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Why Uganda Cranes didn’t qualify

Ramathan Ggoobi

Why Uganda Cranes didn’t qualify

This particular failure was as painful as many others in the past

Did we really expect our national team to succeed in a country where everything else is failing?

On Saturday November 15, to the economy, to institutions such as courts, universities, KCCA etc. what works? The economy is struggling to create jobs for the young Ugandans who flock Namboole to support their national team. Growth and some productivity can only be found in a few foreign-own farms. Agriculture, the so-called backbone of the economy, is largely unproductive.

Our captain nearly strangled Guinea player!

As I am writing this, we are doing an econometric analysis of the agriculture sector, using data from the National Panel Survey conducted by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS). Preliminary results are revealing the magnitude of the problems that this economy faces. We simply do not produce. For example, statistics indicate that although Ugandans are using nearly a million acres of land to produce coffee, they are producing only 160,000 tonnes of coffee a year. This implies that, on average, we use over 6 acres of land to produce a tonne of coffee!

Countries such as Brazil, on average, harvest a tonne of coffee every 2 acres, implying that they harvest 3 tonnes from the 6 acres where we harvest only 1 tonne. No wonder they also perform better in football.           

How can we expect our footballers to perform miracles yet the universities where get educated have turned into violence training centres? I was not shocked when our national team captain, Andrew Mwesigwa, received a red card for nearly strangling the Guinea player, the incident that led to a penalty being conceded and erased any hopes of the Ugandan team making a comeback in Casablanca.

Isn’t what Mwesigwa did reminiscent of the daily scenes in our universities, streets, churches and even Parliament? If even KCCA, an institution that we thought was standing of the crowd of failure, is now killing children of vendors, why do we get shocked when a football player leaves the ball and jumps in the neck of an opponent?  

Leave KCCA alone, after all they have told us that the incident was an accident. Look at what is going on in our politics. Our country is currently top among the places on this planet with the highest political risk and uncertainty. The media is on a daily basis reporting how you leaders of this country are about to strangle each other over power, money, and all sorts of things.

Leaders are now in “camps”!

For nearly a year now the big battle in the NRM has been going on between hitherto close friends and very close political allies. This fight between you, Mr. President and your former Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi, has put our country in a very bad shape. Because you have been so close for so long, your fallout has put your colleagues in government in a very awkward situation.

Like I wrote in these very pages in May this year, leaders in government, right from cabinet all the way to LC 1, have been divided into camps; some belonging to the Museveni camp, while others to the Mbabazi camp. Those that belong to or are simply suspected to belong to either camp, have been subjected to unfair accusations and as a result are being unfairly targeted by the other group. This is what the Americans refer to as McCarthyism — the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or even treason without proper regard for evidence.

It is synonymous with witch-hunt, mass hysteria and moral panic. It is evident that all these ills have already manifested themselves in our country. The other day we were reading unbelievable stories from State House following the interdiction of your former social media assistant, Sarah Kagingo. Ministers are treading very carefully, lest they get ‘baptized’ pro-Mbabazi ‘snakes’.

Mr. President, given the fact that Mbabazi was so deeply rooted in the State apparatus, your fallout has had far reaching impact on the functioning of the State. There is now a lot of mistrust in government. Leaders cannot interact freely for fear that those they talk to might be belonging to a ‘wrong’ camp.

Like I wrote here a fortnight ago that since you had given Mbabazi a lot of power and he used it to optimally to appoint quite a good number of his allies in key positions, you have found it exceedingly  difficult to disentangle yourself from the extended “Mbabazi clique”. It seems to be everywhere; in cabinet, in the economy, in the military and security, in the media, and even in your own State House! This has paralyzed the proper functioning of the State.     

Cranes can’t perform miracles

The situation has been made worse by some people who are taking advantage of your vulnerabilities to serve their selfish interests. They are ill-advising you and making you commit mistakes, as long as you help them serve their interests. Many are looking for jobs, other money, while some could be positioning themselves for the transitional period soon coming.                       

They have turned you into laughingstock. On a daily basis I see you being fed to political manipulators who are busy turning your phenomenal legacy into a joke. These days you are everywhere; commissioning all sorts of projects (worthwhile or otherwise), dancing, playing football, rapping, etc. This is not the Museveni we used to know. The Museveni we used to know, and adore as a nation, was Statesman, a proud leader. Not a political opportunist.     

The other day, your photograph was all over the media platforms, holding a phone reportedly in a conversation with the Uganda Cranes leadership. We know you are a football enthusiast, but really we didn’t know you as someone who wants to ride on events to gain political capital.

I learned the term “political opportunism” from you. Little did I know that I will as well observe how it is practiced from you. You sought the opportunity of riding on the imminent success of the national team to boost your political chances ahead of the 2016 general elections.       

Mr. President, I know this is not you; this is part of the ramifications of getting rid of people who matter and surround yourself with ‘cheap’, unsophisticated people, all in the name of keeping power. Is that power? I don’t know!        

I really feel so bad when I see what is going on in your life nowadays. You have been so good to this country. You were one of the greatest mysteries of the 20th Century, a very unpredictable man, indeed a difficult book to read. Not anymore. Mr. President, you should mind about your legacy. I don’t even know why you are panicking. The would-be opposition is not any better. Owing to all what is going on in this country, why would anyone expect the football team to perform miracles?



Ramathan Ggoobi is Policy Analyst, and Researcher. He lecturers economics at Makerere University Business School (MUBS) and has co-authored several studies on Uganda's economy. For the past ten years, he has published a weekly column 'Are You Listening Mr. President' in The Sunrise Newspaper, Uganda's Leading Weekly

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