Should we have only informed taxpayers as voters?

My niece, a Muganda young lady, Namilimu, who lives and works in England, sent me a scathing note after reading my column of last week.


The article was based on a previous one on Mulago's casualty ward 2B, If you live in Uganda, just don't fall sick! (That article was featured on a doctors' online forum and it generated interesting comments yonder.)


Namilimu is annoyed mainly because the overall tone of my "articles seems to blame citizens and shies away from the government's omissions." I have to confess that she is absolutely right! Of course I blame Ugandans for most of the government's omissions.


When I, together with three colleagues, founded Kigo Thinkers, this is what was on our minds. We were, and still are, concerned that trends in Uganda indicate an abdication of responsibilities by citizens. Discussions on several issues regarding our lives demonstrate that many are not taking up their responsibility of genuine active citizenship.


And we define active citizenship by how one contributes to and or influences the narrative that determines policies that affect their livelihood. Perhaps that is why parliament can get away with incessantly discussing NSSF, which has only a few hundred thousand contributors.


Umeme is another one that parliament likes to discuss often but less than 15 per cent of the population has access to electricity. However, 65 more constituencies could be created. So, we shall have about 450 MPs next season! Can we afford such numbers at a time when the shilling is crumbling?


If you take a matatu taxi on Entebbe road, you will notice that the majority of passengers are complaining about something - the state of the vehicle, the bad driving, VVIP sirens going by, etc. It seems that there is a passivity generated in taxis that reduces passengers into mere complainers! We must refuse to become Uganda's passive passengers.


My friend Richard Musoke has a whacky view altogether, which is totally the opposite of the universal active citizenship that we propose as Kigo Thinkers. Here is part of what he wrote: "Until a person is informed well enough, it is dangerous to give him/her responsibility for anyone else, much less him/herself. It is why parents are expected to look after their children in the home till the age of 18 or so.


So it must be with the African voting masses. It is, for instance, incongruous that someone as knowledgeable, educated, well-traveled and intelligent as me has his leaders chosen by illiterate, uninformed, non-tax-paying rural dwellers simply because they make up 70 per cent of the voting bloc.


But that 70 per cent is all Uganda's cynical politicians have to appeal to with a bar of soap, a poorly constructed dirt road, pretense at education in the form of UPE and a catchy jingle via text messaging.


Please note that my rant excludes rural dwellers that make a decent living from farming and those who pay taxes. City and town dwellers, blue collar, middle and upper class people (20-30 per cent of the voting population) pay Uganda's taxes and so we should be the ones to choose who the leader of the country is.


Villagers spend, on average, barely 1/10 of what we do on anything, meaning that even their consumption levels are inconsequential to Uganda's economy. In addition, villagers usually depend on us for their own sustenance through the remittances we send them because their subsistence maize crop has failed and so on!


The 70 per cent are thus comparatively irrelevant to the productive sector of Uganda's economy. Yet they hold the numerical advantage, and their ignorance makes them easy targets to manipulate by tired, corrupt, megalomaniacal politicians, and so they continue voting back in miscreants and incompetents.


It is an utter disgrace that my informed intellect and tax-paying clout is deemed to be at par at the ballot box with the masses that contribute nothing to the national coffers.


Until all Ugandans are educated to the level that makes them informed enough, people like me should be given the vote to decide the country's president and MPs' Whoever wants to be able to vote at a higher level must get informed, get a trade and pay taxes."


Dear Reader, decide if there is some merit in Musoke's wild views.


osm@kigothinkers.org The author is one of the founding Kigo Thinkers



**This article was first published in The Observer newspaper:

http://www.observer.ug/viewpoint/39052-should-we-have-only-informed-taxpayers-as-voters


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