Article 101 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda mandates the President to deliver a State of the Nation Address to Parliament at the beginning of each session. The essence of the address is to enable the Head of State to account for the resources that were approved by Parliament in the preceding financial and present programs for the next 12 months. In the rare event that, it is a President’s first year of term of office, s/he is obliged to apprise Parliament and the entire nation on planned programs for the country.
In light of the above, on 31st May 2016, H.E Yoweri Museveni, now serving his 7th term addressed the newly elected 10th Parliament in its first ever State of the Nation Address. He made commitments to the country including but not limited to; declaring full scale war on corruption, increasing exports as opposed to the status quo through increased agricultural production and establishment of industries, providing low interest loans by recapitalizing Uganda Development Bank, he also took pride in the huge transport and power projects that the country had since commissioned.
The President also dwelt much on the Development 300MW of electricity from geo-thermal potential in the Katwe area of the Rwenzori region, refinancing the Bujagali Hydro-Power project to reduce the US$ 10.1 cents cost per unit, construction of the standard gauge railway and repairing of Kilembe mines. He also talked about sourcing investors for a steel industry using the Kanungu-Kabale iron ore, the Sukuru Fertilizer, steel and sulphuric acid plants hills near Tororo, establishment of a gold refinery and building a 60,000 barrel per day oil refinery to be expanded to 120,000 barrels per day.
It goes without saying that most of the commitments in the address require Human Capital, one that is both skilled and healthy. However, throughout the address to my dismay, education, health, water and environment was neither topical nor didn’t receive more than 4(four) mentions. And this cannot be attributed to the fact these sectors were performing satisfactorily. For instance, the country recently experienced the breakdown of the country’s only radiotherapy machine with no immediate solution for cancer patients.
The president strongly noted with concern what he called donating to foreign countries a sum of US$ 3.418bn in form of imported goods against the export earnings of US$ 607m. What he omitted are the services imported on a daily. Most of the big infrastructure projects moreover with borrowed money like Isimba, Karuma, road constructions are being manned by foreign a work force due to the limited skills Ugandans have. Sadly, skilled labour is impossible only 3 of the 10 students enrolled for Universal Secondary Education and Universal Primary Education survive till Senior 4 and Primary 7 respectively.
As the outgoing Head of State, it would have sufficed if he accounted to the country the ills that plague both the health and education sector and the possible solutions he and his government had devised over the time. The address was also characterised by repetitions, inconsistencies and unfished work from the previous address and not so much on the progress of ongoing projects. For example, recapitalisation the Uganda Development Bank which the President said will be receiving Ugx 500bn in FY2015/16 was also hinted on.
The President’s vision for the country is to be a middle income country in the shortest time possible, emphasis ought to be put on the education and health sectors, as these complement other sectors prerequisite for the intended development. Therefore, the Head of State ought to have informed the nation on the state of all sectors and not only the ones he deemed fit for development.