After taking a long break off books and writing, I chose to begin the year with a few thoughts. Just yesterday five people died in Kampala after taking Waragi (a local gin). While the investigations are still on and the little bar has been shut down, the waragi deaths are not new.
The New Vision reported over 40 people have died of waragi in Gulu, 14 in Mpigi, eight in Kamwenge, 10 in Kasese and at least 35 in Kampala but it didn’t specify the period. The police need to do more to stop the distilling of these dangerous waragi brands. A visit to a local shop in Kampala you will find dozens of gin brands whom no one knows where they are distilled. With poverty biting hard, drinking is an attraction to many jobless Ugandans and these super cheap kinds of gin are increasing on the market day by day. Some people have turned their houses into distillation ‘plants so these waragi deaths won’t stop unless there’s a proper inspection and investigations.
The beginning of the year is well know to be hardest in the job hunting is world. The unemployment level especially among graduates in the country is soaring. A friend of mine went to apply for a job at Public Service. He’s been out of job for about two years; there were 10,000 applicants and the ministry needs only 700. That’s the odds thousands of youth are facing. For many youth in Uganda even those with the jobs, this year will continue to be a struggle as the job creation in the country looks bleak.
Many, I guess, will continue to flock, security firms owned by those high in the power enclaves to try to get some jobs in some of most dangerous parts of the world.
These security firms have got deals with American security companies to supply workers at US army bases and in Iraq has been the main destination. Towards the end of last Afghanistan became a new destination for young Ugandans as the US looked far from leaving Afghanistan.
Many unemployed Ugandan youth I know have at least considered going to Afghanistan while some went ahead and took the jobs. But I wonder how long will the government ignore this unemployment? Youth unemployment is a recipe for unrest and I hope President Museveni would be pressed in the election campaign year as he hits the road to get yet another term in office.
Uganda will hold general elections early 2011 and the youth will have to make that choice again that never seems to bring bread to their tables. For the opposition there will be same faces except for Olara Otunnu and Nobert Mao.
We will be on the watch for the promises. And for the incumbent, what new trick will we hear? Up to now election laws are not yet amended and even if they are, I still doubt Uganda will see a free and fair election. We will wait to see if the government refrains from Election violence.
Other questions that Ugandans would have to reflect on regard education. The higher education fees have gone way above many ordinary Ugandans and if graduates are jobless what future will your child have if they drop out of school just after A’level or below.
And the oil factor, the government has been sued twice over the oil production sharing agreements. It’s probably the country will go to vote without knowing anything about the oil.
And for the region, Rwanda goes to polls later in the year and the man in seat looks set to continue his tenure. But how will opposition fare and what space will be giving for dissenting voices during the campaigns?
Down in Sudan, the south looks to be having difficulties of uniting ahead of a major vote for cessation from the north. So is it the hand of Khartoum that is leading to ethnic clashes that just yesterday consumed lives of about 150 people or the South weaknesses have been long overlooked? I don’t have the answers and hope time will tell.
To the east in Congo, we can only hope for an improvement as the U.N.-backed Congolese military operation against Rwandan Hutu rebels ended on December. 31. But I see any major turn of events in eastern Congo. And to the north, Kony and his rebels have sort of gone off headlines in Uganda but they will still be a concern for many who still hope to see their abducted children back home.