By Faruk Kirunda
Around this time last year, Ugandans were in high spirits having accomplished a fundamental civic duty voting a President and Parliamentarians. With the power vested in them by the Constitution under Article 1, they had successfully exercised the supreme right to determine how they would be led and represented for the next five years.
Voting was on January 14, and by evening of that day, early results had started trickling in. By the next day, the picture was continuing to solidify and on the evening of January 16 (within the stipulated 48 hours limit in which results must be declared), the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) broke the news, affirming that President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Tibuhaburwa had been reelected as President. Ugandans had made their voice heard! The rest is history!
A year since, Uganda is on a steady trajectory towards where every progressive nation ought to be.
The test of strength and popularity is not in elections per se but the ability of a Government entrusted with the people’s mandate to protect that mandate and put it to good use. The NRM Government That, of course, does not take away that alternative contenders in the elections may have a different view as to how things played out, but the challenge of the winner is to defend and protect the outcome of the elections and, if possible, try to unite everybody and heal wounds.
Majority of Ugandans have safely moved on from the politicking and launched into how to make it in an unprecedentedly competitive economy. The economy remained afloat, with free entry and exit of “investors” in the traditional way of the free market economy. Amidst stiff challenges like disruption brought on by the great Covid-19 pandemic and the election cycle, the country’s financial state remains solvent although demands on our national purse keep rising. Infrastructural development, energy extension services, attraction of investment, meeting the public wage and drawing every Ugandan into the money economy remain the key focus of the economy. What opportunities remain untapped and which new ones have come up, and how can a Ugandan cash in? The war against poverty and joblessness continues…
With Covid-19, this killer disease disrupted all aspects of the national existence as in other countries. Uganda has distinguished itself in effectively managing the novel pandemic which has battered great nations. Uganda remains a case study in managing the pandemic, leading in Africa and featuring prominently in the world.
Great leadership and the cooperation of the public has seen us through the worst phase of the disease where we were not well acclimatised with its tendencies and have had to endure almost two years of lockdown. The lockdown is now effectively coming to an end, marking a new phase where we learn to cope with the disease and carry on with the normal life cycle. The economy is set to recover on all fronts while all Ugandans in business who were squeezed by restrictions aimed at combating the disease are now free to operate normally. We ought to hold a national celebration marking this as a victory of our times!
Government has maintained national stability amidst a score of threats. The mood during the immediate post-election period was heightened with attempts by the political class to whip up a wave of sentiments on which to drive disruptive agenda.
However, this was effectively managed. Then came then infamous bijambiya (machete) attacks in Masaka that made national headlines. One would think the world was coming to an end but with effective intelligence and cooperation between security agencies and the wanainchi, those attacks were neutralised. Other criminal gangs have been neutralised by a robust security apparatus committed to keeping Uganda safe for citizens and foreign guests.
It’s within the same period that ADF terror cells stepped up their activities by detonating bombs and killing innocent people in Kampala. While the attacks appeared like a symptom of lapse in the security system, they were the desperate attempts by that group to save themselves before meeting their ultimate fate. As a result of that miscalculation, they drew more attention to themselves, thus opening a new chapter in the fight against terror and organised crime in Uganda.
As of now, the UPDF, supported by other agencies internally, is combing the jungles of North Kivu and Ituri in DRC hot on the heels of the remaining bastion of ADF. Starting in November last year, UPDF has hit the terrorist group very hard, uprooting many of its camps and sending its personnel in disarray. Terror is being done a decisive blow at the its base and with the blessing and partnership of FARDC, the Congolese national army, whose soldiers are jointly conducting the operations. ADF did not have permission to stay and operate in Congo but they, criminally captured territory, from which they unleashed massacres on the Congolese and made forays into Uganda using hit squads that murdered many prominent Ugandans.
As a result, ADF is greatly loathed in Uganda and Congo. It cannot survive in the same form.
And with that, the summary of what has been happening in Uganda since last year’s elections promises a more secure future for Ugandans.
The author is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary