By Ambassador Henry Mayega
After a string of election defeats at the hands of President Yoweri Museveni in 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016 coupled with being displaced recently in the 2021 general elections by upstart Bobi Wine as the main opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, who can’t project strength by pivoting away from street chaos, is again attempting to politically reinvent himself.
How? By overly pretending to exude most concern about the rising commodity prices; he was recently harvested by security personnel for being a nuisance in the central business district of Kampala and jailed; he expected to reap maximum political benefits from that incarceration which attracted the hefty Shs30 million bail penalty. His unattractive bandwagon with a sprinkling of hangers-on has ground to a debilitating halt though and it is stuck in a deep rut.
His national appeal, over the years, has dwindled considerably majorly due to his politics of symbolism devoid of pragmatic solutions to voters’ problems; his recent wild, toxic and unsubstantiated allegations that this administration has pilfered colossal sums of money and that Uganda has no enemies to warrant the ‘huge defence budget are simply desperate attempts to reincarnate himself and recover his political patronages.
But the most telling truism is that the ever angry Besigye doesn’t like to hear the following narrative: that, firstly, the rising commodity prices including oil ones are a global phenomenon, not President Yoweri Museveni’s because of a number of reasons namely; the Covid-19 pandemic that has continued to ravage the world and secondly, the Ukrainian conflict and the concomitant ill-advised sanctions’ regime by the west initially against many before that conflict and now, against the Russian federation have collectively conspired to disrupt global commerce! That debilitating sanctions regime has had far reaching consequences for both the targeted countries and the west which imposed them without hindsight as well.
The western world in their utopian belief and utterly bad economics have selfishly sanctioned everyone save for a few countries that sheepishly tow their line and as a result, their actions have boomeranged on everyone including themselves and they are curelessly proud to fathom extricating themselves from or de-escalate the entrapment that has strangled all of us.
Now, that cobweb of sanctions has disrupted global supply chains, Besigye ought to know that if it wasn’t for his intellectual dishonesty and egomaniacal political pursuit. That disruption has led to the emergence of unprecedented levels of galloping inflationary pressures unseen in decades. In the US, the inflation is at a four decades high cancelling out rising wages and simultaneously lowering peoples’ standard of living.
The price of oil in the US, for instance, has in a very short time soared from $40 to $120 per barrel representing an increase of 33.3%. The inflationary rates in the UK and Ethiopia, currently, stand at 20% and 32% respectively and the story is not different across the globe.
And so Besigye’s recipe of his signature violent street protests would simply serve to douse a fire with gasoline; fortunately, Yoweri Museveni has a proven record up his sleeves of successfully navigating a plethora of Uganda’s political and economic rapids typified by the following: under his tutelage, we have outclassed the gravity of HIV AIDs, Ebola, the debilitating insurgencies of the 1980s up to the early 2000s, the locust invasion, cattle rustling, existence of a hostile and unstable neighbourhood, etc.
Secondly, that political colossus with clay feet ought to appreciate that those disrupted supply chains have had a negligible but noticeable impact on locally produced goods like matooke, beans, soap, cooking oil, cassava, sweet potatoes etc; particularly the rising transport costs may have affected the general price level of those commodities. Relatedly, Ugandans should be reminded that this country’s efforts to spill our oil products into the global markets are being opposed by the recessing opposition with the help of some with a cognitive deficit under the guise of environmental concerns!
The East African Crude Oil Pipeline, a regional joint venture meant to push Uganda into a higher segment of the middle-income status as well as robustly make us sufficiently energy self-independent has been a subject of frenzied lobbying by Uganda’s rudderless opposition and recalcitrant environmentalists to have that project shelved; that collective and incorrigible view point speaks of an unpatriotic pack of colluding Ugandans and the ever intrusively marauding bankrollers, who, anyway, are re-firing their own ‘dirty oils,’ including coal due to the closing Russian oil taps. That opposition and some of its supremo individuals like Besigye have always been gaffe-prone, unsteady as well as bunglers of our national priorities; What Ugandans need currently aren’t Besigye’s jargon, quackery and sloganeering but sound redemptive policy alternatives.
Ambassador Henry Mayega