President`s new year address – 2020
Fellow Countrymen and Country women.
Greetings to all Ugandans. The year that is ending had good things and bad things. The bad things included crime like the killing of Nagirinya, land-slides and floods. Crime had gone up mainly because of the corruption and laxity in the Police force and the other security agencies. There was also the historical under-equipping of the Police. When, earlier on, I addressed Parliament on the 20th of June, 2018, I laid out the 12 points of handling crime. Some of the steps outlined in that speech have been worked on ─ especially some aspects of the cameras and the finger-printing of the guns. Many of the other steps are not yet worked on. The little that has been implemented, however, has already created problems for the criminals. During Christmas, the Police reported 21 murders in the whole country. Most of the murders were straight forward cases of drunken fights, fighting over women and the suspects are either known or have been arrested. Yet, the anti-crime measures we have planned for are not even 30% implemented. One element assisting crime was the corruption and laxity of the Police.
I have made it clear that the youth that want to join the Police or the Army are in tens of thousands. Therefore, those rotten potatoes in the Police will not waste our time. Anybody who does not do his duty will be arrested, charged, sentenced and dismissed from the Police and promptly replaced by those that are ready to work. Crime will be defeated. That is what I told you and that is what will happen.
On the issue of the disasters (landslides, floods, etc), yes, there was heavy rain. However, the bigger problem is the disrespect for the environment. God provided for us carefully and deliberately. Mountains are clothed with forest and swamps are clothed with papyrus and swamp grass like ebigugu (cyperus latfolia). This vegetation cover protects the soil on the hillsides from the strong rain-drops (amakaanda), the under-growth and the bed of leaves on the ground slows down the run-off water (Omuttunga, Omukoka, alele) the roots of the trees hold the soil, the slowing down of the run-off water forces water to sink in the ground and, therefore, replenish the underground water – table and the vegetation filters the mutuunga water so that it enters the rives when it is free of soil and silt. In the wetlands, the swamp grass, again, filters the swamp water so that it enters the Lakes and rivers when it is free of soil and silt. The swamp grass, through transpiration, sucks water from the swamp and throws it in the atmosphere for rain-formation.
Therefore, encroaching on the swamps, invading the natural high-rise forests or settling on Mountain –slopes steeper than 32o is suicide for the individuals, as has been repeatedly confirmed in the Rwenzori and Elgon areas, but is, also, suicide for the country of Uganda and for the African continent.
Fortunately, there are two intelligent, easy and lucrative ways-out. These are: fish-farming on the edges of the swamp (emiiga) and, once the water is restored in the swamp, then we use it to irrigate the nearby non-swamp land. We have already tried this in the Limoto restored wetland where we have created 5 fish-ponds in once acre at the edge of the swamp, from which the members are earning Shs. 120million per year. Yet, previously, these same people had encroached on a hundred acres of the swampland for rice from which they were earning only Shs. 7 million in a year!! What futile and dangerous exercise is this?
We used part of the US$24 million the Hon. Sam Kutesa got for us while he was in the UN. Only US$ 4 million has so far been used in the East and the Kabale area. I have appealed to environmental friendly people the World over to build up this fund to US$200 million ─ so that we, in a friendly way and profitable way, restore all the wetlands and the dangerously steep mountain slopes.
Since the 1960s, the NRM has been a mass-oriented Party. Yes, even at the dawn of Independence, there was already a thin layer of prosperous Ugandans: a few chiefs, a small group of the new politicians, some few traders, few expatriate companies (Gay and Roberts, and a few Asian business people. However, the huge majority of Ugandans were still in the traditional system of okukolera ekidda kyoonka (working only for the stomach) as our Bagwere people in Eastern Uganda put it. Our Luo people say: “Tic me cam Keken” ─ only working for the stomach.
Even at that time, there was no good reason for people remaining poor. It was only ignorance that, mainly, kept the people poor. Tha is what I set out to challenge since 1959 when I came to Mbarara High School from Ntungamo and I was able to compare what we were doing in Ntungamo with what the government was doing at the Mbarara Stock Farm. Our Baganda people say: “Adingana amawolu ajjamu omukuto”, ─ “the one who repeatedly eats the cold food of yesterday, eventually, also gets satisfied”. I do not know why our Baganda people thought that “Obuhoro”, the food that has cooled, is not good. I always, only eat obuhoro. I never like ebitagata (hot meals). Anyway, even our traditional Baganda saw that repeatedly addressing an issue, brings results. That is exactly what the NRM has been doing since the 1960s when we were still students. Our strategic aim was to convert the “Bakolera ekidda kyoonka” people (what they call in English, Subsistence farmers) into commercial farmers but with ekibaro (proper economics for the family business, cura, aimar, otita). Eversince our coming into Government, we have launched programmes repeatedly: Bonna Bagaggawale (Prosperity for All), PMA (Plan for the Modernization for Agriculture), Entandikwa, NAADS, OWC, NUSAF, NURP, etc., etc. All these efforts were just to wake up our people from sleep (kulambaala) with the non-money, pre-capitalist activities of okukolera ekidda kyoonka or if you kukolera for money as some did in the colonial and post-colonial times, you do so without ekibaro (cura, aimar, otita).
Our efforts are beginning to succeed. In the last few years, we are beginning to have surplus maize (5 million tonnes versus 1 million tones consumed) sugar (400,000tonnes versus 300,000tonnes consumed in Uganda), bananas, milk (2.5 bn litres versus 800 million litres consumed), coffee (5 million bags) up from 2 million bags), etc., etc. The surge in production, on account of the limited waking up by our people, has meant the prices coming down to Shs. 300 per Kg of maize, Shs. 300 per litre of milk, etc. This now emphasizes, again, what the NRM has been telling you from the 1960: patriotism (love Uganda), Pan-Africanism (love Africa), international cooperation for trade (emikago) but based on the strength of a United Africa. This is our message ever since 1965. Why? It is because prosperity which only comes through the production of goods and services according to the specialization of the different communities, can only be realized if you sell what you produce in big quantities so that you make profit. Other actors, however, have been telling Ugandans and other Africans about the sectarianism of religion and tribes. Why, then, can the tribes or the religious sects solve the problem of marketing our products now that there is this limited waking up? Yet, we are just beginning. Quantities will be bigger once our people wake up more. It is clear, therefore, that those who preach localism, sectarianism of religion or tribe, are false prophets and enemies of our prosperity; they have always been enemies of even the survival of the African people. The preachers of parochialism were one of the causes of the colonization of Africa and the slave trade in the first place. The NRM say: “Down with the sectarian opportunists that use tribe, religion and gender”. By working with Africa, through Pan-Africanism and patriotism and international cooperation (trade), the NRM will solve the problem of the market in the products in which we have got comparative advantage. The producers, however, must solve one problem ─ the problem of quality (Omutindo). Our products must be good quality (size, flavor, etc) and must be safe (no ruhuumbo-mould- which produces aflatoxins which are poisons). No harvested crop should be put on soil surface, do not harvest immature crops, etc. The Ministry of Agriculture will issue commands that must be followed to the latter by everybody.
We cannot allow anybody to damage our future by bringing polluted products unto the products of others. That is kuloga (to put evil into good things).
Apart from negotiating for markets abroad, we shall also help our people to broaden the final products from our raw-materials. When we say that there is too much sugar, we currently only mean that there is too much sugar for sweetening tea. How about the more refined sugar for using in Coca-cola? How about the sugar for manufacturing the medicines needed by the company of the Quality Chemicals to make syrups for children’s medicines? How about making animal feeds out of the molass of sugar? When we say that maize is too much, we only mean maize for making Kahuunga. How about animal feeds, how about industrial starch and pharmaceutical grade starch for making tablets in medicines? We can even get petrol (ethanol) from maize? Investors could not invest in these areas when the raw-materials were in small quantities. Now that we have big quantities the investors will invest in processing maize beyond Kahuunga, in sugar beyond sugar for tea, etc. With milk, while there is cry of unsold milk, Uganda is still importing milk products. Importing what? Baby milk. We shall make the baby milk from our own milk. We are, finally, waking-up more and more. Salutations to the NRM. The NRM leaders should closely follow the production for wealth creation of all the households in the respective areas.
The other issue that affects the masses is education. The NRM knew that many families could not yet pay for education. That is why we introduced “Boona Basoomele bwelele” ─ Universal Free Education ─ UPE in 1997. Many children came into schools. The head teachers and some small local groups have been bringing back school charges into schools. I do not agree with this because many children are expelled from UPE and USE schools. I am calling on the NRM leaders in the villages to stop this. At the beginning of this term, I asked each village Assembly to pass a resolution as whether we should tolerate head teachers who introduce charges in UPE/USE schools or not. The new Minister of Local Government should resolve this issue. Can all the parents afford? If they can, we go on with the school fees and we shift UPE/USE grants from government to other things.
If they cannot, why, then, do you impose such charges and do so without consulting the Central Government? Are you an enemy of these children and the country?
The other issue that affects the people is illegal land evictions. In the CA, the NRM restored the rights of the landlords but also put very firm security for bibanja owners. The following persons are rightful bibanja owners:
1. The one who was given a Kibanja by the landlord or his agent;
2. The one who was in that Kibanja by 1983 or before even if he was not allowed there by the landlord or his agent ─ we called this one bonafide occupant;
3. The one who inherited from either of the above two;
4. The one who bought from either one of the two above; and
5. The first to settle on a Kibanja on Public land (Kutembuura) or to settle in an itoongo (abandoned land).
Any of the above is on the Kibanja legally. Anybody removing him/her is acting illegally and the NRM will not tolerate this. Moreover, in spite of needing money for the roads, the railway, electricity, the schools, the health units, defence and law an order, the time has come for us to take up the cry of the people of Mubende to compensate those absentee landlords so that the legal Kibanja holders have ownership. We shall look for the money. The land fund has been there but it has been small.
I, however, also warn the dishonest people who enter other peoples’ land when they are not in one of the 5 categories. This is criminal. We shall protect the legal bibanja owners. We shall also protect the land-owners who are productively using their land. The country needs the big land owners that are using their land economically to grow cotton, tobacco, maize, sugar-cane, cattle ranching, forestry, coffee, fruits, dairy farming, etc., etc. Some of these enterprises cannot be economically viable on small pieces of land. Be legal and productive, we shall stand with you.
The NRM has opened a war on corruption. We shall defeat corruption. There is no corrupt individual that we cannot bring down. All we want is evidence. We never want to be unfair to anybody. Stay tunes on this.
Congratulations on finishing 2019 and I wish you a happy 2020.