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Counting NRM Gains Amidst Negativity

By Ofwono Opondo

May, 14, 17  
Two weeks of Dir. Stella Nyanzi’s political saber-rattling with profanity that gave the media shouting headlines like ‘pair of buttocks’ and pads for school girls, one would imagine that is all there is in Uganda’s political discourse, when in fact so much good progress is underway. But now that she is securely remanded in Luzira prison over infractions with the law, one hope is that some sense will prevail, especially to know and appreciate that in the long run it doesn’t pay to always be the outlier in society.
Unfortunately with the rise of social media, when the mob now reigns, it appears every one is clever and informed with the truth, thereby negating the long-held standard that certain disciplines require expert knowledge developed over long periods of time. While the internet ought to have opened platforms for constructive dialogue, in Uganda there is so much intolerance characterized by insolent language.
Still on Nyanzi, critics would want to portray that her tribulations as victimization and harassment by a government that loathes criticism, which isn’t the case because if it were so, thousands would be in jail for the daring they exhibit today. I submit that the NRM government and especially President Yoweri Museveni is the most tolerant, not as a political favour, but liberation and revolutionary calling. And on June 22 and 23, 2017, Museveni together with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres will co-convene a refuge solidary conference in Kampala to showcase our good performance admired around the world and surely that can’t be evidence of intolerance at home.
But amidst the negativities, National Resistance Movement (NRM) still counted major gains in the course of the past two weeks leaving its main political rival the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) gnashing its teeth. From the positive side of things, Uganda went through three parliamentary by-elections in Aruu county, Moroto district woman, and Kamuli Municipality which helped the NRM maintain its grip on Uganda’s electoral democracy. In Aruu county and Moroto district, FDC couldn’t find suitable candidates and therefore didn’t field any, letting the NRM walk on the high ground. While in Aruu the NRM lost to an independent candidate, Lucy Aciro, in Moroto, NRM’s Stella Atyang was returned un-opposed.
In Kamuli municipality, the voters there once again slammed doors hard on the face of FDC firebrand lady and Vice president, Proscenia Salaamu Musumba. So, it will be fifteen years that voters have helped the NRM keep Musumba out of parliamentary stage in three straight election rows. And she cries foul, many analysts will find it difficult to sympathise with her because they know that Musumba, like her party, are just turning out as bad losers who find it hard to honorably accept defeat.
For the NRM, we should be very pleased that those who rub us the wrong way, usually unfairly are dealt decisive blows firmly and appropriately. Thus, the shutting out from parliament, of the likes of Musumba, John Kazzora, Miria Matembe, Wafula Oguttu, Geoffrey Ekanya, Paul Mwiru, Alice Alaso, and Kasiano Wadri should be a celebration, and if they are reading this column, they should know how we feel about them. No regrets really.
Minister caught in an anti-corruption snare…whether he was at fault or not by itself signifies that it won’t be business as usual, after all it was President Museveni who has consistently told whoever has cared to listen that he has received numerous reports of infractions by ministers, MPs, PSs and other senior government officials who accost investors for personal favours. These include, direct cash, shares in companies, business trips abroad, or even university tuition for their children to study abroad.
In the latest strategy on the “war” on corruption Uganda is scoring major successes hitherto unseen. The new teams at KCCA, UNRA, DPP, Auditor General, Parliament, Inspectorate of Government, judiciary, and the treasury have curbed graft.
As a clean-up in the public pay system particular civil service payroll through the Integrated  Personnel and Payroll System (IPPS) , government is now saving up to 300 bn/= annually. This system captures individual worker’s personal details and payments to all civil servants are made using this system. Government also decentralized the salary and pension payroll to districts, where the intended beneficiaries are verified before payment is effected.
In addition government closed down thousands of accounts previously held and operated by ministries, departments and agencies, and now operates one account at the Central bank.  Any form of transaction carried out is tagged on the individual who transact, is traceable and held accountable in case of suspected fraud. While these measures are not 100% foul proof as some sophisticated criminals may design beating it, it is step in the right direction, and is working well so far as is not so easy as used to be.
As a direct dividend of peace and massive investment in security, Uganda’s economy has grown more than 18 times at an average of seven percent per annum in the last two decades. Poverty levels have fallen to 19 percent according to the 2014 national census report, and Uganda currently ranks among the top 10 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) destinations in Africa, according to the most World Bank report.