Politics

Who is the government of the NRM working for?

The NRM administration celebrated 36 years in office on January 26th of this year. Unfortunately, many Ugandans’ lives, including a large portion of those who attended the function at the Kololo Independence grounds, do not represent what was being celebrated.

Several ordinary Ugandans are unable to pay boda boda riders to transport their children to school due to the high fees demanded as a result of skyrocketing fuel prices, which not only affect transportation fares but are also directly proportional to the prices of services and goods, i.e. the higher the fuel prices, the more expensive the goods and services become. For example, sugar that was selling for shs. 2800 is now selling for shs. 3700, and a bar of white

Because of the exorbitant pricing of these items, they are out of reach for many individuals, rendering their accessibility meaningless.

Indeed, a large number of Ugandans have painfully stopped using these items, but can you envision a farmhouse without soap in a time when our life as humans is heavily reliant on handwashing with soap or detergents?

Notably, all of this is taking place in the wake of the government’s pledge to Ugandans that fuel costs would drop in two weeks once the cargo trucks were approved at the border posts; the carbon trucks were cleared two months or so ago, but the situation hasn’t altered.

President Museveni promised Ugandans an independent, integrated, and self-sufficient economy after assuming power in 1986.

Is the economy self-sufficient? Of course, with an external development partner funding a large portion of our budget and a tax base of barely one million people, that can’t be. Is it connected?

How can it be when some of our neighbors refuse to sell some of our products due to poor quality grades resulting from bad management of such goods, and when our neighbors have closed their borders to us for more than three years? Is it self-sufficient?

This cannot be the case when the country’s public debt exceeds $18.9 billion dollars, greatly exceeding the country’s national budget of $12.7 billion dollars.

As a result, it is undeniable that thirty-six years later, we appear to have made no progress. I don’t believe Ugandans are living up to this promise when many can’t buy basic necessities.

I want to believe that the NRM government’s biggest mistake was handing over key sectors like transportation, health, and education to private entrepreneurs whose main goal is to make a profit at any cost, including cheating. As a result, the government becomes powerless at a time when Ugandans are being cheated by these money “sharks.”

This is still true in modern Uganda; we’ve witnessed the Prime Minister provide nothing but lamentations when Ugandans were being overcharged by hundreds of dollars.

During the recent debacle over high fuel prices, the leader of government business in the 11th parliament lamented once more, this time advising Ugandans to avoid petrol stations that sold fuel at exorbitant prices, as if to imply that there were others selling fuel at lower prices. My friend Kiyimba Shafick would say in a Luganda dialect, ” Ki Uganda kinyuma,” literally meaning ” Uganda is interesting.”

These and other incidents raise the important question of who the NRM government serves. I’ll take your estimate as good as mine.

Governments that work for the people will always defend citizens’ interests from those of business owners by controlling the prices of important services and goods.

Uganda should set an example for building a legal framework to control the prices of services and goods in the economy by looking at countries like Nigeria. Nigeria’s government enacted the Price Control Act, which includes a full-fledged price control board, to combat business owners who try to defraud the public.

The education sector is a complete mess; school fees and a list of requirements are determined by the school owners while the government looks on; frequently, the schools ask for more than what the students actually use; for example, why ask for five dozens of books, eight reams of paper, two bags of cement, a termly development fee, and yet the school fees requested from parents are in exorbitant amounts.

While some school owners rejected the proposal to allow pregnant and breastfeeding teenagers in class, the government was powerless to intervene since it lacks the authority to manage events in crucial areas. What kind of government is this, one that prioritizes what affects the people over subduing political opponents with full force?

Finally, I am certain that there is only one solution to the current dilemma of excessive commodity prices that is plaguing regular Ugandans.

Allow the government to adopt a strong legal framework regulating the prices of commodities and services, particularly in vital areas; the law should include stiff penalties for those who break it; this isn’t new in Uganda; we already have one.

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