30 years too long and too short



By Shaban Bantariza

Since the last election of  February 2016,there  have been arguments and counter arguments from both the leaders and supporters of the ruling NRM party and the opposition parties and their supporters respectively, that 30 years of NRM leadership are too long to  justify NRM’s continued stay in power, and the NRM leadership referring to the inherited  social, economic, security and political history of Uganda, and ,the achievements so far made, to justify why the NRM should continue, so as to consolidate and achieve more for Uganda, together with Ugandans.

Whether you agree with either side of the argument, I think it’s the facts and benchmarks you use that will determine which argument is plausible for you, and which one is deficient in merit. Without taking any political partisan positions, it is worthwhile to look at socio-economic development and the subsequent socio-economic transformation, and look at society from a holistic perspective, so that time alone is not the principle factor in the determination of society’s journey to its collective, desired destiny. There is no doubt that there are certain factors which are primary and others, secondary. And this is the reason why a people’s leadership and government prioritizes certain factors over others, at given times. For example ,economic infrastructure  like electric power, good roads for transport, telecommunications, do play a pivotal role in a country’s economic development. Yet, a country can be developed, and a big spectrum of its people remains poor!

Another important factor is the social infrastructure like schools for education, hospitals and health centers for the good of the people etc.

And yet, people can be fairly rich, quite healthy, and yet remain vulnerable on their journey to their necessary transformation, which level of social economic and political transformation, is a fundamental determinant for the harmonious, consistent and sustainable steps to a society’s collective desired destiny. In case you doubt this, look at that Libya was during Col. Gaddafi’s tenure, and see how those who fought him from within, were not actually poor people! Even the   rebels, were fighting on first class paved  roads, using brand new land cruiser pickups for their guns and rocket launchers!

Libyans had what they needed materially, financially; they had a health for all system, education for all, and family transport was guaranteed by the state, just like Housing for all. But the over 50 years Libyans had had to get to where they were, was apparently not enough for them to be described as a transformed society. I happened to see one of the fighters on television claiming that they were fighting because they were “tired” of sending their children to Europe for studies! Not because they could not afford, but they were “tired” of AFFORDING fees! Just like here, you will hear people say that they are “tired”! Bakoowu-in our vernacular! Ask them. Are they tired of peace and security for 30 years, single digit inflation rate, over 70% access to clean water, literacy rate of 75%, good roads, more electricity than we can consume etc. Those opposed to the NRM, want it out of power yesterday! To do what?

Perhaps to add value to what Ugandans and their government have achieved so far. Any new areas of attention? Very many! In a country where, we still have people who admit being cannibals, as  you may have seen hordes of citizens from some remote area of central Uganda, jumping onto taxis to go to pastor kakande and get  saved, in a country where we have some sections of our society living as “a tourist attraction” in the  Rwenzori mountains, in a society where our young people don’t want to know that our history has an indelible impact on our today and future, etc; it is not enough to say that 20-30 or 50 years is enough for a political party or government to holistically transform our society from economic, cultural, social and ideological “poverty”!

And the reason why some see the 30 years of NRM governance as being too long, in my view, is not because people don’t see and appreciate the achievements made by Ugandans together with their government. They do. The difference comes from failure to have commonality of a National Vision. And am not here talking of the content and document we know as vision 2040! Iam talking of a common analysis of our journey to socio-economic transformation, which we alternatively call our common destiny. This common analysis is the shared facts about: “Who are we as a people, where have we come from, where are we today, what pitfalls did we hit along the way, where do we exactly want to go in the next so many years, and how can we safely get there by avoiding the pitfalls that hit us along our past journey”! It is this perspective of analysis, that can give us a common and shared vision, so that the question of who is best suited to safely take us to our desired “Canaan” becomes secondary, and we don’t have to kill each other over it, since the people and their constitution, have given us the guide and shown us the way. 30 years can be too long, or too short, since “what to do determine the time frame”.


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