For example, about 70 per cent of the Ugandan economy is still based on government activity and spending.

It means the government will continue to be the centre of lobbying, discussion in the news media, political manoeuvring and so on.

In a country like this, whoever heads the government will have tremendous power regardless of the formal measures by the Constitution to limit Executive power.

A president Besigye, Mbabazi, Bwanika or Mao would most likely abuse their political office after a few years in power as President Museveni has done.

The 1995 Constitution, like many around the world, was modelled on the American constitution. The naive assumption was that a document could determine the workings of state.

In an incisive article published by the New York Times on December 16, 2016, by two professors of government at Harvard University in the United States, the fallacy of expecting a constitution to solve a country’s problems were laid out.

The article discussed the danger posed to America by a Donald Trump presidency, but its reasoning applies so well to Uganda:
“A well-designed constitution is not enough to ensure a stable democracy—a lesson many Latin American independence leaders learned when they borrowed the American constitutional model in the early 19th Century, only to see their countries plunge into chaos,” the article stated.

“Democratic institutions must be reinforced by strong informal norms...democracies work best when unwritten rules of the game, known and respected by all players, ensure a minimum of civility and cooperation. Norms serve as the soft guardrails of democracy, preventing political competition from spiralling into a chaotic, no-holds-barred conflict,” it added.

This article summed up what for the last 21 years and indeed the last 54 years Uganda has been grappling with and failing to understand.

Culture, behaviour, norms, attitude – these important aspects without which democracy remains a concept on paper, have largely been lacking in Uganda.

There is no sign that in 2017 it will be different.
There could be a parliamentary by-election or two and we shall see LC1 elections. But none of these will change the basic structure of political power in the country.

The government will continue to be the centre of lobbying, discussion in the news media, political manoeuvring and so on.

Uganda, a country that is ostensibly a republic, is basically run like a feudal kingdom of the late 19th Century. Nothing will change in 2017.

There will be endless radio and TV talk shows and newspaper columns and social media posts that, in vain, seek to reason out and state why the President should not do A or B or why the government should do C or D.

Most of these discussions by the media, academia, the political class and civil society will fall on deaf ears or will be appreciated by the converted who lack the power to do anything about it.
The reason we are unable to implant democracy as a cultural attitude in the President, the government and the Parliament is because it does not exist in the society to begin with.

National security
Two major developments in 2016 set the stage for what we might see in 2017 -- the unrest in the Rwenzori sub-region of western Uganda and the police raid on a Muslim mosque at Nakasero in Kampala.

Even before the arrest of the titular head of the Bakonzo, Charles Mumbere, in November, there had been unrest and clashes in 2013 and in the immediate post-election period of 2016.

If the government allegation that an armed rebellion or secessionist movement was taking root in Kasese, the arrest of Mumbere and before that the raid on his palace guarantees that at the very minimum the government will be deeply resented in the Rwenzori area.

As for the Muslims, before the raid on the Nakasero mosque, there was despair and suspicion within the Muslim community that the government was doing little to stop the wave of gun attacks on leading Muslim clerics or even that it might be complicit in these killings.

As with the raid on the palace in Kasese, the police move on the Nakasero mosque is being seen as a final straw.

These two will be the main internal security areas of concern in 2017 -- that’s if the other incidents, such as the shooting in Gulu in July, the post-election attacks on police stations and posts in Luweero, Arua, Kajjansi, Kapchorwa and other places don’t resume.

The economy
More than 70 per cent of Uganda’s export revenue is from unprocessed agricultural produce like tea, coffee and fish.

It means Uganda in 2017 will continue to import far more than it exports, maintaining its decades-old balance of payments deficit.

To keep the country afloat, she must depend on grants, aid and other financial interventions from foreign governments.

So we shall continue to see Chinese companies working on more and more roads in Uganda, including municipal roads that in the 1960s town councils used to maintain.

The Shilling now in the mid-Shs3,400 to Shs3,500 range against the US dollar will depreciate further and by late 2017 could be around Shs3,700 to Shs3,800 against the dollar.

We don’t know how many commercial banks in 2017 will follow Crane Bank into dissolution, but reports say only about nine of the present 25 banks operating in the Ugandan market are profitable.

South Sudan, which has over the last decade served as an export market for Ugandan light manufacturing and agro produce, will remain either at war or in a state of tense peace.

Economically, that means Uganda will continue to see much of the stagnation it did in 2016.
The effort to make Uganda a popular international tourism destination will continue but given the generally lax and lacklustre attitude of the tourism industry, Kenya will continue getting the lion’s share of East African tourism arrivals.

Ugandan society
Uganda is a slow-moving, low-thinking society. It takes a long time for new ideas and trends to occur to or resonate with most Ugandans, including the top-most among the elite.

The national character is still very much 1940s.
Even on the new digital social networks such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp, this slow-thinking and passive mental existence can be seen among Ugandan users.

Ugandans find it hard to maintain interest in one topic for more than a week. That means many news stories will come, rage and be discussed for a handful of days, and then society moves on.

Ugandan intellectual life
There is very low intellectual productivity of the society. There are less than 100 new book titles published in Uganda each year (France publishes 70,000, China 120,000 and the United States 150,000.)

Hardly any Ugandan university professor publishes a thought-provoking or ground-breaking book any more.
Ugandan websites can be seen a mile away, mainly for their sub-standard design and look.
The music industry
Uganda will not be a country of much innovation. The nearest thing to a growing creative industry will remain the pop music industry.
Unfortunately, most of the biggest Ugandan singers will continue to record their music in Luganda, which means the furthest their impact will reach will be Rwanda.

Nigerian music, from the trends seen starting about 2013, will continue to make inroads into the Ugandan market. Nigerian music has now become what Congolese music was in the 1990s in Uganda.

In music, one could venture to say Spice Diana will continue to rise in national prominence as a singer, as will perhaps Diana Nalubega and Maureen Nantumwe.

The media
The media occupies a much more central place in Uganda than most people realise. TV, radio, newspaper brands have on average the highest following on social media.

The Facebook pages with the largest following in every Ugandan town except Kampala and Entebbe belong to the leading local radio stations.

As more and more Ugandans get on the social media platforms, they still get most of their news from the Facebook pages of these media houses or are guided in their interpretation of the news by leading media personalities both on and off-line.

Political news, which usually sees its interest peak in election years, will remain subdued and entertainment, sports and gossip news will receive the main national interest.

There is a development underway that should worry many a media house, and that is the growing shift of advertising dollars and shillings from the traditional print, TV and radio to online digital platforms.

The leading TV and radio stations and newspapers have large enough audiences online to adjust, but many smaller newspapers and radio stations could start to collapse in 2017.

Social media
Social media will continue to see the organic growth it has been registering over the last decade. Most of this growth, however, will continue to be more in quantity than in quality.

We shall continue to see the usual shoddy photos and poor quality videos posted on Ugandan pages and profiles, the writing and editing equally poor, the reasoning childish or erratic for the most part.

Signs are that after the initial euphoria over Uganda’s qualification for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations football tournament, the usual Uganda way of running public affairs is still at work.
Fufa, football’s government body in Uganda, reportedly was still waiting on the government to provide funds for the national team the Cranes to prepare for the championships in Gabon.

Ugandans have become conditioned to expect little or nothing from their government. That attitude will be felt among the national team while in Gabon.

It does not take much clever analysis to see that this disorganisation will shape the way the Cranes perform in Gabon and most likely the team will not advance beyond the group stage of the tournament.
Finally, which Ugandans should one look out for to shape 2017? Not many. As this forecast has already pointed out, nothing much really happens in Uganda.

We can of course expect the key decisions over who gets appointed to what public office to be made solely by President Museveni, regardless of whether or not they merit that office.

So we shall see various reshuffles and promotions in the army, police, perhaps the courts of law and other government departments.
The media, as usual, will focus on “who ate big”, as if that matters and miss out on the fact that the President is the only constant in all this.