When he ascended to the Papal Seat, many knew Pope Francis was the person that had been called for this generation. He was set to be a contrarian right from his very first day. With the Catholic Church losing many of its young folks to other religions, the time was ripe for a Pope to meet this generation at its point of need. Henceforth, we had a tweeting Pope with the Twitter handle of @Pontifex.
The Pope has 7.9 million followers on Twitter but he only follows 8 people. And don’t celebrate just yet; he follows the different accounts of his for users of other languages such as German, French and Arabic.
On November 19th, he tweeted; “All human persons – all of us – are important in God’s eyes.” He’s a Pope that has strongly shown a non-judgmental attitude towards the minority rights people and the LGBT community. Or perhaps, he was reading from the two Manifestos of Amama Mbabazi and Yoweri Museveni. Whereas Mbabazi speaks of “A Uganda that works for everyone,” Museveni speaks of “Inclusive growth.” Here are some of the stances the Pope has taken on various issues in his tweets:
On Corruption: Corruption is a cancer on society.
On Development: Economic development needs to have a human face, so that no one will be excluded.
On Unemployment: Let us ask Our Lady to help all families, especially those affected by unemployment.
On War: War is the mother of all poverty, a vast predator of lives and souls.
On Growth: A decrease in the pace of production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development.
On Climate Change: Reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility.
On Sustainability: Leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations is, first and foremost, up to us.
On Poverty: We need an integrated approach to combating poverty and protecting nature.
On Markets: By itself the market cannot guarantee integral human development and social inclusion.
On Technology: The alliance between economy and technology ends up sidelining anything unrelated to its immediate interests.
On Clean energy: Developed countries ought to help pay this debt by limiting their consumption of nonrenewable energy.
On Population: To blame population growth, and not an extreme consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues.
On Global warming: Climate change represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day
With a hurting world, a divided world, an isolated world, a world at war, a world with increasing income inequality, a world where the youths can no longer find jobs. The man at the intersection of all this is Pope Francis, the Tweeting Pope. And for Uganda, the hashtag is #PopeInUganda
It was a grand ceremony as Amama Mbabazi under the Go-Forward umbrella launched his long-awaited manifesto. It was a manifesto that aimed to present itself as having Uganda's hopes and future at heart. And like all manifestos, it wasn't devoid of promises. Among those was the promise to restore term limits in his first 100 days in office. Mbabazi did not spare the state house budget, he promised to cut spending from Shs 250 billion to Shs 100 billion.
He further affirmed that Uganda didn't just have a poor health system, but a broken one. Yet he offered to fix it. Among the many ambitious promises he made;
1. To reduce VAT from 18% to 16% and also do away with direct taxes.
2. To introduce nursery sections in all govt-aided primary schools.
3. To redesign and upgrade National Theatre and Uganda Museum to international standards.
4. For each sub-county, Mbabazi envisioned a community bank, library with free Wifi, at least one silo, farmers' cooperative...
5. All Ugandans in the Diaspora will be able to vote from embassies and missions abroad.
6. To introduce law that empowers learned citizens to prosecute the corrupt and get 25% of recovered proceeds
7. To increase budgetary allocation for Agriculture from current 3% to 10% within 5 years.
8. To create 444,160 new jobs at sub-county level in the public sector
9. To gradually introduce a nursery section in government primary schools
10. Free health insurance for all citizens above 65 years. A monthly grant for all senior citizens in Uganda
President Yoweri Museveni has promised to
1- provide shs 18m hoes to six million households. That will cost shs 180 billion.
2- buy sanitary pads for girls in UPE schools. That will cost shs 12 billion as I wrote yesterday
3- buy exercise books, pencils, pens and mathematical sets to all students in upper primary. That will cost shs 14 billion per year
4- set up a school inspectorate to ensure that UPE schools do not charge parents anything for the education of their children...
I argued yesterday that if we use the "affordability test", Museveni's promises are fiscally prudent. But from a policy perspective, these promises are populist, shortsighted, self contradictory and lack serious policy imagination.
After 30 years in power and sustaining an impressive rate of economic growth, I would imagine many farming families in Uganda can at least afford to buy their own hoes. A hoe costs shs 10,000 only. If they cannot afford this (and I think they can), it means something is fundamentally wrong.
Secondly, the president's manifesto promises to introduce modern technology to peasant agriculture through mechanization (tractors and combiner harvesters), use of fertilizers, improved seed, irrigation, manure etc. The 18m hoes will cost shs 180 billion. This money could best be used to modernize agriculture than buy hoes which take it back to the pre modern age.
Third, Museveni's promises on education seek to take away the responsibility of parents to contribute to their children's education. This is by buying kids sanitary pads, pens, pencils, exercise books and stopping UPE schools from surcharging parents some money for building classrooms and improving education. This proposal is counter productive
When parents pay for their children's fees, they tend to have greater interest in their children's education. So they monitor performance. When they contribute money to schools for construction of classrooms and other things, they develop a greater interest in how funds are utilized. In short, it creates incentives for parents to seek to hold teachers and schools accountable.
Therefore by proposing to use the government to pay almost everything for poor families, Museveni is creating a nanny state in a country that cannot afford to babysit every poor person. But he is also diverting resources where they can be best used to areas where they are neither needed nor desired except for populism.
Museveni has some good proposals in his manifesto. I will address these another day. But these attempts to create a large scale welfare state in a poor country is wrong. And it is not good to make peasants keep turning to the state for sustenance on things they can do for themselves.
Tom Malinowski speaking at Makerere University on Nov 17.U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour Tom Malinowski has urged youth in Uganda to vote in the 2016 elections a way of playing a constructive role in the country’s politics and emphasizing the influence they hold in shaping the future. “It is clear that this country is full of passionate, patriotic, and creative citizens,” Malinowski said. “Youth have an incredible power to influence the future of your country. But only by voting do you leverage that power”.
This was at an event at Makerere University on Nov 17 organised by International Republican Institute. While interacting with the students, the Assistant Secretary emphasized the importance of protecting the integrity and fairness of the electoral process, preserving fundamental freedoms, strengthening democracy, and supporting a free and independent media during the electoral season.
Following the tabling of a number of amendments in the KCCA act in Parliament, Electoral Commission announced that it could not go on with Kampala Mayoral nominations until official guidance was given by the Minister of Kampala. However, that has all changed and the Electoral Commission announced that the nominations for Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor for Kampala will be held from 18th November to 20th November.
A statement issued by the Electoral commission chairman Badru Kiggundu indicates that, following a consultative meeting with the Minister for Kampala held today nominations will resume under Section 9 of the KCCA Act and The Local Government Act, Cap 243 as amended.
The nomination of candidates for Lord Mayor will take place at the Office of the Returning Officer; Kampala located at plot 9 Minister’s Village Ntinda starting at 9:00am until 5:00pm.
The Lord Mayor will be elected by all people of Kampala not only councillors as had earlier been planned through amending the law.
In other news, the incumbent, Erias Lukwago was today temporarily detained as he proceeded to the Electoral Commission offices to demonstrate against the delayed nominations and failure for EC to give him official communication on the matter.
President Museveni has carried out a mini-cabinet reshuffle to fill vacant posts. Among the newly appointed Ministers are; Kirunda Kivejinja who was appointed Rt. Hon. 3rd Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Affairs. Rose Akol was appointed Minister of Internal Affairs while Werikhe Kafabusa is the newly appointed Minister of State for Industry.
All these posts had fallen vacant following the deaths of Eriya Kategaya (3rd Deputy Prime Minister), Gen. Aronda Nyakairima (Minister of Internal Affairs) and James Mutende (Minister of State for Industry).
Parliament in a session. Independent /File PhotoAfter an impressive start in 2011, the 9th parliament risks ending badly in 2016
Legislators are away in the constituencies campaigning in elections that have been set for February 18, 2016. Many of the MPs will not be in parliament when the new one is inaugurated in May 2016. Therefore, now appears to be a good time to examine whether the outgoing 9th parliament has lived up to the expectations of voters.
Job Kijja of the NGO Forum, a consortium of civil society organisations, told The Independent that in 2010 ahead of the 2011 elections, over 400 aspirants for parliament from different political parties signed leaders’ commitment forms, committing to implement the demands as well as deliver as per citizens’ expectations in the Citizens Manifesto. Some of these were elected to the 9th parliament. “Even though such commitments were made, the last four years have seen a large discrepancy between acclaimed actions, actual results and citizens’ satisfaction.”
The main challenges appear to be structural; with inadequate investment in modern traded goods; sectors like labour intensive manufacturing and low labour productivity
Two related issues are integral to the success of Uganda’s medium term National Development Plan and its long term economic prospects. The first issue is how to ensure the external balance – the balance of payments – is sustainable over the medium to long term. The second issue relates to challenges of accelerating meaningful structural transformation in the economy. The two issues are related because a strong external performance is usually associated with structural transformation in developing countries, as demonstrated by the success of the Asian tigers. For them, industrialisation and rapid export growth have gone hand in hand. In my view, to achieve sustainable development and structural transformation, Uganda must strengthen its external performance and improve the business environment to attract more private investment into the traded goods sectors of the economy.
The external sector performance
The external sector of the economy plays a critical role in small open economies and is often the source of the greatest risks to the economy. Although Uganda has achieved successes in the external sector, notably the strong growth of tourism earnings and exports of food and manufactured products to regional markets, our external performance has deteriorated over the last 10 years.
In particular, the deficit on the current account of the balance of payments has widened from less than $300 million in 2005/06 to $2.3 billion in 2014/15, the last fiscal year. The current account deficit is forecast to widen further to $3.6 billion by 2018/19 before levelling off. The major factor driving the widening current account deficit is the increasing trade deficit The trade deficit in goods and services has almost tripled since 2005/06, from $1 billion in that year to nearly $3 billion in 2014/15. It is forecast to reach almost 3.9 billion by 2017/18. In the last fiscal year the trade deficit was 12.6 percent of GDP.
Besigye said he will pay every Ugandan Teacher a minimum of One million.
Museveni said he will increase funding for NAADS to one trillion.
First, Besigye's promise is currently unrealistic. Uganda has 156,000 primary school teachers. If paid Shs. 1m per month, it means Shs. 1.82 trillion in a year. The total education budget for 2015/16 is Shs. 2 trillion. It shows Besigye doesn't know what he's talking about.
But Museveni's argument of 1 trillion for NAADS could to some extent be reasonable. The 2015/16 Agricultural budget is Shs.480 billion. Uganda can afford to double it unlike the education budget.
If you are paying primary school teachers Shs. 1m per month, what will you pay secondary school teachers?
Some people will then argue that we spend a lot on defence. But can a country survive without an army? Military capability is built for potential eventualities and contingencies, not necessarily for use. Precaution is key.
Sweden has not been to war for 120 years. Does is mean they are stupid to spend on defense?
The other argument is that of corruption. Whatever money is stolen was budgeted to pay for something. So ending corruption does not change the budget. The budget doesn’t become bigger because of ending corruption.
The only legitimate question and argument is that of the State House Budget which I honestly believe is over-sized at Shs.300 billion.
In Simple Words: Paying Primary School Teachers Shs.1 million is not yet feasible.