ASSESSING NRM’S PERFORMANCE IN THE LAST 35 YEARS
Assessing NRM's performance in the last 35 years
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni yesterday swore in for his 6th term straight, making him one of the longest-serving presidents in the world-leading for almost four decades. In 1986 when he came into power, he inherited a country coming out of a ravaging war with a poor economy, a service delivery system that had broken down making his ascent to the throne a breath of life to many. ACFIM Talks last week assessed NRM’s performance in the last 35 years.
Undeniably, the economy has grown at a rate of 6%. The economy grew from UGX 14.4 billion ($4,068) to UGX 15trillion ($4,237,887) in a span of 35 yrs. Poverty levels went down from 56.4% to 19.7%. In terms of infrastructure development, a network of over 5,000km from 1,000km that they inherited in 1986 has been paved.
Mr. Ejoyi, Country Director of Action Aid Uganda who was hosted on the show last week stated that basing on Uganda’s background characterized by one coup after another, it was a good starting place for NRM to constitute a legal framework where Ugandans would come put up a constitution where their aspirations would be reflected into. This progressive constitution captured the key bill of rights and Uganda’s commitment to the values of human rights.
However, over the years, we have seen Uganda’s democratization journey have the rule of law reversed. Institutions are not fully functional for example the Uganda Human Rights Commission has not had a chairperson appointed. With corruption at an all-time high, the Inspectorate of Government (IG), the institution mandated to fight corruption has not had an Inspector general of Government appointed for over a year. Some of the promises to end corruption have not yielded to the expectations NRM made.
Mr. Ejoyi admitted that in the last 5 years, progress has been made but Uganda is not where it ought to be basing on the promises of achieving middle-income status. “Whereas some progress was made initially, we are rescinding out on the journey of democratization” Ejoyi expressed.
National democratization toward economic growth however this does not directly translate to the service delivery with the gap between the rich and poor only widening. This is despite the various poverty alleviation programs such as the “Entandikwa” scheme, Prosperity for all, Operation wealth creation, Emyoga, and more recently the Parish development model. The performance of these programs is so superficial because they are eaten up by corruption and the mafia in the system.
There has been a reversal of a decentralization agenda because the cost of public administration is shooting through the roof with 146 districts and 10 cities each reflecting a public administration position that needs to be funded.
Uganda has 2 million elective positions that are facilitated by the citizens, yet the country borrows to meet the basic needs of citizens. Mr.Ejoyi, called for a robust reflection of the NRM leadership to ensure that the patronage network and endless creation of administration units need to be put to a stop.
According to Mr. Ejoyi, the previous election had several gaps in the electoral process. Some people even allege that elections in Africa are becoming a ritual because of the breaches that make them fall short of being free, fair, and credible. In the previous tenure, there were many killings, arrests, and murders.
Space was restricted for other political actors and the president is on record held for declaring that he will crush the opposition. In a multiparty dispensation to say you can’t entertain any opposition parties points to a lack of tolerance for divergent political opinion. That level of political intolerance saw many members from the opposition arrested even using COVID19 as an excuse.
There was also an attack on the media fraternity with many media personalities still nursing wounds while others abandoned the profession. Civil society space also shrunk with the government attacking the sector by using legislation intended for legitimate purposes to squeeze civil society into a space where they are no longer able to hold the state accountable for what it promised Ugandans.
Mr.Kayinda Eddie, a program officer with ACFIM who was also on the show stated that if the government had implemented most of the issues in the 10-point program, Uganda would have transited into a development state, Kayinda asserted.
Mr. Kayinda also mentioned that in the last 5 years, Uganda has experienced the highest level of commercialized politics. Money has penetrated democracy and this according to him is the biggest factor for democratic reversal. Mr. Kayinda stated that you cannot deepen democracy in a poor country citing that some Ugandans are bribed to vote with just UGX 500.
Because of the divisive nature of the election, Mr.Ejoyi appealed to the NRM to invest in a national dialogue that will bring together a spectrum of the political class, all sections of society together to have a discourse on how we can bridge differences and run Uganda more effectively to the benefit all.
Conclusively, Mr. Kayinda recommended that the government adopts a system that manages the fiscal policy of the country. Corruption should be stopped and the government needs to realize that the problem is not a lack of resources but not prioritizing.