Opposition Response To The State Of The Nation Address, 2020

Opposition Response To The State Of The Nation Address, 2020

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Rt. Honorable Speaker,

The Leader of Government Business,

Honorable Members of Parliament,

Countrymen and women

 

INTRODUCTION

  1. I take this singular honor and privilege to address Parliament today in fulfilment of the statutory obligation under Rule 52 of our Rules of Procedure, and make a response to the State of the Nation Address. This is not a ritual but an eye bird view of the state of affairs in the country from the point of reflection of the Opposition government.

 

  1. Hon. Speaker, I will start by;
  • Mightily thanking and appreciating God who has held us together through this past 4th Session, kept death at bay despite the worldwide attack of the dreaded Covid19 pandemic and worked through our frontline workers to treat the cases that have been registered here to cause great recoveries. I will be returning to the Covid19 subject in detail later in this address.  Thank you Lord.

 

  • Congratulating you Rt. Hon Speaker on the successful hosting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference.
  • Further congratulate The Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Mugalu Kazimba upon his consecration and Enthronement as Archbishop of the Church of the Province of Uganda and Bishop of Kampala Diocese.
  • Congratulate His Grace Dr. Lambert Beinomugisha on the Ecclesiastical possession as Archbishop of Mbarara Archdiocese.

 

We salute you and pray for God’s mercy and blessings upon you servants of the Most High.

 

  1. Hon. Speaker, with sadness we remember the deaths of our beloved;
  • Justice Ntabgoba; the former Principle Judge;
  • Meddie Ssozi Kaggwa; Chairman Uganda Human Rights Commission;
  • Late Dr. Kanyerezi Masembe; Former Head of the Department of Internal Medicine at Makerere University School of Medicine;
  • Edward Ddumba; Medical Director of St. Francis Hospital Nsambya and former Executive Director of Mulago National Referral Hospital ;
  • Major General Wasswa Kasirye Gwanga; Senior UPDF Officer and Former Chairman LC 5 Greater Mubende;
  • Gen. Benon Biraaro; a former Senior UPDF Officer and Former Presidential Candidate 2016;
  • Akorimo Kanuti; the Unsung Hero who hoisted the Uganda National Flag for the first time on 9th October, 1962;
  • Late Luwemba William Apuuli; the UnderSecretary, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs;
  • Jimmy Kirunda; a former footballer who captained the National team to the African Cup of Nations finals in 1978 and;
  • The many other Ugandans lost in the year reporting not forgetting those who died outside this country to the Covid19 pandemic and those who died here at the hands of brutal State functionaries code named ‘LDUs’ under the guise of enforcing curfew and SOPs for controlling the Covid19 spread.
  • At a regional level, we mourn with the people of Burundi on the passing on of President Pierre Nkurunziza and also with the people of Kenya on the death of Former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Through you Rt. Hon. Speaker, shall we stand and observe a moment of silence in their memory and honor. (Silence) May their precious souls find eternal rest, Amen!

  1. Hon. Speaker, Ugandans must get tired of being treated to rhetoric as they clap along. Year in year out, the President has functionary presented to the House an address referred to as the State of the Nation but in essence it spells out no state of the nation. We have continually pointed this out in our responses to no avail. In this year’s address, The President has decided to omit the usual order of segmenting his statement according to sectors and rather presented an omnibus address that is neither here nor there!

 

  1. The President at the start of this term of office promised to make the Opposition history by the year 2020 and having seen the Opposition grow stronger instead, he chose to ‘eliminate’ it by not recognizing the Leader of the Opposition in the protocol lineup at the start of his address. We are here stronger and more energized.

 

  1. Hon. Speaker, in the address delivered on 4th June, 2020, the President started off with enumerating the NRM 10 point program; an Agenda that his own government first expanded out of inadequacy and later abandoned all together for easier options of plunder, aggrandizement and hereditary rule! Nothing in the 10 points mentioned resonates with the ordinary Ugandan anymore and therefore their relevancy in this particular address remains an illusion.  Within a year where Ugandans have spent more than a quarter in confinement and lockdown and many are out of employment, the last thing to expect was a reminder of the 10 point program.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, the state of Ugandans now is biting hunger; escalating poverty; glaring unemployment; no hope of earning as many are out of work; mismanaged food distribution by government, unfulfilled promises, anxiety and despair. With the President not addressing any of these, what state is he presenting in the State of the Nation address?

 

  1. I will nonetheless painfully delve into the details of the State of the Nation and make responses. I will largely point out where this country has gone wrong in terms of priorities and propose workable policy options to stimulate the recovery process. We owe this country’s inheritance to the future generation and our actions and/or inactions now will determine that future.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, we deem it important that we segment our response according to sectors for ease of flow and following. At the end of it all, we want to present Ugandans with available options and also point out the lost opportunities in the quest for good governance, growth and development.  Prosperity is not a nursery rhyme for all to chorus in but a deliberate process that must be undertaken with the interests of Ugandans at the fore.

 

THE ECONOMY

  1. Hon. Speaker, it has been said repeatedly that our economy is growing at an irreversible tangent. The Ugandan economy reported strong growth in 2019, estimated at 6.3%, largely driven by the expansion of services. Services growth averaged 7.6% in 2019, and industrial growth 6.2%, driven by construction and mining. Agriculture grew at just 3.8%.[1] Indeed we have seen a rapid spring in some sectors such as Housing, Commercial agriculture, tourism, Small and Medium Enterprises, Agro-processing, Light Industries, and a few other areas. On the outside, these have helped post somewhat impressive economic figures and presented the illusion that we are growing!

 

  1. Hon. Speaker, we continue to wonder who owns this economy and for whose benefit; the growing enterprises are foreign owned; the tax incentives are given to a select foreign firms; their tax holidays are endless; government continues to pay for them their liabilities; there are no protective policies for indigenous entrepreneurs and one actually remains skeptical as to whether the recently passed National Local Content Act, 2019 will benefit Ugandans.

 

  1. One wonders however why more Ugandans are poor and unemployment levels are miserably high. The answer lies in the skewed ownership of these sectors, the uncontrolled profit repatriations, unregulated employment policies, and unexplainable resource accumulation leading to overnight sprouting of some of these investments.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, it is strangely true that this country boosts of increased remittances from labor export when we largely export unskilled labor that we cannot even account for. No figures can be presented accurately as to what comes in from Ugandans working in which sector abroad. Ironically, these same Ugandans are never helped to cope with life in those foreign countries and many have been mistreated and others killed without consular or any other help. When Covid19 hit, the government started asking them to register for they had no record of who was where and as such, their return remains clouded in mystery.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, the areas that hold the majority of Ugandans like agriculture at 75% and Tourism which contributed 667,600 jobs (6.7% of total employment) in 2018[2] continue to receive the least attention in terms of resource allocation. Interestingly, the areas that have even been given affirmative action (at least on paper) in terms of development programs such as Northern Uganda including Karamoja and the Eastern Uganda still rank highest in poverty levels. Have these resources been truly invested or the vulnerable state of these areas is being used as a conduit for resource siphoning by state agents and power brokers on behalf of those in charge?

 

  1. Unfortunately, the poverty rate fell during the past two decades but rebounded in 2016/17, reaching 21.4%, meaning that 10 million people were living below the national poverty line.[3] Inequality has changed little. More than two-thirds of the working-age population is in agriculture. Four-fifths of workers are own account workers or contributing family workers, with one-fifth in paid employment or themselves employers. Youth unemployment is a challenge.
  2. Hon Speaker, the unstructured and unregulated economic interventions cannot and will not spur inclusive growth for the country. The State House has become a one stop clearing center for literally every intervention; youth skilling programs; Emyoga (whatever that means); Operation Wealth Creation (OWC); SMEs and many others.  Who regulates the recipients and accounts for the proceedings? Who selects the recipients and determines how much they receive? It is no wonder the President in his address called it ‘his Fund’ and said ‘his girl’ Nakyobe will manage it.  Ms Nakyobe reports to who in this case? Mr. Museveni?

 

  1. Hon Speaker, the government interventions for skills development and job creation should and must be done through the institutional provisions according to the laws of the land. This is the only safety net to curb corruption, misuse, stealing and nepotism. Government resources must be channeled through known and auditable agencies that will benefit all as opposed to a select few.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, the recapitalization of Uganda Development Bank, Uganda Development Corporation and reviving the Cooperative Movement is a tired song. Each year, an amount of money is set aside for this purpose and this House has cautiously approved the figures.  This year however, the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, to the chagrin of the Members read different figures in the Budget Speech from those passed by the House!!  We need an audit of the monies passed since this term of government and how much of that has actually been released to the respective agencies.  We need to know how much of the released monies have been accessed for use by different entrepreneurs and the resultant effect.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, the country expects to hear from the President a deliberate process of what has been provided, what has been accessed, what interventions it has gone into, the resultant impact and the challenges therein if any; that is the State of the Nation. The reference of still being in the Bush fighting Neo-colonial agents when one has been firmly in charge of government for 35 years is a pedestrian excuse.

 

  1. The ‘Real Economy,’ as the President calls it, of a non-existent Railway, food insecurity, a collapsed health system, closed education, and rain-fed agriculture, has turned out to be the ‘Vulnerable Economy’ when weighed under the impact of Covid19 for just 2 months.

 

  1. The hard truth is that the Economy is grossly affected and crumbling. The President’s reference to Face mask factories, that will inevitably close once the Covid19 has been contained, and those producing sanitizers, cannot be an example of developments to cushion the economy from collapse. The interventions proposed on tax rescheduling and government subsidies are abstract and ambiguous.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, our call is that the President, through the Minister of Finance Planning and Economic Development should come to this House and lay concreate time tested and specific interventions aimed at keeping the economy alive. It is not appropriate for the President to say that a team from Operation Wealth Creation has looked at the Budget and proposed adjustments. OWC is not Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, they are not Parliament’s Budget Committee nor are they Parliament to do appropriation.

 

SECURITY

  1. Hon Speaker, Security at 9.90% of the total Budget allocation for FY 2020/21 takes the second highest sector allocation with shillings 4.5 trillion. The President however stated in his address that the country has built a strong Army and a powerful Local Council System despite not being well facilitated financially. We would wish to know how much percentage share of the National Budget the government wants allocated to security for ‘sufficient financing’.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, it is no secret that security funding in this country is a classified channel for siphoning resources from the National Budget the reason there is no trickledown for the huge amounts allocated. We applaud a section of the men and women in Uniform who have endured the harsh conditions to keep this country safe from external aggression and relatively secure internally.

 

  1. Sections of the Police and the LDUs continue to blatantly torture, especially politicians critical of the regime; Hon Zzake is still nursing broken limbs; the Kireka torture chamber remains active; the number of torture vans with Police colors and plates have increased both in numbers and brutality; the Internal Security Organization (ISO) operatives still operate unhampered in glaring disregard of the law.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, declaring political ambition is now a crime under the ‘NRM criminal books’. LT. Gen (Rtd.) Henry Tumukunde is testimony to this; Hon Robert Kyagulanyi was denied opportunity to consult the electorate on his Presidential plans as per the dictates of the law; Col. (Rtd.) Dr. Kizza Besigye cannot hold a meeting or appear on any Radio program especially upcountry even before the Covid19 restrictions. These are just examples but the bottom of it is: We can’t breathe for your brutal knee is on our necks.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, from the past atrocities, inquiries have been conducted; the Kasese massacres; AIGP Kawesi murder; ASP Kirumira murder; Hon Ibrahim Abiliga murder; Women murders mainly in Wakiso and Kampala; Muslim Clerics murders; boda boda cyclist murders and robberies; and the many security failures of the past. Let us have at least half a report on this and see where to start from!

 

  1. Hon Speaker, before this government addresses herself to the rising levels of unemployment, non-beneficial subsistence agriculture, loan repayment challenges, collapse of the rural economy, cultural and moral decadence, land disputes, skewed education system, income inequality and biased access to state resources among others, curbing insecurity will remain a dream.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, we propose that;
  • A deliberate effort with requisite resources be embarked on to reconstruct the rural economies so as to allow for meaningful retention of especially the young people in the rural areas.
  • Economic stimuli should be made available where all Ugandans can competitively access them.
  • Vocational education should be made a reality with attendant facilities for learning.
  • The LC systems should be left to work independent of regime machinations and conscription so they can effectively manage elements of crime in the society.
  • Urban economies should be regulated and structured to favor the less privileged.
  • Community policing should be prioritized.
  • Commensurate remuneration should be made for the men and women in Uniform including accommodation and welfare.

 

WORKS AND TRANSPORT

  1. Hon Speaker, year after year, this House has agreed with the executive to keep Works and Transport the best allocated sector amongst all. This has been on the premise that improved roads and other transport infrastructure would spring other sectors into development. It is prudent therefore that the President should have dignified Ugandans with some details rather than stating that since 2006, the country has either constructed and/or repaired a collective total of 5,111kms of road.

 

  1. Yes, we also know about the four (4) Bombardier planes purchased to revive the National Airliner at abnormal prices but acknowledge it as a step in the right direction, the cost notwithstanding.

 

  1. The country however would love to know how many kilometers of roads we have been able to register each year to justify number one calling on the National Budget. It is unfortunate that we keep locking money into this sector whose performance stands at less than 50% instead of freeing the money for other equally deserving sectors like health, agriculture, ICT and education.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, the quality and scope of works in this sector remains a challenge as many newly constructed roads, bridges and related infrastructure collapse in the first year of use. In other areas, one cannot tell whether the road is under construction or repair as there are earth moving equipment on those roads almost permanently.   This House should, for example, interest itself on the state of Iganga-Tirinyi-Mbale Road, Tororo-Mbale-Soroti Road, Kampala-Masaka Road, Kampala-Mityana-Mubende Road, and the Kampala City Roads specifically the Northern Bypass among others.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) is now almost forgotten. Money has been sunk in to no avail beyond glamorous artistic impression pictures and reports.  The country response to containing the spread of Covid19 collapsed largely because there was no Railway system to substitute the long distance trucks.  This must be checked and this country gets a Railway line working.

 

  1. The issues of land compensations have become the milking cow for many technocrats and government officials. It remains one of the biggest call on budgets for infrastructure projects and the most messed up in implementation albeit deliberately.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, we note that road accidents remain on the increase in this country. This is largely due to unregulated drivers, unregulated vehicles, narrow roads, poorly constructed slippery roads, and corruption on the side of law enforcers among others.

 

  1. We propose that;
  • Government comes to this House with a clear and comprehensive report on which road projects have been undertaken each year and at what cost.
  • Government should report on all the progress so far inclusive of expected completion dates for all infrastructure projects.
  • A comprehensive report on land acquisition and compensations for all projects under the sector should be presented to the House.
  • Budget allocations to the sector should take into consideration the absorption capacity of the sector as determined by performance levels.
  • Transport regulation must be taken as a priority to ensure that only qualified drivers and roadworthy vehicles are on the roads.
  • The services of Driving Permit issuance under Face Technologies should, at the expiry of their contract, are passed on to the Ministry responsible for Transport rather than engaging another non-tested private company. Face Technologies should be allowed a transition period to help the Ministry effective takeover.

 

LAND AND AGRICULTURE

  1. Hon Speaker, the land question will make or break this country depending on how it is managed. The land tenure system remains unresolved and land grabbing a pet activity for those with power. The country largely depends on rain fed agriculture and we have remained subsistence in nature. The President in his address mentioned that agriculture feeds us at almost 100% an assumption only debunked easily by looking at the level of importation of basic foods like Rice, Beans and Maize.

 

  1. Our country has the potential to feed us 100% and export the surplus if we focused resources to where they are needed most. Over 75% of the population lives off agriculture and here we are allocating the sector 2.91% of the National Budget equivalent to Shillings 1.3trillion. It is only unfortunate that to the President, Agriculture means the Kisozi Cows fed and maintained on tax payers money for his personal gain. It is no surprise that having become super rich himself, he wondered how the Multimillionaire and writer Warren Buffet is wealthy without cows!

 

  1. Hon Speaker, the President has lately taken to a breakdown of basic agricultural produce and what they can be used for especially as raw material for factory use. An example is cassava in the production of pharmaceutical grade starch used in making tablets. This is good thinking but one wonders whether the few pieces produced by certain families for home consumption will meet this demand.  There must be deliberate policies aimed at this mass production if it is to make any meaning.  It is equally sad that after over 6 terms of office, the President still uses the phrase; ‘we will’, as opposed to ‘we have’ when accounting to Ugandans.

 

  1. The President further reminded the country about the milk production and processing in this country and how some factory he called a ‘funny little government company’ would mix imported powdered milk with water and stamp it made in Uganda. No wonder he sold it off at a ‘hefty’ US $ 1!

 

  1. Hon Speaker, with the interventions as mentioned by the President, the Milk Farm gate price remains incredibly low and the cost of production abnormally high. This has forced many would be Diary Farmers out of the trade because of the costs involved.  The increase in milk production is artificial as it arises from a few favored and facilitated farmers who are in most cases state connected.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, the process of value addition has remained a challenge. Many companies that ventured into Coffee processing have hit dead ends; Tea Farmers are stranded and frustrated with the Mombasa Auction and many Farmers have their Tea leaves rotting away for non-collection; Matooke farmers especially in the Greater Bushenyi area had smiled to the establishment of the Prof. Rev. Muranga Presidential Initiative on Banana Industrial Development (PIBID) Plant.  Years down the road, no one has accessed the factory to sell matooke there; and indeed the President has been forcing government to fund the project amidst protests and calls for accountability for him alone knows where the funds go, a thing he chooses to call resistance from agents of colonialism.  The fruit factories in Luwero and Soroti are no better.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, it remains interesting to note that while the President is chasing people from wetlands in Bukedi and Teso and rightly so, he has given out the more strategic Lwera wetland to Chinese for Rice growing and Sand mining.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, we propose that;
  • Mechanized agriculture should be implemented starting with regional centers to help farmers to access low cost machinery for large scale farming.
  • Ox-ploughs and small tractors should be considered as the preferred option for small scale farmers. Further, the distribution of hand hoes should be structured and effectively handled for every rural homestead to benefit.
  • Food security must be made a priority and deliberate efforts made to the effect.
  • The deployment of extension workers and resumption of extension services should be prioritized. These extension workers should be professional and skilled personnel as opposed to the mockery of soldiers deployed under OWC.
  • Land tenure should be revisited with a view to protect people’s land against grabbers.
  • The Budget allocation to agriculture should be stepped up to at least 10% in conformity with the Maputo declaration.
  • Appropriate irrigation schemes should be developed across the country to stem reliance on rain fed agriculture.
  • An Agricultural Bank should be established to help farmers to access friendly credit facilities for improved production.
  • The Zoning program should be finalized and implemented.
  • Regulated breeding and drug centers should be established across the country.
  • Food Silos should be built at regional levels to mitigate food scarcity and price instabilities.

 

 

WATER AND ENVIRONMENT

  1. Hon Speaker, with a coverage of 15.3% of the total surface area, Uganda’s water resource is more than sufficient for her development needs and human survival. Almost all this water resource is fresh water favorable for human consumption as well as agriculture and industrial use.

 

  1. The level of pollution and encroachment on this abundant water resource makes one wonder as to whether we can still call our water fresh water. All the filtering swamps have been mercilessly cleared and as such all the filth goes direct to the water unfiltered. This applies to industrial waste and fecal matter in equal measure.  We have therefore, out of our own unregulated actions, polluted the hitherto fresh water bodies to alarming levels.

 

  1. The President alluded to this but in his veiled style only asked the Chief Administrative Officers to ensure no more factories are built in the wetlands and other catchment areas. He gave a greenlight to those already in to stay as if there were no dry lands to put factories on.  There is no factory worth more than our environment.  Who cleared these factories for construction?

 

  1. Hon Speaker, it is ironical that with this abundance, many parts of this country experience dry spells; piped water remains inaccessible by many both in terms of availability and cost. And general access to safe water remains a miracle to a number of areas. This should never be in a country like Uganda if the government was committed to the wellbeing and healthy living of her people.

 

  1. It should be further noted that the biggest defaulters to the water sector agencies are government departments. This leaves the water utility Corporations crippled of resources for effective service delivery.

 

  1. The rising water levels in the recent past have seen many people displaced as a result of unplanned and unregulated developments. For once, the President has applauded nature for reclaiming its territory and punishing those that encroached on its boundaries.  The President cannot stand to chest thump and quoting isolated Bible verses when he has presided over the raping of Nature.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, we propose that;
  • All developments done without approved Environmental Impact Assessment are demolished at the owners’ cost.
  • All factories and other developments in gazetted wetlands are demolished at the owners’ cost.
  • Government should immediately pay all dues owed to the water agencies.
  • All encroachers in wetlands should be evicted without compensation except those involved in approved sustainable use activities.
  • Rainwater harvesting techniques should be developed and extended to the countryside for both domestic and agricultural use.
  • Water transport should be modernized and regulated for safety.
  • Fishing should be regulated to control immature fishing as well as cross boarder insecurities.

 

SOCIAL SERVICES SECTOR

  1. Hon Speaker, I will address specifically the Health and Education and Sports sectors under the Social Services. These two sectors directly affect the living of each and every Ugandan and once they are messed up, the whole livelihood is messed.

 

Health

  1. The arrival of Covid19 has catapulted the Health sector into pole position not only in Uganda but world over. Many countries have reacted to this pandemic with different magnitude and resource allocation levels. In Uganda, Covid19 found an already decayed health system. It was therefore easy, fair and quick to justify additional resource allocation to the sector almost immediately and Parliament did exactly that.

 

  1. A supplementary budget was passed allocating the Ministry of Health Shillings 125billion, way above what the executive had asked for. Rather than set to standard the sector facilities to comparable levels, the executive took advantage to parcel out chunks of money in the name of fighting Covid19 and even the allocation to Ministry of Health is being luxuriously spent on inflated testing kits at an astronomical US$ 65 more than double the cost in neighboring countries. Payments and selection of quarantine centers remains shrouded in controversies.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, oversight trips by our office and other Committees of Parliament have all confirmed the cries from health workers about poor remuneration, challenging welfare provision and lack of housing facilities. Health facilities remain a shell with no or broken down facilities and equipment, staffing levels are very low, doctor patient ratio staggers around 1:15,000 as opposed to the WHO recommended 1:10,000, and even under the Covid19 centers, the Frontline workers remain unpaid despite their money having been passed.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, Ugandans and well-wishers have come up to contribute material things and money towards this pandemic of Covid19. It is sad seeing this good will and gesture draining down the corruption channel.  It’s time for this Parliament to play her real oversight role. We as the opposition will hold this government in check and expose all the filth.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, we have noted that because of our poorly built Health systems, when the country was taken on by the Covid19 Pandemic, all attention in the sector switched and the other health challenges went unattended. Therefore as we thank God for sparing us a Covid19 related death to date, we have lost many more Ugandans to unattended to ailments, child birth complications, failure to access health facilities in time and also as a result of the lockdown.  It is high time we got the Health of Ugandans as a priority. It is in moments like these that we are reminded of the need to equip our own facilities just in case for even the privileged cannot fly out as it has happened before.

 

  1. For the Health sector, we propose that;
  • Sufficient budget allocation is made for the Health Sector to address the challenges and unforeseen outbreaks. The sector should be allocated a minimum of 15% of the National Budget as per the dictates of the Abuja Declaration. This allocation should be progressively phased over a maximum of three Financial Years.
  • Up to 80% of the funds voted for Covid19 response should be given to the Ministry of Health and related agencies. Covid19 is neither a security nor Presidential issue.
  • The money donated for Covid19 response should NOT be used to buy more vehicles as proposed by the President as these vehicles are already being misused. The available government fleet is sufficient for Covid19 response.
  • Health workers should have their remuneration increased and paid regularly and on time. The lowest paid health worker should earn not less than Shillings 650,000 and the lowest paid Medical Doctor Shillings 3,500,000.
  • All health workers should be housed at their places of work.
  • The long overdue National Health Insurance Scheme should be rolled out.
  • The sector should be facilitated to carry out adequate recruitment of Health workers.

 

Education and Sports

  1. Hon Speaker, we have previously raised a red flag on the education inequalities as a result of our education systems.  Despite Universal Primary and Secondary Education, school completion rates have remained as low as 30 – 35%. The factors are many ranging from poor infrastructure, poor staffing levels, poor pay, teacher absenteeism, sanitation and hygiene challenges, poverty levels, lack of school feeding, long distances travelled to access school facilities, early pregnancies and marriages, early trade practices among others.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, as a measure to curtail the spread of Covid19 in the country, government closed all schools and educational institutions indefinitely. The program for their reopening remains uncertain.  In the meantime, government has opted to supply learning material to all school going children across the country.  This program has been a mess to say the least and is as good as not done.  Government has gone ahead to arrange for teaching on Televisions and Radios oblivious of their national coverage.  This has further alienated the majority less privileged and boosted the privileged few.  This inequality and skewed access to education is a time bomb.

 

  1. The policy of establishing seed schools where at least each sub county should have a government secondary school need to be strengthened. Our oversight visits have revealed a number of private schools willing to be taken over as government schools which is a welcome move.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, salary enhancement for University Professors and Lectures as well as the enhanced pay for science teachers should be evaluated with a view to have it rationalized with the stakeholders. The pending strikes across universities, as reported in the media, are testimony to the agitation.

 

  1. In Sports Rt. Hon Speaker, allow me congratulate you, the Parliament Commission, Members of Parliament, the Clerk and Staff on the successful hosting of the East African Community Inter Parliamentary Games here in Kampala in December 2019. The stellar performance from the different Ugandan teams is greatly commendable.  We set an example that many especially the Sports administrators in the country should follow.

 

  1. In the face of Covid19, the Sports sector is literally shut and nothing much can be done. We should work hard toward containment and elimination of this pandemic and it is after that, that we shall see a resumption of sports activities.  In the meantime, government should use the time to prepare adequately.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, to mitigate the likely obstructions from the above, we propose that;
  • The causes of high school dropout as identified should be addressed. The Ministry should for example start on a school feeding program to grow nourished children and stem dropout.
  • Hard to reach areas should be considered for staff housing facilities and commensurate allowances.
  • Classroom facilities should be improved.
  • Relevant equipment and facilities for ensuring the teaching of the new school curriculum should be immediately provided.
  • Teachers regardless of the subjects taught should be paid equally for equal work.
  • Teaching materials should be adequately distributed during this closure due to Covid19. The channels of distribution should streamlined and spelt out with the Education departments at the districts taking lead because they can be held accountable not RDCs.
  • Private schools that have offered to be taken over as seed schools should be considered first before new schools are built in same areas to save the meagre resources.
  • Stakeholder consultations should be carried out with University Lecturers and Professors on the best way to enhance their pay.
  • School inspection should be strengthened and improved.
  • The proposal for free distribution of sanitary pads by government should be actualized.
  • Vocational education should be prioritized and sufficiently funded.
  • Scholarship systems should be rationalized and put under the Higher School Students’ Financing Scheme which is audited and regulated as opposed to the hidden State House Scheme whose beneficiaries are never known.

 

CONSTITUTIONALISM, JUSTICE, LAW AND ORDER

  1. Hon Speaker, Constitutionalism and Rule of Law are cornerstones for any country’s development and Uganda is no exception. Whereas the Sector wide approach pioneered by the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) has improved justice delivery, there is still a lot of abuse by the respective players. Some effort has been made toward enhancing and solving the Case Backlog in the Courts, increased harmonization of the different JLOS Institutions and improved funding.

 

  1. Parliament has equally passed the Administration of the Judiciary Bill, 2018 into an Act and this should go a long way into improving the operations of the Judiciary.

 

  1. We equally congratulate the now Former Chief Justice, His Lordship Bart M. Katureebe for showing all that retirement without pulling strings is possible. We wish him a pleasant retirement.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, Constitutionalism and Rule of Law is still served selectively in this country despite these positive interventions. The Opposition remains at the deprived end of receiving the rule of law with the repressive Police and Prosecution playing the lead persecutor role.  Even obvious things like securing bail in court comes with political colors.

 

  1. We therefore call on the respective players in this sector to:

 

  • Respect the right of every Ugandan to justice and Rule of law regardless of the political colors.
  • With immediate effect discontinue all politically instigated prosecutions.
  • Release all political prisoners.
  • Practice professionalism in all Institutions under JLOS.
  • Allow for the Constitutional Amendments as proposed in a Private Members Bill sponsored by Hon. Niwagaba Wilfred.

 

ENERGY AND MINERAL RESOURCES

  1. Hon Speaker, it is as strange as it is scary that the President made the State of the Nation Address to the end without his famous word ‘My Oil’! One wonders whether it is a way of getting the minds of Ugandans off the Oil or those privy have already set their extraction benefits flowing. The secrecy with which the Oil exploration processes have been managed and treated leaves a lot to ponder on.  Ink has been put on paper, Dollars passed on to different accounts and personnel strategically placed but all this out of the eye of the ordinary Ugandan.  All we are told is that there are approximately 6.5 billion barrels of Oil in the Albertine Region.

 

  1. Reports that trucks after trucks have been driving to these Oil areas in Western Uganda and out towards the border has raised suspicions of secretive export of Crude Oil despite the President’s continued talk of Refining the Oil from here. With Kenya confirming export of Crude Oil at a respectable profit, it remains mind tickling not to believe that this government could be doing the same.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, government spending continues to increase, underpinned by public infrastructure and capital investments for the nascent oil and gas industry. Expenditures have increased faster than domestic revenues, widening the fiscal deficit in 2019. The deficit is largely financed through external borrowing, supplemented with domestic securities. Debt reached an estimated 43.6% of GDP in 2019, up from 25% in 2012[4], raising medium-term concerns. Lending remains within IMF limits, but risks have increased due to higher costs of debt servicing and infrastructure investments.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, besides the Oil, Uganda is gifted with huge and numerous mineral deposits but their exploitation is controversy recreated. From the Copper in Kilembe, to the Gold in Buhweju and Mubende, the Tin and Phosphates in Karamoja, Iron Ore in Tororo, conflict and mystery has followed almost every mineral exploitation point. Deaths and skirmishes are the order of the day and it is no wonder that the State Minister of Energy has publicly complained of Mafias threatening her life.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, who are the colonial agents that fought against the building of the Gold Refinery at Entebbe? Who owns it and how are its operations regulated? Who is parceling out the Gold Mines across the country? Who is funding all these activities and who benefits from the proceeds? These are questions likely not to be answered here but worth thinking through.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, whereas we applaud the effort in increasing power generation in the country, we are cognizant of the astronomic costs at which this power is being generated compared to other generation projects across the world. It does not make economic sense borrowing heavily to develop power generation plants and ultimately the population cannot afford its use for both domestic and industrial use. Less than 30% of Ugandans have access to Electricity to date.

 

  1. We therefore propose that:
  • The government should make open for scrutiny all the Oil exploration contracts and licenses.
  • The National Local Content Act, 2019 should be implemented in the development of the Oil Industry.
  • A solid regulatory framework for Gold and other minerals exploitation should be developed and implemented.
  • Government should invest in alternative energy sources such as solar energy, bio gas, and geothermal energy among others.
  • Corruption in the Energy and Minerals sector should be eliminated.
  • Earnings from the Oil and Gas sector should be available for both infrastructure development as well as social service delivery.
  • Mining sites should be properly gazetted and checked for environment management and protection.

TOURISM

  1. Hon Speaker, Uganda remains a great tourism destination despite the unexploited potential. Before the lockdown due to Covid19, Uganda’s tourism numbers had grown close to 1.5 million guests annually. Tourist arrivals grew from 1.42million in 2017 to 1.505million in 2018; Foreign exchange earnings grew from US$1.45billion in 2017 to US$1.6billion in 2018; GDP contribution in 2018 stands at Shs8.4trillions (7.7%); Hotel Room occupancy for 2018 stands at 50.9% with lodged posting up to 75%; and as stated earlier, Tourism contributed 667,600 jobs (6.7% of total employment).[5]

 

  1. Hon Speaker, it is incumbent upon government to supplement the private sector efforts by opening up roads to tourism sites, extend tax incentives to sector players and deter encroachment on National Parks leading to poaching and land grabbing. This will boost the tourism sector and help diversify foreign exchange earnings to improve balance of trade.  Tourism is a top foreign exchange earner and should be fully exploited.  The paltry allocation of Shillings 198.0billion representing 0.44% of the current National Budget share is wrong prioritization!

 

  1. We therefore propose that;
  • Government takes advantage of the lockdown to improve the road and other infrastructure servicing tourism in the country.
  • Government draws and implements a comprehensive tourism policy that should detail marketing Uganda.
  • Government should interest our Missions abroad into marketing Uganda’s tourism potential aggressively.
  • Schools and other public concentration areas and events should be used to boost internal tourism through targeted marketing.

 

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

  1. Hon Speaker, every day of this Parliament’s sitting has on the Order Paper one or more loan requests. We have passed motions for borrowing money that not even the members of the Committee of National Economy can trace all these loans passed. It is not strange that allocation on the National Budget for Interest repayment is Shillings 4.0 trillion representing 8.98% and third priority call. Compared to our National Budget of Shillings 45.5 trillion, the stock of Uganda’s total public debt grew from US$12.55 billion (Shs46.36 trillion) at end June 2019 to $13.33 billion by end December 2019, which is equivalent to Shs48.91 trillion, due to increased borrowing by the government in the recent past. External debt was US$ 8.59 billion, which translates into Shs31.53 trillion), while domestic debt was $ 4.73 billion, which is about Shs17.38 trillion.[6]

 

  1. The debt burden continues to grow as a result of trade imbalances, overreliance of raw exports that fetch little prices while on the other hand importing finished goods at high costs. Our products and exports are also ranked inferior on the International market as a consequence of poor methods of production and processing. The collapse of the Cooperative movement made a bad situation worse.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, it is our conviction and proposal that;
  • All nonessential borrowings should be halted pending evaluation of our current debt burden and repayment schedule.
  • Revive cooperatives so as to enable producers to jointly produce, process and market their products.
  • Diversify foreign exchange earning sources for the country.
  • Make value addition a reality through strategic interventions and resource allocation.
  • Make full advantage of regional integration to create access to markets.

 

POLITICS AND GOVERNANCE

  1. Hon Speaker, all the above rotate around the governance question. After 35 years in power, the NRM dictatorship has no much to show and has resorted to suppressing political dissent, arresting opponents on no charges, stealing the National coffers dry, self-aggrandizement and self-preservation.

 

  1. For the fifth year now after the Supreme Court pronounced itself in the Amama Mbabazi Presidential Election Petition of 2016, we have talked about the need for Electoral Reforms and the government has played deaf. We are going into another election in a few months and we are more disadvantaged than ever before.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, the Electoral Commission has, without consultation with legitimate stakeholders, come up with a revised electoral road map that is more of a mockery of democracy and is short of known principles of free and fair elections. Not even an element of consultation with respective players nor civic education. It is no surprise that the President was uncharacteristically silent on the subject in his address.

 

  1. Hon. Speaker, on Friday 12th June 2020, a delegation of the Electoral Commission officials held a meeting with President Museveni at State House Entebbe where among others they agreed on scientific campaigns that were later announced by the Electoral Commission as Covid19 containment measure during elections.
  2. Before, we even divulge into the abnormality of this proposal, it’s also unimaginable that a presumed candidate is the one giving guidance on how an electoral body must run its activities. We have been consistent in telling the nation that Mr. Museveni continues occupying the playing field as a referee, coach, linesman, team captain and a player.
  3. Hon Speaker, we have previously talked about dialogue for a smooth transition, restoration of constitutionalism, constitutional reforms, credible elections, rebuilding institutions, nurturing and growth of multiparty democracy and several other interventions for effective governance. All these remain a cry not listened to by the regime functionaries.

 

  1. Instead, Rt. Hon Speaker, the President kept referring to every aspect of his speech as war, war, war. Who is the President itching to fight? Why do we have this increased war talk as we draw close to elections?  The President should be reminded that to some of us, war reminds us of a lost generation, lost parenthood, lost economies, lost childhood, lost education opportunities, lost limbs and lost lives.  It is not a matter that you should casually remind us of every moment.  Whereas through war you got an opportunity to plunder and rule this country, we lost all we had including our future.

 

CONCLUSION

 

  1. Hon Speaker, these are extraordinary times and therefore call for extraordinary measures. It is high time those in power acknowledged that this country belongs to all of us and should be governed for the benefit of all. It is important to appreciate that where each one of us is seated, someone else once sat and as such, another person will sit after us. We should never act like we are the first and last in anything.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, this country with its very young population is not a place to play complacency games from. It has the potential to erupt and we will all be swallowed in.  I wish to reiterate our continued call for dialogue and preparation for peaceful handover of power.  Ugandans must be allowed to witness the first ever peaceful handover of power.  The upcoming elections must be one that all players will feel part of, and an integral part of.

 

  1. Hon Speaker, we condemn any attempt at taking advantage of the Covid19 Pandemic for any personal gain and deprivation of the greater society. Funds allocated for the intervention must be accounted for to the latter. It is time this Parliament is seen to stand with the ordinary Ugandan in the fight against graft, poor service delivery and exploitation.

 

Rt. Hon Speaker and Honorable Members, I beg to submit.

 

Aol Betty Ocan (MP)

Leader of the Opposition

 

[1] African Development Bank, African Economic Outlook 2020

Developing Africa’s Workforce for the Future

[2] www.independent.co.ug

[3] African Development Bank, African Economic Outlook 2020

Developing Africa’s Workforce for the Future

[4] African Development Bank, African Economic Outlook 2020

Developing Africa’s Workforce for the Future

 

[5] www.independent.co.ug

[6] Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA) report 2019

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