Speech by President Museveni on his inauguration

Uganda Politics

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is sworn in for fourth term at Kololo Airstrip in the capital city Kampala Thursday, May 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Stephen Wandera)

On the 12th May 2016 Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, was sworn in for a fifth term at the helm of the beautiful Central African country. In attendance were various African head of states and governments, including Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, who has an arrest warrant issued by the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. In his speech Museveni referred to the ICC as “a useless body. They are a bunch of useless people.” This is not the first time an African leader has made such remarks about the ICC and it wasn’t Museveni’s first time either. In brief, the problem African leaders have with ICC is that they say that it unfairly targets Africans and ignores other war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by others. This is an allegation with basis I fact, all 32 people indicted in its history are all Africans.  This argument ignores the bigger problem, which is why does Africa not have their own independent and credible national judicial institutions or even African Criminal Court.

Admissibility is a legal term that defines when a case may come before a court, with the ICC, it may only accept a case, if the national judicial system is investigating and prosecuting the same matter in an independent and credible manner. This was the case in Kenya with the Waki Commission, set up to investigate and prosecuted the post-election violence, was found to not be credible and the cases passed to the ICC. This failure of our institutions is what puts us in this situations, where we are always undermined by the Western powers and they feel the need to act like a big brother and ‘essentially protect us from ourselves’, even against our wishes. Africa needs functioning credible, strong and independent judicial institutions, in which the ordinary citizen has access and can expect fair treatment no matter his/her economic status, tribe, political affiliation or gender.

We already have a continental court with the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, but it does not work efficiently, because of lack of political will and economic means. The African Union, the parent of the African Court is mostly funded by non-African institutions and governments. Again this is another area in which Africa needs a long term solution not just rhetoric, the area of economy.

The ICC might very well be biased against the African continent, as African leaders make up the majority of indictments and prosecutions, even though we know there are human rights violations in Europe, the Americas and Asia. But leaving the ICC isn’t the answer to countering this supposed bias. Instead of trying to evade prosecution from the ICC, African leaders need to be working at eliminating poverty in their countries, educating their citizens, and establishing the rule of law and truly observing human rights. They need to renounce and uproot from their governments, the greedy, self-serving attitudes that have plunged our continent into poverty and wars for so long, and take responsibility for bettering their countries, rather than always blaming others for our misfortunes.

Our leaders are well within their rights to demand that the ICC be fair and just in prosecuting all the leaders around the world who commit crimes against humanity. In the meantime, they need to ensure that they are blameless themselves, rather than trying to find ways to avoid prosecution.

Once again we refer to Museveni’s speech where he referred to the Chinese nation and said “Those people are also our genuine friends. They have no arrogance. If a man has his own house and he goes in another man’s house … what type of fool are you?” Here he was basically saying that the Chinese government offer aid or maybe investment without any conditions, unlike the western countries. African countries rely too much on foreign aid in every area of government from health and education to military, this has created a situation where they always have to beg. The natural resources of Africa are not benefiting Africans, either through corruption or global economic policies that do not offer Africa their deserved share. Policies of institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have put Africa in so much debt, due to high interests, that it will take generations to pay back. What is needed is not to choose Chinese over Americans but to create an African economy that is self-sustainable and strong, where we trade among ourselves, negotiate together as one and allow free movement of goods and people within the continent.

 

In conclusion, what Museveni should have said in his speech is that we need an Africa with strong, independent and accessible national institutions, a strong, united and inclusive economy and the ability, as Africans, to identify and solve our own problems.

By Joseph Nkurunziza Chairperson of Africa Democracy Forum @ryarasa

 

 

 

 

 

Poverty, corruption and climate change must be addressed to harness the fourth industrial revolution

By Joseph Nkurunziza

We are inevitably on the brink of a technological revolution; the fourth industrial revolution. This is an important and powerful global shift that recognizes the need to realign business processes as well as government policies to technological advances in order to effectively meet goals. Technology is exponentially influencing our lives on a daily basis and in future it is not expected to relent but will in fact alter some of the more sophisticated human tasks such as driving a car by offering self-driven vehicles. It is also expected to make positive impacts on important sectors such as health, infrastructure and environment to improve service delivery.

The fourth industrial revolution is an opportune time for African states to catch up with their European, American and Asian counterparts. Technological advances based on digital networks have somehow leveled the playing field for Africans to be able to develop important solutions tailored to the African context. At the just ended World Economic Forum, delegates emphasized the need to adopt the revolution to transform economies and improve the lives of citizens in Africa. Indeed the revolution if well adopted, I believe stands the chance to achieve better standards of living for Africans while providing employment to the growing youthful population – many of whom are educated but lack employment opportunities.

While previous industrial revolutions largely by passed the African continent because African states were unable to effectively harness their potential, Africa should this time around prepare adequately to make the most of the fourth industrial revolution. There is hence a need to ask ourselves one fundamental question: what will it take to sustainably adopt the fourth industrial revolution to improve lives and livelihoods of the citizens of Africa?

To answer this, we must recognize that the revolution will not function in a vacuum. There are many factors that will influence the uptake of the latest digital technologies in Africa. Poverty, governance issues including corruption and climate change are paramount to address if Africa is going to make the most out of the revolution.

Poverty is a barrier for African economies to effectively harness the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution. Poverty and its corollaries – hunger, diseases and lack of proper education – have a negative impact on the ability of people to exploit available opportunities. It presents people with difficult day to day choices where having enough food to put on the table is the foremost priority. A large population of Africans is living below the poverty line and they happen to be the ones who can benefit most from advances in technology.

A unique trait of the revolution is the ability of people to not just use technology but create it to solve problems and improve quality of lives. Governments hence need to invest heavily in poverty alleviation programmes and institute policies that will give the poor an opportunity to take advantage of technological advances. As people are lifted out of poverty and empowered to use technology to solve problems, the ripple effect will be enormous on the economy. We will have more people solving age-old problems, creating wealth and ultimately contributing to poverty reduction.

Corruption is a cancer that has characterized many African governments for far too long and contributed to limited development. It is also one of the reasons why the continent did not benefit fully from previous industrial revolutions. Good governance is vital in addressing the issue of corruption. It calls for the participation of citizens in ensuring that leaders are accountable and governments as well as the civil society have role in educating citizens on the benefits of an inclusive government. Whatever advances can be achieved through technology need to be protected  from regressing through corruption.

Climate change although a relatively novel issue in the development world, is having widespread effects that cannot be ignored even when we are debating matters of technology. The African continent contributes least to climate change compared to developed countries but stands to suffer most from its effects. As weather patterns become more erratic due to climate change, Africa’s poor population whose mainstay is agriculture is drawn farther into poverty. Poverty, as previously explained will limit adoption of the fourth industrial revolution.

Poverty, corruption and climate change need to be addressed to enable Africans to harness the immense benefits of the fourth industrial revolution. It is an uphill task but unless we recognize the importance of addressing these issues and investing in appropriate measures and systems, we risk – yet again – being by passed by the revolution.

Joseph@neveragainrwanda.org  Twitter: @ryarasa

Why is fighting Corruption in Africa failing?

africa-corruption-survey-20131113.jpgPhoto from Africa corruption survey 2013

Corruption is an endemic cancer that knows no boundaries; both developed and developing countries constantly grapple with ways to stem it. Its cure has remained elusive and as a result billions of dollars of tax payers’ money world-wide disappear into thin air ever so often with no convincing answers provided to the citizens to explain the phenomenon.

 In most African states, no government has been able to successfully fight corruption or reduce it to significant levels compared to our Western counterparts. Instead, corruption has persisted and even prospered mainly in the public service sector.

So what really is the problem in Africa with regard to corruption? I am certain that there is a plethora of reasons to explain why mother Africa has been unable to lift herself from this miry clay despite the cancerous effects. However, lack of efficient systems and transparency in the public sector are leading factors encouraging or promoting the culture of corruption among its citizens.

Efficient systems and transparency bring about accountability in delivery of services in the public sector. In the absence of these, employees are at liberty to conduct activities as they wish; including asking for bribes to carry out their delegated duties and responsibilities.

Take the example of the tender process of government institutions. The systems are not well established and there is little transparency involved. In most developed countries, competition for government tenders is based purely on the quality of work or services the bidder is proposing against the cost of the tender which is actually published in the public domain. This practice is contrary to how bids are evaluated in many African states. Here, competition among bidders is based first on cost – the lowest bidder often times is the best bidder – regardless of the quality of services proposed by bidder.

This process creates an opportunity for exploitation by employees and business people alike that could have been avoided by having in a place an effective and transparent tender process. Desperate to win tenders, bidders approach public service employees to obtain inside information about the cost of the tender so that they can match their proposals to it. The reverse is also true where employees solicit bribes from bidders in order to disclose inside information that would help them win.

African states have been failing on the war on corruption because of addressing the outcome of corruption instead of addressing the root cause of it. For instance, by arresting and persecuting business people and public service employees who are found to have colluded and engaged in corrupt dealings to win government tenders, the issue of corruption is hardly addressed. As long as effective systems are not installed and transparency enshrined as the norm in government institutions, corruption will persist. Replacing one corrupt public service employee for another without addressing the issue of systems and transparency does not amount to much in the war against corruption. The corruption cycle continues and citizens continue losing public funds through the lack of effective systems.

Fighting corruption requires governments to take deliberate and precise actions that address the issue at the source. It is not enough to deal with the outcome of corruption. More needs to be done to increase accountability in the public service sector. Even whistle blowing systems do not serve to address the issue of corruption. Granted, they bring to attention the occurrence of corrupt dealings in an institution, but they do not establish or address the cause of it. Efforts should be geared towards researching and building the capacity of institutions to combat corruption. Addressing the outcome of corruption as a stand- alone solution for ending corruption will not yield results. Building capacity of institutions to close gaps and loop holes by enabling them install effective systems that call for accountability must be part of the solution.

I reckon that one of the reasons governments are inclined to address the outcome of corruption instead of the source of it is because citizens themselves actually call for it. By calling for corrupt public service officials to step down or be sacked, they influence governments’ priorities. If citizens demanded more from their governments such as installation of effective systems, they can influence their governments’ priorities and play an active role in ending corruption. Additionally the relationships between  governments and business sector has more often resulted in infringement of human rights.