No Straight Road to Poverty Eradication

Monday, August 27, 2007

A major plank in President Museveni’s kisanja project is the eradication of poverty. If there is anything he has expended quantities of energy talking about, it is the imperative to lift the Uganda’s impoverished out of poverty. And he has never been short of quick solutions.

Those with long memories recall the much-vaunted entandikwa scheme, for which he even appointed Sisye Kiryapawo minister in charge. For reasons best known to him, and his policy advisors, the President believed that in the scheme he had the proverbial magic bullet with which he would banish poverty from our midst.

Poverty experts, though, took it all with a large pinch of salt.

They knew there was more to eradicating poverty than simply throwing money around. Again, those with long memories will recall that it did not take long before he discovered that his solution to poverty had been hijacked by his village-based political footmen. Having convinced themselves that the money was to kasiimo (thank them) for canvassing for votes for him during the 1996 presidential campaigns, local councillors set about sharing it out among themselves, their friends and relatives.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many went on to buy themselves consumer items such as clothes and radios. Others roofed their houses, bought bicycles, or even paid off in-laws for wives they had hitherto married on credit. The entandikwa scheme died at birth, and with it hundreds of millions of shillings, leaving poor Kiryapawo presiding over a ’ministry’ with no role.

Keen listeners to the President’s pronouncements know that he is not given to owning up to mistakes. If it is not “arrogant and meddlesome foreigners” who “force their mistakes on us”, it is civil servants “who don’t listen” to his advice. If it is not those two groups, it is “misguided” cadres operating in cliques. And, of course, there was the 7th Parliament and its “poisonous mushrooms” and “empty tins”, now “wasting time” in FDC.

On the entandikwa, though, he did at least admit that he had made a mistake by channelling the money through LCs. Thus, one supposes, the decision to invent another strategy, bonna baggaggawale, this time to be overseen by the charismatic and popular war hero and “financial engineer”, Gen. Salim Saleh. “The masses” are, once again, excited.

Continue reading “No Straight Road to Poverty Eradication

Source: Calibre Macro*World (link opens in a new window)