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Why Uganda Needs a Lean Government

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The recently concluded parliamentary elections in Uganda has brought the number of parliamentarians to 478 up from 375 in the 9th parliament and all the way up from 92 legislators in Uganda’s first parliament (representing a near 420% increase). In the same period, the population of Uganda has grown to about 42.5m (2018 estimate) up from 7.1m in 1962 (representing a whopping 499% growth in the same period). People may argue that the growth in number of Legislators has kept pace with the growth in population (an average annual growth rate of about 3.3%), but should they?

Taking a closer look at our executive, and you discover that we currently have about 80 ministers (Cabinet and state). When you add other executive appointments like RDCs, ARDCs, Presidential advisors, etc., the size of our presidential appointees, that report directly to the president, makes it not only impossible but extremely discomforting for the head of state. No wonder some of them have been perennially complaining that they can’t even get an appointment with him.

A quick look at the best Governments in the world (the Top 25 well governed countries in the world) reveals Switzerland on top and Cyprus as number 25. What is interesting (although not surprising) to note is that there is no single African country on this list. What is more interesting also is that seven (07) of the 25 countries on the list are also on the list of Top countries with the smallest Executive to GDP per capita. This is a list with the smallest governments (Size) relative to their GDPs. Topping that list is Andorra with only 12 Members on their top governing executive followed by Hungary at 14, Estonia at 15, Luxembourg at 18, Japan at 20, Hong Kong at 21, Singapore at 21, Sweden at 23, USA at 23, Costa Rica at 25 and China at 35. Now, please note that China (People’s Republic) is the most densely populated country at more than 1.3bn people. But these are governed by 35 people including the Head of state.

It is no wonder therefore, that the 7 countries (Sweden, Luxembourg, USA, Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong, & Estonia) with the leanest governments are also among the best governed. There is a correlation between the size of government and the efficiency of service delivery. Whereas we are busy splitting every village into a district, across the borders and into the global scene, countries are creating trading blocks. It therefore defeats my understanding how we can be aspiring for the EA Community and at the same time splitting districts along small tribal/ clan lines. For example, the split of Mitooma District into 2 constituencies was done in such a way that 3 of the 11 sub counties (predominantly occupied by Bakiga) made a separate constituency leaving the other 8 sub counties with another constituency. Does that bother our leaders? Maybe not. It doesn’t make sense at all, other than quenching the large political thirst by our politicians/ leaders.

Read Also: The voice of the people is NOT the voice of God

My proposal therefore would be to consolidate Uganda’s cabinet to at most 25 members excluding the president and not more than 80 members of parliament (actually, this can be kept with in less than 50 members, with a good formula which I will delve into in my future articles). This should automatically kick out members on the affirmative action since members have now matured and can compete effectively. Also, the Army representatives should not have a place in a multiparty dispensation considering that they are serving soldiers. We should go back on to a consolidation path rather than a disintegration path (for example why have more than 10 representatives in greater Bushenyi when only 2 or 3 would suffice. Or even one), and the same can be said of the Kabale Region, Kisoro, Kasese, Fortportal, Masindi, greater Masaka, Wakiso, Kampala, Jinja, Soroti, Lira, Apach, Kapchorwa etc. We would end up with high quality representatives, who are more willing to work for the people and are not easy to bribe. They would be more accountable…

Lastly, I would propose a Lean cabinet with only 10 cabinet and 15 state ministers as below:

Cabinet Positions (Ministries)

1 Agriculture

2 Education, Culture & Entertainment

3 Commerce (Finance, Trade and Investment)

4 Infrastructure (Transport, energy)

5 ICT & Innovation

6 Legal & Constitutional Affairs (Attorney General)

7 International Relations

8 Defence & Security affairs

9 Health & Human Services

10 Prime Minister

State Ministers

1 Land and Agriculture

2 Sports & Entertainment

3 Culture & Social Affairs

4 Financial Inclusion (Cooperatives etc)

5 Finance & Planning

6 Transportation (Road, Railway, Air, Water)

7 Urban & Rural Planning

8 Energy Services

9 Internal Security

10 External Security

11 Tourism & Market Promotion

12 Youth & Women affairs

13 Presidential affairs

14 Civil & Public servants

15 Research & Development

With the above lean government, I would be ready to launch Uganda into Middle Income economy and beyond!, Please note, there is no slot for the Vice president in my cabinet!

Commentator….Martin Bakundana, a CMCRC research scholar

Strictly Personal

Queen Nanny: Ghanaian woman who led liberation army in Jamaica by Owei Lakemfa

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Nanny, a young Akan woman from present-day Ghana, born about 1686 was captured with her four brothers and sold into slavery. They were taken on ‘The Journey of No Return’ across the Atlantic Ocean, becoming part of the 12.5 million Africans forced on this journey by Europeans and Americans who wanted free labour to exploit for profit.

Unlike the 1.8 million others who perished during this journey and had their bodies fed to the roaring ocean waves, Nanny, who was to become known as “Nanny of the Maroons,” and her brothers, survived the ordeal and arrived in Jamaica.

They later escaped from the slave plantations and fled into the mountains and jungles of Jamaica to become Maroons. This was the name for escaped slaves who banded together and fought for freedom, initially for themselves and eventually for various Latin American and  Caribbean countries, including Jamaica.

The names of slaves, in almost all cases, were lost. This was part of the depersonalization and dehumanisation of the slave, who was forced to forget the past and live entirely at the pleasure of the slave owner, who exercised the power of life or death on his “property. So it is not unlikely that her original name was not Nanny. This was most likely a corruption of the name Maame, which means mother in Twi. This would have been preferred to the names given to her by the slave masters.

By the mid-1550s, there were already escaped slaves in the Caribbean, who, with no way of finding their way back home to their loved ones, banded together to fight the slave owners and establish their own communities. In Jamaica, as in some other countries, these freedom fighters were called Maroons.

The word, “maroon” was derived from the Spanish word “Cimarron,” which was originally used for runaway cattle. Since African slaves were valued and treated no better than cattle, it came to be used for escaped African slaves. Maroon communities were typically located among mountains and swamps, making slave owners and European countries’ raids difficult.

They also provided safe bases for the Maroons to conduct raids on white plantations and organise guerrilla armies. They linked up with local Native Americans to defend the terrain. Today, Maroon communities still exist in various North and South America countries like Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Ecuador, and the United States especially in the Carolina’s, Alabama, Florida, and New Orleans areas. They also exist on islands in the Indian Ocean.

After escaping from the plantations, Nanny and her brothers joined the Maroons. She later founded a Maroon village with one of her brothers, Quao, in the Blue Mountains in eastern Jamaica in 1720.  British Captain Stoddart said Nanny Town, was “situated on one of the highest mountains on the island” and found the only path leading to it, to be: “steep, rocky, and difficult, and not wide enough to admit the passage of two persons abreast.”

This forced the invading army into a single file and an easy target for the Nanny fighters. This part of Jamaica was described as “Windward” and the inhabitants were known as “Windward Maroons.” The village became known as Nanny Town. The Maroons evolved their own traditional religious practices with West African influences.

It was called Obeah. Nanny was a priestess, leader, and commander-in-chief of the rebel army who trained her soldiers in guerrilla warfare. She was so fierce in a battle that the Europeans tried to pass her off as a myth created to rally the forces of the Maroons. But despite strenuous efforts, the Europeans could not force her off the history books.

This is primarily because a ghost could not have been recorded by European writers; could not have been declared wanted with a bounty on her by the colonialists, nor could a myth have physically established two separate towns. Also, she organised and supervised the escape of about 1,000 slaves over a three-decade period and resettled them.

The Queen Nanny rebels fought the British military for six years from 1728 until the latter, led by Commander Stoddard seized and destroyed Nanny Town in 1734. In fact, the British claimed that one of its mercenaries, Captain William Cuffee alias Captain Sambo, leading the “Black Shots,” killed Nanny in 1733 during the battle for the town.

However, a year later, the same British reported that she was leading the Windward Maroons in a retreat westward. Eventually, she was reported to have led her troops to take refuge near the Rio Grande, one of the largest rivers in the country. The Maroons were making slavery costly and unsustainable and creating insecurity for the Europeans.

These, coupled with the European powers’ inability to defeat them after 84 years of insurgency, led the British settlers in 1738 to call for a truce. The first peace treaty was signed with the Leeward or Western Maroons, led by Captain Cudjoe (Kojo), another Maroon of Ghanaian origin, in 1739.

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Strictly Personal

Why now is the right time to invest in Zambia by Choolwe Chibomba

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Zambia sits on a fountain of untapped potential. Home to over 376,000 square kilometers of arable land, as well as some of the highest-grade copper deposits in the world, the country is a treasure trove of natural resources. Added to this, 54% of Zambia’s population is of working age (15 – 64), while businesses have access to a market of some 406 million inhabitants via the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

Tragically, and in a pattern seen all too often across Africa, successive governments have failed to tap into this potential. Instead, they saddled Zambia with unsustainable levels of debt while allowing a culture of corruption and venality to proliferate throughout its society.

The election of President Hichilema and the UPND government is therefore rightly heralded as a ‘new dawn’ for Zambia; allowing people and businesses to finally realise Zambia’s abundant potential.

Since this New Dawn government was elected, Zambia’s credit rating has been upgraded to a CCC+ (up from CCC-) by the S&P rating agency, with GDP growth expected to accelerate to 3.7% in 2023. Having negotiated a $1.3 billion extended credit facility from the IMF, as well as a $275 million loan from the World Bank, the government is now tantalisingly close to agreeing a debt renegotiation plan with its external creditors, freeing up vital funding from interest payments to be invested into infrastructure, healthcare, and education.

Businesses are already waking up to the opportunities that this proactive, forward-thinking government is unlocking for them and for the Zambian people. In May, the CEO of Canadian mining giant Barrick Gold, Mark Bristow, described President Hakainde Hichilema as a “breath of fresh air” at the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town. The company has credited the New Dawn government’s pro-business attitude and progressive tax reforms – including an end to the double tax trap on mining royalties – with plans to potentially extend the life of the company’s Lumwana mine until 2060.

This kind of continued investment would not only sustain jobs at the Lumwana mine but also create opportunities throughout the value chain as the company contracts Zambian firms to provide machinery, equipment, and services to the mine. Furthermore, it would result in significant upskilling for Zambian workers as the mine invests in training and educating its employees.

It is not just mining companies that are taking note. In July Zambian Breweries, which is owned by Belgian drinks company AB InBev, announced it would be investing $80 million into expanding its Lusaka factory, creating 5,000 new jobs in the process. The brewery again cited the “pro-business and pro-investment climate” that President Hichilema’s government has cultivated since coming into office.

These developments represent just the tip of the iceberg, as the government has promised to use its 2023 budget to make Zambia the most attractive investment destination on the continent. This will in turn provide Zambians with the access to capital and financing they need to set up and grow their own businesses.

In manufacturing, the government is promising a 50% suspension on excise duty for clear beer, as well as concessions geared towards stimulating investments in corn starch production. Meanwhile, telecom companies will benefit from the abolishment of the two-tier tax system in favour of a single corporate income rate of 35%, and betting shops will see their presumptive tax reduced by 10%.

These plans to drive investment also include measures to waive visa requirements for visitors from the EU, United Kingdom, United States, and China. This will not only help foster increased tourism but also allow potential investors from wealthy countries to visit Zambia more easily and witness its potential firsthand.

To help promote the breadth of Zambia’s investment potential, the government is supporting the efforts of Zambia Is Back campaign through the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA). Zambia Is Back campaign works to publicise the opportunities being unlocked by the New Dawn government and match up promising Zambian businesses with interested investors around the world.

We are excited to meet with growing businesses in Zambia, as well as investors looking to get involved in this exciting chapter in our nation’s history. In particular, we are looking forward to meeting with investors that want to make a positive impact in Zambia and support the country’s development by promoting education, entrepreneurship, and value-chain addition.

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