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To understand why economy is failing, look at the Otafiires

It is budgeting time in parliament. To allow consideration of sector budgets, the speaker suspended the sitting of parliament (plenary) to an unknown date.

The suspension is to allow MPs attend committee meetings that are scrutinizing budgets for various ministries and public institutions.

Each ministry is allocated money according to the importance that the president attaches to it. The ministry of finance theoretically develops a criterion each year, according to the priorities of government (Mr Museveni).

This year, Mr Museveni thinks his government will collect Shs 15 trillion from Ugandans (taxpayers) and borrow or receive grants worth Shs 13 trillion. That is why the budget has been revised from Shs 30 trillion to Shs 28 trillion. In fact, many sectors will receive less money than they received this financial year.

The Constitution, Public Finance Management Act and other laws require government to present this budget to parliament for approval before it is read to the country. The reading by the finance minister is a mere ceremony.

Like the finance ministry, parliament theoretically has powers to revise this budget. Unfortunately, we, at parliament, work on the projections by the finance ministry. They are the ones who claimed next year’s budget would be Shs 30 trillion and, again, they are the ones that revised it to Shs 28 trillion.

Of course parliament can reduce or increase amounts allocated to a certain sector, but with NRM majority, that is also difficult. That, in a way, reduces our efforts into another ceremony. For us in the opposition, we make proposals, but they are treated like talk show opinions.

It is, therefore, under this arrangement that the justice and constitutional affairs minister, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, appeared before our committee on legal and parliamentary affairs last week.

To his credit, Otafiire, a generally nice guy, kept time as he arrived at 10am for an 11 o’clock meeting. Otafiire likes jokes. After cracking some in the corridors of parliament, he asked for the venue of the meeting. I teased him that how could a person like him, who has spent his entire adult life in parliament and government, be so ignorant about where the legal committee sits.

“I came here long ago. Now there are all sorts of creatures like you,” he shot back.

We later met in the committee and the light moments continued. Ministers such as Otafiire represent three fundamental things. First, they have served up to the last drop of their energy. They are, therefore, extremely tired and fatigue is written all over their faces.

Otafiire was born on December 29, 1950. He is, therefore, 67 years old. He has been either head of a security organization or a minister in this 31-year-old government. He was part of the five-year Luweero war that brought this government to power.

Although contested, Otafiire claims he is a member of the Front for National Salvation (Fronasa) formed in 1971 to fight the Idi Amin government. That means he has been in public life for nearly half a century. Even if he was born a superstar, his body is tired. He is one of those photographed frequently dozing during national functions. With him, you can understand why retirement age in public service is 60 years.

That is the point I made when we were vetting the appointment of my friend Dr Ruhakana Rugunda as prime minister. Rugunda, now coordinator and supervisor of all government programmes by virtue of being prime minister, was born in 1947. He is now 70 years old. These men are no longer looking for school fees for their children.

I have nothing against old people. In fact, my father is now over 90 years old, but we cannot place our country on their tired shoulders. And even if they were not old, they have lost the drive to serve. And that is why it is common to see Otafiire laughing even when a serious matter is raised.

They have no drive to work because they have already lived their future as well. And their boss, Mr Museveni, will officially make 73 years in September.

And as they celebrate their 73rd, 70th, 68th, or 80th birthdays, they are reporting a failing economy to parliament. Of course they work with youthful and young people, but these are mere self-seekers, referred to as aides. The real drivers are the Jjajjas.

They set themselves no targets; if they do, they ignore them within days. That is why Dr Stella Nyanzi is in Luzira prison. Her crime is that she reminded them of the sanitary pads campaign pledge, of course using vulgar language. And it is the vulgar language that they saw and used as an excuse to send her to Luzira for pointing out their flaws.

I spent the Easter holiday in my village Bijaaba, in Kyazanga, and old age is doing wonders there. Trees have started growing on what used to be bare hills.

Reason: the owners of the land have aged and can no longer climb to plant maize and beans there. Of course, banana wilt has also demoralized this once-famous banana-growing area.

With the population growing, it is not possible that we will continue sharing the little the old people are able to produce. Restructuring of administration should have started yesterday. Can the old people be kind enough and retire now?!


The author is Kira Municipality MP.


+13 #1 Lakwena 2017-04-19 08:12
In other words, Ugandans are bogged down by bakoowu.
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+3 #2 Akot 2017-04-19 13:44
How can any parliament even talk of budget, when it has not put in place National Education so that the country gets the Educated people to creat jobs-work... so that tax money is allocated for services services?

As long as parliament does not give chance for development through National Education from Secondary-Training-University, the few tax payers will always be slaves of just a few (president-ministers-useless MPs), while the majority of population are left out uneducated-poor-sick dying without any one noticing!

Education to ensure development of a country is not family affair but NATIONAL ONE & MUST be PRIORITY for parliament in developing countries!
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+2 #3 Akot 2017-04-19 13:56
If State House will spend Shs 550 million daily starting July 1, when parliament approves 2017/18 budget where Shs 13m will go to welfare and entertainment, then,

*Why can't parliament ensure continuity of this good living of president, by giving National Education to All students who go through Primary, so that the 90% who fall out due to lack of school fees get chance to finish Education & maintain the president-ministers-MPs... under better conditions, while those not able to go further with Education are also taken care of through tax money?

Even families who produce food for the country need help, right?

Would it be a crime if parliament work for electorate to ensure they are elected-reelected?

As it is, why would Ugandans vote MPs again?
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+1 #4 Kamada 2017-04-19 14:53
But Mr Semujju. You haven't explained how age is affecting the economy.

All I can read is tired, tired, tired but no link or explanation on how its affecting the economy! If your argument is about age then Uganda is not the only country in this situation.

In the USA for example, Trump is 70, Tillerson is 65, AG Sessions is 70, Liberia has Sirleaf at 77, Ivorian Ouattara is 75 etc. Where is the economic angle?
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+6 #5 Mubiru 2017-04-19 18:51
Kamada ,did you forget Mugabe who is over 90?

All the people in Govt. Semuju refers to started to " milk the country dry under the guise of "redemption" when their average ages ranged from 25-30 years.

It is these young people, at their time of "eating" who have irredeemably destroyed the economy of which Semuju Nganda complains. Uganda's economy was brilliant under mature people like Obote One, C.Obwangor, J.Babiiha, Amos Sempa just to mention a few.

A thief is a thief regardless of age. Look at the so called "abagagga abato" and those belonging to a dubious association of the self styled "filthy" rich.

Their mouth piece was caught red handed diverting funds meant for a western district. His Court surety was a rich non-black a highly connected "ugandan" and that's where the story ended. In Uganda terms, being "bailed" is the same as being "innocent." Don't use age as the harbinger of the chaotic economy.
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+3 #6 Ugthinker 2017-04-20 01:04
This expired lot can only lead Uganda to grave yard, their next stop anyway
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+3 #7 Marcello 2017-04-20 12:19
Thanks, Semujju. Otafiires are constipated fellas held hostage by history, they can no longer justify their relevance in the Animal Farm they have created..
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0 #8 kirya 2017-08-06 01:05
Quoting Kamada:
But Mr Semujju. You haven't explained how age is affecting the economy.

All I can read is tired, tired, tired but no link or explanation on how its affecting the economy! If your argument is about age then Uganda is not the only country in this situation.

In the USA for example, Trump is 70, Tillerson is 65, AG Sessions is 70, Liberia has Sirleaf at 77, Ivorian Ouattara is 75 etc. Where is the economic angle?

Here they come to serve after they have accomplished in life> Government of Uganda is full of poor sucker ups
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0 #9 ogwetta santa penten 2017-08-21 12:12
Words like Piousness, Virtue, gallantry etc that our fathers and mothers who controlled public service in the sixties and seventies lived by, are unknown to the daytime robbers manning public services today! It's for 'Prosperity', my "stomach and family then God comes later though". What callousness! SHAME!

Just wondering, those who profess their Catholic faith are taught that humility is a virtue that we should live by, you can't steal and say you LOVE God, right?
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