will contribute to lowering of the cost of investments and doing business in Uganda.
The other emphasis has been stated as focusing on expanding accessibility, broadening and consolidating the gains so far made in universal and vocational education, and primary healthcare, and increasing aggressive mobilization of both local and foreign resources for investments to transform in commercial agricultural productivity, agro-processing, tourism and services, and industrialisation to support domestic needs as well as exports to the region. All these combined should create widespread employment, personal incomes, and tax revenue to the government to be able to adequately and sustainably support the delivery of public services.
So, while ministers may be high up on the political ladder of government, they are not the most critical and important elements in the chain because they don’t work alone or separately because they need other competent and technical arms particularly the civil servants who design and implement programs.
Each of us the citizens both individually and collectively too must fully get involved in order for success to be registered especially through stating our demands, fulfilling our obligations, and monitoring the proper, effective and timely delivery of public services to and in our respective communities. In addition, to achieve any success, there must be resources, good planning, coordination and proper prioritization of our national needs.
And although President Museveni has billed his ‘new’ team as the team that “will,” or should we rather say is expected to deliver Uganda to the much talked about middle income status within the next five years, many are very skeptical, even sneering, and looking back to recent history, they have valid reasons to be worried.
It is perhaps necessary to let the president know that there is widespread public disappointment from both his supporters and opponents that in their view he has not lived up to the public expectation he raised when he said during his inauguration that the new term of office will not be for “sleeping.” And when soon, government ministers will be begin to demonstrate early fatigue, lack of strategic direction, absence of teamwork and single-mindedness of purpose, glaring incompetence, and exhibiting conflicts of interests, he shouldn’t say he wasn’t fore-warned.
But never-the-less, it is the team President Museveni has assembled alongside other government infrastructure to bolster collective efforts to lead and build Uganda to desired level of socio-economic transformation that we all so badly need, and therefore ought to be supported. Apart from not tolerating corruption, conflict of interests and delays, President Museveni shouldn’t entertain the perennial pettiness of ministers and MPs like seeking school fees for their children from which often breeds and spreads un-principled and un-unnecessary un-ending battles in the political corridors.
While Museveni has laid out his benchmarks against which ministers will be held, the real pain and therefore task before him is how to knockout the entrenched malaise in the public service that fosters both actual and disguised inefficiency, incompetency, patronage, corruption and conflict of interests resulting into some of the many un-necessary delays he has consistently been lamenting about. The public looks forward to you revamping the civil service, starting with Permanent Secretaries and heads of agencies.