Further to my earlier preliminary remarks here are specific observations.
1. The long awaited cabinet reshuffle to put Uganda on the right development trajectory has not occurred. The appointing authority is either not fully aware of the daunting challenges around him or he didn’t have the courage to make revolutionary changes. We have not only ended up with the same faces, but more interestingly with ministers that had been dropped or suspended while investigations in alleged wrongdoing were underway and aren’t completed yet.
2. As noted earlier the vice president should have been given a full ministry to make him visibly active and make savings.
3. The ministry of East African affairs should have been combined with the ministry of foreign affairs and renamed ministry of foreign affairs and regional cooperation with two ministers of state one each for regional cooperation and East African affairs.
4. The post of third deputy prime minister and functions are redundant and should have been deleted.
5. The ministry of security should have been combined with the ministry of internal affairs and renamed ministry of internal affairs, security and immigration with two ministers of state.
6. Since other areas like Luwero, Bunyoro, northern and Teso have ministers of state, Karamoja should have been treated the same. Janet Museveni should have been moved somewhere else. The fact that she is a full cabinet minister for one district and has a minister of state raises serious questions about what interests the First Lady has in Karamoja especially when there have been complaints from that district.
7. That Nasasira a long serving cabinet minister and close confidant of state house is made minister in the prime minister’s office may be sending a signal that Mbabazi who is alleged to be undermining NRM may yet be relieved of duties soon or marginalized.
8. As noted earlier, with a new development paradigm following abandonment of structural adjustment program and subsequent launching of National Development Plan, planning and economic development should have been separated from finance. Planning would prepare development programs and finance would mobilize resources for their implementation. Under present arrangements planning is a junior partner with finance and will continue to suffer, explaining in part why the Plan has not been implemented.
9. Ministry of justice and constitutional affairs should have been combined with Attorney general with two ministers of state.
10. Cooperatives should have been combined with agriculture, fisheries and animal husbandry because by and large cooperatives serve farmers. So under the current arrangement farmers will continue to suffer.
11. Ministry of water and environment should have been expanded to include wildlife and forestry. It is not clear what environment stands for. Flora and fauna need to be treated together, not separately.
12. Given the serious problem of malnutrition and hunger in general which is underlined in goal one of MDGs, nutrition should have been added to the ministry of health and renamed ministry of health and nutrition with three ministers of state.
13. Local government should have been expanded to include community development and renamed ministry of local government and community development with two ministers of state
14. Ministry without portfolio in charge of political mobilization should have been deleted because it is likely to use public funds to pay for NRM activities, putting other parties at a severe disadvantage Opposition in parliament should take appropriate action.
15. It is interesting how ministers of state for Karamoja and for relief and disaster preparedness which are in the office of the prime minister are going to serve the separate ministries of Karamoja and disaster preparedness and refugees.
16. What is the rationale of having two ministers of state one each for privatization and investment?
17. There is no minister of state for cooperatives given its importance in agricultural transformation. This is a serious omission given that 68 percent of Ugandans are semi-subsistence farmers that have been neglected as the president admitted in his latest State of the Nation address to parliament.
Some of the sectors are cross-cutting such as environment, water for agriculture and other uses, children in health, nutrition and education. Strong inter-ministerial and intra-ministerial coordination will be necessary at the highest respective levels or else each one will go their way and Uganda will continue to slide down a slippery road.
The current economic growth rate of 3 percent is very low. We need at least 8-10 percent average growth rate per annum for decades to come to pull Uganda out of the poverty trap. Five percent proposed by the government is inadequate. Social sectors of education, healthcare and housing as well as environment are in a very sorry state.
Economic integration should be negotiated in such a way that it brings Uganda net benefits and economic integration should precede political federation, doing otherwise as Uganda is pushing is like putting a cart before the horse or building a house starting with the roof. And we should not hurry for the sake of meeting pre-set deadlines. Ugandans need to know what and how much sovereignty we shall surrender. Whatever happens, land and national borders are beyond negotiations. Countries have a right to keep some areas outside of the negotiating parameters. That is why some EU member states are not members of the Euro. UDU will keep a close watch as developments unfold.