By Andrew Mwenda
So, Bobi Wine issued a “letter to Young Ugandans” in which he claims that colonialism marked Uganda’s golden age. This is the problem with President Yoweri Museveni’s critics - always ignorant and emotional and their arguments always lack substance in both matter and manner.
I really don’t want to defend Museveni because I personally disagree with him on many issues. For example his alliance with multinational capital has led him to a blind and naive embrace of foreign investors, a keenness to control inflation at 5% and an obsession with international competitive bidding. This may have given Uganda allocative efficiency (good for the short term) but it has undermined structural transformation that lies at the heart of development.
I will address Museveni’s deficiencies another day - how his policies have benefited international capital and displaced or stifled the growth of local (Ugandan) capital. As a result they have kept our country as an agricultural nation with little manufacturing.
The real danger to Uganda today is not Museveni but an extremist and fanatical wing of the opposition led by FDC cult leader and opposition presidential candidate for life, Kizza Besigye, and lately joined by Bobi Wine. These are emotional desperadoes without any clue of where Uganda has come from, where it is and where it should go.
Let us address Bobi Wine’s hare brained uninformed assertions. He claims that colonialism left behind a well-functioning education. In 1961, only 343 students were enrolled in S5 and S6 in a country of 7m people. If such a rate was maintained Uganda today would have 2,225 students in A Level. We have 235,000. And he claims colonialism was the golden age of Uganda.
Bobi Wine also claims colonialism left behind great infrastructure. In 1960, Uganda had only 268km of tarmac after 72 years of colonial rule. The short lived DP government led by Kiwanuka added 210km in one year. Obote added 1,000km in eight years 1962-71. In spite of his government incompetence and corruption, Museveni has in the last 8 years added 4,000km of tarmac. So, what is this Bobi Wine really talking about?
This “leader” of the youth of Uganda even claims that under colonial rule a child in a rural primary school would fairly compete with one in the city. But there were no schools in rural areas under colonial rule. If he meant in towns outside of Kampala, he should check the 2016 PLE results. The ten best performing districts or towns in order of their performance were: Fort Portal, Entebbe, Ntungamo, Rukungiri, Jinja, Kabale, Masaka, Mbarara, Lira and Masindi. Many of these are far away from Kampala, a city that is not one of them.
Many Ugandan elites are lazy. They don’t want to read and know about their country. They prefer to sit in their homes and imagine things and then hope that such imagination is reality. In the modern age of science, it is sad that those who want to replace Museveni think that they can rely on hallucinations to inform public policy. Our country deserves better. Bobi Wine may be a good singer and dancer. But his “letter to young Ugandans” shows that he lacks the basic competences to even manage a village.