Why opposition could win the Eastern Vote
By Hassan Isilow
I have nothing against the ruling National Resistance Movement Party or President Yoweri Museveni. But what concerns me, is the luck of fulfilment of pledges made by NRM party during the past many presidential campaigns.
In the past elections for instance, President Museveni promised to improve the lives of poor rural Ugandan’s. However, the situation has not changed much, despite the introduction of several Poverty alleviation projects including Naads. People are still poor to the extent some cannot afford buying basic necessities such as salt or paraffin. In Kachumbala- Bukedea District for instance, very few people received goats meant for Bona-Bagagawalle programee, which has only benefitted a few. Although, I appreciate that President Museveni, gave Bukedea, Ngora and serere District statuses. On the other hand, I doubt if the creation of more districts will improve the lives of poor peasants, though I’m aware some people will urge that having many Districts brings services closer to the people. In my opinion, I think peasants in Uganda need better health care, quality education, seed-capital and fertilizers but not more Districts.
Last week, I visited Kachumbala in Bukedea District and was surprised at the high level of poverty, frustration and hopelessness among the people. I almost broke down in tears when one old man in Kachuru-parish (Kachumbala) told me he had not had a meal in three days. Mr. Epooli, who survives on (ereja-reja) cultivating other people’s farms, had not been hired for a week, so he could not find money to buy food. He told me, he survived on water and wild fruits. Most people in Kachuru parish make a living by doing, ereja-reja (cultivating other people’s farms for either money or food) which is a tough way of making a living.
Many rural Ugandan’s especially in Eastern region are suffering from poverty & Famine-but have not given up supporting President Yoweri Museveni. I think it would be fair for president Museveni to reward such people’s allegiance by considering them in his development programs. Giving Ugandan’s more Districts will not solve poverty. I think seed money (entandikwa) should be provided to the poorest in every region. I know many graduates sitting in rural areas without Jobs.
NRM carders have often told rural Ugandans, too many times to be patient that pledges made by the president would be fulfilled, but they end up waiting forever. If someone falls sick in Amusi village in kachumbala, for instance- they have to be ridden on a bicycle for 8 kilometers to Mbale hospital. Most women in Amusi village give birth at their homes because there are no decent hospitals nearby. If a lucky patient gets to the Government hospital alive, they won’t find medicine. I have also meet patients in Government hospitals complaining they have been asked for money so as to have x-rays done on them. A friend of mine was asked to pay Ugsh: 22,000($10) for an X-ray reportedly because Mbale hospital did not have materials used for conducting x-rays. As I left kachumbala, a strong gush of sadness overwhelmed me.
We, who interact with rural Ugandans, on a daily basis, know how disgruntled they are. These desperate Ugandans want to know, why they cannot get proper services at Public hospitals. Why are Government Poverty alleviation programmes filled with graft. And why is President Museveni ignoring their cries.
If NRM does not quickly address these issues, I’m afraid rural Ugandan’s might switch their support to opposition; after all they have been loyal to the movement for long period without drawing any benefits.