On The Politics of Promises
And so, the papal visit results into the meeting of the old time friends and big time challenger as portrayed in the “popular handshake”, we hope it was a blessing to Ugandan politics since it was timely just in the middle of the campaign season.
Just about two months away from that February 18, date when Ugandan presidential elections will be decided – excepting the need for a surfeit. The politicians continue to make endless promises, president Museveni makes yet another promise but his time not hoes, but youth fund.
Yes, just ahead of the 2016 General Elections, the heat is on. Pressure is mounting, too. And the promises are being made as usual. The trick is to see that at least a decent measure of those promises is fulfilled. People often find their communities are left wanting when it comes time to deliver on those political promises and so we are yet to see other unfulfilled promises.
I will refer to Daily Monitor story of Monday November 30, 2015 titled “Museveni to give Shs2b per district for Youth” in this article, president Museveni while addressing Journalists in Napak District last week pledged to give 2bn shillings to the youth in each of the 112 districts in Uganda come next financial year.
Uganda has the youngest population in the world according to findings, with 77% of its population being under 30 years of age. There are 7,310,386 youth from the ages of 15–24 years of age living in Uganda.
Whereas election promises can help one get elected into office, officials once in office tend to abandon them. It should be noted with utmost potency that president Museveni and his government have always come up with brilliant policies and programs to counter Uganda’s day-to-day challenges however they have always failed to take off because of politics, intrigue, egoism and corruption. With President Museveni’s promise it is hard for Ugandans especially the youth to believe in this promise basing on how the previous funds have been handled.
When the government of Uganda launched the youth livelihood funds in May 2014, there have been a lot of messes ranging from ignorance, corruption of implementers, and misuse of the funds through politicization of almost everything.
We appreciate the fact that at least 83% of young people have no formal employment, partly due to slow economic growth, the small labour market, high population growth rate, the rigid education system, rural-urban migration and limited access to capital.
When we brace ourselves with the repercussions of the large youth population which lies idle, we should be able to find out whether such a promise will yield or not. There is a likelihood that the skyrocketing unemployment rates might lead frustration of the youth can contribute to militancy, impatience and risk-taking, since they can be easily exploited by the opposition which I think president Museveni is most worried about. If you can see what has transpired previously where the IGP Gen. Kayihura has ventured into recruiting majority of youth into crime preventers to reduce their redundancy as well as manipulate them for the 2016 election.
The question of whether this 2bn shilling is going to solve the current job crisis that has hit the youth of this nation is still unanswered.
Consequently, I verily think that the moment we fail to harmonize politics and economics, it will continue to cost us as a country. And so we must organize our politics in case of good economics. We can do this by changing our mindsets and attitudes as youth so as be able to utilize the little resources available.
On the contrary, the government which would have done this through sensitization of youth, empowerment through various youth seminars, entrepreneurship seminars etc, has simply looked on. We for instance have youth in upcountry areas that are very green about the youth funds. Even those who get them, because of the appraisal process, many youth are taking this money to be a hand out from the government.
In order for such programs to work, the various hardships in accessing the funds such as selection of groups, establishing clear objectives of youth groups, stopping corruption/ favoritism in the process of selection, political will as well as proper planning can surely help out.
Otherwise we shall continue to live on empty promises by politicians. Just imagine. Potential voters have to be hounded and recruited to register to vote and to exercise that right to vote. Really seems silly to fight and die for the right to an education, the right to equality and more without enjoying the benefits of those rights. Let us concentrate more on what will unite us than what divides us.
By Davidson Ndyabahika
The Writer is a 4th year student of Journalism and communication as well as the Guild Information Minister a Makerere University