Museveni must tackle more than the fools on WhatsApp

I was most heartened on reading a Sunday Vision feature in which President Museveni expressed disgust about a WhatsApp message. There are a few commendable things in his missive.

To begin with, it is hard to imagine that the speaker of parliament caused a cabinet meeting to be suspended because the president says he chose to work at home when a plenary session was called.

Indeed, this should be the norm but there are several times when parliamentary sessions were cancelled or postponed due to NRM caucus meetings or NRM retreats or ministers’ somethings, etc, that suddenly came up. So, if parliament implicitly forced the president to stay and work at home, surely that is pleasing.

There he was working away – was it on his laptop, home PC or could he have been writing his next speech on a yellow notepad with his face furrowed and fingers twirling a Bic pen as he thought of which historical aspects from say 1950s Uganda to include…, but my mind wanders!

So, at what point did “Hon Janet” (his words) come in requesting him to look at these fools (his description) insulting others on WhatsApp? Janet Museveni is the first lady but also minister for Karamoja and an MP. So, was she informing ‘daddy’, as any wife would, or telling her boss in cabinet or calling on the executive arm of government as an MP?

Whatever the means, it is pleasing that the president has access to the masses via this avenue. The only problem is that most of us were equally disturbed when it trended on social media so many months ago. One of my friends translated the recording into English and it is truly disgusting! And since then, there have been more victims, mostly women, including one who has sadly had to resign from her job.

True to his usual style, Museveni launches into a historical narrative all the way from bark clothing and salt barter trading time. And as usual, he goes further to point out how the NRM struggle combated the colonial forces plus the rogue post-colonial leaders to kill off such traitorous acts! Even without delving into this historical perspective or the use of military jargon, posting offensive material on social media is unacceptable and also illegal.

Interestingly, it seems that both the president and ‘Hon Janet’ do not own mobile phones because one had to be found from someone for him to listen to the message. He should consider purchasing a handset soon fitted with his own WhatsApp and Twitter software. This way he will be more ‘grounded’ and not have to wait on Hon Janet who may also be busy with ministerial and/or constituency work perhaps off the ground!

Mzee Ssabalwanyi (again his own words) is taking the fight to traitors who have eaten money for roads. In his state-of-the-nation address last week, he promised another investigation into corruption within Unra and declared: “Whoever has eaten that money must regurgitate it!”

In the same address, he finally apologised for the sale of the old Uganda Commercial Bank because interest rates are still high despite the good practice that came with private banking. He promised that government would give Shs 500bn to Uganda Development Bank to support agriculture and farmers through cheaper loans.

The other ‘enemies’ that Ssabalwanyi must address are here. In this year’s budget, agriculture has only been allocated Shs 484.6bn – about two per cent of the entire budget – but the figure is close to last year’s! In 2014, a new tax was introduced on agricultural inputs. Tax on hoes, wheelbarrows, etc, was reinstated, reversing cuts made in 2011.

This means that food production costs had to rise. At the same time, taxes on basic food items were increased. It does sometimes seem as if we are gripped with a kind of madness especially if we continue claiming that agriculture is the backbone of our economy. Who are the people that make these uncoordinated decisions?

I like it that the president has seen fools on WhatsApp and thieves in the roads sector. In the state-of-the-nation address, he promised to look at the numbers to understand why we are not on track to becoming a middle -income economy by 2017. He must raise his level and also turn on his policy thinkers because plans for this country are poor. His Vision 2040 will firmly remain a dream if nothing changes!

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