By Natasha Mariam
First, I appreciate the government for its efforts in upholding human rights and the different freedoms especially the freedom of expression despite the few allegations and challenges from different groups of people.
I recently attended a discussion at Hotel Triangle in Kampala that was organized by Uganda for All, an organization that aims at preaching democracy where one of the discussants, Professor Nuwagaba, said a number of things but what caught my attention was how we can use positive dictatorship and patriotism to better ourselves as a country. I thought to myself, could the too much freedom that we have in Uganda be one of the causes of the problems we have.
‘Positive dictatorship’ also known as ‘benevolent dictatorship’ is a theoretical form of government in which an authoritarian leader exercises absolute political power over the state but does so for the benefit of the population as a whole. A benevolent dictator may allow for some economic liberalization or democratic decision-making to exist, such as through public referenda or elected representatives with limited power, and often makes preparations for a transition to genuine democracy during or after their term. It might be seen as a republican form of enlightened despotism.
Uganda is one of the few countries that have excess freedoms, most people may argue and say that’s not true but I think they need to travel or read more in order to appreciate this freedom. In Uganda, people find it normal to abuse or complain about everyone and everything without any compassion or respect, any other person will find this odd but in Uganda it is normal and close to acceptable. They abuse their leaders and even fellow Ugandans without any limitations.
Businesses in Uganda are run by individuals who aim at making abnormal profits; it is here where you sleep with the price of sugar at 3500 and in the morning the price has been hiked to 5000 without any justifications for the increment. I normally travel upcountry and usually during the normal days, I go to the bus park and find over 30 buses parked but then during peak seasons say Christmas, Eid or even when students break off for holidays there are no buses to transport people. Why is it so? It is because these bus owners park them intentionally to cause artificial scarcity so that they can hike the amount of money from the passenger, which is exploitative and unfair!
Many projects and services have been delayed or not completed due to corruption, poor planning and some of the culprits are freely moving around even when we clearly know them but because they have the freedom, they seem to be untouchable. Talk about transport and rent both for home and commercial purposes, rent is very expensive that even people who can afford decent homes or work places opt for less. There are many examples that I can exhaust but will let these do. Well am not saying people should not price their goods and services the way they want since this is a free economy but then there should be serious justification for the changes.
I believe positive dictatorship might be one of the solutions to some of these problems since it looks at the betterment of the country as a whole and probably people will get to understand that despite this freedom, they are accountable and responsible for their actions. Most of the democracies and developed states we see and admire used positive dictatorship as a strategy reach the level that they are based on now. Singapore is one of the known examples; Lee Kuan Yew used positive dictatorship and transformed Singapore from a poor agrarian society into one of Asia’s wealthiest nations. Rwanda is the latest example in which President Kagame is using positive dictatorship to turn it into a model state on the African continent.
Ugandans need to wake up and face reality that we shall not develop if everyone does whatever they want to do and not what is good for them. Most Ugandans are lazy and are constantly saying “government etuyambe” literally meaning the government should help us. Help us until when? We need to look beyond freedom and instead look at better strategies that will move this country forward. They say “patriotism is in-born” but I personally believe that good services for example quality education, good health, infrastructure, employment among others will automatically instill the love of one’s country in them and therefore government should employ dictatorship on certain issues especially corruption because instead of delivering services to the people, it is denying them these services hence affecting their patriotism.
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