From the struggling economy, worsening debt crisis, degraded environment, collapsing education system, massive corruption, disorganized development, high unemployment, to stagnant agriculture, Uganda seems to have reached ‘‘a strategic stalemate’’ says Makerere University professor Julius Kizza.
The professor of political science at Makerere University urges that to reverse Uganda’s current status, Ugandans must wake up to reclaim the state Uganda for serious development
‘‘We are seeing massive land grabbing for speculative aims rather than production. In sensible countries, land is meant for production. In Uganda, we acquire huge chucks of land for speculative purposes, because the authorities have not put in place a system which will look after us when we retire. So, we acquire land not for production but, for speculative purposes as millions of Ugandans go hungry and poor.’’ Prof. Kizza said recently at an agricultural Workshop held at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala. The workshop was organized by Economic Research Policy Centre.
Professor Kizza revealed that Uganda has not had meaningful development in the recent past- ‘‘We are only moving in circles. We have seen the claim that NAADS is shifting from the old-model which is supply driven to new model that is demand driven. We forget that demand is not only a wish, but also the ability to buy. How many of our rural small-scale farmers have the capacity to hire an agricultural advisor?’’ he said.
He observed that the problem in Uganda is borrowing ideologies from overseas without subjecting them to criticism and contextualization. He revealed that Uganda has for example, shifted from the shoddy valley-dam to drip irrigation. On the shoddy dams, we spent billions of shillings of tax payer’s money and the economy suffered, unfortunately the officials who misused the money still walk high, with no punishment or attempts to recover the money.
‘‘We have now shifted to drip irrigation using used water bottles. Meanwhile in the villages, people cannot afford bottled water- who is fooling who? ‘’ he said.
Like other policy analysts, Prof. Kizza wonders why the government which agrees it made a mistake to ‘‘kill’’ cooperatives, seems not interested in restoring and reviving the cooperative movements. Instead, government is adopting different models-like USAID models including the so called sub-county model.
‘‘None of these models matches the level of coordination, inclusion and seriousness that Uganda had through coordinated infrastructure of agricultural cooperatives. what is really blocking us from reviving the institutions that was well tried and tested for this country?’’ he said.
What needs to be done?
Asked what needs to be done, Prof Kizza says the solution to Uganda’s current problems is political. He called on Ugandans to reclaim the state for national development.
‘‘reclaiming the state would involve removing ‘non-performing assets’ from office. There is no short cut. You either do that or continue talking and talking and less action. We have to reclaim the state for national development and that should be done through elections or other constitutionally approved means.’’ He said
The tough talking professor says there is absolute necessity to reorganize development aid to Uganda. He adds that due to poor negotiation skills, a substantial portion of 2017/18 National budget will be going to debt serving.
‘ ‘ We must come up with the best and brightest team to negotiate and renegotiate our debt and foreign aid.Otherwise, in most cases, foreign aid benefits the giver more than the receiver. At least five percent remains at head office [ for aid processing] and another 30 percent is spent on ‘experts’ that come along to help with the implementation of the project/ donor aid.’’