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State of the Nation: Up or Down?


State of the Nation: Up or Down?

IGG Irene Mulyagonja

IGG Irene Mulyagonja

The recent State of the Nation address, delivered by President Yoweri Museveni, drew very sharp responses on all sides. Those who derogated it replaced the word, “nation”, with their own expletives, that did not give credit to the NRM regime for its uncharacteristically long 32 years’ stay in power. Their voices drowned those who sought to applaud the regime.

At a time when there is a general economic tailspin, anything that did not touch on the matter of rescuing the population from its dire straits, was going to be severely criticized. Many said that the address missed the salient points of; governance and management, of the county’s affairs.

Where it did, especially touching on the widespread and continuing corruption, the solution Museveni put forward was unwelcome in variuos quarters. Surprisingly, one of the first to fire a salvo in this regard was, none other than, the Inspector General of Government (IGG), Justice Irene Mulyagonja.

In a tongue-in-cheek welcome of Museveni’s appointment of a parallel unit to fight corruption, Mulyagonja sought to state where the regime had failed the IGG Office. She said that the agency had been severely under-funded, and the new unit could not have operated any better under the same kind of financing.

Other people also agreed thus, moreover, pointing out to the appointment of James Tweheyo, who is supposed to either assist, or replace Mulyagonja. If it is to assist, then why did the Government not give the IGG the wherewithal to accomplish her assignment?

If it is to replace her, then it may make sense on the hand of her perceived inadequacy. But at the same time there is a perception that Tweheyo was merely being “rewarded” for the problems that arose when his former union, the Uganda National Teachers Union (UNATU) did and has posed for the regime. The appointment also tended to touch on the disagreements within the main characters in UNATU.

For one, it had been known that Tweheyo had had a disagreement with Margaret Rwabushaija, the former UNATU chairperson, who became the latest National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) member to represent workers in Parliament. As general secretary of UNATU, Tweheyo, had been pushing that he should have been fielded to contest for the workers, which NOTU ignored.

Part of that disagreement went into the wages negotiations with Government which has been partially resolved. It also perambulated to the disagreement on the salaries for the Science teachers as against those of the teachers of the Arts subjects, which has become a sticking point between the regime and the unions.

The blame can be attributed to whichever side one does not wish to side with. This salary disagreement is Museveni’s strong point for the support of the Science teachers.

Whatever went behind the scenes leading to the appointment of Tweheyo has been denigrated to the suggestion that Tweheyo cannot succeed where Mulyagonja is perceived to have failed. Moreover, she basically argues that the regime principals have failed her. She makes a damning accusation that the thieves are “hiding” behind Museveni. If this is the case, is Tweheyo going to be able to pry the thieves off Museveni’s back on to which they are clinging?

This observation is pregnant with allusions. Does it mean that Museveni is shielding the thieves, whom Mulyagonja had identified? This would mean that Museveni knows the thieves, so saying that Mulyagonja is ineffective, is belabouring the point. Or, that the thieves are high caliber people and again connected to Museveni, in which case, Museveni knows them, so it is unfair to accuse Mulyagonja of failing when, Museveni well knows the reason for it.

In this case, it will not take long for the Tweheyo unit to run up against the thieves. And when he does, what is he going to do? Knowing that he is a beneficiary of the largesse falling from the high table, how is he going to react? If indeed Museveni is shielding the thieves, then Tweheyo will most likely come up against the same people who have Museveni’s ear and favour. In other words, he too, will fail to root out the corruption from amidst the nation.

Or, he will say that he has discovered and dealt with the thieves, whereas not – to save his own skin.




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Ikebesi Omoding is the acclaimed author of a weekly column titled: From the Outside Looking In

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