A mock debate organized to commemorate the Commonwealth Day at the Parliament of Uganda closed with students warning parliamentarians against the promotion of foreign aid as the solution to sustainable development.
Students from selected schools across the country in a debate chaired by the Deputy Speaker of Parliament Rt.Hon. Jacob Oulanyah and attended by the Speaker Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga argued that foreign aid given to Uganda is a threat to its sovereignty.
The topic of debate was ‘the need for trade not aid, for sustainable development.’
“Foreign aid makes us live a life of uncertainty. Uganda’s Independence is under threat if the country decides to depend on foreign aid.
We need to promote trade to have sustainable development,” Naluyima Samantha a student of Gayaza High School who moved the motion told Parliamentarians in a special sitting on Monday March 24,2014.
The student team which composed the government side in the chamber proposed that Uganda can survive without foreign aid and the future of the country lay in promoting trade. They noted that Uganda took a wrong direction after independence by sticking to foreign aid.
While seconding the motion Ntare School’s Nyebesa Daniel warned that foreign aid is not universal and is usually directed to specific groups and projects.. He decried corruption and misuse of resources secured as aid.
Several of the student debators warned of a bleak future for Uganda if the country does not settle its foreign debt deficits. They proposed establishment of Export Promotion Zones and a Council of Trade Advisors to help the President with innovative measures to promote Uganda’s trade.
The MPs who composed the Opposition side led by Rubaga South Member of Parliament Hon. John Ken Lukyamuzi applauded trade but warned that Uganda in its current status cannot survive without foreign aid.
“For the last 28 years Uganda has been dependent on aid for its major sectors. Uganda cannot attain the Millennium Development Goals without foreign aid. You cannot guarantee the provision of basic services in education and health if Uganda suspends aid requests,” he told debaters.
MPs Dr.Chris Baryomunsi, Cecilia Ogwal, Elijah Okupa,James Akena,Mariam Nalubega,Gerald Karuhanga all noted that Uganda still needs to do a lot to make its trade products compete favorably on the world market. The legislators noted that foreign aid had helped the country to save millions of its children from the jaws of HIV/Aids.
Hon.Wamai Wamanga warned that Uganda has lost its leading cash crops like tea cotton and coffee that formed the bulk of its exports.
“Coffee wilt has destroyed the coffee. Fresh fish resources have been depleted. Without foreign aid our health sector may not even provide the basic essentials,” he told the House.
Closing the ceremony, the Speaker Rt.Hon.Rebecca Kadaga noted that she had identified several promising leaders during the lively debate. She awarded certificates and gifts to students participants and commended them for putting up a spirited fight to have their motion adopted.
At the close of the debate both sides resolved that the government of Uganda joins the rest of the world to celebrate the Commonwealth Day and that students of the Commonwealth be part of the celebration process.
The students sourced from over 30 secondary schools across the country won the vote to have the country develop through emphasizing trade and not foreign aid. Those selected were the best performing students in the National Debating Championships organized by the National Debate Council (NDC) in December 2013.
The Parliament of Uganda has during the last three years partnered with NDC to host the last three championships at Parliament thereby exposing the students to the procedures and practices of Parliament.
Source: Parliament website