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Home // Speech on the occasion of International Labour Day

Speech on the occasion of International Labour Day

Countrymen, Countrywomen and the Workers;

 

I wish to extend congratulations to you on reaching the Labour day. Although the circumstances are slightly different, but at least we are there

As you know, we have been fighting this virus and as I said in my addresses, we seem to be getting there. Up to now, we have 83 cases detected in Uganda; 53 are Ugandans, 30 are non-Ugandans and mainly East Africans - from Kenya and from Tanzania and 2 from Burundi and then a Canadian, some Chinese and an Indian. Nobody has died. The majority of them were sick and have been discharged from the hospitals in Entebbe, Mulago, Masaka, Adjumani and Hoima. Others who have not yet been discharged are doing well. There was a rumour that some driver who died in Lachor Hospital, died from Corona.  It is not true. He had other medical issues which are clear.  He was tested and he was negative of Corona. So, nobody has died of Corona here in Uganda, yet.

However, today is the day of Labour, not a day of Corona. We shall talk about Corona early next week because I will be briefing you.

The onset of Corona has challenged leaders in the world. Leaders want to lead when things are easy. However, when things are difficult, the story is different. There has been a lot of panic because of this virus and it has shaken up the whole world. However, I am not part of that panic. I am not pessimistic in any way. There are those who are very pessimistic. They say: “Things are going to collapse”. I am not part of that and I am glad. That is why I am not reading the prepared speech. The prepared speech was there. I said: “No, I have got my head on my shoulders. Let me talk to the workers myself, not to relay what other people think, but what I think”.

The challenge we have is now not only the health we are struggling with, but the economy. What the NRM has believed in for a long time since the 1970s, is that there are really two types of economies: what I call the real economy for survival and for livelihood. The economy that people need in order to survive and to live a good life. This is one type of economy. Then, there is the economy of pleasure and leisure. If I was to put it in Runyankore, you know there is the economy of Okubaho, to survive and the economy of omwiguto, when you are satisfied and you want to have pleasure. The big mistake of some of our actors here in Uganda for sure and may be in other parts of the world, has been not to understand, that there is the economy for real survival and livelihood and the economy for leisure and pleasure.

Real Economy for Livelihood and Survival has 9 Sectors:

Sector One is Food - producing food and processing it. So, all those activities involved in producing food, processing it and transporting it are very crucial for the survival of human beings.

The second sector is clothing. This is because, here, you are trying to deal with the basic human needs. Once you deal with food, the next need you have to deal with is clothing because you cannot go naked. You need clothes.

The third need is shelter - where to be. You need a house where to live.

The fourth one is medicine. If I am sick, where do I go for treatment?

The fifth one is Defence or security, these are the spears, the shields and the arrows which our people used to use to protect themselves. But, of course, now we are talking about new types of spears. We are not talking about the other old ones.

So, these five are the basic human needs. Food, clothing, shelter, medicine and security. But you cannot get these five unless you do something else. That is what gives you the sixth sector, infrastructure. How will you process food if you do not have electricity? How will you transport it if you do not have the roads and the railway? How will you have factories if you do not have piped water? You need piped water to clean those factories.

Telephones have now become important for communication. In the olden days, in Ntungamo, I could stand somewhere near Nteera and shout; I would call: “Iwee!!!” and the people would hear. That can no longer work. We shout through the phone. That is how we communicate. So, that is the sixth sector which is very crucial - the need for the utilities that enable the other five sectors to operate.

I have talked about medicine and you can have medicine but you do not have the infrastructure to dispense it. So, you need the infrastructure of health. The health centers, that network and the employees; the personnel to deal with health. So that is crucial area number seven.

Number 8 is Education because to do all the other things we have talked about, you need education - educated people. Education gives you the literacy; the ability to read and write, the numeracy; to count, the skills, to do things with skills and intellectuality, to be highly knowledgeable and able to deal with big problems.

Originally, I had thought about these eight but when I interacted with some people, they pointed out something else. They asked me how I deal with corruption. They told me that the only way to deal with corruption, apart from taking people to Kyankwanzi, is to deal with the spiritual side. To sensitize people and they know that they are not only accountable to man here but they are also accountable to God. So, Spirituality is need number nine. If you have these, you can survive and even thrive.

Which is the other economy which the other people are crying about? The economy of pleasure and leisure. One of my daughters had abandoned me with my cows and went into tourism in Bwindi with the Bafumbira. This is a new activity for the Basiita, for my clan, not to be in cows or crops and you go to take people to see wild animals. If I can make money, alright but if it cannot, I am not worried. I can go to look after my cows.  

Therefore, some of these sectors like tourism, hotels, entertainment, bars, music, dancing, sports; you know I am a sports man; but if the football matches are cancelled, I will not die. I will wait. These are really economies of leisure and pleasure. The good fortune, where I want all of us to concentrate, is the economy of survival and livelihood. It is not so vulnerable and it is not so sensitive.

The other economy of Tourism, one incident of a terrorist throwing a bomb, the tourist cancels, “Ooh! there is a danger of terrorism”. Sometimes the governments, especially western Governments, are fond of undermining our economies. They give advisory: “We think it is not safe to go to Uganda”. The bookings are cancelled. As you have seen with this pandemic, it became hard for people to travel. Even if we had not banned travel, I am sure people were going to cancel travel by themselves because they were afraid.

So, in real economy, for instance, with food, whether there is war, whether there is an epidemic, food will be needed. Sometimes, it will even be needed more than when there was no problem.

Therefore, Ugandans, I would like to reorient your thinking and that is what I have been telling the ministers. If you look at these sectors, there is alot of money which we have been either not getting or losing to the outside and jobs.

If you start with the food sector and you are to look at the imports of Uganda. Uganda is still importing animal feeds. Why should Uganda import animal feeds? These are from Kyakyu, which is from maize. We have alot of maize; we do not know where to sell it. The other time the price had to collapse, but yet we are importing animal feeds. So, let that gap be closed. No more importing animal feeds. Let our private sector, assisted by the UDB, go into that area and make sure that there is no importation of animal feeds. How much money will that save us and how many jobs will it create? It is what I am challenging you now to analyze.

Then you come to Sugar. The Basoga were crying with Ebikadho, “ebikadho bingi kamaala”, the sugar cane is too much. Biryeyo e Busoga. Ebikadho bityayimye. The sugar canes are there. Then, when you look at the import figures of Uganda, Uganda is importing sugar - what they call Industrial grade sugar. Uganda, East African industries do not make sugar for putting in Coca Cola. The only sugar they are making is this one for kachai - for tea. When I looked at the figures, that sugar that was taking about 30million dollars from our Forex earnings, going to buy refined sugar used for making Coca Cola, I got surprised. We have got a factory for making medicines, called Cipla Pharmaceuticals (Quality Chemicals). They use what they call Pharmaceutical grade sugar. It is like the one which is used for syrups for children but that sugar is not here. They must import it from India, from china and that is why the tablets are still expensive because they import pharmaceutical grade sugar from abroad.

So, on the side of food there is a lot of potential in processing and there is import substitution but also exporting to other countries. The Banyankore had started interfering with my work. The other time, I went there and found them saying, “Milk! milk! milk!”. I said: “What is wrong with milk’’? Amate gaitu (our milk). They were quarreling with my Indians, the ones I brought. They were quarreling with the Indians without consulting with me first. You do not know the problems of this world. Tubatukyalyawo, when we were still there, because of the milk we have encouraged to increase, there is so much milk now. Milk had gone from 200 million litres a year to 2.6 billion. When the rains came, Kenya said it did not want to import our milk because they had more milk. The milk was threatening to have no market.

Fortunately, one of the Indians whom I had brought was not processing milk for drinking - either as fresh milk or as drinking milk.  He was getting a protein called caseinout of milk which they use for baby food, for supplements and for medicine.  That man is taking much of the milk now and it is going to the USA.

Look at cassava and even maize. Some of the things you put in the medicines is what they call Industrial grade starch which can be used in making tablets. So, on the subject of food, I have written a document, there is an endless list of what you can do with food in terms of industry, which can bring in more money and even jobs.

Then you now go to clothing. We are importing a big number of clothes, even these curtains were imported from China. If you look at what Honourable people here are wearing, there is a big market. Except me. Except for trousers, but I would not come here without trousers. And for the shirt, at least, I am not part of the group. If you look at money for the imports for clothes, it is quite a lot of money.

Then, there are all the other things like the hospital linen and many other things. Let us stop imports of clothes, support import substitution and also exports in Africa.

The global demand for clothes is very huge. I think its 900 billion dollars. They are all in my document here.

So, from the clothes, we go to the shelter. For building, we are no longer importing cement. That is good. We make some mitayimbwa (steel bars).  The other time, I went to Moroto to open a Marble factory, but there are still some kinds of Mitayimbwa which you cannot make using recycled steel because we are still using recycled steel-scrap metal.

These dams and big houses, like this one, will not accept this kind of steel.  Therefore, we are going to develop our Steel industry from iron ore (Obutare) to make fresh steel. But also, not to do only that but alloy it - to mix it with other metals which have been exported like nickel and many others. We have them but people have not been using them. Only that sector will create alot of jobs.

Then we go to medicine, we are importing alot of the medicine; tablets, injectables and vaccines. All these take a lot of money and we are going to make them here. We are going to support groups like Quality Chemicals, like the one for making disinfectants for Corona, Saraya and the one that will manufacture Hydroxyl Chloroquine.

I spoke to the Prime Minister of India, he is going to send us some of these tablets but also send us raw materials to help us make some of our vaccines here, even the vaccines, the injectables not only for human beings, but also for livestock. We are going to make them here.

Defence weapons. We have already started but we are going to expand and rely on ourselves. We are going to make weapons for our defence. Because this is part of the artificiality of the African economies. How can you have a country which cannot defend itself? Our ancestors were making spears for themselves. They were not importing them. They were not importing arrows, but now we are importing everything. What kind of people are we? And all those are jobs. We spend a lot of money importing many things. The surveillance cameras we put on the road to record the bad things the people are doing, they were imported. Why don’t we make them here? The cameras on the roads and the anti-riot equipment. We need all these things here. We are going to make sure that we double our efforts.

In order to do all that, we need the infrastructure; the roads and the electricity. That one, we are doing well. That is why I am sure it will be easy for us to re-orient the economy.

Education, we are doing well. The only lacking thing is for us to have the skills. And you Members of Parliament, support my plea of paying scientists well. Seek first the kingdom of Heaven, the rest will be added unto you. Pay the scientists well.

When we had Corona, the doctors were the ones on the frontline. I have not seen any administrator there in the ward of Corona. I see my young doctors and my young nurses are the ones on the frontline. When we had the problem of the dam being attacked by the floating island, the Engineers are the ones who were there. May be the other people who were there, were the rumour mongers, the press men.

For them they were not adding anything, they were just waiting for my engineers who struggled and solved that problem.

Then, there is the issue of the locusts in Karamoja. There, the Army are the ones who did most of the work. So, really, if you want your country to stabilize, all of you, before you start saying: “This one, this one, this one”. Please, let us first stabilize our scientists. These people can do so many things. You have seen what they have done with the Corona. Look at all of them. There is no single foreigner amongst them. This gives me a lot of happiness because I know what the situation was in 1961 when I went to Ntare for the first time. There were 40 teachers, only two were African. The rest were whites. But when I see the hospitals full of Africans and the dams, it is very good.

We are mishandling our Scientists. This must stop. The Scientists must be paid first. I am tired of begging.  The other time, even in my Caucus, I brought a suggestion to pay Scientists better including schools. Then, one of my people said: “Yes, we are all teachers”. Yes, but when the dam was going to break, I did not see you go to read Shakespeare to the dam. This one, the Banyankore say, “Twingane etuura aha maarwa”. When people are drunk, they say, “Gw’onsinzaaki? I am also a man. But when you are sober, you discover that the other man is much better than you. This “twingane”, I do not support it. It is undermining. These scientists can solve alot of problems. They are so knowledgeable. They are running here and there to support their children. Nevertheless, some of them have private clinics. That is why some of them have these clinics. If we pay these doctors, we can say: “Nobody should have double loyalty’’. You will have a high quality medical service.

So with number six, I want us to solve that issue. You the people involved. Now, the others are clear. Once we have the nine, we shall have a bigger economy. Yes, we have lost tourism. Agriculture, forestry and fisheries, 3 million people are working there; manufacturing, 700,000 people; in trade, 2 million. Those can remain there but instead of importing, they can distribute our own goods. I do not mind you trading but you distribute ours. We do not want to say that once we do not import, they will lose jobs. No, they will just reorient. You can distribute or more so export. Why are you a trader by importing? So, I do not think that these ones are in trouble.

Hotels restaurants and bars; those were employing 321,000 people. Arts, entertainment and sports, 386,000. So you can see that the big sectors are still there.

Agriculture is still there and manufacturing is still there. We just have to consolidate them and expand them. The other economies will come back after the situation in the world stabilizes.

I was looking at the figures in 1994. Our economy grew by 11%. That was the highest rate of growth when we had stabilized the economy. We had upgraded the Owen Falls Dam. So, the economy grew by 11%. When I looked at tourism, the tourists in Uganda were only 157,000. They were very few. The economy was growing although tourism was low. It did not have yet a good reputation.

Therefore, I do not share this pessimism of some sectors that have suffered; but there are some sectors where we can do much better. Who will do what? The government will do its part even in terms of manufacturing. The government gave my office some small money for manufacturing and I told Nakyobe, the State House Comptroller, to solve some issues systematically. The area we shall begin with is leather. We have 15 million cows, 15.6 million goats, 4 million sheep but we have been importing shoes and importing all leather. So, I told Nakyobe to solve the problem of leather. Some of our young people are making shoes because we are encouraging them and we even trained them at Kololo, but they are using imported leather. I do not know where they import it from. Uganda, the land of Balunzi, does not have leather for making shoes. Omusoga akoba amaliba. How do you call maliba? Amawu? That is real Runyankore. We, who are cattle keepers, tuzira amawu. So, I have told Nakyobe to solve the issue of leather and she has imported machines. We are going to put them somewhere and process leather. So that issue of leather is solved.

I am working with Archibishop Odama on the issue of starch. We are going to use starch for medicine, factories etc.

The other Indians of Mayuge, Buikwe, we have agreed that they solve the issue of Industrial grade sugar. We are going to systematically allocate responsibilities okugabana emmimbi. Some will be done by government through UDB and many will be done by the private sector. The private sector has responded and you have seen how they have made the sanitizers. Sanitizers were a problem when this virus started. There was only one factory in Jinja owned by a Japanese in the whole of East Africa. Kenyans were buying from here. Then some people here were saying: “We need the sanitizers, do not export”. I said: “I do not want to hear that language here”. I said: “I am a person of God”. You cannot hear people dying and you say: “The little that is there, is only mine”. And you go to hell. Those who want to go, you can go but do not take me. I said:

“I will not allow”. The little that is there, we shall share it. And in no time, my alcohol (waragi) makers, the ones who are making (waragi) for “killing” you people, shifted to now making sanitizers because alcohol (waragi) is a small sanitizer. Apparently, it is about 30%. Now, if you boil it more, it gets to 70% and it becomes a sanitizer. Now, the alcohol (waragi) which was killing our people, has found a new job - to kill the virus. That industry is taking off.

Then the masks. Very soon we may require people to wear masks. Nytil is already making them and Fine Spinners is already making them. Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), Doctor Kwesiga is also going to make them. Gloves, protective wear of hospital staff and many other things are going to be made here. By creating jobs, we shall change the economy of Uganda from being an economy of dependency, to being an independent economy and export-oriented.

In order to do that, we are going to change the capital base of UDB so that they can lend to all these different lines of entreprises at low interest.

Therefore, on this Labour day, I want to cheer you up. Do not listen to these people who are talking doom. ‘They are going to collapse!’’ Yes, they may collapse elsewhere but not here.

This is because here, we have got a strong base, aye titujiidhi - Omusoga akooba. It is a very strong base but people do not know it because they behave artificially.

On the small issues of how to handle workers in this crisis; my advice would be - this business of laying off workers is not a good idea. Things are going to improve. So, why do you lay off? You do not even weigh the words. Because they hear people in Europe laying off, they also lay off. If they sleep on the road, you also sleep on the road. Why don’t you say: “You go home for this month because I have no money to pay and I have not been working. You have seen that for yourselves”. That’s reasonable: “You go home, when we resume, I will call you”. Your own workers, if you have been satisfied with them, why not send them on leave? You may not even have money to pay them, they will understand because they have seen that you have not worked. Why do you use the language of laying off? Why not send on leave, until the situation clears?

If you follow my plan, which is in all my other documents which I will give you, this economy will grow much bigger than it has been. And there are other fair weather sectors because this one of food, clothing, shelter, medicine are all ─ weather sectors. They will never go away as long as you people are there.

Even when there is war, they will be there. The other sectors are there when the weather is fair. They come and go away.

Therefore, I congratulate you and I can assure you that even the fair weather sectors will come back. I think during this crisis, quite a number of people in the world have seen that Uganda may be safer than many parts of the world. You people who like to travel, I only travel when I have no alternative. When I go there, there is a lot of air conditioning. I feel like I am dying from there. Otherwise, when I get little time, I go to Rwakitura or Kisozi because I have never seen any part of the world which is better than Uganda. I do not know what you are looking for abroad unless you have different eyes from mine.

I suspect if God gets us through this crisis, even these opportunistic sectors, of tourism, the fair weather, may be rushed here because people have been watching. This place seems to be stable. Some of my people rang me from London before we closed saying: “Please, please get me from London”.

 So, some of the fair weather sectors may be rushed here, including the medical. This is because the reputation of your medical people has gone up. Those young people are discharging all those people who were sick. I think those sectors will come back; but let us concentrate on these ones. Sensitize the workers, tell them: “If you have been in tourism and it has got a problem, why don’t you look at these other sectors? Then we can work out a plan of skilling and we enhance these technical skills.

So, with these few words, I congratulate all the workers of Uganda and all the Ugandans.

Next week I will be talking about the way forward as far as the lock down is concerned. Thank you very much

I wish you good luck.  

 

 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020
  • KEY ISSUES
  • Peace and Stability
  • Good governance, democracy and security
  • Fighting Corruption
  • Growth and Development
  • Youth and Women
  • Agricultural Development
  • Better Education
  • Improved Health