This constant screeching noise from National Resistance Movement (NRM) opponents about being 35 years in power I hear, can not be an issue to define their alternative agenda they have for Ugandans.
You can’t fault #NRM for winning the peoples’ mandate over a long time. May be you can be envious about it. My simple and humble appeal to our opponents & critics is; Please Assess NRM & its leader Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, on the basis of its record of performance not longevity only. Longevity too has its merits big time.
The question is and should be: 35 years of doing what ? Rebuilding every sector ( informal & formal) of life that had collapsed, Resuscitating the economy back to normal macro-economic trends by squeezing inflation to a single digit & maintaining it at that, creating a diversified export base of the country, building & expanding the economy by prioritising physical & technological infrastructure ( roads, telecoms, broadband, water, electricity), developing human capital through universal educational programmes for all, building a bigger regional market, to mention but a few.
I, therefore, challenge our opponents to go beyond deceptive Rhetoric & base their contests on superiority of policy instruments. Falsely labelling #NRM a dictatorship isnt proof at all of offering alternative leadership. If #NRM has prioritised physical & technological infrastructure in its polcy documents as key enablers of socio-economic growth as it has done, what is their counter alternative agenda allegedly superior to this beyond accusing #M7 of being President for long? Was Uganda better off from 1962 to 1986 when it was changing leaders like hotels change linen for beddings?
The rhetoric on President #M7 LONG stay aside, the base created by #NRM can’t be disputed. And it’s because of the good policy instruments we design and apply in the governance frameworks.
Remember bad policies stifle growth while good ones stimulate it. Yes, managing growth is always not easy even in large scale business operations. That is why leveraging economies of scale is always a strategy for serious planers & managers in the survival of their business entities.
The logical debate now that contending leaders must answer to is: How as a country do we leverage this firm base & growth created by the 35 years of #NRM to grow even much faster both in qualitative and quantitative terms ?
For example , how do we improve government efficiency ( both operative & allocative efficiencies) in the delivery of public services? The #NRM’s answer to such a fundamental question is that; -The gains we are making in public investments in #ICTs for example will bring about this efficiency. The inclusion of social protection programs in other big flagship projects like infrastructure development is a deliberate policy strategy to bring about inclusive development.
Whoever makes a pledge in this campaign and is seeking electoral advantage out of it must demonstrate the strategies that will enable him or her to fulfil that pledge or else it becomes mere sloganeering & deception . If you promise increased wages for all public servants, its a good idea. Any public servant will be excited and tempted to vote you. But what does it mean in real terms? It means, you will increase public spending on recurrent expenditure.
When you increase the expenditure side, you too must increase the revenue side so as to provide the necessary revenues that will support your new expenditure pressures. And how will you increase revenues? Either you will over tax your domestic businesses or borrow beyond unsustainable debt levels? Is that wise or unwise? This should be the debating line and not just posturing with sentimental falsehoods to divert and divide people.
The debate we need in this campaign should be a debate that provides #answers not #anger . A debate that acknowledges our journey , seeks to build on it and not a debate that is totally oblivious of all these or the one that seeks to undo the gains.
I appeal to the media and all critical thinkers to ignore side-show antics of politicians & focus on these issues of our future. And yes, by #NRM insisting on these, it’s not only #securingyourfuture but it’s also guaranteeing our livelihoods today and tomorrow. To the candidates that bother to focus on these issues in this campaign, let’s hear them out more & more and shun mere attention seekers, hate and threat mongers and sponsors of violence.
This is why I will vote the old man with a hat and so should you!
Author: Frank K Tumwebaze is current Minister of Gender, Labour & social development.