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Mr. President, kids can now guess all the people to make your next cabinet!!

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Mr. President, kids can now guess all the people to make your next cabinet!!

No amount of ‘surgery’ on your current government will cause the kind of effectiveness and efficiency that this country needs right now

Cabinet2

President Museveni recently said bye to his cabinet team

Ten years ago, three medical doctors wrote a book that for the first time ever explained why infertility, In-Vitro-Fertilization (IVF) failures and recurrent miscarriages happen.

Until 2006, when this book hit the stores, the world did not know the cause of a majority of pregnancy complications. Majority of women issues such as premature delivery and stillbirth, IVF failure and infertility were often labeled “unexplained” by expert consultants.

In response to growing demand from women whose efforts to have a child were ending in tears, Dr. Alan Beer, an internationally acclaimed fertility specialist in the U.S.A, teamed up with Julia Kantecki, and Jane Reed to write a book entitled “Is Your Body Baby-Friendly?”

In the book, the three doctors identified and explained five categories of immune problems that can cause pregnancy loss, IVF failure and infertility. Their book was a product of pioneering tests and immune therapies for over 30 years, during which Alan helped over 7,000 couples and achieved a pregnancy success rate of more than 85%.

Mr. President, I was attracted into reading this book, not because my partner had fertility issues. No. The reason I decided to read the book was because I had faced ineffable difficulty in finding an answer to your government’s level of ‘infertility’. I was like: if scientists could manage to explain such a classic and arcane puzzle, they may as well help me out of my own brainteaser.

Recycling ministers

For years now I have asked the following questions and failed to get a convincing answer on any one of them:

(1) Why does President Museveni love to repeat experiments whose earlier results are in his own possession?

(2) Why does our President keep on recycling the very cabinet ministers he claims have let him down?

(3) Why does he often talk all the right things at his inauguration (zero tolerance to corruption, agricultural investment, job creation for the youth, etc.) but end up with “Steady Progress”?

(4) Who advises President Museveni on matters such as the economy?

(5) What exactly is President Museveni’s true vision?

I have since concluded that no Ugandan could answer these questions convincingly. When I inquired from those in yellow, they told me “Ramathan, it is you with a problem; Mzee is doing his best to keep the country stable, and he has achieved a lot. In 1986,…” The legendary NRM reference to extraneous past and present comparisons set in.

When I turn to those in blue, green, red and other colours, except of course yellow, they say: “That man has a mission; everything he is doing is on purpose. For example, why does he keep on reappointing thieves?….”  Asking the very questions I thought they could have answers for.

I think Mr. President you can see what I have endured for more than a decade now. That is why I ended up reading fertility books. I often tell the hundreds of young people I interact with on a daily that the NRM government may not be a bad government per se.

Kids can guess cabinet!

I also tell them that President Museveni is perhaps not a bad leader as such. The problem is that the NRM government has ended up ‘infertile’ because its leader has experienced so many unexplained ‘miscarriages’ in the last 30 years of his ‘marriage’. For example, consider the following miscarriages.

In the days gone by, President Museveni could go to Rwakitura prior to a cabinet reshuffle and the entire nation would wait in anticipation of an earthquake of sorts.

Today, even school children are like: teacher, I can guess the new government: Vice President, the other old man; Prime Minister, same; 1st Deputy Prime Minister, the other man who can’t walk; 2nd Deputy Prime Minister, this one who was on TV sleeping while addressing a press conference…

Seriously, Mr. President you need to rethink the composition of your government. It is now clear to everyone that the current structure of your government is not production-oriented. It may be good for your politics (of steady progress), but certainly it is injurious to the economy.

Mr. President, your government has turned into a ‘fire-brigading’ government. It only responds to issues after they have turned into crises. If teachers and nurses do not strike, their welfare is not a priority.

If a cancer machine has not broken down beyond repair, and citizens humiliate government by fundraising for selected cancer patients, no government official gives a monkey!

And since your government has preprogrammed into a crises managing government, the vocal elites have made it urban biased. Much of the government focus is around Kampala, Wakiso, or generally the urbanised corridor, running from Mbarara through Masaka, Kampala, Jinja, Tororo and Mbale.

No wonder over 65% of Uganda’s GDP is hosted in Greater Kampala, and about 35% of the total national GDP is produced in the Central Business District of Kampala (covering about 1 square kilometer in Nakasero).

And then we wonder why rural-urban migration has hit unsustainable levels, or specifically why the entire Uganda is migrating to Kampala. It is because the rural economy that employs 82% of Ugandans has remained stagnant, producing less than 25% of the total GDP.

Mr. President, your government also tends to emphasise “service delivery” as opposed to production of real goods and services. It emphasises production of public goods (roads, electricity, security and defence, markets, UPE, healthcare etc.) as opposed to facilitation of production of market products that people can sell to earn money. This structure of government is fit for a developed society not a society that is in transition as Uganda’s.

We need a productive government

And because the government has failed to facilitate production of tradable goods and services, it cannot raise enough tax revenues to provide the social services it keeps on promising.

Hundreds of mothers in Bundibugyo, Kisoro, Amudat, and other rural areas are losing their own lives as they try to give others a life! But since no one can post their images on Twitter and Facebook, government is not interested in addressing maternal healthcare in those remote areas.

Well, Mr. President, the reason I picked my pen this week was not to extend the lamentation we have made in the past two decades. I picked my pen to request you to do one thing: create two governments.

Let us have a production-oriented government and your usual government of dozing legends. Let the former be crafted out of a small team of well-vetted, young and smart Ugandans. Set for them clearly defined annual targets, pay them well, save them the unproductive bureaucracy plaguing the current system, do not interfere with their work, just wait for results.

This productive government should not be drawn from the political class. Let the politicians keep up with their conventional government of talking in parliament and at functions, caucusing, travelling, and begging for money to buy suits. The productive government should be a technical team of self-motivated professionals who are ready to serve their country at reasonable remuneration.

Someone may wonder why we need to keep the political government when we have put in place a technical one. Well, the political government is still relevant until it is shown by the productive government that it is actually irrelevant. We can afford to pay an extra cost, for couple of years, to prove to some Ugandans that this country can move from being an author of good policy documents to becoming an implementer of those policies.

My view is that we can condense the current bureaucracy in productive agencies into one ministry, within the existing government. That ministry may be called the Ministry of Rural Development (MORD).  Give MORD a reasonable vote in the budget. Zone the country and phase the resource allocation. I can assure you; this will lay a strong foundation in the next four years to transform this country.  The time to do this is now.

Mr. President, no amount of ‘surgery’ on your current government will cause the kind of effectiveness and efficiency that this country needs right now to go forward. Instead, we need some “creative destruction” in the structure of government if we are to make Uganda a middle income country by 2020. May I ask, Mr. President; is your body baby-friendly?

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Ramathan Ggoobi

Ramathan Ggoobi is Policy Analyst, and Researcher. He lecturers economics at Makerere University Business School (MUBS) and has co-authored several studies on Uganda's economy. For the past ten years, he has published a weekly column 'Are You Listening Mr. President' in The Sunrise Newspaper, Uganda's Leading Weekly

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