12 issues Museveni must address today

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As President Museveni unveils his 6th term agenda in the State-of-the-Nation-Address today, Ugandans across the political spectrum have listed a dozen “strategic bottlenecks” facing the country.  

They have asked the President to use his address and give accountability to the families that have lost loved ones in unresolved cases of high-profile murders, fix rising levels of poverty, corruption, unemployment and Covid-19 pandemic that has affected every nerve of the economy. 

This year’s address, which will be held at Kololo Independence Grounds in Kampala, comes a month after Mr Museveni was sworn in for a new five-year-term at the same place. 

Mr Museveni won the January 14 vote with 58 per cent, according to the Electoral Commission (EC), a victory that his closest challenger Robert Kyagulanyi, alias Bobi Wine, of the National Unity Platform (NUP) contested. 

The President is expected to announce his new Cabinet this week.

  1. Security

President Museveni has made great strides to improve the level of security in the country but a number of high-profile murders in the country remain unresolved. 
The assassination attempt against outgoing Works minister Gen Katumba Wamala on Tuesday and the death of his daughter Brenda Nantongo, 32, and driver Haruna Kayondo, adds to the growing list of unexplained murder cases in the country.  Although Mr Museveni said he has clues to ‘the pigs’ who attacked Gen Katumba, some of the 28 murder cases in the last seven years have not been resolved, and some of the President’s 11-point security measures remain on paper.

  • Covid-19 crisis 

Yesterday, Uganda recorded 1,083 cases, the highest number in a single-day since the pandemic broke out in the country. The pandemic has greatly distressed the economy, and to secure Uganda’s future as he promised during his re-election campaign last year, the President must explain how he intends to deal with the current crisis. 
Uganda has entered its second wave of the pandemic and hospitalisations have risen yet vaccines are running out. The President should use today’s address to explain how he intends to protect Ugandans from the pandemic. Some businesses are struggling to stay afloat, others have already closed and cut jobs.

3. Corruption

The President has on several occasions rebuked the corrupt but lip-service has not stopped the vice.  Other the years, Mr Museveni has established bodies such as State House Anti-Corruption Unit, the Inspectorate of Government, and invested monies in the operations of the Auditor General and Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) to fight corruption. Despite the effort, the 2020 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index from the previous year’s ranking showed that Uganda slid by 5 places, indicating increase in corruption in public sector. Ugandans want the President to stop lip-service and begin to bite.

4. Unsustainable public debt and economic instability 

The International Monetary Fund yesterday said due to increased borrowing, the public debt for Uganda will rise to close to 50 per cent of GDP by June and that this will increase financing costs. The Auditor General, Mr John Muwanga, in the 2019/2020 report, warned that the debt burden was becoming unsustainable and that increased borrowing will affect the future generations, especially as regard the opportunity to sustainably borrow. Ugandans have asked the President to tame the government appetite to borrow, forego “political expediency” and cut down the number of ministries and ministers in his next Cabinet, fight corruption and avoid creation of more districts which increase cost of administration. 
5. Human rights violations 

There are increasing cases of arbitrary arrests, detention, killings, extortion and brutality against members of the public in the enforcing Covid-19 preventive measures. 
Some members of National Unity Platform (NUP), a new Opposition party headed by Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, remain in prison on unclear charges. International community has on several occasions complained about gross human rights violations in the country.  The US Department of State has since slapped a blanket travel ban on Uganda government officials. Ugandans have also asked the President to condemn attacks on journalists in the line of duty, forgive opponents and release all political prisoners.

6. Unemployment

More than 8,666 Ugandans left the country in March in search of employment in foreign countries, according to a report by the Ministry of Finance titled Emerging Microeconomic Trends and Patterns for Policy Attention in the 2020/21 financial year. The World Bank, as of February, proposed that Uganda’s economy will require to create at least 700,000 jobs per year, as opposed to the current 75,000 jobs annually, to keep up with the labour force pressure. 

Youth unemployment remains a big challenge in the country. Ugandans want the President to explain in simple terms, how he intends to speed up job creation in the country. 
7. Poverty 

At least 300,000 Ugandans have been pushed into poverty by Covid-19, according to the Uganda National Household Survey for 2019/2020.

The survey indicated that during the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of Ugandans who are in poverty increased from 8 million to 8.3 million people. The majority of the poor people are in Busoga, Bukedi and Acholi sub-regions. 

Ugandans have asked the President to come clean on poverty problem in the country. They cited the 68 per cent of the population that is currently stuck in subsistence farming.
8. Access to health services

The President should address the strategic bottlenecks in accessing health services at all levels. The doctor to patient ratio in the country is still way below the World Health Organisation recommendation and several experts and migrating to foreign countries due to poor condition of work or low pay. The National Health Insurance Scheme has stalled and access to medical services remains a challenge for many Ugandans.

The President should expedite processes so that NHIS can be operationalised to improve access to services, especially for poor Ugandans. Ugandans have asked the President to increase health budget and protect it from cuts. They have also asked the President to investigate abuse of Covid-19 funds and punish thieves without mercy. 
9. Infrastructure 

The National Resistance Movement government has made great efforts to improve road infrastructure with the kilometres of paved roads increasing from 1,000 in 1986 to about 5,500 today. But most of these paved roads do not reach the deep corners of the country where agricultural production is going on and the producers want to access markets.  The government has also constructed new hydro-dams, increasing the country’s power generation from 150megawatts 35 years ago to the current 1,254megawatts. But connectivity remains a problem, mainly for poor households. Ugandans have asked the President to explain how he plans to solve issues around connectivity and the bad roads in some parts of the country.

10. The land question

some people say the President lost votes in some parts of Buganda and Busoga regions due to endless eviction of Bibanja holders. They have asked the President to amend the Constitution and provide for explicit clauses that protect Bibanja holders. 

They say the current law favours the landlords and the rich at the expense of the poor and that the loopholes have exacerbated evictions. Land is a key factor in development and social wellbeing, but many Ugandans are being made helpless in the face of rampant evictions by the moneyed and politically well-connected individuals. President Museveni, while addressing legislators in Kyankwanzi last month, asked the incoming lawmakers to work with, and help, him solve the land problem once and for all.  Lack of clear land records in the country unpin the land conflicts in the country, according to recommendations by Justice Catherine Bamugemereire.

11. Environmental degradation and climate change

While delivering the State-of-the-Nation Address last year, President Museveni said the chief administrative officers and Gombolola Chiefs would be held accountable for the degradation of the environment. But the wetlands in the country continue to disappear and forest cover is vanishing with the acts being committed by some people in government. There has been a sharp decline in wetland coverage from 15.5 per cent in 1994 to 13 per cent in 2017 and of the remaining wetlands, 4.1 per cent is degraded, according to government reports. Ugandans have asked the President to reassure the country about his commitment to protect the environment and confront climate change. 
12. Access to clean water and electricity

Access to clean water is a basic human need and it is central in disease prevention, especially with the problem of Covid-19 where sanitation is central to prevent. Up to 32 per cent of villages in the country, 18,965 out of 57,150, lack a source of safe water supply, according to the 2019/2020 water sector performance report. Many Ugandans are still not connected to the power grid, and the tariff cost is very high, discouraging investment.  

SOURCE: Daily Monitor


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