Ahead of the 2016 general elections, Ugandans need to out-source some divine intervention

“There is no country in the world whose objective is to develop another country…”

Godber Tumushabe, a Ugandan lawyer, policy analyst and social entrepreneur shared an earlier stated sentiment in his presentation at the Development without Freedom? Justice, Human Rights, and Foreign Aid in Africa conference organized by New York University. The conference took place on April 16, this year.

Over the years, economists and social analysts have written about the shortfalls of aid to Africa. There are detailed accounts on how aid has curtailed initiative in forever developing countries; how the World Bank aided mass and forced population transfers in Ethiopia and evaded accountability; in Uganda, donor funds end up as pocket change set aside for grocery lists in many a civil servant’s household. Still the west donates money.

In fact two years after Dambisa Moyo suggested that Western countries should stop giving aid (Dead Aid), billions were misappropriated in what came to known be known as the OPM (Office of the Prime Minister) scandal.

This is how Tumushabe summarized what followed that scandal; donors closed aid taps, asked for a refund, got into a room, closed the door, agreed with the government of Uganda on a refund.

The government of Uganda dipped its hand into the Uganda tax payers fund, paid off the donors, donors reopened the tap. End of story.

In between these closed door timeout sessions, the original beneficiaries of the funds were struggling with a little known, but awful malady called nodding disease.

The latter were left out of the refund picture for all one knows, completely. So, why do poor African states continue receiving aid? Fifty-three years since the Foreign Assistance Act was enacted in the United States, until when are we to cry and claim sovereignty with one fist up and an open palm, begging for money?

Without any doubt there is a percentage of Ugandans who can credit their personal and professional success, to the existence of the many USA-aid funded projects and campaigns.

Bearing in mind the fact that only 80% of the aid is spent in the United States of America, in consultancy fees, expat remittances and procurement of vehicles, the 20% that is expended in Africa compares to a precocious child who splashes water in his head to cover up the fact that he didn’t take full body bath. And that’s not right.

Today President Museveni is borrowing billions from China. In China it goes without saying; ‘people who want to be rich’ should build a road first.

After telling the government of Uganda something they didn’t know, China offered Uganda a soft loan of about $106 million and a batch of road equipment. No problem with that.

Along with these loans, Chinese investors have been given land to cultivate cotton, which they will export back to China, perhaps?

In addition, small scale Chinese investors are manning shops and stalls in downtown Kampala, in which they sell the same stock as local traders. The catch for our Chinese friends is that they are given tax breaks. The catch for local entrepreneurs is a good road system.

What if the soft loans were given in exchange for our land and tax breaks? But that is not the question, the question is; how will Ugandans pay off these debts in future when trade and market conditions are perilously tilted in favor of foreign investors today?

Isn’t that how people end up selling their kidneys?

The Chinese scenario in addition to African leaders, en masse posing for photographs at the White House while eleven year old American boys empty their piggy banks to save hungry children in Mpigi, are mind boggling real life examples that can make a blind man say to Jesus; ‘pass, I’d rather not see a real life version of that mess in full color.’

Our dawns are littered with the grim reality of teachers using dry cassava chips instead of chalk and doctors laying down tools protesting peanut wages; our calendars are punctuated by markets burning and schools burning; our roads are an infinite open killing season; but the solution is “emulate Koreans to become rich,” President Museveni recently advised Ugandans.

While it is noble to emulate the ‘hard work, frugality and now compassion’ of others, planning for 2000 vulnerable children instead of expanding hospitals, setting up structures that can prevent the death of the mothers of future ‘vulnerable’ children only compares to a doctor commissioning the expansion of a mortuary instead of the procurement of medicine.

For long as our leaders and potential leaders have to look left or right, East or West or watch their mouths before they cross the road, they are a lie.

As a result, the foreign aid thing and loan borrowing thing remain a stinking potty training session with no end in sight; a burden eleven year old American boys will have to carry.

Still, in all the continued dependency on aid, copying Chinese state policing methods instead of their cutting edge solar power technology, no one asks; whose head is full of jok?

And it is not like we are not furnished with examples of Ugandan success stories.

kansiime

ANNE KANSIIME

We have captured the attention of the world through authentic artistic creations of Eddie Kenzo and Anne Kansiime.

Entrepreneurial vision of Andrew Rugasira and; before Dr. Aggrey Kiyingi got on the ‘terrorists list,’ he was an IT entrepreneur and remains a renowned cardiologist.

Surely, we can take a commercial break from all this pandering to the whims of the West and unpleasant worshipping of the East and ask these Ugandans; mukikola mutya? And start from there or start praying to Chinese gods.