In Summary

Recycled. A look at the parliamentary Government Assurances Committee report reveals that some of the promises the NRM presidential candidate is making are 14-years-old.

Kampala. Some of the promises NRM presidential candidate Yoweri Museveni is making to voters across the country are part of his unfulfilled pledges made during the last election cycle, a look at a report from parliament and his current campaign promises reveals.

In November 2013, the parliamentary Government Assurances Committee, a team charged with chronicling and following up on the President’s promises, produced a report that showed that since coming to power in 1986, President Museveni has defaulted on 817 pledges in key areas of infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, schools, airports, bridges, electricity and machinery.

Together, the Museveni-pledges were estimated at more than Shs3 trillion.
And now a review of the current NRM manifesto and what the President has promised on the campaign trail so far, in comparison to that Parliament report, shows that it is from some of those unfulfilled promises that Mr Museveni is picking his promises as he seeks a fifth elective term in office.

For instance, the promise to tarmac the Jinja-Buwenda-Mbulamuti road was made in 2011.
Now, the very same road was promised this time as a campaign carrot by the President as he traversed the Busoga sub-region.

In the ruling party’s 2016 manifesto, the old promise to work on the Jinja-Buwenda-Mbulamuti road is named among the projects prioritised for construction “in the next five years”.

Tarmacking of Namagumba-Budadiri-Nalungu and Bukungu roads was pledged 14 years ago in 2001 but are again being dusted up to seem as fresh projects set for urgent attention within the next five years.
The Soroti-Serere; Kamengo-Buvumbo landing site and Muduuma-Mpigi roads were all promised as priority infrastructure projects in 2011.

This time, they have been presented as projects whose designing will commence in 2015/2016. Nebbi-Goli road was first promised in 2010.

Political scientist and researcher Fredrick Kisekka-Ntale says the problem begins with the failure to align presidential promises with policy and the National Development Plan after elections. “In third world countries, politics is not aligned to policy. This means that the process of implementing a promise will be failed by several scriptures and technocrats who will always bounce it. If we are to make sensible promises vis-a-vis deliverables, we must check the manifestos and how they align with the national development plans over the years,” Dr Kisekka-Ntale said.

He added: “When there is a mismatch between the manifesto and the national development plan over a five-year period, it leads to a failure in delivery and the fulfillment of what you promised to the people.”
Dr Kisekka-Ntale, however, also told Daily Monitor that not all promises have to be fulfilled because political considerations are made as and when they are helpful to one’s political gain.

“On several occasions Mr Museveni has told people how they voted badly. This means the way an area votes determines the delivery of the promised programmes. The President is aware that you can make promises but fulfillment is also a personal commitment. And that comes up in the calculation of where your national support lies,” he said.

Mr Museveni’s government has, nonetheless, come good on some of his 800-plus pledges. Some such as construction of the Nyagak III 4.4MW power project in West Nile was delivered.
The reconstruction of Jinja-Kamuli-Mbulamuti road is almost done.

According to the NRM manifesto, the party has in the last five years increased the length of paved national roads from 3,264km in 2010/11 to 4,000km in 2015.

Other promises that are being recycled include the procurement of ferries for Bukungu landing site, Kumi-Katakwi crossing and Sigulu islands, all of which were first promised in 2001, 2011 and 2010, respectively.
Paying Busoga’s LRA war claimants was first captured in 2008 while Namisindwa was promised a district status in 2010.

While campaigning in the Busoga area last month, the President said he is not “only talking about” it this time round but determined to deliver it.

Deputy NRM spokesperson and government media centre director Ofwono Opondo said there is nothing wrong with failing to deliver on promises but rather the question that should be asked is why.

“Is it change of priority, for instance, when an emergency comes?” he asked. “Sometimes the projects are pegged on donor funding and sometimes the donors don’t bring their money or when they do they require government to have counterpart funding.”

He added: “In roads, donors put money and government fails to have counterpart funding. The other one is simply absorption. Our PPDA (the public procurement agency) takes procurement in circles… a simple procurement can take two years.”

Bigger picture
Mr Opondo also blamed what he suggested was the filibuster approach adopted by parliamentarians in delivering development and also the ‘highly respected’ rule of law in the country.
Like his spokesman, the President has also regularly told audiences at his rallies that MPs and the Constitution are holding him back in the delivery of services, probably through the exercise of the Parliament’s constitutional prerogative to exercise oversight over public programmes.
“Someone can run to court and block a project,” he said, adding that government should adopt a culture of explaining to the people why some projects are not delivered.
“It must have a robust convincing explanation to the people why the project promised has not been executed. That rarely comes from the civil servants who are charged with executing them and also from politicians who have the duty for public accountability.”

Besigye’s take

While campaigning in Butaleja District in November last year, the FDC presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, urged Ugandans to ask President Museveni to account for the unfulfilled promises he has made to Ugandans in the last 30 years the National Resistance Movement has been in power.

He said when Mr Museveni came to power in 1986, he made many promises which included a fundamental change, transforming agriculture from subsistence to commercial production, construction of roads and improving salaries for civil servants, among other pledges.

He said Museveni has since repeated the same promises at every election campaign in 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011 and he is still doing the same in the 2016 campaigns.

Pending pledges

Plegde year of campaign
Jinja-Buwenda-Mbulamuti rd 2011
Namagumba-Budadiri-Nalungu rd 2001
Bukungu road 2001
Soroti-Serere rd 2011
Kamengo-Buvumbo landing site 2011
Muduuma-Mpigi road 2011
Nebbi-Goli road 2010
Bukungu landing site ferry 2001
Kumi-Katakwi ferry 2011
Sigulu islands ferry 2010
Busoga’s LRA war claimants 2008
Namisindwa district status 2010