Bring back Uganda to Ugandans – The Trump Effect

Many have been trashing Americans for their preferential choice of President Elect Donald Trump over Mrs Rodham Hillary Clinton. I am not an American and will respect the choice that they made. The reality on the ground today is that a number of things are changing and anyone that does not keep an ear to the ground will eventually lose out.

Here in Africa, it is a matter of time before we see Trumpism taking root too. All the ingredients are there for one to see. We have;

  • A growing number of aliens setting up business operations in our countries.

  • A growing number of aliens claiming Investment guarantees only to compete in spaces that should be better left for local traders (shop keeping, small supermarkets, hardware retail etc)

  • A growing gap between the politically connected elite and the majority masses.

  • Fading hope of a bright future under the current political and economic status-quo.

  • Failure of globalisation to deliver the expected goodies. AGOA is a good example, what has been achieved from such romanticism?

  • Increasing clout of the Political and Economic rapists (Mafias) who stop at nothing to bankroll anyone with the sole aim of maintaining the status-quo.

In Tanzania, President John Pombe Magufuli has turned the political scene upside down. While many expected him to merely rubber stamp the status-quo, this Trump precursor has gone ahead to show all that he is a man of principle, and service delivery is what matters to him. He flies economy class, has cracked down on wasteful government spending, treats his wife in a local public hospital, has cracked down on tax evaders, among many other exploits. For someone who had an ice cold reception into the presidency, he has rapidly become the darling of the people.

In South Africa, a young and flamboyant man known as Julius Sello Malema who started off as an ANC youth league member eventually being hounded out of the party due to his radical approach to issues has seen his political clout grow in leaps and bounds. For long dismissed as a dreamer, he lately never gets out of the media now that he has his own party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Emblazoned in red factory worker clothing, these party members have demonstrated their deep and heartfelt concern for the poor South African. It is this approach that has made the politically correct establishment get wary of EFF. The resource rich South African whites are scared that a transition to EFF will see them lose their wealth to the Government under an already well spelt out nationalisation agenda. If the ANC keeps shooting itself in the foot with leaders like President Zuma, it won’t be long before the Trump like Malema gets the reigns of power.

In Uganda, citizens have wailed for long about the unfair trade environment that is tilted towards favouringaliens. Aliens have been sighted hawking mobile phones, doing menial jobs like driving company cars, product distribution, setting up retail shops dealing in basic items better left to locals, among others. Each time, the government huffs and puffs about changing the status-quo but the minute electioneering is over, all that goes silent.

A friend of mine that has been in the entrepreneurial trenches recently shared this. “Over the last 18 months, I have noted with concern that a number of budding entrepreneurs whose contribution to nation building is significant have thrown in the towel and migrated with their families to other African and Arab metropolises …. Their basic complaint is that the Ugandan economy has crowded them out with all sorts of non tariff barriers being thrown at them whilst red carpets are rolled for “foreign investors” that come into the economy with no capital.

Economies survive and thrive on the ingenuity of their entrepreneurial class as these are the backbone of taxes, service delivery and employment. The more government policy disadvantages them and dissuades them from plying their trades at home the more we light the fuse of an economic time bomb.

Truth be told the underlining issue that is killing our economy is that resources are not being channeled to people who will utilise them in production to grow the economy. These days the resources are being channeled to politicians, security operatives and quasi or full civil servants. Whilst those who enhance production are targeted with debilitating taxes and operating fees, high costs of fuel and energy plus incredible interest rates coupled with political interference in their operation.

If you think losing professionals is a problem just wait you see what happens when those who risk their resources and employ the populace hang up their gloves.” Nelson Kituuka, on Facebook.

In the ensuing discussion, another serial entrepreneur, Robert Wakabi had this to say, In the late 80s, and 90s, there were so many Ugandans who got rich from importing used cars from Dubai. Until government licensed hundreds of Indians and Pakistanis to import used cars. Today, no Ugandan has the capacity to meaningfully compete with these Pakistanis who repatriate all their profits (in US$) back to their countries.

In the early 2000s many Ugandans made serious dime from importing plastic shoes, jeans, apparel etc from China and used their profits to permanently change Kampala’s downtown skyline. Until government started licensing Chinese to import, distribute, retail and hawk plastic shoes across the country. Today Ugandans have been pushed out of this business.

It’s government’s primary duty to protect local entrepreneurs if Uganda is make any headway of any sort…. The thing is, everybody can see and appreciate the huge (mostly economic) benefits of globalization. But who is enjoying these benefits? Big corporations and the foreigners who are cashing in from the booming trade. Not the natives. Not the ordinary folks on the streets.

What is annoying the natives is ‘our‘ elitist view that globalization is inevitable and can not be rolled back or controlled. And the shrewd politicians are tapping into this anger to win elections.
When a Chinese gets a licence to retail plastic shoes in Kampala, the only job he will create is casual labour for natives to offload containers and empty stores, paying them about a dollar a day. Do you really think the natives will be happy with this situation?

When a Chinese is given a licence to import fake childrens toys into Uganda, what foreign exchange will they bring? They will be supplied from the factory on credit, import, sell in UGX and buy dollars in Kampala to wire back to China.

The benefits of globalization are not being shared equitably. And the costs of globalization are not being shared. They are wholly borne by the natives through losing jobs and livelihoods.
It’s only governments that can swiftly reverse this trend through some controlled protectionism and controlled movement of people across borders. If governments don’t do their part, the natives will take matters into their own hands with no remorse or regret.”

These two distinguished gentlemen echo what I had already planned to share in a separate post titled Time Bomb !!!

Pay a visit to the Karuma dam construction site and the number of aliens you will find there doing menial jobs like cooking workers’ food will shock you. Many alien investors tend to ship in fellow aliens with the intent of using them as labour slaves for jobs that Ugandans can comfortably take up. The Standard Gauge Railway construction is soon starting and I won’t be surprised if even those mixing sand and cement are aliens.

The few locals that have dared to tread the entrepreneurial path are being hounded out of business either directly or indirectly. Tax abiding businesses are bearing the burden for those highly connected tax evading ones. It is such a shame that those intent on complying are victimised at the expense of the thugs.

Recently, an uprising begun in Lira town that saw the locals eject out aliens trading there. A local trader told me that these aliens are going as far as the farmers’ homes purchasing produce, a role that is better left to the locals if economic inclusion is to be achieved. Most of these aliens happen to be of Indian origin. I have been to India and know how much these Indians control their economy to the extent that an African can never dream of walking into a rural town to set up business operations there. You will most definitely be hounded out in a flash.

If the government keeps a blind eye over this issue, the Lira saga will most likely be replicated in numerous other towns. It is wishful thinking to expect military might to address an economic concern like this one. Uganda last had its version of Trump 40 or so years ago in the names of President Idi Amin Dada (RIP). Despite his other weaknesses, the indigenisation of the economy is one thing we shall always thank him for. Unfortunately, today, the reverse is being encouraged. I can very certainly predict that at this rate, we are likely to have another Trump in the next 10 years.

When professionals are hounded out of their enclaves due to the emergence of a corruption influenced elite that are filling their vaults with stashes of foreign currency from corrupt foreign investors, the only next sane thing to predict is discontent which will definitely eventually lead to a mass uprising. With the right ingredients, not even the most feared array of military weaponry can stop a fed up population. All it takes is the right recipe to be in place. In Uganda, I see Trump in people like Hon. Mubarak Munyagwa (Mugaati Gwa Butter), Sheikh Nuhu Muzaata and Brigadier Kasirye Ggwanga. God forbid!!! If not them, could it be you? Are you ready to drain the swamp?

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing“, Edmund Burke. Are you a government official? Do you have a position of responsibilty that can influence the status-quo? Are you an aggrieved citizen? It is time to stop passively looking at the situation and start proactively addressing the status-quo. We can’t continue this way much longer. At least I dont see us having much mor epatience as time goes by. The perpetrators of excuses are running short of them.

The time for Trumps to emerge is now. All the signs indicate so. Thank you Donald Trump for defying the odds. Now it’s time for us to replicate your feat. To those raping our economies, Beware the Ides of March.

Follow @wirejames on Twitter

Please Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.