In the last one-week alone, President Yoweri Museveni nearly 80 years old, and 38 leading government, has engaged in several public meetings to propagate policy and penned two illustrative media articles, on Tin processing industry, and the current tax dispute by Kampala City traders under KACITA. These articles are of international repute on the direction Uganda, and indeed Africa ought to take to secure socio-economic transformation, emancipation, and liberation from historical dependence syndrome. So, in that sense Museveni remains one of the most vibrant and engaging on policy matters than any other leader in Uganda, but probably being let down by some of his officials entrusted with various dockets and responsibilities afraid to engage with controversial matters like the ongoing tax disputes with an aggressive, self-serving yet insufficiently informed business community accustomed to unethical practices like tax avoidance, evasion, and non-recordkeeping.

Otherwise, the dispute could have been amicably resolved earlier through joint consultations by the ministries of finance and trade, URA, KCCA, and representatives of the various business communities. Instead, President Museveni is now being overloaded with matters others should have solved and filed a report. Traders who are essentially tax collectors ought not dispute remitting collections.

Robert Kabushenga’s last week broadside on social media over the coffee debate illustrates a downward trend in public policy formulation, debate, implementation, supervision, acceptance, success, and as well NRM current internal dynamics. The otherwise revolutionary vanguard party appears to offer no sufficient space for a vibrant public discourse on critical national issues rendering open, if not confrontational disagreements with members and allies inevitable.

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Quoting anonymous cabinet sources, Kabushenga’s article claims that Finance minister Matia Kasaija, and that of Technology Dr Monica Musenero were whacked down “without debate” on a proposal to give additional 36bn to a ‘shady’ consortium that can’t deliver the desired results in coffee value-chain to benefit Uganda.

It’s quite absurd that the gigantic NRM political structure from CEC, NEC and parliamentary caucus has been turned dumb through calculated emasculation on major policy debate that it’s so difficult for a casual observer to know their real contribution or position on serious matters like power projects, NAADS, Prof. Muranga Banana project, Pinet Lubowa Specialised Hospital and Coffee projects, Operation Wealth Creation, Standard Guage Railway, Parish Development Model (PDM), the desired transformation in coffee, cotton, minerals sectors or ongoing mergers of government agencies some of which are being derailed by MPs reportedly on personal interests.

The NRM Secretariat looks more like a sitting duck that springs to life mostly whenever there is a by-election often shambolically managed and leaving a prolonged sour taste in the mouth and body itches. This lethargic state of affairs calls for an honest internal self-reflection and a robust public discourse if NRM seeks to regain the high ground so that no political minion finds it difficult to contest its success. It would also help NRM reset itself to deliver the high expectations that was set way back in 1986 and now appears abandoned in preference for a very low bar.

The NRM Secretariat, not just as an administrative block, but the party’s political think tank ought to publicly, consistently, robustly, and persuasively articulate the different dimensions of its manifesto to generate broad and specific interests, acceptance, uptake, and implementation success. Yet although overwhelmingly dominant in parliament, the discourse there, isn’t deep enough or encouraging, and often unbacked by verifiable evidence, and thus unpersuasive.

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In today’s Uganda, NRM should not have leaders who simply parrot Museveni’s words without much content or context well-calibrated to suit specific audiences as happened last week when ministers presided over multiple graduation ceremonies for Presidential Skilling hubs across the country. Otherwise, dark clouds could be on the horizon.


The post OFWONO OPONDO: President Museveni, Robert Kabushenga’s broadside,  and the coffee debate  appeared first on Watchdog Uganda.


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