UGANDA: ‘NO LONGER BUSINESS AS USUAL’ AT OPERATION WEALTH CREATION, SAYS GENERAL MUSEVENI’S BROTHER

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Example of corruption: A walking tractor which never worked was imported.

“It is anticipated that the implementation of the logistic hub and e-voucher card system will address most of the challenges identified in phase I. We can’t continue doing the same things the same way and expect different results”

“If we don’t dictate things to our people and we leave them to do as they wish, then we shall never take off. We visited the field yesterday (Thursday) and we found that some farmers did extremely well while others did not. It is no longer business as usual”

GULU-UGANDA:Uganda is bleeding with corruption cases in all sectors, and dictator Museveni’s brain child; ‘Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), which was meant to fight poverty among the population, is no exception.

Corruption in Uganda is characterized by grand-scale theft of public funds and petty corruptions involving public officials at all levels of society as well as a system of patronage based on political affiliation.

There are several high corruption risk areas such as police, judiciary and procurement. Businesses are particularly vulnerable when bidding public contracts in Uganda because processes are often non-transparent and under the table cash payments are demanded by procurement officers.

Officials continue to engage in corruption despite laws or institutional instruments that are in place to punish corruption individuals.

President Museveni launched OWC in 2014 ‘to reinforce already existing government structures to transform subsistence farmers into commercial farmers for accelerated and sustainable national socio-economic development’, says Chief Coordinator of OWC, General Caleb Akandwanaho aka Salim Saleh. He is Museveni’s younger brother.

Mr. Museveni wants to transform the country into a middle-income status by 2020 and he is doing things desperately to realize that dream; but the impediment is corruption in government; which unfortunately may not make Uganda realize that dream.

The agricultural sector, which remains the backbone of Uganda’s economy, by significantly contributing to national food security and nutrition, job creation and incomes for the majority of the population, employs about 73% (percent) of the labor force (formal and informal).

Since its launch in 2014, OWC distributed inputs to farmers worth millions of dollars, where in 2017/2918 financial year alone it injected shs300 billion UGX ($84 million dollars), but its impact is not felt on the ground as far as fighting poverty is concerned.

In a speech titled “Re-focusing the OWC intervention to meet the commander’s intent” to a stakeholders workshop held on Friday February 2, 2018 in Acholi Inn, Gulu,  General Saleh listed twenty-five “operational challenges and policy gaps”, which must be sealed if the program is to meet its objective.

In a speech read to him by Colonel John Charles Anywar, one of the directors at OWC secretariat, General Saleh lists ‘delivery of low quality and quantity inputs’; ‘late delivery of inputs’; ‘high mortality rate of planting materials and breeding stock attributed to draught and poor management’; delivery of inputs to wrong agro-ecological zones’; ‘poor post-harvest handling and processing’; ‘inflation of price of inputs especially livestock’ and ‘supply of air’, among others challenges.

“The above challenges having been identified, it was planned that phase II of the operation provides solutions to address these challenges so that the second phase operates better without repeat of the same”, says General Saleh.

General Saleh identified five strategies which should be implemented during phase II of OWC, which is stabilization phase, to seal these gaps. These strategies includes continued deployment of Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) soldiers in the program, formation of farmer groups, water for irrigation, establishment of regional logistic hub and e-voucher systems and new administrative structure.

“It is anticipated that the implementation of the logistic hub and e-voucher card system will address most of the challenges identified in phase I. We can’t continue doing the same things the same way and expect different results”, says General Saleh.

According to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Animal industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), Mr. Vincent Rubarema, his ministry is mandated to promote and support sustainable and market oriented agricultural production, food security and household incomes with a mission to transform subsistence farming to commercial agriculture. OWC works hand-in-hand with this ministry’s National Agricultural advisory services (NAADS).

In a speech read to him by Ms. Consoleta Acayo, one of the commissioners in MAAFI, Mr. Rubarema, says his ministry has prioritized extension support to famers, provision of water for irrigation and disease control for livestock in order to realize the vision of the ministry: “a competitive, profitable and sustainable agricultural sector”.

Ms. Acayo says the government has prioritized some crops like coffee, tea, cocoa and citrus and fruits like mangoes and oranges to boost income for the farmers besides the traditional food security crops.

“If we don’t dictate things to our people and we leave them to do as they wish, then we shall never take off. We visited the field yesterday (Thursday) and we found that some farmers did extremely well while others did not. It is no longer business as usual”, says Ms. Acayo.

 

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