Address on National State of Affairs-Verbatim

831 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Why has this population grown at the rate of 3.2since 1986, yet between 1969 and 1986, it was growing at around the rate of 2.5 Two reasons: Security of life and property and better healthcare for the population, especially immunization. Yes, there are still problems of shortage of drugs in hospitals etc., but the immunization, which is easier to administer and monitor, has done the miracle. In spite of the AIDs epidemic, which killed a total of 2million young Ugandans and left a lot of orphans, the population of Uganda has grown from 14million in 1986 to 40million today. This population will be 102 million by 2050, i.e. 32 years from today.

Fellow Countrymen and Countrywomen,
in particular, the Bazzukulu.

I greet you all and I start my address by saying that the population of Uganda, on the 26thof January, 1986, when the NRM took over Kampala, was about 14million People.  I say about 14million because the exact number was not known.  What was known was that the census of 1969 was 9,535,051 million, the one of 1980 was 12,636,179 million and the one of 1991 was 16,671,705 million.  Therefore, the population of Uganda in 1986 was somewhere between 13 million and 16.5 million.  That is why I estimate it at 14million.  

The population of Uganda is now 40million.  It has been growing at the rate of 3% per annum. Why has this population grown at the rate of 3.2%since 1986, yet between 1969 and 1986, it was growing at around the rate of 2.5%?  Two reasons: Security of life and property and better healthcare for the population, especially immunization.  Yes, there are still problems of shortage of drugs in hospitals etc., but the immunization, which is easier to administer and monitor, has done the miracle.  In spite of the AIDs epidemic, which killed a total of 2million young Ugandans and left a lot of orphans, the population of Uganda has grown from 14million in 1986 to 40million today.  

This population will be 102 million by 2050, i.e. 32 years from today.  
Although our economy, by 1986, had shrank to only US$ 3.4 billion, the NRM has been able not only to immunize against all those 13 killer diseases, but we have been able to guard them against terrorism (ADF, Kony, UPA, FOBA) and cattle rustlers as well as providing education to most of the young People.  

Defending the Ugandans, relying on our own means, was achieved by the NRA imbuing the young soldiers with a high spirit of patriotism that enables them to fight in the grasslands of Northern Uganda, the Cold Mountains of the Rwenzori (in Alphine conditions), in the forests of Congo and in the semi-arid conditions of Somalia without even a murmur or hesitation, at very low pay.  They are never fighting for money but for patriotism.  

With the UPDF, we fight in spite of low pay; with the NRA (the fore runner of the UPDF), we fought long and hard in spite of no pay at all.  That is why Uganda has no refugees outside our borders and doesn't need the UN to defend her.  It is defended by the UPDF fighters, imbued with the spirit of patriotism.  On the contrary, Uganda that is maligned by some elements, is a safe - haven for 1.4 million refugees from the neigbouring countries of Congo, South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, etc.
On the side of health, as already pointed out, we have relied on immunization  - just immunization plus security. If only the District Medical Officers could sensitize our People on hygiene, nutrition, malaria control, behavior change to avoid AIDs and the use of safe water, these measures would eliminate 80% of all the sicknesses.  

The limited efforts notwithstanding, the population of Uganda has not only increased from 14million in 1986 to 40million today, but life expectancy has gone from 43 years of age to 63 years. On the side of how we educated these expanding numbers, as we caused recovery of the collapsed economy, a disloyal and corrupt Civil Service notwithstanding, I would like to remind the Country that we have built new classrooms, expanding the number of classrooms in permanent materials from 40,440 in 1986 to 160,381 in 2018.  This is for Government Primary Schools.  It does not include the figure of Private Schools which are 6,841 in number.  The Government Schools are 12,048.The Government Primary Schools and the Private Primary Schools have a total enrolment of 8,655,924million. The Government Secondary Schools are 1,086 and Private secondary schools are 2,862.  

They have a total enrolment of 1,457,280. More schools  - Government and Private  -  that is how we educated our population so much that the literacy rate rose from 43% to 75%.
We have, therefore, protected, immunized and educated the Ugandan population as it was growing in numbers.  How did we do it when the economy between 1971 and 1986 had shrank by 40% to US$3.4 when the population had grown by 2.5% from the 1969 figure of 9,535,051 to the 14million of 1986?  As I always tell you in my numerous speeches, the economy of Uganda, as indeed is the case with many countries wanting to modernize from the pre-capitalist state, has got four sectors (obubondo).  These four are:  Commercial agriculture; Industries (factories) big and small; services (obuwereza)that includes hotels, transport, banking, insurance, professional services such as medical, accounting, etc., etc.; and ICT, which involves using Computers (ebyuma bya kalimagezi - intelligent machines) such as using the internet to do business like BPOs (Business Procedures Outsourcing) etc.
Agriculture should be easy for Ugandans because God had given us very easy life which some do not appreciate, take for granted and carelessly mishandle. 

Around the Equator and to the South, we get two rainy seasons in a year: the small rainy season (katuumba  - March to May) and the big wet season (Ituumba  - August to December).  Therefore, without irrigation, since time immemorial, the Ugandans indigenous to this area, know that we always have two harvests:  obwijegashe (the small harvest of end of May) and Omwaaka (the big harvest of end of December and early January).  Indeed, the month of January is called kahiingo orbiruuru. Biruuru because the bird chasers in the millet gardens are making alarms (enduuru) to chase away the birds from eating the crop and kahiingobecause the cattle keepers are not bothered to remove the mihiingo(miyingo), the log barriers that stop the cattle from getting out of the enclosure (orugo),early, because there is plenty of grass for the cattle.  The cattle do not have to get out early.  Whatever time of day they get out, say 9 a.m., there will be plenty of grass and it will still be soft enough for them to graze on.

One degree North (Kyenkwaanzi) up to the Sudan border (40North to the North West of our Country), we get rain, almost continuously, from the middle of March to December.  I had noticed this in the War of Resistance to my surprise.  When we attacked Luwero Town on the 16thof July, it was a wet season in that area; yet around the Equator and to the South, it would have been a dry season (ekyaanda  - since June).  Indeed, recently, my daughter, Kokundeka Museveni Rwabwoogo, a farmer and preacher of the gospel, was surprised to go to Gulu and find a lot of rain while it had been very dry in the Rwakitura area where she had come from.  

I told her that that is the Uganda God gave us but "you, the Dot.Com group", do not bother to understand and appreciate - some of you flying to Dubai etc.  I never go anywhere unless I am forced by the business of the Country.  Uganda is simply too good.  When we attacked Masindi on the 20thof February, 1984, we timed it because that was one of the few windows of opportunity when it would be dry and the grass would be burnt and the ground would be hard to allow for fast movement cross country.  

However, this very environment has also bred an attitude of complacency by the population.  When you see people invading the wetlands and cutting the forests, apart from telling them to get out, we should also pray to God that "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" (the Bible says in the Book of Luke 23:34).

As I have been telling you repeatedly, many of our people do not only not know how to take care of the Environment, this good gift from God, but also do not know how to take care of themselves and their families.  That is how you get 68% of the population still being stuck in subsistence farming (farming only for food for the home but not for money) even by the time of this last census (2014); or if they engage in commercial farming, they do so without ekibaro(proper family economics, aimar, cura, otita). 

This phenomenon of 68% of the population being in subsistence economy (okukorera enda yoonka, okulimira olubuto kyokka, tic pi iya)is, of course, not new.  By 1970 or by 1962, indeed, the economy of Uganda was being described as an "enclave" economy  - an economy being comprised of an island (enclave) of modernity of 3 Cs and 3 Ts, surrounded by a sea of backwardness.  The 3Cs were: Coffee, Cotton and Copper from Kilembe and the 3Ts were: Tobacco, Tea and Tourism.

At that time, by 1970, a very small percentage of homesteads were in this island (enclave) of modernity.  By 1986, this island had disappeared.  Only 1 C, Coffee, was limping on.  Copper was at zero production, Cotton was at almost zero, Tourism was zero, Tobacco was very much reduced and Tea had gone from 23 million kilograms in 1970 to 3 million kilograms by 1986.  This phenomenon of enclave economies is, of course, characteristic of many African economies, the former colonies.

According to our bubondo(sectors), you see that the three sectors of that time had collapsed:  commercial agriculture (coffee, cotton, tobacco, tea); Industry (tea, copper and tobacco  - cigarettes) and services (tourism). ICT, at that time, had not come on the scene as a separate sector. Meanwhile, everybody needs to be reminded that the 4 sectors cannot be revived or expanded if you do not have infrastructure, those neutral but crucial elements.  These are: electricity, roads, the railway, water works, telecommunications, ICT backbone etc.  Without these, no modern sector can operate.  

How can you transport farm produce if you do not have roads?  How will you manufacture or run hotels if you do not have electricity?  There is also linkage with the three elements I have already talked about: peace, education and health - which also need social infrastructure already talked about (schools, health centres, etc.). However, before we link the four sectors with the infrastructure, we must ask one question: What caused the collapse of 1971? We say the island of the 3Cs and 3 Ts collapsed following the coup of Idi Amin in 1971.  

In fact, the coup of 1971 was the last scene in the collapse that started in 1964 when the unprincipled marriage between the UPC and KY collapsed on the nonsensical and sick quarrel over the "lost counties" - Buyaga and Bugangaizi (present day Kibaale District).  You, then, had the 1966 crisis etc., etc.  What was behind all this?  Ideological bankruptcy.  I do not want to go back to the pre-colonial times when our area was tormented by wars of the tribal Kings and how those fratricidal conflicts enabled the colonialists to take over the whole of Africa, with the horrors that went with it. 

I covered that in my Mzee Mandela speech at Makerere University last year and in other documents.  The copies of that speech are here. By confining ourselves to the events that followed the Independence, we find that on account of the ideological bankruptcy, of the unprincipled exploitation of identity (religion and tribes), the more useful issues, such as the interest (okugasirwa, okuganyirwa), were forgotten. Emphasis was laid on identity of religion or tribe (enzikiriza z'ediini or amawanga). 

Since all the religious sects and all the tribes in Uganda are minorities, one could not, therefore, get a party that could marshal enough support to form a Government.  Hence, the alliance of KY and UPC.  KY, a party for Baganda Protestants and some Moslems, UPC, a party for Protestants outside Buganda and DP, a party for Catholics. UPC had got 37 seats outside Buganda, with quite abit of manipulation and DP had got 24 seats outside Buganda. KY, which had blocked direct elections in Buganda, had the monopoly of the 21 seats in Buganda.  

I was a member of DP while my colleagues, the Kintu Musokes, Bidandi Ssalis, Kirunda Kivejinjas, Nabuderes, Chango Machyos, Kategayas, Rugundas etc. were in UPC.  This sectarian and sterile politics of identity did not only block the emergence of viable national parties but also sabotaged the building of a national Army. Karugaba, the first Ugandan graduate from Sandhurst, could not be allowed to even remain in the Army because he was Catholic.

Starting with 1965, some of the youth from DP, like myself, as well as some of the youth from UPC, like the Kategayas and the Rugundas, partly on account of being exposed to global political movements, started seeing the danger of this sectarian politics.  We started seeing it as bogus, false, sterile and dangerous.  I have exposed that sectarianism elsewhere.  Suffice it here to say that we evolved and held fast to the four principles: Patriotism, Pan Africanism, Social-Economic transformation and Democracy.

It is around these four principles that we built the NRA (the National Resistance Army), the NRM and prosecuted the Resistance war until victory.  After the victory in 1986, the mass movement around the RCs (Resistance Councils) has ensured the unity of the People.  This unity, translated into repeated electoral victories ever since 1994 for the CA, has given us time to resurrect the island of modernity and expand it even when our population was growing.  You remember that I rejected, repeatedly, the shrill cries of NGOs about population control etc.  

The problem of Africa has been, actually, under-population and not over population. Africa is 12 times the size of India in land area.  Yet, even today when the population of Africa has somewhat gone up, the 1.25billion of Africans are still fewer than the 1.3billion of Indians.
Going back to the resurrection and expansion of the island of modernity (the former 3Cs and 3Ts), what are the figures like 
Here below are the figures:
3m bags
60m bags
5m bags
Sugar (metric tonnes)
460m litres

2.5bn litres
Cotton (metric tonnes)
Beer (million litres)
Beef (metric tonnes)
Soft Drinks (Sodas-million litres) 

Gold (2016/17)
23 million

Fertilizers (metric tonnes) 


 Hence, in the last 32 years, the NRM, all other problems notwithstanding, has not only resurrected the island of modernity but has greatly expanded it.  That is why the GDP of Uganda which was US$ 3.4 billion in 1986 by the PPP method, is now US$88.6billion.  Only the other day, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Trade of Kenya told me that for some years now, Uganda has been exporting more to Kenya, month by month, than Kenya has been exporting to Uganda.  Here below are the figures by months:
Uganda's bi-lateral trade with Kenya:
Trade Balance
% increase
Source: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics
I never waste time finding out which pygmy is taller than the other one, which is a permanent occupation of some other actors; however, in terms of gauging Uganda's recovery, it is not a useless yardstick 
Therefore, fellow Ugandans, the NRM has protected the health of Ugandans by, mainly immunizing them; has protected them from war and terrorism; has educated them and has revived and expanded the island of modernity.  The big four: peace, health, education and the minimum economic recovery and development.  The NRM has, however, done something else.  Together with the African compatriots, it has worked on the integration of Africa:  East Africa Community (EAC), Common market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).  While some other actors are always busy trying to revive the sectarianism of religion and tribes, the NRM is always working for patriotism (unity within Uganda) and Pan-Africanism.  The biggest enemies of Africa (in the past, today and tomorrow) are the chauvinists of tribe and religion.  We insist on the Patriotism and Pan-Africanism not only as a correct principle of brotherhood among similar or linked people, but also as an unavoidable strategy for ensuring the prosperity of our people.  Some years ago, we had a glut (ekyengera, omweru) of milk because the production was higher than the consumption inside Uganda.  Some people left the Dairy Sector altogether. Who rescued us? East Africa.  The surplus 1.7billion litres is being taken by East Africa and also the World.  Recently, we had a glut of maize.  The price collapsed.  East Africa is the only one that can rescue us.  Patriotism and Pan Africanism are a matter of survival for our people.  We shall always resist these misleaders and for good reason.
It is not enough to quote the figures of production of industry, agriculture, services or ICT without highlighting the role of infrastructure in all this. Infrastructure is the neutral but indispensable base of production.  If you do not have electricity which is cheap, how will you produce factory goods that are able to compete in price and quality with other goods of other producers? If the transport costs are very high, how will our goods compete with the goods of other countries?  If the costs of transport, electricity, etc., etc. are high, how will the companies make profit?  The NRM had, therefore, to solve the problem of infrastructure even when we did not have enough money.  Do you remember when we used Soya beans to construct Mityana  - Mubende road with the Yugoslavs?  Do you remember when we had to use the East African compensation fund to construct Mbale - Kapchorwa Road with Mzee Moi?  In 2006, I put my foot down and persuaded the NRM leaders, in the Cabinet and in the caucus, to suppress the other expenditures and concentrate on the roads and electricity.  That is how you now have the new roads of:  
  1. Kampala - Masaka;
  2. Mbarara - Kikagate;
  3. Ishaka - Kagaamba;
  4. Mbarara - Ishaka  - Katunguru (on going);
  5. Mpigi - Kanoni  - Maddu  - Ssembabule  - Nyendo;
  6. Jinja - Kamuli;
  7. Iganga - Kaliro;
  8. Musita - Namayingo  - Busia;
  9. Mukono - Katosi  - Nyenga
  10. Bwaise  - Luwero - Kafu  - Gulu;
  11. Olwiyo  - Koch  - Goma  - Gulu  - Kitgum  - Musiingo;
  12. Moroto  - Nakapiripirit;
  13. Moroto  - Kangole 


About the author

Ahmed Wetaka
Ahmed Wetaka is a URN editor. Wetaka is also the editor-in-charge of Up Country bureaus. All bureau chiefs out of Kampala answer to Wetaka. Wetaka has been a URN staff member since 2007.

Wetaka started his career as Mbale Daily Monitor freelance writer. He was also the Open Gate FM reporter, anchor, talk show host and news editor from 2000.

Wetaka is a keen follower of public affairs developments, politics and religion. In 2014, Wetaka managed to fulfil an important Muslim rite of paying a hegira to Mecca.