Posts tagged as: easter

Shs100 Million Spent On Refurbishing Venues for World Cricket League

By Darren Allan Kyeyune

Kampala — The countdown is almost over. It is exactly a week left before the ICC World Cricket League Division Three showpiece bowls off in Uganda.

The six-nation competition will have 18 matches played at three different ovals in Lugogo, Kyambogo and Entebbe.

According to the Local Organising Committtee (LOC), nearly $30,000 (Shs108m) has been spent on doing improvements on the three venues for the May 23-31 competition.

“With the support of Uganda Cricket Association and ICC backing, we have done works worth about Shs100m,” LOC Head of Stadia, Hanumant Katkar, told this paper in an interview yesterday.

“The money has mainly been used to repair club houses, buy field equipment and prepare wickets,” said Katkar, also a UCA Board Member.

His committee has bought one big lawn mower, three green mowers, two wicket covers from Kenya, three brush cutters, a trio of manual rollers and they plan to buy a big compression machine for the outfield by Friday.

In Lugogo, where the Cricket Cranes will start their quest for the top two positions against 2011 World Cup finalists Canada next Tuesday, Katkar acknowledges his committee has focused on improving drainage.

“We managed to plant grass in spaces on the field where water used to collect after rain,” Katkar said. “We did some changes to the wickets during the Easter Series against Kenya and after.

However, he states the recent downpours continue to affect the works already done. “Besides having grass grow and keep green, rain has affected us a lot especially keeping the wickets safe and outfield work like painting side screens.”

In Entebbe, a new ceiling was placed in dressing rooms, plumbing and electrical works are on. Permanent side screens were raised as well as ground levelling of the outfield is also being accomplished.

This venue will have two of Uganda’s round-robin matches against Singapore and USA on May 24 and May 29.

With Kyambogo’s drainage relatively better, Katkar’s team concentrated on levelling the outfield ground, grass cutting and improvements on the nets at the University Oval.

Each venue will have 10 stewards and two ground managers during the tournament who, will work hand in hand with security and the accreditation team, on directing traffic (players, fans, officials, scorers and media) during match days.

All venues will be inspected by ICC tournament director Gurjit Singh who arrived in the country on Tuesday.

Zone V Fiba Africa Zone V Championships

The country will in October also host the Zone V Club Championship with Fuba agreeing with City Oilers to take the lead in the organization and fundraising of the tournament.

Three other Ugandan sides wil take part including Betway Power and women’s sides UCU Lady Canons and KCCA Leopards.

“We borrowed the format from Egypt at the previous edition where the federation hosted but with Al Ahly at the forefront of the organization,” explained Tashobya.

Malawi: School Girls Challenge Court Order Punishing Them Over Pregnancies

Photo: The Citizen

(File photo).

Fourteen teenage school girls in Malawi on Tuesday launched a legal challenge against a controversial court decision to punish them over pregnancies, including jailing some of the girls’ parents.

Nyasa Times reported that in April 2016, a primary school in Nkhata Bay on the shores of Lake Malawi gave one-year suspensions to several students aged 13 and 14.

The boys who impregnated them were also suspended.

Magistrate Alexander Gomba heard how 16 boys at Hoho secondary school in Chintheche impregnated the 16 girls just four weeks into the new term.

The girls were also referred to a magistrate court which fined each of them K10, 000 ($14).

Students who failed to pay were imprisoned, along with their parents, and were freed only after paying the fine.

The case was brought to court by a child protection NGO, Maranda Child Protection Committee.

But the teenage girls are seeking judicial review on the case.

“We are asking for a review of the strange orders imposed by a lower court that all pregnant girls be sent to prison,” Victor Gondwe, a lawyer representing the girls and their parents, told AFP.

He said it was “quite strange and awkward to criminalise pregnancy.”

“You don’t get imprisoned for the acts of others,” the lawyer said by telephone from the northern town of Mzuzu, the nearest to Nkhata Bay, where the High Court heard the case.

Laws in Malawi, a deeply impoverished country, stipulate that pregnant school girls be suspended from classes for one year.

Earlier, the Magistrate had charged the boys who impreginated the girls with defilement as the girls looked younger than 18 years which could have taken them to jail.

However, the head teacher John Msowoya told the court that the girls were all 18 years old, saving the boys from going to jail for defilement.


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Bizimana – Rwanda’s Top Gospel Musician On His Career

interviewBy Sharon Kantengwa

The recently concluded annual Easter Celebration concert by Gospel singer and piano maestro Patient Bizimana can be termed as one of the most successful gospel concerts the country has had. This is proven by the fully packed auditorium of ‘believers’ that attended the show that featured leading gospel musicians like Burundi’s Apollinaire Habonimana and Marion Shako from Kenya. With three full albums under his belt, the ‘UbwoBuntu’ singer describes his music journey as that of persistent determination. He talked to Sunday Magazine’s Sharon Kantengwa about his music career.

While many artists shun gospel music with the belief that it is not lucrative enough. What kept you going despite the harsh conditions?

I had the zeal and a target that were always pushing me going higher. I am not yet there but by the grace of God and the support from Rwandans, I have been able to stand the test of time.

What would you attribute your musical career success to?

It can be attributed to one thing, prayers. Simply prayers.

Which music artists inspire you musically?

Don Moen, Darlene Zcheck, Aime Uwimana, and Simon Kabera who have diligently used their talent to serve God.

When do you recall your lowest point in your musical career?

I cannot recall any at the moment. My journey has been more of a smooth ride, having had so many role models who kept correcting me before launching out anything.

What was the inspiration behind the Easter Celebration (East African Chapter)?

Easter celebration is a long term event that my team and I gave a target. This year’s target was East Africa and I can say everything was covered by God to whom is my inspiration. The event I can say has been one of the biggest success I have had so far and the event has been growing over the years. Next year’s plan is going with Pan African, where we will have the Pan African Easter celebration. Easter celebration is one of the core values of our Christian faith which is why I take it seriously. I want to be a vessel in bringing people to worship.

What lessons can you say you have derived from you musical journey?

Fixing my eyes on God the direct inspiration and do His will with humility. That way I am assured that I will stand the test of time.


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South Africa: Transport Urges Drivers, Passengers and Pedestrians to Be Vigilant and to Prioritise Road Safety

press release

Minister of Transport road safety statement on the Freedom Day long weekend leading to the Workers Day commemoration

As South Africa celebrate Freedom Day and the subsequent long weekend which commenced yesterday, the 26th April to 2nd May 2017, drivers, passengers and pedestrians are urged to be vigilant and to prioritise road safety.

“Our Law Enforcement Officers have ramped up their road safety focus on high risk driving behaviour and will be targeting the well-known contributors to serious and fatal injury crashes with our operations focusing on speeding, drink/drug driving, vehicle defects, seat belt offences and inattentive driving,” said Minister Maswanganyi.

The Minister said that on the first commemoration of the Freedom Day, President Nelson Mandela addressed Parliament and he said:

“As dawn ushered in this day, the 27th of April 1994, few of us could suppress the welling of emotion, as we were reminded of the terrible past from which we come as a nation; the great possibilities that we now have; and the bright future that beckons us. And so we assemble here today, and in other parts of the country, to mark a historic day in the life of our nation. Wherever South Africans are across the globe, our hearts beat as one, as we renew our common loyalty to our country and our commitment to its future.

“We too as the dawn usher this day, we can change our behaviour on our roads and renew our common loyalty to our country and commit to our future by being responsible on our roads, making it possible for South Africa to reduce road carnages by 50% in 2020 in line with our commitment to the UN Decade of Road Safety,” said Minister Maswanganyi.

During our Easter Road Safety campaign, we have seen alcohol, speed and the lack of restraint wearing continuing to contribute to fatalities and an escalation in serious injury crashes.

Minister Maswanganyi said that the Department of Transport and all its road entities planned awareness, public education activations as well as Law Enforcement operations for this long weekend prior to the UN Global Week on Road Safety which will be launched on the 8th May 2017 in Durban, KwaZulu Natal.

“We will be out in force on the roads this long weekend to spread the message that road safety is everyone’s responsibility and needs to be taken seriously”, emphasized Minister Maswanganyi.

Minister Maswanganyi calls upon all motorists to:

adhere to the speed limit

avoid driving under the influence of alcohol

avoid use of cell phones while driving

ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy

do not cross the road where it is not safe to do so

take regular breaks

buckle up, safety belts save lives

Some additional tips to enhance road safety.

Road Rage?

It is not worth it!

Seat Belts?

They really do save lives!

Small Children?

Install and use those “baby seats!”


A step to disaster! Please don’t.


Slow down, show respect, and live!


Pull to the right and stop!

Pedestrians Ahead?

Let them cross safety!

Holiday parties?

Your “designated driver” loves you!

Be a responsible drinker, be a responsible host and make use of public transport.

Issued by: Department of Transport

South Africa: Arrive Alive This Weekend

Pretoria — Drivers, passengers and pedestrians have been urged to be vigilant and to prioritise road safety during this long weekend.

South Africa celebrates Freedom Day and Workers’ Day, making it a bumper long weekend from 26 April to 2 May.

“We … can change our behaviour on our roads and renew, in line with our commitment to the UN Decade of Road Safety,” said Transport Minister Joe Maswanganyi on Thursday.

Minister Maswanganyi warned that traffic law enforcement agencies will be out in full force on the roads this long weekend to spread the message that road safety is everyone’s responsibility and needs to be taken seriously.

“Our law enforcement officers have ramped up their road safety focus on high risk driving behaviour and will be targeting the well-known contributors to serious and fatal injury crashes, with our operations focusing on speeding, drunk/drug driving, vehicle defects, seat belt offences and inattentive driving.”

During the Easter long weekend, alcohol and speed contributed to fatalities and an escalation in serious road crashes.

About 235 people have lost their lives on South Africa’s roads during the Easter long weekend. A further 20 died last week in a bus crash involving school pupils in Bronkhorstspruit .

Minister Maswanganyi called upon all motorists to:

adhere to the speed limit

avoid driving under the influence of alcohol

avoid use of cell phones while driving

ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy

do not cross the road where it is not safe to do so

take regular breaksbuckle up, safety belts save lives.

The Minister also had other road safety advice, such as:

Road Rage – it’s not worth it!

Seat Belts: They really do save lives!

Small Children? Install and use those “baby seats!”

J-Walking? A step to disaster! Please don’t.

Speeding? Slow down, show respect and live!

Sirens? Pull to the right and stop!

Pedestrians Ahead? Let them cross safety!

Holiday parties? Your “designated driver” loves you!

He called on all those who will be drinking to be to be responsible drinkers and rather make use of public transport.

South Africa

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Uganda: Boda Boda Riders Protest Release of Suspected Motorcycle Thief

Photo: Nicholas Bamulanzeki/The Observer

Boda boda transport in Kampala (file photo).

By Rajab Mukombozi

Mbarara — Boda boda riders in Mbarara Town have protested against the release of Mr Jackson Tumwebaze, one of the 20 suspects arrested for allegedly stealing motorcycles.

A total of 12 number plates were allegedly recovered from Mr Tumwebaze’s shop on Garage Street, Mbarara Town last week when he was arrested. However, he was at the weekend released by police to the dismay of boda boda riders.

“This tycoon has been a major threat to the boda boda industry and has always boasted that he cannot be arrested. We are not surprised that he has been released even when we are still bringing incriminating evidence against him,” said Mr James Arinaitwe, the chairperson Mbarara Municipality Boda Boda Association.

Mr Mohamed Mpagi, the publicity secretary, said such actions by police compel the public to take the law into their hands. “We have tried our best to restrain our colleagues from mob justice, but with such scenarios of arresting and freeing key suspects, there is no way we can again convince them that security is committed to helping them,” Mr Mpagi said.

Investigations ongoing

He added that they have petitioned the Inspector General of Police and Director General of the Internal Security Organisation to intervene. The district police commander, Mr Jaffer Magyezi, on Sunday, however, said Mr Tumwebaze is still being investigated and he will be prosecuted.

“He was only released on police bond and we are still investigating the matter before charging him,” Mr Magyezi said.

The police led by the district police commander, Mr Jaffar Magyezi, paraded the suspects with some exhibits on April 18. The suspects, including a 68-year-old man, Mr Majidu Muhairwe, were arrested during the Easter period.

Mr Magyezi said that between January and August last year, an average of 10 motorcycles were stolen every month and three cyclists hacked to death.

While the thefts had reduced because of police teaming up with cyclists to arrest criminals, he said it is on the raise again.


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Uganda: Fall Armyworm Has Got People Talking Now

By Michael J. Ssali

The fall armyworm is present in Uganda and it is destroying maize, sorghum and other food crops as well as some fodder grass species. We have seen footages on TV screens of the minister of Agriculture Vincent Ssempijja and other officials handing over tonnes of insecticides to various stakeholders in the agriculture sector to fight the new pest reported to have arrived in Africa only last year from the Americas.

About Shs10b has been set aside by the government to prevent the spread of the fall armyworm. But, it will take a lot of time and effort to teach farmers how to effectively combat the pest, which may involve the use of biological control methods such as digging trenches around the farm, getting natural predators like birds to eat the worms, and burning the infested crops as David Phiri of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has disclosed.

The fall armyworm is a fairly large insect which can be seen with the naked eye and so it is easy to associate with the damage it causes when entire crop fields are wiped out.

Nearly everywhere we hear voices, including those of religious leaders calling upon government to take immediate measures to control the pest.

Yet for more than a decade, we have had perhaps more dangerous tiny pests that have reduced the production of food crops such as bananas, cassava, and sweet potatoes with little concern from the same people about the delay by Parliament to pass the Biotechnology and Bio-safety Bill.

With the passing of the Bill into law, farmers can begin to grow bananas, cassava and potatoes that are protected against the disastrous microscopic pests which have no chemical cure.

There is reported acute food shortage in Teso sub-region mainly due to drought. In his Easter message Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga lamented the high level of food insecurity in the country. Why not pass the Biotechnology and Bio-science Bill first and then deal with the caterpillars?


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Nigeria: N’Assembly Proposes N15 Billion for Second Abuja Airport Runway

By Damilola Oyedele

Abuja — The leadership of the National Assembly is considering the inclusion of a N15 billion budgetary allocation for the immediate commencement of the construction of a second runway at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja, in the 2017 budget.

The 2017 N7.3 trillion budget is expected to be passed anytime from Tuesday, when the lawmakers resume from the Easter recess.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, are already in talks with the Chairmen of the Committees on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje and Hon. Bala Dawaki, and the Chairmen of the committees overseeing the aviation sector.

The development, THISDAY gathered, is to prevent a reoccurrence of the recent complete shutdown of the airport, where airlines alone lost an estimated N10 billion in the first three weeks of the closure.

THISDAY gathered that the leaderships of the Senate and the House of Representatives are also concerned about the economic losses incurred by not just foreign and local airlines, but also businesses dependent on, or centered around, the airport, in this period of economic recession.

“While that issue (of the airport closure) has come and gone, we have to remember that nothing was done to mitigate the economic effect on those businesses at the airport; taxi drivers, restaurants and other vendors. The economic effect on Abuja itself cannot be quantified, just ask hotels about the losses they incurred,” a source said.

“There is also the image problem, yes, the airport reopened after six weeks as the Minister of Aviation (Senator Hadi Sirika) promised. We are also thankful that there were no major issues with conveying passengers to and from Kaduna airport, but Nigeria must have been a laughing stock globally when it announced that it was closing down the major access to its capital city,” the source added.

It is therefore imperative that the construction of the second runway must be embarked on, immediately, the source added.

The Abuja airport was shut down for complete rehabilitation of its runway on March 8, 2017, and was reopened on April 18, 2017, a day ahead of its scheduled reopening. The Aviation Minister, Mr. Hadi Sirika had promised to resign if the airport was not reopened on schedule.

The ministry had facilitated the movement of passengers to and from Kaduna airport, where the airlines were diverted to.


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South Africa: Minister Joe Maswanganyi – Release of 2017 Preliminary Easter Road Safety Figures

RESOURCE: More Lives Lost on the Roads This Easterpress release

Release of the 2017 preliminary Easter road safety figures by the Minister of Transport Mr Joe Maswanganyi

Deputy Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga

North West MEC for Community Safety & Transport Management, Dr. Mpho Motlhabane,

Limpopo MEC for Transport, Safety and Security, Ms Nandi Ndalane

Mpumalanga MEC for Community Safety, Security and Liaison, Mr Pat Ngomane

Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Ms Sizakele Nkosi -Malobane,

Western Cape MEC for Transport and Public Works, Mr Donald Grant

RTMC Board Chairman, Mr Zola Majavu

Members of the RTMC board and other Boards present

Acting Director General, Mr Mathabatha Mokonyama

Deputy Director General, Mr Chris Hlabisa

RTMC CEO, Advocate Makhosini Msibi

CEOs of other Transport Entities

Division: Visible Policing, Brigadier EH Mahlabane

Heads of Departments

Traffic Chiefs

Officials from the three spheres of government and entities

Members of the media

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen

It is fitting and appropriate on an occasion like this, when we have come together to reflect on the tragic events that took place on our roads, that we take a moment of silence as a show of respect to those who have lost their lives. Can I ask that we all stand up and observe a moment of silence. Thank you.

Ladies and gentlemen, as the Department of Transport and all our road entities, we view road safety as a daily issue which we address through our dedicated 365 day program which is sustainable and consistent. The programme is structured to align with the United National Decade of Action for Road Safety Global Plan and the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals.

This Easter period saw a remarkable increase in the number of vehicles on our roads. The total number of registered vehicles on the 31st of March 2017 stood at 12 047 404 compared to 11 818 124 in the same period in 2016. The number of registered drivers had increase by 507 002 presenting a new total of 12 283 777.

A total of 174 253 vehicles were stopped and checked with the intention to remove un-roadworthy vehicles from our roads in all provinces.

Human factor still remains a causal factor for most of the crashes during this Easter period. As we all know, this can be avoidable if we all prioritise road safety and use our roads responsibly.

Our statistics indicates that people who died on the roads this Easter were passengers at 50% followed by pedestrians at 24.5%, drivers at 19,8% and cyclists at 5.7%.

The vehicle types that made a high contribution to fatal crashes were motorcars and LDV’s with contributions of 49% and 20% respectively. Minibus type vehicles contributed 7.6% and busses 1.1% which indicates that most of the passengers who died were travelling in motorcars.

More on This

Huge Increase in Easter Road Deaths in South Africa

Huge Increase in Easter Road DeathsEaster Road Death Toll Increases By 51%

Most fatal crashes happened in the after-hours of the day, especially from 18:00 to 22:00 to the early hours. About 34% of the daily crashes happened between 18:00 to 22:00. However, other peaks were recorded between 01:00 – 02:00, 06:00 – 7:00 – 8:00 and 11:00 – 12:00.In total the number of fatalities increased by 79 (51%) from 156 over the same period the previous year to 235 this year. However this year’s fatalities are still significantly lower than the 333 fatalities recorded in 2015.Our preliminary report shows that many people who died on our roads were victims of hit and run incidents, jaywalking or motorists who were driving at speeds that were too high for circumstances.The report illustrates a new pattern in which crashes shifted from the identified historical hotspots into new routes and build-up areas on times that previously did not have a high number of crashes.Very glaringly, most crashes and fatalities happened in residential areas and remote areas and very interestingly from 23h00 mid night until 05h00 in the morning. This new phenomenon requires of us to spread our wings jointly informed by uniform working norms and standards.Our statistics show that fatalities increased in all provinces with exception of Free State:Free State recorded a 27% decline in fatalities from 11 fatalities in 2016 to only 8 this year.The other provinces recorded the following performance:Eastern Cape: recorded a 17% increase in fatalities from 24 fatalities in 2016 to 27 this year.Limpopo: recorded a 30 % increase in fatalities from 23 fatalities in 2016 to 30 this year.Mpumalanga: recorded a 33% increase in fatalities from 21 fatalities in 2016 to 28 this year.The highest increases have been recorded for the following provinces:Northern Cape: an increase of 7 (175%) from 4 to11;KwaZulu-Natal: an increase of 31 (111%) from 28 to 59;Gauteng: an increase of 14 (58%) from 24 to 38;Western Cape: an increase of 8 (57%) from 14 to 22; andNorth West: an increase of 4 (50%) from 8 to 12During this Easter period 61 340 motorists were charged with various offences including failing to wear seatbelts, use of cell phones while driving, speeding and overloading. More than 2 800 motorist were arrested for drunken driving, inconsiderate, reckless and negligent driving, possession of false document and driving without licences and public driver’s permits.Seven motorists were detained for driving at excessive speeds above 160 km an hour on 120 km zone. These included a motorist who was arrested on N6 in Reddersburg in the Free State driving at 227 km an hour while another was caught driving at 225 km an hour on the N1 in Pretoria. These are examples of the worst among the worst motorist who have no regard for road rules and the risk they pose to other motorists who obey the rules of the road.Our courts will show them no mercy and will give them the harshest penalties permissible.Ladies and gentlemen, to ensure that there are severe consequences for the road rule offenders, we are at an advance stage in negotiations with the Department of Justice to finalise the introduction of minimum sentences for negligent and reckless driving. This is done in order to seek the reclassify drunken driving from a Schedule 3, which is less severe to a more severe Schedule 5 offence to ensure that those who negligently cause crashes on the roads do not get bail easily and spend time behind bars.The Department of Transport published amendments to the National Road Traffic Regulations in November last year aimed at regulating the transportation of persons in the load bay of light delivery vehicles for reward. The regulations will come into effect next month in May 2017 and they will assist in the reduction of the number of passengers dying in collisions.Amongst the overarching intervention is the approval of the National Road Safety Strategy 2016-2030 by Cabinet. This addresses the challenges and gaps identified by the Department on the implementation of the previous road safety strategies.Equally important, we have started a Parliamentary process led by the Portfolio Committee on Transport (PCoT) to extensively consult on the AARTO Amendment Bill which will introduce a demerits intended to improve the conduct and behaviour of drivers on the roads. We call upon all relevant stakeholders to participate in making submissions to the PCoT.Building on the previous and recent experiences, the Department will continue to improve its enforcement policies and strategies, and upscale public road safety education and awareness campaigns, which is our key component and driver of our road safety strategy. We do so informed by the fact that road traffic injuries are a global problem affecting all sectors of the society and that they are a growing public health and social development problem. The burden also impacts heavily on our health system and social welfare where more and more people rely on our social security net for survival.If all road users prioritise road safety, the resources that government spends unwittingly on accidents amounting 147 Billion Rands annually, which is equal to 3.4% of the country’s GDP. Over and above this figure the Road Accident Fund spends R33 Billion annually on payments of claims, which could be redirected to other government priorities which will go miles to address the triple challenges of employment, poverty and inequalities, thereby assisting us to increase the pace to achieve government radical socio-economic transformation.Ladies and gentlemen, despite these grim statistics, it is important to note that thousands of travellers obeyed the rules of the road and reached their destinations safety. I would like to commend those who co-operated with our law enforcement officers, travelled within acceptable speed limits, wore their seatbelts and avoided alcohol.We must always remember that improving road safety is a long term project that requires the active participation of all citizens and interested formations.Although law enforcement did everything to plan for a safer Easter period and authorities deployed their resources on the roads, ultimately the responsibility for safety rests on the shoulders of all of us as road users. I therefore call on all citizens to exercise this responsibility to make South African roads safe.I thank you.Issued by: Department of Transport

The Rattle of Poverty and the Challenge of Our Time

Photo: The East African

A family in rural Uganda. Most people in Uganda live below the poverty line (file photo).

opinionBy Moses Khisa

I spent the Easter weekend visiting my parents in our ancestral village in Bubulo, Manafwa district.

At 89, my old man has lived a full life. I will hopefully have the chance to share, here, my reflections on his illustrious life when he finally departs to meet his creator.

Driving through the countryside and speaking to rural folks, two key problems are currently of great concern to especially our compatriots occupying the lowest rungs of material wellbeing, across the nation.

The first is the perennial problem of insufficient rainfall, this time happening in the middle of the first season of crop-growing. The second problem is that of the armyworm, menacing away in many districts across the country.

These two problems presage a bigger national food crisis that will undoubtedly outstrip the current famine raging in parts of the northeast and the west. Irregular and insufficient rainfall at this time of the year means critical food crops such as beans and maize, presently still in early stages, will likely dry up.

The upshot will most likely be no harvests at all or very little yields at the end of the crop-growing season. The problem of rain is being compounded, in no small measure, by the runaway armyworm outbreak.

In the twenty-first century, the Ugandan subsistence farmer remains largely at the mercy of nature. If it rains and shines, in appropriate amounts though, he/she subsists. If it rains disproportionately and shines extremely, he/she will likely starve. This means that rudimentary tilling of the land is the predominant form of producing food, largely for domestic consumption and only a little extra for trading in the market.

The growth of human civilization and attainment of social progress has primarily centered on the capacity to manage both the excesses and inadequacies of nature. The key route to this has historically been through scientific inventions and technological innovations. Inventions transform the method of production; innovations improve productivity and transform unit-output.

To his credit, at the level of analytical comprehension, Uganda’s ruler of three-decades-standing has a fine grasp of this critical component of social transformation and the struggle against the rattle of poverty, the burden of disease, and the attainment of basic means of livelihood.

Yet it remains a scandal of monumental proportions that a country so endowed with enormous natural resources, including huge water bodies, remains deeply dependent on the whims of nature.

This, more so, in an era of climate change with successive overuse of the global atmospheric sink, the ozone layer, through mainly the burning of fossil fuels that emit corrosive greenhouse gasses.

Unpredictable and changing weather patterns present, by far, the biggest structural difficulty for a poor people. And relying on rudimentary and unsophisticated farming tools and methods leave whole communities vulnerable to unfavorable weather and hostile conditions.

Poor countries like Uganda are trapped in the incapacity to produce on a large scale for both the market and for family subsistence. In addition to remaining beholden to nature, there is an equally important structural impediment, of a poor land tenure and ownership regime.

Mechanized agriculture that would significantly up productivity and, in all likelihood, banish incessant famines cannot thrive in our fragmented and distorted land ownership and usage regime.

The land question has persistently been a hot potato for most of the last three decades of one-man-rule in Uganda. The current rulers had an excellent opportunity to overhaul the land tenure and ownership system in the early years of the regime. They didn’t. Instead, over the years, political expedience and brinkmanship have built up an explosive social problem.

Land disputes, over use and contests over ownership have become so pervasive nationwide. And there appears to be no comprehensive and prudent solution in the offing anytime soon. Rather, the NRM government continues to skirt the problem, dancing around with all manner of ad hoc and ill-thought schemes manned by presidential appointees and housed in the president’s office. It is disheartening.

Human beings around the world have made great progress in overcoming material want and attaining higher standards of living. Many more people today live longer than they did half-a-century ago. Average incomes in most of the global south have gone up in the last couple of decades albeit at a relatively smaller rate in Africa. There is more access to a bigger pool of goods and services, thus a higher quality of life, overall.

Yet, to be sure, the staggering levels of social backwardness and material deprivation among a sizeable fraction of people in a country like Uganda remain palpable.

The Ugandan economy has been on a leash since the financial crash wrought by the 2011 elections, when the ruling NRM and its strongman literally bought votes, one-by-one. We seem to have never recovered from the near-collapse of the shilling and the economic tanking that sparked walk-to-work protests in April 2011.

There is need for radical economic reform for a turnaround that would focus on increasing productivity. This will not happen with a president posturing around with drip-irrigation and teaching peasants how to fetch water or plant seeds. There has to be a big rethink and fresh approach.

The author teaches political science at Northwestern University/Evanston, Chicago-USA.

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