The USA and UK anti-globalization influenza is spreading very first and catching many countries.
Tanzanian president John Pombe Magufuli wants all immigrants, including Ugandans protected by the East Africa Community protocols, out of his country.
As a result, two of my relatives that had been working in Tanzania for the last seven years returned to Uganda during the festive season.
One of them, a teacher, was even briefly detained by the immigration and citizenship authorities in Tanzania. His work permit was cancelled and the school where he was teaching advised him to pack his bags because it was tired of paying penalties.
The second relative, a trader, was not issued with a new permit. They are both back home. The teacher told me only science-teaching counterparts are issued with permits these days, which can also be revoked without notice.
Ugandan teachers are still on market in Tanzanian schools that teach using English. But they are now candidates for deportation. Of course licensing a business in Tanzania has always been a nightmare despite the EAC protocols. It has only gotten worse under Magufuli.
Although there is free movement of Ugandans into Tanzania, a stamp with words “not allowed to work” is always fixed in your passport at entry points.
These examples above serve to tell you how theoretical and diversionary our dear revolutionary leader, Gen Yoweri Museveni, has become. Theoretical about this integration business.
In his New Year’s address to the nation, he lambasted religious leaders, academia and the media for undermining integration efforts. As usual, he claimed much has been achieved in the East African federation, yet it is very little.
He said: “I am happy to remind Ugandans that working with our brothers and sisters in East Africa, we have revived the East African Community.” He also enthusiastically spoke about political federation.
I am equally happy to inform the revolutionary leader that obsession alone won’t make things happen. In fact, I am more interested in addressing issues of the economy that have reduced our citizens into economic migrants than this integration business.
Dubai has been my destination for holidays but I am now looking for another place. Why? It has been turned into another Uganda. After being battered by Museveni soldiers in parliament for opposing the removal of age limits, I went to Dubai to rest during the festive season.
There was more age limit discussion in Dubai than on Kampala streets. I was repeatedly asked to explain what parliament had done and what patriots were planning to do next. The heavy presence of Ugandans on Dubai streets denied me the opportunity to momentarily forget the invasion on parliament by Museveni’s soldiers.
There are areas in Dubai where you find a Ugandan at every corner. I mean restless young people looking for jobs. I don’t think these ones who have sought economic refuge in Dubai even care about Museveni’s East African federation nonsense.
For them, a welcoming Dubai is even more important than Tanzania. Offering them institutional protection and easing their travel to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Saudi Arabia is more important than unpractical conversation about the East African federation.
I have not looked at figures, but I have a feeling more Ugandans have fled the country looking for survival (kyeyo) during this regime than under any past administration. I doubt this government has these figures. All they care is how much money Ugandans abroad send home every year.
Finally, let me take this opportunity to thank the late Archbishop Mpalanyi Nkoyoyo for his service to the country. I didn’t know until his death that he had been the brains behind Uganda Christian University in Mukono.
I don’t know what Uganda would have been without the ‘church’ and ‘mosque’. It is only deluded people that can attack the church when the clergy speak about politics. Some misguided individuals think the work of the clergy is at the pulpit. They forget that the church is nearly the main provider of social services in the country.
If they closed just half of their schools and health facilities, I think the country would be in a bigger crisis than when Mulago doctors go on strike.
It is the reason (education and health) that religious leaders in Tanzania have told off Magufuli, who wants them to shut up. In Tanzania, like in Uganda, the president is unhappy with some religious leaders for speaking against some of his policies.
Like in Uganda, they have reminded Magufuli that their responsibilities go beyond preaching.
In recognition of this quality and dedicated service to our African nations, let me join others in mourning the late Nkoyoyo. I have always been humbled by his modesty and simplicity. We will dearly miss him. My condolences to the family and the Church!
The author is Kira Municipality MP and opposition chief whip in parliament.