National Resistance Movement (NRM) members of parliament are concluding a ten-day retreat at the National Leadership Institute (NALI), Kyankwanzi under the theme “Increasing Household incomes and wealth creation: the critical role of the leader”. To contextualize, in April 2021 after elections a retreat was held for the new MPs to calm down individual wild expectations, shape convergence on policy priorities and work methods.
In March 2019, NRM MPs in the 10th parliament also held a retreat themed “Industrialization for job creation and shared prosperity,” and reviewed the mid-term progress , and so in a sense these retreats have become an almost nostalgic routine in the hope we become wiser. As someone who has participated in every retreat, I attest that these engagements are indeed vigorous, deep and steeped in policy discussions, ideology, discipline, cohesion and commitment to build a higher sense of purposefulness.
Without being offensive, even with these many retreats and regular caucus meetings, NRM MPs still remain paranoid and get stitched on policy priorities and convergence, funding, implementation, monitoring and supervision. NRM leaders must strive to disabuse themselves soft money in politics in order to regain the high moral ground and ideological credibility otherwise Ugandans are increasingly getting in foul mood.
Meanwhile, NRM MPs who enjoy an overwhelming majority and benefit of controlling the executive and policy formulation must brow-beat the tiny, but heckling opposition. NRM shouldn’t reward opposition childish indulgence that’s getting Uganda trapped in an endless loop because they think a complex world has easy answers.
Two years into the 11th parliament, opposition MPs have refused to become grownup teenagers. Listening to MP Semujju Nganda (FDC) Kiira Municipality, one sees a man soon running past his home as he latches from subject to subject, and often venting acidic vendetta against individual personalities he perceives don’t merit their positions.
Given that NRM has run four election cycles on promises to uplift majority of Ugandans through socio-economic transformation into prosperity, it’s fair that we don’t get upset when being put to tasks over lackluster and low quality public service delivery, when individually a few leaders are getting richer.
Critical to the NRM retreat is finding innovative, creative, affordable and sustainable means to deliver services to the broad majority of vulnerable Ugandans still trapped in the informal sectors and unable to tap into the many available opportunities. Like President Museveni has always stressed and cautioned, financial support from individual MPs appear rosy, but it’s neither sustainable nor sufficient to deal with societal issues. MPs must focus more on government resources allocation and proper utilisation to minimise wastage and abuse.
In this endevours, we must collectively tackle the many obstacles including corruption, policy and implementation gaps, inconsistencies, duplication and wastage in public service delivery mechanisms towards modernity. Each MP and leader ought to search their souls to vigorously drive job creation, productivity and inclusive growth.
Foremost, security which is the bedrock for development has been consolidated both within Uganda and regionally contributing to rising numbers in investments, travels and tourism which together lead to higher national revenue. In pre-Covid-19, Uganda was recording over one million five hundred thousand tourists. Today indications show that the numbers are returning and prospects for growth in numbers and revenue are bright too.
Uganda has registered consistent economic progress in the in the last three decades averaging 6% per year with revenue collections rising from sh5billion in 1986 to sh33 trillion in 2022/23 which has enabled Uganda to finance many huge projects from internal sources. A huge stock in transportation, energy, water, ICT, health and education infrastructure continue to expand. The network of paved roads have not only improved but expanded countrywide linking most of Uganda’s commercial points, regional borders, lower travel time and cost of doing business.
The retreat should be used to determine and bridge the gaps. We should admit that gaps are at all levels of leadership with the most evident at the lower rungs where services are delivered. NRM members must as of necessity build convergence and consensus to deepen collective ideological outlook on areas of national priorities.
Hopefully MPs will review the National Development Plan (NDPIII), which is now midway Vision 2040, so that it becomes crystal clear as to where resources for further progress will come from. As NRM strengthens its agenda dustings for 2026, MPs should provide confidence to Ugandans that indeed its policies are delivering the intended objectives of socio-economic transformation, patriotism, Pan-Africanism, and sustained democracy.
And in a world being battered by hard economic trends especially after Covid-19, voters everywhere are skeptical of the ability of politics and politicians to act in their interests, and for government to change their lives in meaningful ways.
NRM members in particular on whose side the pendulum currently rests, must renew the capacity of the state to deliver the real changes that people are crying for. To so, Ugandans must collectively keep eyes on the executive and parliament so that they don’t continue drinking deep into the public trough as they enjoy a generous buffet.
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