President Museveni has rallied Ugandans to embrace and support government efforts of wealth creation and economic transformation as the main focus during his sixth elective term of office.
Speaking at celebrations to mark Uganda’s 59th Independence anniversary at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala, Mr Museveni said the country has realised tremendous economic growth that his government is determined to maintain and propel through programmes such as Emyooga and the Parish Development Model that have been instituted to alleviate poverty.
The Independence Day celebrations were held under the theme “Celebrating Our 59th Independence Day as We Secure Our Future Through National Mind-set change”.
“The Parish Development Model and Emyooga programmes are aimed at transforming the 39 per cent of Ugandans from subsistence economy to money economy. It will create more jobs for the youth, widen the tax base and increase purchasing power,” he said.
He added: “NRM [ruling National Resistance Movement party] emphasises protecting life and property. You cannot transform society without wealth creation. Let everybody embrace wealth creation and the principles that support it.”
Several wealth creation programmes championed by President Museveni, including the Rural Farmers Scheme, Entandikwa (Seed money), Bonna Bagaggawale (Prosperity for All), National Agriculture Advisory Services (Naads), and Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) have either struggled or have been total failures, or substituted and remodelled by similar successor programmes. Emyooga and the Parish Development Model are the latest such attempts.
President Museveni, however, insists wealth creation and economic transformation will improve the welfare of Ugandans, widen the tax base, and create jobs for the young people.
Drawing from the structure of the traditional economy that saw every member of a community involved in creating wealth and economic transformation, Mr Museveni said the NRM will not tolerate “idlers” and “parasites” who derail development by promoting sectarianism. He said the ordinary people are the major drivers of the economy as opposed to the notion that one has to be in government to make wealth
“The attitudes of wealth creators are captured in the four NRM principles of patriotism, pan-Africanism, socio-economic transformation and democracy. Genuine wealth creators do not believe in sectarianism. I have realised a linkage between wealth creators and patriotism and idolism with parasitism,” he said.
The President said the country is on a positive economic trajectory despite the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic that has affected major industries through the two lockdowns. The President also boasted of the country’s self-sustenance, in how it has handled emergencies in the past two years.
“Our economy managed some growth in both financial years [2020/2021 2021/2022] and . In the former, we managed a growth rate of 3.4 percent and in the current one, it is estimated that we shall achieve a rate of 3.8 percent. By the end of June, our GDP will be at $41b, without the contribution of the first oil. The first oil will be pumped out of the ground in 2025 because all the agreements have been concluded,” the President explained.
He added: “The new Uganda that rose after so many problems has shown that it can stand on its own and defeat any challenges…In these two years as many of you know, we have successfully dealt with the problem of locust invasion, the rising levels of the waters of the lakes, landslides and the Covid-19 pandemic. In spite of the onslaught of the terrible disease, we saved our people from dying as much as it was in other countries.”
He, however, decried the deep rooted corruption that has derailed growth.
“All these developments are there, despite the corruption of civil servants and political actors. I want to congratulate the whistleblowers who expose these parties. We could have achieved more if it wasn’t for the parasites who want to reap where they have not sown…,” he said.
The event, traditionally marked by colour, fanfare and multitudes of people, was this time only attended by a select few, due to the measures instituted to curb the spread of the Covid 19 pandemic. Even with the low number of invited guests, several seats remained vacant in the three tents erected at the grounds.
President Museveni was accompanied by First Lady Janet Museveni, while government dignitaries, including Vice President Jessica Alupo, Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, the Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, among others. The others were religious and cultural leaders.
Opposition law makers, including the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Mr Mathias Mpuuga, did not attend the event. Organisers said they had invited them.
What some of the key players say…
Dr Kizza Besigye, politician, “The only major sign of “Independence Day” in Kampala is closure of roads around Kololo. In Downtown Kampala, Main Street and all suburbs, ordinary Ugandans are busy hustling and jostling for survival. We’re grateful to God for surviving a terrible 59 years. This must end.
Vincent Sempijja, Defence minister, “We are now happy that we can maintain our security on our own and our people can work in a peaceful country. We now have to focus on economic independence and we should embrace the Presidents call for wealth creation.”
Thomas Tayebwa, government Chief Whip, We inherited an economy focused on coffee, cotton but the NRM government has widened the economy. The biggest challenge we have now is poverty but luckily, that is where we have put a lot our emphasis. The moment we tackle poverty, we will be doing very well.”
Jimmy Akena, UPC, “This is the only holiday that pertains to every Ugandan. It is something I treasure and commemorate and I hope the 60th year will be better for Uganda. The President has laid out the economic aspect of his manifesto. It is something we will have to wait and see if it materialises.”
Moses Ssekasi Ssalongo, 76, Kayunga local, “All the ceremonies we attended before had thousands of people in attendance but now they are few. But the historical events the President spoke of are true and are important in guiding the nation to understand what is happening and how to navigate around them.”
Rhona Nantege, 19, high school student, “I was inspired to write a poem portraying the beautiful and positive things about Uganda because we tend to politicise everything, creating factions and divisions yet there is a lot of good that we could do together.”