Category Archives: Politics

Hon. Anite, you’re a Minister. Get out of your Slumber

Abraham Lincoln once said, “it’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

I could hardly believe my ears and eyes when I read and heard allegations that the State Minister for Investment and Privatisation, a one Hon. Evelyn Anite had blurted out statements in line with the fact that all Ugandans shall be required to have a simcard of the rabied Uganda Telecom.

Before I start on Uganda Telecom, I would like to register my disappointment in the level of intellectual ability depicted by some of the ministers in our government. I now realise why a minimum education requirement was put in place for anyone who wants to be a member of the Parliament. However, today, I propose that the education requirements for Ministers be elevated even much higher than a Senior 6 certificate.

This is not the first time I have been uneasy about the kind of chit chat this Hon. Anite turns into public speeches. Matters are even made worse when one learns that she holds a sensitive docket whose aim is to promote investment in this country.

Why should Ugandans be forced or required to have UTL Sim Cards? In her wisdom, she calls upon our nationalism as a way of reviving the ailing entity. Now here are some questions for her in this regard:

  • Where was Nationalism when the top four managers were earning a combined salary of US$ 95,500 (UGX 343 Million) monthly?

  • Where was Nationalism when a one Emmanuel Kasule was paid UGX 50 Million before he even begun working for UTL?

  • Where was Nationalism when the Uganda Police and lots of other Government agencies raked up unpaid bills in billions?

  • Where was Nationalism when a decision was hurriedly made to sell shares to UCOM without following due process?

  • Where was nationalism when the share holding structure was further altered to favour UCOM by reducing on that of the government?

  • Where was nationalism when UCOM continued having lee way over management issues in the business despite the expiry of an earlier agreement?

  • Where was Nationalism when Lap Green acquired the UCOM shareholding under unclear circumstances?

Hon Anite, your simplistic trend of thought is inexcusable for someone who has had a parliamentary stint. You have since enjoyed the perks of not only being a parliamentarian but also a ruling party member only for this to be later followed up with a ministerial position. Most of what you seem to share in this docket is either extracts from peers you relate with or smatterings of information that you collide with.

Hon Anite, if you want to appeal to our sense of nationalism, you need to present a package not these one off requests. We need to see you in government as being practising nationalists before we can kowtow.

As a UTL sim card holder, I have a lot of frustrations that I can share which will just show you that the entity, while being in the 21st century is actually being run with a 20th century mindset. During Sim Card registration, as Africell, Airtel and MTN were using electronic methods to register us, I walked to the UTL outlet at Game and the first thing they asked me was to go photocopy my National ID, write my number on the same paper and then wait till the photocopy is taken to the head quarters. I refused and as a result abandoned my line. I cant allow to be associated with such incompetence under the guise of nationalism.

It is now over two months since the Hon Nandala Mafabi probe into UTL, a lot of wrongs were unearthed but to-date, no action has been taken against the culprits. So much for nationalism.

While I may want UTL to continue existing for sentimental and nationalistic reasons, your very government’s inaction towards wanting to see it succeed has made me and many others give up on that side of things. Truth be told, we now don’t care afterall we are having some decent services from the other players. I do enjoy my data with Africell, Voice with MTN and occasionally Airtel’s Pakalast.

By the way, even if you legislated that we own UTL simcards, will you force us to use them? Does UTL have the capacity to support over 20 million users in its current derelict state?

Like a glutton who after puking calls upon others to clean his vomit, we are being rallied to support a cause for a mess others deliberately created.

#Temutukooya (Don’t make us tired)

As it is, the hussle in our economy is so real that the last thing on our mind should be dealing with such dreams that are devoid of a serious thought process.

For God and My Country

Wire James

Twitter: @wirejames

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DOTT Services and the rot it represents in Uganda’s Road Sector

In 2011 and 2012, I was engaged in a number of duties that saw me traverse the Eastern region frequently from Busia all the way to Lira via Soroti. On my first trip, I used my private car to carry out the duties and to-date, I regret that decision.

mbale_kumi

Mbale – Kumi road, 2012

I journeyed to Soroti via Mbale and the road was being worked upon by DOTT Services. It had been in a dilapidated state with the company always promising to get things better. Work which should have been completed much earlier was still pending. Potholes had been amplified by the company’s work and many cursed why they had even begun working on the road in the first case. Upon return to Kampala, I had to overhaul the shock absorbers of the car including serious repairs on other related parts of the car. The money spent on these repairs meant that I had made a total loss on the job that took me there.

Since that time, I took keen interest in the various projects the company was handling and that is when I also got a chance to check out the Tororo to Mbale Road, Kamuli, Tirinyi roads among others. For civility’s sake, all I can say, DOTT Services is a &%^*&^%$#@)(*&@!$%&* company and can at best be defined as a ČąóɎɮɸɶɱώϑЖЂ service provider (excuse the incomprehensible text, it saves me from falling victim of the cyber harassment clause in the law).

dott_services

DOTT Services Head office in Naguru, Kampala. (I was threatened by the guards for taking this photograph)

I understand when our fountain of honour (President Museveni) visited Pallisa district recently, he got a first hand taste of the rot on our roads. I am glad he did taste the experience.

The president has always wondered why there is a lot of vitriol poured upon him by those that get a chance to talk about service delivery in his Government. So much is rotten that today I want to restrict my discussion to the road sector. With all your good intentions Mr President, even a Primary School graduate could tell as far back as 2011 the incompetence that DOTT Services represented. It was so obvious that when I later traversed Western Uganda by road, driving to Fort Portal via Mubende and later going all the way to Kasese, Ibanda back to Mbarara, I was in awe with the great work done there by SBI International. Why, if indeed these guys were doing a good job in Western Uganda should the Eastern part be subjected to pedestrian contractors like DOTT Services? It is observations like these that make people complain about sectarianism in your Government.

How is it possible that the rubbish that this company has been engaged in all along has kept rewarding them with more business? What message is being sent across to the general public? Each time I interact with other Ugandans, I get the message form them loud and clear that in this country, only thieves and crooks prosper. Is this really what we want our children and grand children to believe?

I thank you for coming out and reprimanding DOTT Services through the executive order you issued. You have done #WhatMagufuliWouldDo and I am very happy. However, as someone who thinks longterm, I believe that these knee jerk reactions, while serving the purpose of waking up the service providers from the slumber also need to be followed up by proper processes and procedures to guarantee continuity.

Mr President, you are not in position to visit all places in the country where road construction is taking place, hence making this act appear to be a one off. You need to reduce on the over centralisation of decision making that has become characteristic of your leadership style. Many civil servants fear to make decisions (even when they are in the interest of the nation) until they know what you think about the matter. This has bred a scenario where quacks pretending to be sent by you are breeding corruption and poor service delivery. I have experienced such loose talk in my home district of Butaleja where the LCV Chairman at one time wanted to sell off the Doho irrigation Scheme to an investor claiming you had sent emissaries indicating that he does so.

You have the power Mr President to break up these cocoons of thugs that are undermining your good intentions of prosperity for all. Behind DOTT Services is a cabal of termites that you need to expose and do away with otherwise you will only be treating wounds on the skin without handling the underlying infection.

I hope you now realise why the general populace seems not to appreciate most of what you are doing. The answer is simple, service delivery is rotten, not only in the road sector but across the board. So rotten that even the well intentioned civil servants can’t do much to make right what they clearly see is wrong.

For God and My Country”

James Wire is a Small Business and Technology Consultant based in Kampala, Uganda

Follow @wirejames on Twitter.

Email lunghabo [at] gmail [dot] com

Other Articles of Interest:

TimeBomb – Bobi Wine’s Prophecy ?

I have never really been a fan of Bobi Wine, one of Uganda’s most renowned musicians over the last decade. His lifestyle and choice of lyrics for most of his earlier songs were perhaps the major reasons I never felt him.

However, the Baganda say, “Obukadde Magezi” and this musician only gets better with age. His new found activism through music is adorable and anyone that has a sense of feeling for the welfare of society cannot fail to appreciate this.

I did come across his song Time Bomb (watching the video will help you appreciate this post more) while browsing through my tweets and without doubt was instantly moved. As a christian, am a firm believer in prophecy and the power it has over human kind. In his opening verse, Bobi says;

I would like to communicate
About tings
(things) de we have fi (to) eliminate
Ignorance and poverty, eradicate
And de wholla ghetto yhut dem fi educate
(Educate the whole Ghetto) …

To free ghetto (slum) people dem must educate
But education, expensive to get
(Education is expensive)
Is like you say we carry water inna b
asket (It’s like attempting to carry water in a basket)

Without doubt, ignorance and poverty are really hitting this nation of ours badly. We may bask in the assumed glory of poverty levels having dropped according to recent statistics but the absolute numbers of Ugandans in poverty today is much higher than it has even been before.

Education has become too pricey and the feeble attempt at free education by the Government is implemented in a manner that leaves a lot to be desired. How can a school with 2,000 pupils be given an annual financial release worth the annual fees of one child in a middle level Kampala private school?

Indeed all attempts by the under privileged to turn around their circumstances are akin to carrying water in a basket. By the time they reach their intended destination, the basket is empty.

The second verse is entirely in Luganda and below are some of the excerpts;

Kati temudawo mwelimbe [Stop lying to yourselves]
Ngamuwooza tusaaba government etuyambe
[Asking the Government to help you]
Opposition gyetusuubira etuyambe
[The opposition we expect to help us]
Mpulira nabo batukolamu musimbi
[I hear, are just making money]
……
Gwe omuntu owafamili omusala ogwomwezi
[A family person’s monthly salary]
Tegu`mulisa kumala wiki, kyovolaba ngamba
[Can’t feed him for a week]
Tutudde ku time bomb
[We are sitting on a Time bomb]
Eyagala kubaluka eno time bomb
[This Time bomb wants to explode]
Kelibaluka (time bomb)
[When it Explodes]
Temugamba temwajjimanya (time bomb)
[Don’t say you never knew about it]

In the last verse, more prophetic pronouncements come out;

Abasinga bibalumila muli nebisigalayo kumitima [Many are hurt but keep it to themselves]
Buli omu yandi funye equal opportunity
[Everyone should get an equal opportunity]
No matter the tribe
Netumalawo fitina
[So we can get rid of the gossip]
Nanti eno time bomb
[This is a time bomb]
Engundo mwetuyitta (time bomb)
[The roads we use]
Embeera yomumalwaliro (time bomb)
[The state of Hospitals]

You may read this and think it’s just one of these disgruntled Ugandans trying to disorient the society, but it is high time you woke up and smelt the coffee. The fact that you have a steady salary, booming business or even a network of rich buddies that cushion your existence doesn’t imply that these injustices aren’t rife.

Most musicians have resorted to singing erotically oriented music probably because it guarantees them the bread and butter they seek. However, kudos to Bobi Wine for standing tall and choosing to be an advocate for the under privileged. You too can save this nation from the Time Bomb that is amidst us.

Do not ask how, just look at what you can do with what you have, where you are.

Why why, why why
Yaga yaga yaga yaga yo
Why why, why why

Follow @wirejames on Twitter

Bobi Wine Picture Photo Credit: Howwe Music

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

President Museveni, Stop the Doho Rice Scheme Land Grab

During my Senior 4 vacation in 1991, as my fellow vacists were following Operation Desert Storm on CNN marveling at the remote controlled missiles that were roaming the streets of Baghdad, I was holed up in rural Butaleja (then part of Tororo district). My mother had given me a quarter acre to try my luck at rice growing. As a hardworking young man, by the end of my vacation, I had harvested rice to raise that earned me more than enough money for my first term school fees in Senior 5. That piece of land was and still is in the Doho Rice Scheme, Uganda’s largest irrigation scheme.

Dear President Museveni,

You definitely do not know me but I have know you for over thirty years, ever since I first heard about you in the mythical tales that were shared during your bush days. We used to be told that you could turn into a pussycat and escape arrest by the then Government soldiers of UNLA. However, when you came to power, I was taken up by your passion towards developing the masses of this country. Your resolve to fight injustice was never in doubt and this endeared many of us to you.

About me, I am a Ugandan citizen who hails from Nambale Parish, Naweyo Sub-County in Butaleja District.

Close to two weeks ago, I was alarmed by the news that appeared on NTV as well as in the Monitor Newspaper about a fracas between the rice farmers of the Doho Rice Scheme and the District Chairman LCV, a one Mr. Waya Richard. He narrowly survived lynching for trying to impose upon the farmers Cooperative a mysterious, yet to be known investor to take over management of the rice Scheme which is being ably managed by the Doho Irrigation Scheme Farmers’ Cooperative Society (DIFACOS). Despite the fracas, Mr. Waya went ahead to boastfully state that the investor was sent by State House and in lay man’s terms, this directly means President Museveni. This is the reason I am writing this letter to you.

About Doho Rice Scheme

The scheme is a 2500 Hectares irrigation scheme that sustains not less than 10,000 farmers that actively grow rice in it. A further 30,000 labourers are engaged in offering services to the farmers like ground clearing, laying nursery beds, weeding, transplanting, harvesting, scare crow services among others. The environs of this scheme have not less than thirty rice mills including ultra modern ones at Nabiganda and Nampologoma that not only mill but also thresh, destone and grade the rice ready for packaging. The 40,000 farmers and labourers have households averaging 6 people thereby implying that at least 240,000 direct beneficiaries do exist.

If you extend the impact further to the shop keepers, rice traders, transporters, agro-input dealers, etc, you realise that this rice scheme has created a well lubricated market led rice industry that extends beyond the confines of Butaleja with an impact on markets as far as Kampala.

The income earned from this scheme has helped create a lot of stability in the village communities with many being able to bring food to the table, educate children, set up other business ventures among other things. This could probably be the main reason why our district hardly clamors for a Ministerial position. People have some source of income that keeps them busy.

Butaleja district is one of the few Ugandan districts where you can comfortably find over 5000 farmers who earn at least UGX 2 Million per annum from their farming activities. Therefore, in terms of achieving Middle income status, this district is one of those that can get you that critical mass needed much sooner than letter. The rice scheme has therefore greatly facilitated the economic inclusiveness of most households in the district.

The farmers’ cooperative, DIFACOS of which I am member number 0336, has registered much progress ever since being handed the reigns of managing the scheme after it’s renovation using a badly managed 22 Billion World Bank grant (this is a story for another day).

Some of the achievements which stand out are:

  • Capacity building of the leadership and administrative staff of the SACCO both locally and internationally.
  • Capacity building of the farmers through avenues like trainings and study tours both locally and internationally.
  • Fully functional cooperative society processing plant that adds value through rice grading and packaging for onward re-sale in supermarkets.
  • Management of a savings scheme for farmers that enables them get access to loans thereby greatly improving on the financial security of the farmers.
  • Availing farming inputs on time to the farmers to ensure uninterrupted farming hence allowing the farmers to have less stress as well as avoid resorting to loan sharks who charge upto 100% interest over a 3 months’ period.

The gains I have shared and much more are about to be washed away by a plan fronted by the LCV Chairman of Butaleja District in which he has vowed to steamroll over every stakeholder to bring on board an investor to take over the Doho Rice Scheme. It gets even more interesting when this investor is a safely guarded secret only known to him for now.

The District Chairman has reportedly stated that the investor will;

  • Buy farmers’ rice at a price no less than UGX 5000/= per Kilogram hence increasing their incomes significantly. I see this as a naked lie considering that the price offering is even much higher than the market cost of the product.
  • Bring new rice farming methods like planting in lines and mechanisation. This is not news to the rice scheme. Already farmers have been empowered with knowledge on System for Rice Intensification approaches towards rice farming through the various trainings as well as study tours. All this is known to them and one does not have to take over the scheme to teach this.
  • Add value to the rice so that more revenue can be got. DIFACOS as mentioned earlier is actively packaging rice. There are also private packaging companies in the district. They didnt need to take over the running of the rice scheme to be able to add value.
  • Buy out the rice farmers from the scheme and grow the rice directly. What will the fate of the over 10,000 farmers and their support staff be? The loss of income is likely to create a lot of socio-economic turbulence in the district and beyond all because of one investor.
  • Mandate the rice growers in the area to sell their husked rice to the investor strictly. This will definitely lead to much lower incomes for these farmers hence contradicting the earlier promise of increased revenues. Not only is husked rice sold at a much cheaper rate but the creation of a monopoly buyer in what is supposed to be a free market economy will lead farmers to dance to the tunes of the investor.

DIFACOS’ position is that no investment is required in the area of processing rice as-is. The cooperative wants investors who can;

  • Add value to the waste like using the rice husks to make charcoal briquettes or ceiling boards
  • Add value to rice by making upscale niche products like Spaghetti, alcohol, glue among others.

Your excellency, we have a good reason to believe that the mysterious investor is either non-existent or is a group of sleek background operating Mafis using the district leadership and the good name of your office (State House) to acquire public property for peanuts while disregarding the eventual economic imbalance such a move is likely to have on the local Butaleja residents.

As I conclude, I want to let you know that your Resident District Commissioner, a one Gulume Balyainho seems to be in bed with the plans of the District Chairman that are totally against the will of the masses. He has already been conscripted to be part of the negotiations committee that has been hurriedly set up to negotiate with the mysterious Investor. Is he really representing your interests? Has he briefed you about this saga?

councillors

Butaleja District Councillors’ Contacts. Call them and urge them to choose the society over individual businesses by saving Doho from the mysterious Investor come 22nd September 2016 when they meet on this issue.

The battle lines have been drawn, locals are already agitated with many vowing not to see their only source of livelihood slip through their hands.

It is in line with these issues that I seek an appointment with you to brief you with much more clarity following an on-ground assessment I did last week on this unfolding saga. It is definitely pitting the masses against the land grabbing, moneyed and influential elite who always stop at nothing to illicitly acquire whatever resources there are.

While using channels like our area Members of Parliament is an option, the speed at which the District LCV Chairman is pushing this initiative leaves us no choice but to run to the highest office of the land for refuge. After-all, he claims the investor was sent by StateHouse.

I respectfully await your call, your Excellency.

Yours Sincerely,

James Wire

On behalf of the Save Doho Rice Scheme Pressure Group

Follow @wirejames on Twitter

Follow @savedoho on Twitter

Email savedoho [at] gmail.com

The Middle Aged Ugandan Sell Outs

She is bold, blunt, unconventional, open minded, no nonsense and above all articulate with her words. She has mastered the art of pushing her points across in a manner that leaves many scampering for shelter. She is the one and only Stella Nyanzi who took on the world renowned Professor Mahmood Mamdani to the extent of publicly undressing herself to get her grievances addressed.

While rummaging through my Facebook feeds, I came across her post as depicted in the snapshot below.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 12.55.50

Stella, you do regard your generation as a total sell out and I do agree with that statement only if it is devoid of the word “Total.” I am a 1974 kid too and lived to see some of the toughest times this country has been through. When the NRM came into power in 1986, I was among the then Primary kids moving around with the “Liberators” showing them where soldiers of the fallen government and their sympathisers stayed. After all we had been through for nearly two decades, I, like many Ugandans was like a child rescued from captivity. In hindsight, I must say that like a jilted lover looking for comfort, we gave our hearts to the “Liberators” wholesale and jumped in bed with the next best thing that appeared on our radar.

I recall the idealistic mindsets we had while in school. Debates on how Pan Africanism can be advanced and why Africa is still under-developed. We exuded a lot of optimism back then for this nation and its people. I always loved the straight thinking that my colleagues manifested including the first son Major General Muhoozi Kainerugaba who was incidentally a class behind me at St. Mary’s College Kisubi. Today I can list not less than fifteen chaps that I studied with who could have done more politically for this nation than resort to only feeding their families.

Things started changing when we reached the University and begun politicking at a slightly higher level than before. This is when the dilution of the original ideals begun. The blunt exposure we got to capitalism and its side effects took its toll on us. On one hand you wanted to experience life like it is in the movies (go to the discotheques, drink alcohol till you drop, smoke your lungs away, drive a car, date a hot babe, be a big spender etc) while on the other hand you wanted to see the corruption in the nation reduce to a bare minimum, see a change of guard politically, reduce the poverty levels among other socially conscious achievements. The mistake we made at this point was to expect someone else to do all the social good while we lived life in the fast lane. This is starkly similar to the current habit of vibrant energetic Ugandans who have the audacity to congregate daily in a pub, guzzle alcoholic beverages worth two months’ salary of a teacher on a daily basis but spend all their time complaining about how the rural school in their village has no benches, tables and chalk. It has become a ritual and led to most resorting to self seeking pursuits.

My University (Campus) generation had the likes of Erias Lukwago the Lord Mayor of Kampala City, Hon. Mike Mabikke (Ex Member of Parliament), Hon. Godfrey Ekanya (Ex Member of Parliament), George Mutabazi (LC V Chairman Lwengo District), Hon. Elijah Okupa (Member of Parliament), Hon. Dennis Galabuzi (Member of Parliament and Minister), Hon. Mukasa Mbidde (Member of Parliament EALA) to mention but a few. These guys made a great effort to stamp their mark on the political setup of this country of ours with the hope that they would be able to influence matters positively. While I cant authoritatively tell you how much they achieved, I can say that some successes were registered and probably that is why we aren’t yet a basket case like South Sudan or Somalia.

However, all that aside, I felt riled by the blanket accusation that we have all let the country down in totality. You need to take time off your now busy schedule in South Africa and I take you for a tour around Uganda. Alot has gone wrong, TRUE. However, there are people out there, in ours and other generations that are doing something to positively influence the communities they are a part of. They may not have the privilege of being covered by the large media houses but they are moving things and influencing lives one day at a time. While others prefer to gather for pity parties where lamentations about what is going wrong are common, a few have decided to effect the change they want to see.

I have taken such steps in Butaleja (my home district) and while it is not an easy task, I can see the goodwill among people from my locale who believe that change can come in their lives if they choose to positively influence issues that affect them. Now, my prayer is that people like you Stella Nyanzi also start similar society transforming initiatives in whichever locale you originate from with the hope that as more and more Generation 1970s kids tread a similar script, we can eventually coalesce our efforts and create a ripple effect nationwide.

The corruption and many other vices you see on a daily in Uganda are propagated by people like me and you. These are our brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunties, friends, clan mates etc. To stem the rot, we need to start by positively influencing those in our environs and the rest will eventually fall in place.

So, Stella, when you say “Foolish, impotent, middle-aged Ugandans! Sellouts, just,” you’re talking about yourself and I.

Even impotence can be cured. Let us do something about it.

Follow @wirejames on Twitter

Dear President Museveni, As You Swear in, Remember …

Dear Mr. President!

It is under four days to your inauguration as our President for yet another 5 years. Congratulations are in order for this is no mean achievement! Best wishes too for a fruitful and prosperous term not just for you but for us as a nation.

As you start your new term in office, I want to bring to your attention a story that appeared in the press recently. Speaking at the closing of a meeting of District Engineers from across the country; State Minister for transport Dr.Steven Chebrot said in his own words and I quote; ” Government would ensure value for the taxpayers’ money. The new supplier is competent, professional and has the capacity to supply the heavy road equipment within the specified time. It is unfortunate that it is an extra cost to all of us Ugandans including myself,” This was in apparent reference to the new equipment Government is acquiring for Districts to replace the non functional equipment bought less than 5 years at the cost of US$100m from China!

Your Excellency; this mode of working should not continue in your new term of office! From the Ministers statement, it appears that the supplier of the Chinese was incompetent; unprofessional and lacked capacity. How then did they get a US$100m contract to supply equipment to the Government of Uganda?

I have previously expressed in similar write ups to you, that the whole notion of Government owning equipment and doing road works by its self has been tried before in Uganda and has not worked. There is no reason why we should go that route again because it simply does not work!!

The above notwithstanding, I find it odd that Government could spend US$100m on equipment that is found not fit for purpose and no one is held responsible. The following questions should come to mind regarding the procurement of this Chinese equipment;

1. Was there a contract between FaW China (The Supplier) and Government or was the equipment ordered by word of mouth?

2. If there was a contract, did the contract include a warranty for the equipment or not? If there was; has Govt exercised its rights under the warranty? Who is responsible for this?

3. And if there was no provision for a warranty in the Contract, who is responsible for this gross omission that is costing tax payers so much money? How do you buy equipment for USD100m without any form of warranty?

4. Did the contract include specifications for the equipment or it did not? If it did was there pre and post shipment inspection to check for compliance with the specifications? If inspection was done, who was responsible for it and why did they accept the equipment if it did not meet the specifications?

5. Is it possible that the equipment was poorly specified such that even if it met the specifications it would still not be suited for purpose? Who was responsible for prepping these specifications and why have they not been held responsible?

6. Is it also possible that Government did not have any specifications and the supplier was left to their own device to decide what they should supply? If that was the case; who should be held responsible for this omission?

7. Did FaW just promise to build service centres for this equipment or it was a contractual obligation? If it was a contractual obligation, why have they not met it and what has Government done about it?!

Your Excellency, this and many other wasteful transactions shall seriously impede our steady progress not only in the roads sector but in other sectors as well. It is therefore important that in your new term, persons responsible are brought to book. It is hard to believe that Government, can simply write off USD100m?! There is so much acute need in our country we surely cannot afford such waste!

Contributed by Anthony Mark Mondo via WhatsApp

President Museveni, Some advice on Roads

Dear Mr. President!

I am hoping that this finds you well!

In a few days; you will be sworn in as our President for yet another 5 years. I do not know if you are excited about the new term in office as some of us are; I will for the purpose of this note, assume that you are, perhaps even more than I am.

I am excited about the new term of office because you have promised us so many good things; things that should change for the better, the life of the ordinary Ugandan.

I implore you Mr. President; to start doing these good things by changing the way we do things because we cannot do things the same way and expect change.

For instance in the roads sector; if we are to achieve any meaningful development; we must….

1. Reduce the cost of building and maintaining roads; so that we are able to build more roads using the same resources. This is one thing that Govt can very easily do but has simply ignored or refused to do.

2. Must empower the local road construction industry so that we build its capacity. It hurts our economy when all the money spent building roads finds its way out of the country because all the work is done by foreign companies; some of whom are actually fake. It is hard to believe that Eutaw on the Katosi road is an isolated case!!

It is absurd to say the least, that in 30years of steady progress, we have failed to build just one local contractor to international standard. Clearly there is something not right!

Continuing to ignore this industry the way the NRM Govt has done over the years, is a great disservice to the people of Uganda.

It has been common place for all your Ministers for Works to state at every chance they get, that the problem with the local contractors is that they have no experience and capacity. Three questions I have for these Ministers are;
a)  If a contractor has been building murram roads for 40years; where will he get the experience on tarmac roads if you his only employer will not accord him the chance?

b) How can a contractor build capacity for building tarmac roads when they have no assurance for a job? Those that have tried have ended up with bank loans that they cannot pay!!

c) Where do they think the foreign companies fake or otherwise that come here got their experience from? Were they incorporated with this experience?

The benefits of a strong local road construction industry to a developing country like ours cannot be over emphasized.

3. We must adopt different methods of road construction best suited to our culture of having poor or no maintenance regimes for our roads.

4. We must adopt different maintenance regimes for our roads so that there is sustainable expenditure in the sector. Its baffling to see the bitumen or gravel on a road being eaten away by rain water because the maintenance cycles we have now do not provide for regular routine maintenance.

5. Abandon schemes that involve Govt taking over the construction and maintenance of roads in whatever form.

The reality is that these schemes have been tried before and they did not work, they simply resulted in the wastage of public resources! To that end, they simply cannot be justified.

Government needs to build meaningful and sustainable partnerships with the private sector in order to deliver on the roads.

Mr. President, I wish you all the best in your new term of office and I look forward to real change in the way we do things. That is the only way we shall be able to produce real results that speak for themselves in this and other sectors such as the health sector!

Contributed by Anthony Mark Mondo via WhatsApp

Uganda is too Important for Career Politicians

I used to wonder why Countries like the USA spend Billions of dollars engaging in Space programmes that don’t seem to have any bearing on alleviating the hunger that is afflicting many Ghetto dwellers in that country. Why the heck would someone be interested in landing a probe on Mars or send a telescope to space to study how the universe was formed allegedly billions of years ago.

It’s not until my interest in astronomy got the better of me that I begun appreciating that the survival of the human race is pegged on our ability to harness the universe. We can’t continue expecting to live and survive by chance on this earth without exploring the heavens. What shall we do when the Sun expands and bombards earth with heat causing all water to boil and evaporate as well as destroying life? What shall we do when the earth becomes moonless and we no longer have a controlling force to help our planet stay in the right orbital position? (Afterall according to research, the moon is receding away from the earth at the rate of 1.5 inches per year thereby adding 2 seconds to our day every 100,000 years). As humans, we should start considering the possibility of relocating from this planet when conditions become unfriendly (which they will eventually be). Therein lies the justification for investment in Space programmes. Already, scientists have found a very good candidate planet for human settlement called Kepler 452B located 1400 Light years away. Light years? Yes, this means that if one travelled at the speed of light which is 185,000 miles per second, it would take you 1,400 years to get there. However, how we can get there is a story for another day.

How is Uganda related to all this mini lecture on Space and the Universe?

When I look around, I see how comfortable many of my fellow elites have become regarding lifetime ambitions. Apart from pursuing better jobs, more money, good schools for their children and fascinating holidays in exotic destinations, many are aloof when it comes to what is going on in the society around them until they get hit by a WhatsApp and Facebook blockade.

Whenever any political crisis comes up, we are more concerned about our inability to trade or work for our employers than the issues that are slowly turning the country’s majority captives of a selected few whose intentions are of a black hole nature (sucking every piece of matter within their vicinity).

We always deride politicians and subscribe to adages like “Politics is a dirty game”, “Only crooks can manage politics” among others. When these very politicians mess up things, it’s we the working class that have to pay for those sins. Five years ago, the country experienced runaway inflation after the elections (due to the rampant money giveaway) and the problem was thrown onto the laps of the Governor of Bank of Uganda and his technocrats. They wrestled with that challenge for months. Gravitational waves of this impact were felt in the business community with many closing shop (especially importers). “We have been conditioned to think that only politicians can solve our problems. But at some point, maybe we will wake up and recognise that it was politicians who created our problems,” said Ben Carson.

For donkey years, people have complained about voter intimidation and voting irregularities but because most of these used to occur in rural environs, we never really cared much. It took irregularities in sensitive districts like Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso where the majority of Uganda’s nouveau riche reside to bring the issue of the Electoral Commission’s (EC) competence to the forefront. Today, thanks to the vibrance of Social Media based elites, Professor Badru Kiggundu the head of the EC has had his glorious career as a University Don and Government official relegated to the historical dustbins. It is so sad that even his great grand children are likely to shy away from classes of Uganda’s recent political history when they do eventually get of age. His descendants are likely to face a similar fate as those of Mukajanga the Chief Executioner of Kabaka Mwanga of the Buganda Kingdom who oversaw the project of killing the now highly regarded Christian Martyrs in 1886.

The broad day light rape of the democratic process that took place between the 18th and 20th of February 2016 left very many elites speechless. An old friend of mine has refused to comment on these elections till now because he simply cannot believe that the current political dinosaurs could stoop so low.

Prior to the elections I could hear some touting the need to ensure that the status-quo remains in order to have peace so that; their businesses aren’t interrupted, children can start the school term on time, no war can erupt in the country, we can continue having some sleep, the list went on and on. I refused to buy that because as someone that experienced the removal of President Idi Amin Dada, I clearly recall that we had to sacrifice at least four months of economic and academic activity in order for the country to transition. So, my belief today is that just like Gold has to go through a furnace to be what it is, our country definitely shall need to undergo a similar furnace experience.

We all have views about where we want this nation to be and gladly I believe we agree in many areas. However, the foundation stones for those issues are laid now. If we sit back and do not partake in laying those foundation stones, then we should stop armchair criticism of the career politicians who take the gamble. Remember, I said earlier that when they mess up, it is we the working class that have to clean up the mess.

As a result, I have made a decision to play a more active role in the political environment of this nation. Political power is too important to be left in the hands of self seekers, ignorant people as well as non visionaries. It is our lack of active participation in the political processes as the working elite that is letting down the rural dwellers who look upto us for guidance. So, when we care less about the political space, the thugs, crooks, plunderers, self seekers create political Kingdoms whose aim is to keep everyone in bondage. It should therefore come as no surprise when our efforts to address the nation’s challenges experience still births.

As an action, I am going to start by transferring my voter registration details from Mukono to Butaleja District my Alma Mater,\; thereafter, I will make it a point going forward to immerse myself in the local politico-economic issues of my district as well as play a major role in the economic empowerment of the people there. The beauty this time is that Butaleja has a new wave of politicians in whom I have much confidence, especially the Members of Parliament. I believe working with them to meet the needs of the masses will not be a challenge. I have come up with proposals for how I believe the district can be turned around for the better which I hope to share with the incoming MPs and District Councillors. If you too did the same in your home district, we can then form a network of professionals working for the political good of the society we are in. The network can be used to advocate for the change that we need in this nation as well as ensure that leaders remain accountable to the masses. This nonsense of waiting for the election period and loads of promises are made from free exercise books, free hoes to building cities must stop.

 

basket_weaver

A Basket Weaver in Adjumani District – Northern Uganda

What Uganda needs is organic sustainable development backed up by genuine inclusive economic growth targeting the empowerment of locals as opposed to the current tilt that is inclined towards foreigners.

Such pro people and proactive policies are only going to be engineered and pursued by elites that are socially conscious and ready to ensure that their efforts to set a comfortable cushion for their own descendants are in tandem with the welfare improvements of the society around them.

It may seem a long shot but just like man is planning to relocate from the Earth when habitation becomes impossible, we too can contribute more to a much better Uganda. The planning starts now, stop being critical and start being practical.

For God and My Country

@wirejames on Twitter

Beating Censorship as #UgandaDecides

The morning begun just like any other. I took time to slash my compound with the kids in anticipation of the task ahead today. Voting and deciding who leads Uganda for the next five years.

By 9 am I was tired and opted to retreat into the house and catch up on the election gossip. To my utter horror, I realised that I couldn’t access any social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and others.

Thanking God for my knowledge of Internet Censorship disobedience, I quickly recalled the ToR Project and how it works towards facilitating anonymity of users online. By merely downloading the ToR Browser, I was able to quckly beat the system and resume my normal social media experience.

If you are still unable to use Social Media and/or know someone facing the same challenge, here are some tools that can be used to circumvent. They are both Phone and PC based.

Feel free to add to this list in the comments section. Otherwise, I hope you will never succumb to censorship again.

@wirejames