How Museveni’s ‘Destroy & Rebuild’ Policy Is Costing Ugandans Billions

Prof Oweyegha Afunaduula is a retired Makerere University lecturer, an environmentalist and commercial farmer (FILE PHOTO)

One of Uganda’s scholars and academician gives a detailed analysis of how President Museveni found many government parastatals in 1986 which were progressing and some were struggling to survive in 1986 only to preside over their destruction in what was termed as privatization.

Uganda privatized most of the public enterprises in the early 1990s at the urging of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. However this route to destruction of many of the parastatals that were giving great service to Ugandans has costed them bilions of money to rebuild them with loans which continue to pile up.

Professor Afunaduula highlights some of the gone enterprises that will never benefit Ugandans. The Observer ran an article on July 31, 2015 titled “Privatization in Uganda was a mistake”. Indeed it was a mistake the NRM government will continue regretting for life.

Starting with the newly acquired Bombadier planes in the struggle to bring the defunct Uganda airlines to life is part of Museveni’s deal of resurrecting what he killed. The government found Uganda airlines founded in 1976 by President Iddi Amin Dada with Air buses of sitting capacity of 190+ passengers only to replace them with Bombadiers which carry 70 passengers. And Uganda becomes the first country to use these at National airline level.

One of the Planes of the Old Uganda Airlines

President Yoweri Museveni’s government believes that restarting the national carrier will help Uganda take a slice of the region’s growing aviation business and also invigorate the service sector of the economy.

One of the Newly acquired Bombadier CRJ900 jets

It was Museveni’s efforts that saw Coffee and Cotton growing enterprises and associated value addition and the boards that run them diminish for good and will never see life again. Every one watched Busoga Growers, a farmers’ cooperative in Busoga which were enabling marketing and value addition and these among others died away in just a blink of an eye. Others disappeared  and only Bugisu cooperative union is the only strongest still surviving. The government with over 150 presidential advisers thought it wise to now revive cooperatives in the name of SACCOs and Hon. Fredrick Ngobi Gume was appointed State Minister for cooperatives in 2016.

The government of Uganda has plans to build the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) an initiative that has always met hard rocks to be financed by the EXIM bank of China over repayment plans. While reading the National Budget of financial year 2019/20, the finance minister Matia Kasaija noted that Uganda will instead get back t the drawing board and invest in the Standard Meter Railway and reviving the old railway.

                         Uganda Railways

For the past 30 years, this has been the policy which many Ugandans jubilate after a resurrection process still costs a lot of money. Professor Oweyagha goes ahead and notes that public transport system, which was seen in Uganda Transport Company and Uganda People’s Transport for many years was virtually destroyed and replaced with nothing. Not forgetting Jinja which used to be East Africa’s industrial hub only to be renamed Uganda’s ghost town.

Destruction of cooperative movement and associated cooperative bank, Uganda Commercial Bank and allowing Kenya Commercial Bank to operate in Uganda still haunts the government. In October 2009, the then Minister of State for Trade, Mr Nelson Gagawala Wambuzi, announced that government had set into motion plans to revive the defunct Cooperative Bank but all this has never come to reality.

The Health Care system that had been put in place to improve on the status of health in this country almost suffered a natural death while this government observed and building again it has been as challenging as the route to heaven. Not so many years ago, the government announced plans to introduce a health insurance scheme which many experts say this will also hit a dead end with no funding to maintain it.

Professor Oweyagha further notes that  government destroyed the chain of Uganda hotels and gave the hotels almost free to individuals, and this has been promoted with destruction of among other things, sites of tourist attraction,the latest development being plans to build a hydro-electric dam at Murchison falls. Forests have been cut down, wetlands have disappeared all in the name of promoting industrialization.

Perhaps many other enterprises like The Uganda Electricity Board (UEB), Uganda replaced it with UMEME which has not only mismanaged electricity but making it expensive with exorbitant power costs. Many traditional schools have been replaced with what was thought was an innovation -private schools -to service the profit motive. Public transport system, which was seen in Uganda Transport Company and Uganda People’s Transport for many years is now a gone case. Never the less many parastatals got destroyed and Museveni has struggled to revive them which has proved very difficult.

After presiding over the privatization process which was more of virtual destruction of very important parastatals, government initiated a plan to establish authorities to work hand in hand with the respective ministries. However in September 2018, government disbanded most of these authority on advise of a July 2017 letter, Mr Museveni directing Vice President Edward Ssekandi and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to spearhead review of government agencies that he said were a burden to taxpayers.

This is how Museveni’s destroy and re-build policy has costed Ugandans of their taxes yet the same government presided over their death and burial and now drumming up for resurrection.

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