Dear Gen Museveni,
To be honest with you, I was ambivalent about the fact that on Thursday you were once again giving the State-of-the-Nation address. I didn’t know whether to congratulate you or mourn for my nation. This was your 33rd time to perform what has become nothing but a mere ritual to you and the kleptocracy that has continued to fleece our country.
The State-of-the-Nation address is supposed to give the nation an honest accountability for what government has accomplished in the last year. It should as well, highlight challenges facing the country and plans to combat the same. Most importantly, however, the State-of-the-Nation address should give genuine hope to citizens by articulating programmes and activities that the government intends to do for the people in the subsequent years.
Unfortunately, for the people of Uganda, the State-of-the-Nation address passes for a mere ritual that constitutes government officialdom in a financial/calendar year. It bears no meaning whatsoever to the people. Nothing demonstrates this reality, Mr President, more than the sight of your sleeping ministers, Members of Parliament and government bureaucrats, when you are performing this function. The reason is simple; they have no affinity with what should otherwise be an important exercise.
You know Mr President, many of the people you are working with in Cabinet, Parliament and other government bodies, do not believe in what you and your regime are doing to our country.
They know that your government is deliberately committing several mistakes, if not crimes. However, they are captives in your government. Because they need to get by, they have neither the freedom nor the courage to express what they believe should be the right course for our country.
Lest we forget Mr President, a leader is only as good as his word and so is a government. Therefore, when you have rulers whose modus operandi for running government and the State is dishonesty, the people inevitably lose trust in you and begin to look elsewhere for solutions to their problems. It doesn’t matter whether the government attempts, at least, to do something good for the citizens.
Incidentally, we know that your government tells the truth by accident. So we do not expect much from you and your government. We are resigned to our own fate as a people. We have no relationship with a government that cheats, lies, abuses, segregates and impoverishes its own citizens.
So, when you and your government spew out empty rhetoric and economic growth figures that have no bearing on the material welfare of the citizens during functions like the State-of-the-Nation address, people of Uganda won’t waste a minute listening to you.
There are more serious and urgent things to attend to; high school fees, rent, loans and expensive feeding and medication. Your government won’t facilitate taxpayers to get any of these, thus, we must toil to make ends meet.
Come to think of it Mr President, after you were declared winner in the 2016 presidential elections, you made a major pronouncement that the 2016-2021 term was going to be a hakuna mchezo (no playing/joking) term. Have you delivered on that promise? No, absolutely not. You also said within the same period, you would deliver Uganda to the middle income status. Have you delivered on that pledge? No, absolutely not.
Before that, you promised that the 2011–2016 term was going to be a bonabagagawale (prosperity for all) term. Did you deliver on that promise? No, absolutely not. Before that, you promised that you would give all Ugandans entandikwa (seed capital) for starting business.
Did you deliver on that pledge? No, absolutely not. Before that, you asked to be given just one more term to complete the process of professionalising the armed forces. Did you deliver on those promises? No, absolutely not.
Much earlier, you diagnosed Africa’s main problem to be rulers who outstay their welcome. You have been around for 33 years and still counting. Why then, Mr President, should the people of Uganda trust whatever you say in your State-of-the-Nation addresses?
Mr Mugabe is a member of the Alliance for National Transformation party