Depending on how one read the recent International Republican Institute (IRI) poll on Uganda, IRI is about the US Republican party. This GOP – Grand Old Party – the IRI being one of its institutions, is partisan towards the NRM. This is because President Barack Obama, being a democrat, has not been in good books with the NRM. This is especially since his Cairo speech, which ushered in the Arab Spring; and the Accra speech, which criticized African countries, Uganda inclusive, for posing as being democratic, whereas not.
From this standpoint, it is reasonable to conclude that the assertion that Uganda is “headed in the right direction”, was a tongue-in-cheek remark, when you consider that IRI does not want to tarnish its own reputation as a think tank in a democratic dispensation. That is why when one takes a closer look at the poll, it tends to merely step on things here and there.
Firstly, it says that it did its research in collaboration with a Ugandan firm, Hatchline Consult. And then, their own conclusion is that, half of the people in Uganda fear telling what is on their minds. Consider that Hatchline itself is in this fear. Moreover, it says that the response rate was only 79%, meaning that from the outset, 21% of the population was cut off. When one considers all this data, it obviously indicates that the poll was skewed.
It shows that the real response was from a base of less than 40%. And it is safe to assume that this percentage is the people who are the NRM themselves and/or are “eating” in the NRM regime. This is the population that has accepted to be steeped in lies, theft and wickedness, which are the hallmarks of the NRM regime, to the extent that the country is now mired in a complete moral collapse.
This week’s cover story by the weekly Independent news magazine, that considerably and consistently reports favourably on the NRM regime, says that President Yoweri “Museveni has failed on poverty, democracy and fighting corruption”, yet Ugandans still give him the benefit of doubt. No wonder the fear factor again creeping on this, where the whole country has informers creeping all over the place as GISOs (Gombolola Intelligence Security Officers) to DISOs, their district counterparts.
The IRI poll also tends to contradict itself. It says that 69% of the respondents claim that the regime has failed to fight corruption and at the same time says that a similar statistic says that the regime has performed well in reducing crime, improving social services in health, having clean water, infrastructure and education. And yet it is from the same country that USAID – the United States Agency for International Development – a donor that gives Uganda money in all these areas.
In its operations USAID does not trust the NRM regime to disperse the funds it donates, preferring that other sub-donors disperse those funds. It is an indication that IRI should have been more careful in coming to its blanket conclusions. For instance, how come a government that is good in fighting crime is unable to protect Joan Kagezi, one of its star prosecutors, let alone the run of the mill of the Ugandan population?
The fact is that the social services sector is crumbling: merely visit the health subsector in which the regime praised itself for establishing the health centers from 1 to 1V, and you will agree with what I am trying to cite. There is a recent attempt to refurbish Mulago Referral Hospital, after many year of decline. These are high profile show cases that are done when the general elections are round the corner to fool the people. What about all those years of decline, where was the regime?
The much stumped-for education system which sings about the Universal Primary Education (UPE) now accepts that Uganda is on the road to produce a high proportion of semi-literate people. And the universities are spewing unemployed and unemployable people. This is tempered by constant reports of cheating at exams. And the regime is powerless or uninterested in correcting the rot.
Talk of infrastructure. At one point about five years ago, a minister of Energy went on the airwaves to claim that the issue of power outages would end in one month. We are now more that five years’ down the line and the lie is being ably contradicted with the incessant blackouts.
All this is underscored by the incredible level of theft in high places. The official policy is that “corruption is evil”; and yet the people who are mentioned or known as being involved in all forms of theft are those in high places. In this the IRI poll has come to at least a fair conclusion. The NRM regime is certainly not interested to clean its own dirty act.