BY FARUK KIRUNDA
Busoga sub-region is often reported to be the poorest in the country. This is despite the immense opportunities and natural strategic positioning enjoyed by the sub-region on the head of the great Lake Victoria, at the source of the Nile and at the “gate” from the East. If these endowments were available to other sub-regions, those sub-regions would be “light years” ahead. What is Busoga’s problem?
Despite generations of leaders that come and go, Busoga’s problems are yet to see the end. Not that all problems can end but a level of progress in tackling them can be measured or judged on the basis of several factors. One such factor is Unity-of purpose.
For long, Busoga’s transformation has been weighed down by failure of leaders from the sub-region to work together.
This problem has been recurrent with each generation of leaders from as far back as I can remember. Intrigue and Pull Him/Her Down (PHD) syndrome is another name for Busoga. Previously, I have detailed how everyone who gets an opportunity to rise in the ranks of Uganda is torn down by fellow Basoga penning dossier after dossier to the powers-that-be.
At the same time, when such leaders are granted an opportunity to serve at a higher level, they become obsessed with the airs of authority and prestige, start shooting down everyone else, believing that they know better than everyone else and expecting to be worshipped. In the end, they isolate themselves; the next thing we know they have fallen from grace, and with them all the hopes for Busoga that were tagged on them while they were still the stars of the moment.
When will this trend end?
The new crop of people’s representatives under the Busoga Parliamentary Group led by Luuka South MP, Hon. Stephen Kisa, was recently inaugurated and set out to make a difference, or so I heard. And when the Minister of Finance, Hon. Matia Kasaija, came to Busoga to launch the new sugar factory, the MPs attended, in an early show of solidarity-in a new term. However, the next day sugarcane farmers came up in protest against the new factory. Were they acting alone or they were being pushed by some of the very leaders present at the commissioning? If they were acting alone, didn’t they consult with their MPs on the project and discuss a harmonious way of progressing?
Kisa is a new MP and not very experienced. He came to the limelight when he nominated former Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, for reelection. I believe that he is flexible, but can he use his term in office to redeem Busoga? Can Busoga see its takeoff under the current term (2021-2026)?
In this year’s elections, the people of Busoga – like other Ugandans – made their voice heard.
They voiced areas of great need and interest and which the leadership – regardless of party or other affiliation- must prioritise. Can the elected leaders rise above petty fights and divisionism and intervene!
Government allocates a lot of money to transform Busoga through various channels. More funds have been available but due to the failure by leaders to follow up and lobby, that untapped money is idle or reallocated to other areas where leaders are serious.
I have also established that we have our local business people who choose to invest in others areas and completely starve their ancestry of opportunities.
They have set up factories, schools, major shopping centers, farms, and so on, everywhere but not in their home areas. They should be encouraged to set up branches to share opportunities with their immediate neighbours in order to develop together. Leaders should join the move to attract local investments as one way to spur economic revival and keep Busoga on top as the industrial hub of Uganda.
Just after the NRM primaries last year, President Yoweri Museveni appealed to losers in those primaries to work with winners and vice versa for the best interests of the party and Busoga. Did the NRM leaders heed the president’s wise counsel? NRM should make the first step towards real unity for others to learn from.
Apart from participating in the liberation struggles that set Uganda free, Busoga historically votes NRM and President Museveni because of his attachment and concern for Busoga’s well-being. That goodwill, if not harnessed now, may never be enjoyed in future.
Apart from political leaders, Busoga has many sons and daughters in high places of authority and decision making. These, too, should coalesce around common interests and team up with others to leave a legacy that they will be forever remembered for. Why fight each other?
Busoga is known for being impatient with leaders. At most elections, the attrition rate is higher than elsewhere, not sparing ministers and “stunt politicians”. I foresee a case where in 2021, the rate will rise higher unless the current crop learns from the mistakes of their predecessors and take a different trajectory. Busoga is not poor; it’s the attitude of Basoga that is poor!
The author is a Private Secretary to H.E the President in Charge of Media Management