HH the Aga Khan;
H.E. the Vice President;
The Right Hon. Speaker of Parliament;
Hon. Chief Justice;
The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister;
Members of Parliament;
Your Excellencies, the Ambassadors and High Commissioners;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I would like to take this opportunity to salute and congratulate all Ugandans on the occasion of marking Uganda’s 55th Independence Anniversary. I wish to welcome all our foreign friends and guests to this Independence Day Celebrations in Bushenyi. In particular, I would like to welcome our Guest of Honour, HH Aga Khan. His community, the Ismailis, have for a long time contributed to the Economy of Uganda. In my village of Ntungamo from the time of my grand fathers, there were four Indian families, all of them apparently Ismaili, that provided us with all the shop goods ─ textiles (emyeenda), cattle salt (omwoonyo), parafffin (amashita g’etaala), bicycles (amaagari), some cattle drugs (gamatox, etc), scholastic materials (exercise books, pens, pencils, etc), some non-prescription human drugs (aspro, de-wormers, etc), suitcase (eshanduuko, etc), etc., etc. This gave us time to concentrate on our cattle, goats and crops. The Ismaili families in Ntungamo were: Budala (Abdallah); Haali (Ali) and his mother, Nyina-Haali (the mother of Ali); and Hadi (Hadji). In 1956, they were joined by two Yemeni Arabs (Abasiiri ─ Washihiri). These were: Bumbakare (Abubakar) and another one.
The colonization and domination of Africa by the imperialist forces remains one of the most significant historical disruptions of Africa’s progress. Apart from undermining the right of the Africans to self-determination, the period of colonial rule was characterized by deliberate efforts to destroy indigenous skills, knowledge and technology. Yet all civilization, the world over, has always been built around knowledge, science and technology.
At the time of colonization, Africa had made significant strides in the development of knowledge, science and technology. For example, we already had Geologists capable of discerning rocks with iron or copper. We also had skilled craftsmen who were able to make useful implements from these metals.
However, by the time Africa freed herself from the yoke of colonialism, crucial indigenous knowledge had been lost. Achieving independence from foreign domination was, therefore, a significant opportunity towards self-determination and socio-economic transformation of Africa.
Today’s occasion should, therefore, not be merely a celebration for regaining our freedom but also an opportunity for us as Ugandans and Africans to reflect on the internal contradictions that led to the final domination of Africa by imperial forces for several decades. Failure to do so may lead to the second colonization of Africa.
Some of these weaknesses included: divisions, disunity and selfishness among Africa’s traditional leaders and chiefs.
Unfortunately, after independence, few post-cost colonial leaders in Africa dedicated time to understanding and addressing the reasons why Africa was colonized in the first place. On the contrary, many promoted bankrupt politics such as sectarianism based on religion and ethnicity.
We must also use this occasion to remind ourselves that gaining freedom from the colonialists was not an end in itself but a means of returning Africa to the path of progress and transformation that is internally determined and driven. However, we must also be reminded that the pursuit of social-economic transformation of Africa is not a simple matter. It calls for visionary leadership as well as a dedicated citizenry. Therefore, the Theme of this year’s Independence Day celebrations which is: “Uganda’s Freedom must be anchored in the spirit of hard work, resilience and commitment”,is relevant not only to our efforts towards consolidating and defending our national independence but also the realization of our vision of transforming the Ugandan society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country.
The socio-economic transformation of Uganda and Africa is intertwined with the transformation of the individual and the households. We are also aware that transformation of the households is impossible without hard work. Consequently, the NRM government has spared no effort in creating an environment that both facilitates and also rewards hard work. Some of the measures undertaken to facilitate and reward hard work and entrepreneurship include:
(i) Ensuring security of persons and property across the breadth and width of the country;
(ii) Reducing the cost of doing business by expanding the road network. For example, in 1986, the total national trunk road network was 7,900 Kms. Of the 1900 Kms that had been tarmacked only 114 Kms or 6 percent was in a fair condition. Today, the national trunk road network stands at 21,000 Kms and about 4000 Kms of this is paved and the rest is motorable. Furthermore, in the next five years, 2,000 Kms of new roads will be constructed. This will increase the tarmac roads network from 4,000 Km to 6,000 Km.
(iii) We have also expanded electricity generation from 60 megawatts in 1986 to about 900 megawatts today. Upon the completion of Isimba, Karuma, Ayago and Achwa our annual generation of electricity will be about 2600 megawatts.
(iv) We have also improved access to credit through both the public and the private sector. For example in 1986, there was only one Commercial Bank. Today, there are 24 commercial banks and several microfinance institutions spread across the country. Furthermore, records from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development show that as at July 2017, over 84.5 billion had been disbursed to 11,503 youth groups with 144,235 beneficiaries under the Youth Livelihood Programme. In addition, as at June 2017, the Government had, under the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme, disbursed over 12.5 billion to 2,412 women groups with a total of 30,766 beneficiaries. Through the Uganda Development Bank (UDB), the Government will use the tax-payers’ money to inject low-interest finance for manufacturing. With enough electricity, for the first time, since 1969, Uganda is now set to take off as far as manufacturing is concerned.
In fact, already factories are springing already in many places: Tororo, Mukono, Wakiso, Luwero, Lira, Namanve, etc. The only remaining hurdle is to lower the price of electricity to 5 American cents per unit for manufacturing. The only distortion for the price of electricity is Bujagaali whose electricity is 11 American cents per unit even when we exempt the enterprise from Government tax. This was caused by the mistake of our negotiators who opted for expensive money. We are working for the restructuring of the financing for Bujagaali with cheaper money ─ to be paid for longer period. Otherwise, the electricity by Nalubaale is 4 American cents per unit, Kiira is 4 American cents, Agago will be 6 American cents, Karuma will be 5 American cents, Isimba will be 6 American cents. It is Bujagaali which is the distorter.
Many people who have taken advantage of this environment have transformed their households. Indeed, a number of welfare indicators show that we are on a steady and an unstoppable path to socio-economic transformation.
(i) The households with houses roofed with iron sheets has increased from 61 percent in 2006 to 75 percent in 2017;
(ii) The proportion of the households using tadooba (Canister Wick Lamp) has declined from 71% in 2006 to 28 percent in 2017;
(iii) About 21 percent of households use dry cells for lighting while 18 percent use solar energy.
However, this transformation would have even been faster if all our people, in both the public service and private sector, were more serious. Everyone knows that the only way out of poverty for any individual or society is through hard work. Unfortunately, many people do not take their jobs and businesses very seriously. Many people in Uganda behave like a foolish hired shepherd who does not pay attention to livestock under their care yet looking after these livestock well is their source of a livelihood and actually survival.
During my tours around the country, I have often seen young men seated in trading centres early in the morning playing omweso and karata /matatu. The Swahili say that “burudika baadha ya kazi”, meaning that leisure should come after work.
Unfortunately, the leaders and politicians have, in pursuit of cheap popularity, abandoned the responsibility of guiding the populations. Leadership is about knowing the way, showing the way and going the way. A leader who cannot tell the people the bitter truth and also guide them to prosperity is not worthy the privilege of being a leader. In fact, one need not be an elected leader to cause community transformation. I have told you severally how, as a young student in the 1960s, I took the personal initiative to campaign against nomadic pastoralism and other backward practices like taking raw milk in Ankole.
I, therefore, would like to call upon all the MPs, LC 5 Chairpersons, RDCs, CAOs and other civic and community leaders to shun the pursuit of cheap popularity and instead ceaselessly promote the ethic of hard work. Without doing so, the peasants will remain in subsistence agriculture, where 68% of the homesteads still were by the time of the last census.
In addition to promoting the ethics of hard work, there is need to raise the ideological consciousness of our people. Failure to do so renders them vulnerable to manipulation by primitive and reactionary political forces. Without heightened ideological consciousness, it is easy for backward forces to mobilize people against their own interests. For example, I have recently seen people mobilizing the people to oppose a land reform proposal that is in the best interest of the country.
I, therefore, would like to direct the Minister responsible for National Guidance to undertake campaigns of raising the ideological consciousness of our people. Programmes for ideological reorientation should also target the public officers. The struggle for independence was for promotion of the public interest or common good. However, after 55 years of independence, there is no public spirit in the public service. I have said, many times, that the cardinal function of the public service is to give utmost and dedicated service in the development of Uganda.
Unfortunately, many of our public officers do not understand that the development of the country is linked with their individual success. It is very surprising that a public servant who is eager to see an improvement in his or her wages or the public health services is the same civil servant who frustrates industrialists and exporters who pay his salary through taxes. This indiscipline and lack of patriotism has gone on for so long yet the Permanent Secretaries have the public service disciplinary mechanism at their disposal. This disorder must stop. From now on, Permanent Secretaries will be held accountable for their inaction against undisciplined officers.
You must have heard of the measures I took against a number of public servants. A few are in the Courts of Law and some have been dismissed. This is just endozo (taste for things to come). Anybody who sees somebody asking for a bribe, should ring certain telephone numbers that will be advertized by my office on the Radios and TVs.
One example of the carelessness of the public servants is the present crisis we have of Acaricide Resistance by ticks ─ the engoha (Rhipicephalus), encuju (Boophilus) and embarabara (Amblyomma). There are four families of acaricides: the Pyrethroids (e.g. Decatix, Renegade, Vectocid, Supertix, Alphapor, Bayticol, Tse tse tick, etc.), the Organophosphates (e.g. Supona Extra), the Amidines (e.g. Norotraz, Milibitraz, Tacktic, Amitix, Bovitraz and Paratraz) and the Co-formulations (e.g. Duodip, Protaid) that are a combination of two or more families of acaricides. The concerned public servants, without consulting anybody, allowed the unregulated use of these families of acaricides across the whole country.
Apparently, the correct thing to do should have been to zone the country so that the respective families of Acaricides are used in the different parts of the country for some years and, then, swapped as the ticks in the respective zones were developing resistance to the respective Acaricides. Nobody ever whispered to me on this issue. It was only in 2013 when, after using a very good Acaricide going by the trade name of Decatex for about 23 years, I was told that these drugs are supposed to be swapped after about 3 or four years. By this time, Decatex was no longer killing any ticks in Kisozi.
That is when Dr. Kashaija Imelda of NARO told me that I should not have used Decatex continuously for 23 years and that there are other clans of acaricides!! I had to go all the way to Northern Ireland where the Late Lord Ballyedmond manufactures the class of the Amidines. I told all and sundry about this phenomenon. The ticks at Kisozi were suppressed for some time.
In other areas, however, the problem of tick resistance was reported. Hon. Kabatsi brought Vectorclor and we tried it at Kiruhuura on 91 farms starting in July, 2017. The results were promising according to the District Veterinary Officer (DVO) of Kiruhura district. The NDA (Dr. Kusemererwa, Dr. Muhindo, etc.) are saying that Eprinomectin used in the form of pour-on, if it is done for 2 years continuously, will suppress the ticks. I have called a meeting of all these scientists so that we decide on the way forward for these acaricides.
However, one other problem in relation to the acaricides, are yourselves the farmers. Some of the farmers were misusing the acaricides. They would not make proper crushes. They would make emitegyerero (piling thorny trees) in the form of Otugo (small fenced areas) and kumisiila (sprinkling) the cattle. That misuse of drugs brings forward the phenomenon of tick resistance to acaricides. I was able to use decatex for 23 years because my staff were properly mixing the acaricide in my dips in Kisozi and Rwakitura. The Local Governments and the Vets should have enforced the construction of proper crushes. Nantabulirwa ya sabala na bwa bbumba (the one who does not listen to advice, foolishly used a clay boat, in spite of contrary advice, to try and cross the lake but he, of course, sank in the lake because clay is not strong enough to be used in boat- making).
Apart from the struggle with the acaricides, we are taking the more fundamental steps in dealing with the ticks. There is the anti-mashuyo (anti-ECF) vaccine developed at Mugugga in Kenya. We are also developing our own. More fundamentally, we are developing the anti-tick vaccine. We want the cow to be so fortified, that it kills any tick that dares to bite it. One way or the other, we shall overcome the ticks.
On the issue of HIV/AIDS, we were able to bring down the levels of HIV infection from a peak of 18 percent in the mid-1990s to 6 percent at beginning of this century. We did not have all the funding for AIDS programs that I hear about today. We just mobilized our population for behavior change based on our model of ABC- Abstinence, Be faithful and Condom use.
After these big successes, there was some complacency in the population, which resulted in the epidemic rising again from 6.4 percent in 2004 to 7.3 percent in 2011. However, following concerted efforts from the Government and partners, that situation has now been reversed. In the last 5 years, the HIV Prevalence is now 6% and the number of new HIV infections in the population has steadily declined. Our data indicates that the annual number of new HIV infections has declined from 135,000, in 2010, to approximately 60,000 in 2016. We are also making good progress in programs for the elimination of the Mother to Child Transmission.
In June this year, I launched the Presidential Fast Track Initiative to end AIDS as a public Health Threat by 2030.
I call upon all leaders of all categories and parents to emphasize the message of prevention against HIV through testing and seeking treatment for those who are HIV positive.
Finally, democracy is about the harmonious coexistence of contending views. A democrat is, therefore, a person who disagrees with a view but at the same time defends the right of someone to express the view he or she does not agree with.
However, in the recent past, I have seen people who, for a long time, have claimed to be democrats attempt to violate the right of freedom of expression of the people they don’t agree with. This intolerance is not what we fought for and it will, therefore, be resisted in the strongest terms possible.
I would like to conclude by saying that Uganda’s independence and democracy was bought with blood of our patriots. Therefore, nobody will be allowed to undermine it. I also wish to assure all Ugandans that the NRM Government will continue to maintain peace and stability in Uganda.
I wish all Ugandans peaceful Celebrations.
9th October, 2017 - Bushenyi