At least three trends in Uganda’s political reactions were indicated in the just-concluded visit of the president of the Republic of South Korea (ROK or South Korea). There were; the highlighted, the glossed-over and the not-thought-over or ignored.
Probably the most recognizable landmark of ROK’s involvement in Uganda, up to now, is the establishment of Kumi University. It was set up in 1996 by a Missionary couple from South Korea; Hyeong Lyeol Lyu and his wife, Min Ja Lee. Apart from drawing resources from some educational institutions in South Korea, it also got its inspiration from the African Leadership Institute associated with the reknowned Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.
As South Korean President Park Geun-Hye was being feted in Kampiringisa for the setting up of the youth employment center, attention should also have been given to Kumi University, as an educational institution that feeds the factors of employment-creation. So, it merited her attention to have been brought to bear as to accentuate the importance of this institution.
This is especially so given the fact that on her third leg of the visit in the East African region in Kenya, President Park went to Machakos to inaugurate the Nyonza Satellite City, whose highlight is the setting up of a university of Science and Technology there, whose flagstaff will be an ICT – information, communication and technology center. Kumi University would have benefitted from an enhancement of its own ICT department, among other things, from Park and her team’s attention. This was most likely not thought about.
As such any mouthing about Uganda moving into a middle income country will stay merely as such, if all the tents of employment are not considered. No country can develop without optimal employment of its citizens. The example is South Korea that was in the same status as Uganda in 1962.
As usual when there is a major event in Kampala, the city dwellers suffer from a traffic snag that has become its endemic feature. That was not surprising seeing that the Martyrs’ Day celebrations are also on.
There was a mammoth traffic congestion that affected the southern part of the city, especially Entebbe Road. Travelers wanting to access the Entebbe International Airport were especially hit. In one incident a traveler wishing to go to the airport was shuttled from Clock Tower back to Kisugu, then to Makindye, more still to Nateete, where eventually the Traffic Police told him to “go away”, to nowhere; even they did not know.
And these are the workers of the Government who are supposed to know. What is more surprising was the statement made on NTV station by the Director of the Traffic Police, Dr. Steven Kasiima. He said that such cases could not happen, “If the motorists were disciplined….” By all accounts this was an outrageous statement coming from the very person whose role and job is to make the motorists “disciplined”.
As it is, in Kampala, one may not be faulted in saying that the Traffic Police have become part of the traffic jams problem. It is amazing that the boda boda cyclists are a traffic rule among themselves. At every intersection, even where the Traffic Police are stationed, the cyclists just pass by even when the Traffic Police have indicated otherwise. And there is no sanction at all against the cyclists.
In one-way streets, the cyclists will go the wrong way while the Traffic Police look on unconcerned. This is unacceptable – but perhaps understandable, when the boss of the Traffic Police admits inability. And this is glossed over.
Initially, what the Government concentrated and highlighted on was humouring President Park on Uganda’s relations with the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea). It was certainly music to her ears to learn that Uganda had “cut off” military ties with North Korea in the training of its security staff; and the condemnation of DPRK on its missile tests and threats to South Korea. It so happened that as she was in the country, North Korea carried out an abortive missile threat over the Yellow Sea.
Apart from following the United Nations resolutions on the nuclear proliferation, that wants to limit countries such as North Korea from developing their own nuclear arsenals, this announcement went some way to mollify relations with the United States that were recently strained when the American Ambassador walked out of the inauguration proceedings over the caustic statement made by President Yoweri Museveni about the “useless” International Criminal Court.
Such was the highlight that even NTV interviewed the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, James Mugume, over the Uganda-DPRK relations.