Why must a sane government do crazy things to keep people in financial ignorance, darkness and isolation, and for them to remain dependent on the state and those in power?
When the Plan for Modernization of Agriculture (PMA) was mooted in Tororo in 1996 under then Vice President Dr Specioza W. Kazibwe, it had clear targets and pillars for actualization that included, among others, extension service and financial intermediation.
By this, households and communities had targets to aim for, skills to develop and achievements to attain; while government and its field staff equally had targets to aim for but, more importantly, milestones against which they, as change agents, would be measured and rewarded or punished.
The collective success of the two sides (the people and government) would have been a progressive, rapidly modernizing and transforming Ugandan agriculture, export boom, an increasingly integrated and self-sustaining economy; and rapidly growing household incomes with capacities to meet basic needs; educate, build skills and transform productivity; accumulate capital and invest in other productive activities; and to further educate and inspire offsprings and achieve family transformation.
These, in turn, would have enabled rapid growth of a sustainable, competent financial sector; building internal purchasing power and markets; attracting large investments; generating revenue and freeing government from excessive borrowing and wasteful expenditures on public service delivery, basic and wasteful societal support, buying of political support and reliance on falsifying data, sloganeering, empty promises, raising of false hope as society slides to backwardness.
Alas, our government shot all the possibilities that PMA would have addressed down, with claims of limiting government role in agriculture to creating an “enabling environment” for private sector agriculture.
Tragically with this, even the agricultural progress of the 1960s has been buried, with hold on power and corruption counting as their key foundations for success; economic disparities are pitting the poor against the rich, communities against themselves, and even tribes against tribes with the stench of hatred almost suffocating our country.
The Parish Development Model thing will not work. You long ago killed the patience, institutional framework, competencies, trust, honesty, patriotism and national pride and purposeness that are basic preconditions for national success.
At the very minimum, use the PDM money you are about to waste to start a “Bank for Integrated Rural Development” that will offer concessional long-term portfolios and opportunities to learn and progress; and create competent bodies to train people to effectively borrow, invest, earn, save and grow.
With light visible down the tunnel, the hope that always anchors and propels humanity to attain seemingly impossible goals will be restored in our country, and we will begin to see real progress that handouts, arrogance and empty sloganeering will never deliver.
Of course this will require humility, honestly and an acceptance that no one of us is God who can merely will success. And let no one doubt the truth that only reconciliation, rededication, patience and collective action will prevent our country from the inevitable chaos and abyss that our current path is taking us.
We must change the course for the good of our country and all our people.