Uganda’s long-term president Yoweri Museveni ‘beat’ seven other contestants to stretch his presidency to an astonishing 35 years.
BY ALEX TAREMWA
While campaigning at at Alira Primary School in Alebtong District, northern Uganda, long-term Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni promised to give school going girls free sanitary pads the following financial year if he was voted to power.
This promise later made an interesting twist when his wife Janet Museveni who also is Minister of Education, Sports, Science and Technology told Parliament’s education committee in a budget proposal meeting that there is no money to allocate to the purchasing of sanitary pads her husband promised.
Her comments attacked a backlash from Ugandans – notably prominent Scholar at the Makerere Institute of Social Research – Dr Stella Nyanzi who called the First Lady insensitive and unworthy of the title ‘Maama’ as she does not act as a mother of the nation.
“She is not only wife to dictator Yoweri Museveni who lied poor Ugandans during his presidential campaigns about giving sanitary pads to their daughters, she is also the dry-eyed beneficiary of nepotism as the Minister of Education. What is the usefulness of powerful women who sleep under dictators to poor women in the masses?” Nyanzi wrote on her Facebook on March 5, 2017.
Nyanzi was arrested, charged and convicted for allegedly calling the Museveni a #pairofbuttocks in one of her Facebook posts.
Nyanzi even started a campaign dubbed #Pads4GirlsUg to raise funds to sanitary pads for school going girls. The campaign was widely embraced and has since covered over 20 schools.
The sanitary pads are not the only campaign promise from Museveni that the National Resistance candidate has since turned back on. Below a a few.
The 18 million hoes
This is probably the most unprecedented that most people have called illogical – 18 million hand hoes to six million subsistence farmers.
Museveni promised that hoes will be delivered in the 2016/2017 budget at a cost of Shs135 billion ($39.5m), which was 28 per cent of the Agriculture ministry’s budget for that fiscal year.
Never mind that the NRM manifesto talks about transformation from peasant to modern agriculture by availing machinery for bush clearing, ploughing, harrowing, planting and harvesting.
This promise was particularly ridiculed and ‘peed-on’ from great heights of Civil Society, Private Sector and the media as critics argued that for a country eyeing Middle Income Status by 2020, a focused president should be talking agriculture mechanisation for better economic output rather fuelling petty subsistence otherwise known as hand to mouth.
“Who talks about hoes when we should be talking of agricultural mechanisation?” Kassiano Wadri, a former legislator for Terego County in West Nile told a local daily.
But Museveni is not one to bow down to pressure, rather than increase its budget, the Agriculture Ministry took a budget cut with government allocating it a meagre 2 per cent of the total budget in 2016/2017.
Despite the prolonged drought that hit the country destroying crops, increasing hunger levels and killing about 100 people, the government is not poised to increase the ministry’s budget to the recommended 10 per cent as the Maputo Declaration.
Shs 2million to Malwa groups
Somewhere in Uganda, clients enjoy a pot of Malwa, a local brew (Credit: Daily Monitor)
If you thought 18 million hoes in the digital age was a crazy idea, then you have not had of the ‘revolutionary’ Shs 2 million the president pledged to give every village that has an organised group that produces millet beer locally known as malwa.
Museveni made the promise in December 2015 while he was campaigning in Karamoja region, north-eastern Uganda.
The president said the pledge was to help women in each of the 82,920 villages across the 112 districts in the country boost their incomes.
The problem however is that Museveni needs to squeeze at least Shs1.6 trillion, equivalent to the total amount allocated to Defence and Security ministries in the 2015/16 Budget to meet the pledge in all the villages countrywide.
Aside the above promises, Museveni needs Shs13 trillion to fulfil host of personal pledges he made while seeking what he has come to call ‘Kisanja Hakuna Muchezo’ (the term of hard work) that will him see him hit 35 years at Uganda’s top chair.
One does not need to look far to validate the claim that manifestos are just declarations of good intentions, all they need to do is look at Yoweri Museveni.