By Ambassador Henry Mayega
President Yoweri Museveni superbly addressed Ugandans on Sunday, May 22, 2022 regarding the current economic situation which has been typified, globally, by rising commodity prices -- a matter that recalcitrant and gaffe-prone Kizza Besigye plus other less sagacious opposition oligarchs, who please in using others’ children in street violence and not theirs, have been shamelessly taking advantage of via street protests to rally unsuspecting folks.
Firstly, the impression Besigye and others with a cognitive deficit want to create that commodity prices are only rising in Uganda is fraudulent. Those prices, including the cost of gas/fuel -- have been rising even in the western world sparking a plethora of intense public debate in those countries where empty supermarket shelves greet the public.
International experts say that has resulted from mainly two things, namely: the Covid-19 pandemic that drugged on for years plus the Ukrainian conflict which, together, have impeded the movement of commodities including oil.
That has adversely impacted the global economy with spiralling energy and commodity prices hence disrupting the global logistical supply chains.
Interestingly, Russia and Ukraine produce almost a third of the world’s wheat and barley and half of its sunflower oil. There are reportedly 25 million tons of grain idly sitting in Ukrainian silos currently, food that could be afforded to the ever-burgeoning numbers of the globe’s needy hence exacerbating food insecurity, Besigye and his ilk should know this had it not been for intellectual dishonesty.
And that’s just one dimension; relatedly, the world’s energy crisis partly sparked by the Ukraine crisis and the attendant western sanctions against Russia have made the transportation of goods very expensive.
Secondly, angry Besigye and his ilk should do Ugandans a favour by proposing, through their party, (and I hear they have created another outfit besides the FDC they helped to found), how they would tackle the rising commodity prices if they were in government – their street protests are methodically antiquated.
Relatedly, those street remonstrations are a surer way of dousing fire with petrol; Besigye’s selfish protests are injurious to the business community, some of whom have hefty and time-bound bank loans and attendant interest obligations.
So, if indeed Besigye is business-friendly and a patriot, he ought to do the honourable thing of stopping the no-sense of stampeding the business environment - that way, Besigye and his polity would be hailed as selfless nationalists who are not unhinged. Anything less would be their mission un-driven.
Thirdly, the issue of rising commodity prices is not a partisan one as Besigye and others with minor intellectual resources would want us to believe; it requires a tested and safe pair of hands in managing national crises – which President Yoweri Museveni already exemplified by the dexterity and devoutness he had during the worst segment of multifarious insurgencies as well as the HIV-AIDS, Ebola and Covid 19 pandemics to mention a few.
His successful handling of those calamities and pandemics indelibly earned him accolades from the international community. Relatedly, social media pretenders who have been afforded ample commentary space quoted the president out of context on the bread/cassava debate; his good intention was to help citizens cope with this global price crisis by cutting 'your court according to your cloth'.
In the EU, governments have urged citizens to ration gas as a result of its rising prices. Has Besigye heard about this? All partisan actions pointlessly taken regarding the price hikes, including Besigye’s street remonstrations and demurrals, will only exacerbate the prevailing volatility the very reason why security shouldn’t tolerate even a particle of that political indiscretion.
Fourthly, the bromantic duo, Besigye and his sidekick - Erias Lukwago, who read from the usual script of disreputable demonstrations -- have assured means of survival since the former depends on a thriving string of businesses whose life-line flourishes in a free market and peaceful environment afforded to us by the Yoweri Museveni administration and the later, on the public purse.
So, their egomaniacal appetite for stampeding others’ means of subsisting should be understood in that context. Elsewhere, we have seen the validation of the saying that “every cloud has a silver lining” where a larger portion of Uganda’s recessing opposition, including the Kamwokya group, has repudiated the duo’s political posturing of violent protests.
Fortunately, Besigye’s following has, over time, shrunk to a bare minimum of idlers and hangers-on. Lastly, the duo’s bombastic political posturing is badly misplaced and won’t succeed because: Ugandans are weary of anyone who would want to disturb their hard-earned peace in an act of self-infatuation.
The writer is the deputy head of Mission - Uganda Embassy in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates