58th Independence Day Celebrations
Fellow Ugandans and Members of the Media
I take this honour to announce that Uganda will on the 9th October 2020 celebrate its 58th Independence Day anniversary. Unlike in the past, this year’s celebrations will be held in a “scientific” manner in what is now termed as the new normal. A few VVIPs will join H.E the president at State House Entebbe to celebrate the day.
This year’s theme is; “Celebrating Uganda’s steady progress towards economic take off and self-sustaining economic growth”. The Ceremony will be presided over by H.E President Yoweri Museveni.
There will be no traditional programmes and fanfare because as a country we are still observing the Ministry of Health Guidelines of the Standard Operating Procedures as we manage the Covid-19 pandemic, which is fully in our midst. The day’s programme will be aired live on all television and radio channels across the country. As most of us are aware, Uganda got her independence in 1962 from our then colonial masters, the British. The journey since that time has not been an easy one because it has been characterised by many ups and downs. This indeed was by design. Our colonial masters handed us independence with a lot of confusion and tricky unresolved political issues that have made part of our journey very catastrophic.
However, like Kwame Nkrumah once observed; “Those who would judge us merely by the heights we have achieved would do well to remember the depths from which we started.”
No words can sum it up better as we are all familiar with our colonial era journey and its ups and downs. Tribute goes to all those who have paid the supreme sacrifices in the cause of nation building.
To stand does not mean that you can’t or won’t fall, but to fall, rise, stand and move forward is what makes an undisputable achievement. Indeed since 9th October 1962 to date, Uganda has stumbled and even fallen, but we have taken it in our strides, risen, stood firmly and made fundamental steps forward.
True independence enables the benefiting nations to build self-confidence, realise their full potential and lead a life of dignity and fulfilment, a life free from exploitation and / or any social and political oppression. Indeed, Ugandans attained full possession of their sovereignty and began on the road to decide and shape their destiny through democratic means.
But achieving our destiny requires a deliberate, qualitative change in all aspects of our lives; especially, in the structure of our economy, the nature of our infrastructure, the education of our young people and acquisition of skills, and, above all, in our attitudes and holding firm to the values that define us.
Ugandans today live almost twice as long as the independence generation. This is thanks, in part, to recent programmes that make medical equipment available to parts of the country once under-served. Thanks, to the NRM administration’s free maternal care programme, so far infant and child mortality has been tremendously reduced giving hope to thousands of mothers, Referral Hospitals, Health Centre IVs, Health Centre IIIs and Health Centre IIs have been constructed across the country to further enhance universal health care in Uganda. The Ministry of Health has ensured that 100% of our children are immunized against all the 13 preventable diseases and routine immunization services are provided at all health facilities and outreaches conducted in all districts within the country.
The Government of Uganda introduced Universal Primary and Secondary Education and partially in tertiary institutions and virtually every child in our country benefits from free education, an opportunity open to fewer hundreds at independence. We have over 10.78 million children in our primary schools, 1.95 million in secondary schools and these are supported by the government of Uganda.
Uganda’s economic growth has averaged 7% over the last 30 years. We have sustained single-digit inflation over a long time to date. Government will be implementing National Development Plan (NDP) III and focus on strategic objectives such as enhancing value addition to the productive sectors, which include agro-processing, mineral led industrialization, oil refinery among others.
The above areas are expected to support the sustainable and accelerated growth. The call now is to work strategically and harness the opportunities at hand.
However, without risking taking the path of neo-mercantilism, the NRM Government is aware that, no meaningful national unity, security and prosperity can occur without lifting the 68% households in subsistence agriculture to the market economy especially in value addition and producing for export. Agriculture remains the main thrust of Uganda’s economic growth with agriculture based products and it employs over 70 % of our people. All efforts to uplift this sector are being put in place to achieve full mechanization in this sector.
Industrialization is another critical pillar of our economic independence and government has wasted no time to realize this dream.
The Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) set out a Strategic Plan to acquire and develop 22 Industrial Parks in Uganda. Currently 9 Industrial Parks are at different levels of implementation including: Namanve, Luzira, Bweyogerere, Soroti, Mbale, Kasese, Moroto, Mbarara and Jinja.
The government has built physical infrastructure in the form of availability of energy and water in most homes. The government has also built connectivity infrastructure in the form of wider, better highways as well as airports in the interior of our country. The government has equally built legal infrastructure by re-writing obsolete laws to make life easier for our people.
Finally, the unity of our people is another hallmark that defines our treasured independence. Unity does not mean we agree on all things. But it is a requirement for our country to be able to have the stability that will enable us to invest in it without fear. Our founding fathers knew when they won independence that there was no going back to the political structures that preceded colonialism. The world had changed too much, there were too many dangers to our freedom if we did not come together to forge a new nation. This is the reason why all Ugandans today join their countrymen / women to look back upon the dark days and conduct an evaluation of our collective effort in the journey towards economic takeoff and self-sustaining economic growth.
It is for this consideration that, these celebrations will focus on the NRM government’s performance in this regard.
Wishing all safe and happy celebrations.
Hon Esther Mbayo MP
Minister for Presidency