If you have been following Ugandan news in the last few days you couldn’t have missed that photo of President Yoweri Museveni handing over $100,000 to a loose group of youth from Busoga. Twitter and Facebook are still having discussions on this #sackofmoney.

The president was apparently fulfilling a promise he made during the 2011 elections. The president proudly announced his donation sending the crowd of ordinary Ugandans in a village into celebration. Museveni in the past has handed over brown envelopes to sustain his patronage and stay in power.

Museven's sack-of-money photo from New Vision
Museven’s sack-of-money photo from New Vision

Many ask, what’s wrong with a sack of money?

First of all President Museveni handed over this sack of money days after he launched the so-called Vision2040 that’s supposed to turn Uganda into a middle-income country. I don’t know any country that ever jumped into a middle-income country by having a president distribute money in sacks to citizens.

Uganda has more than 80 percent youth unemployment rate and it has the second youngest population in the world. With the sack of money Museveni continues to inculcate a culture among Uganda’s youth, a culture that doesn’t reward merit. You don’t have work hard, you just need to know the right people in powerful positions in government and once in a while you will get some presidential manna dropped in your village.

Secondly, I doubt that is money from Museveni’s personal wealth, which no one knows about.  We are at that point where State House budget is at its highest and 70% of the supplementary budget goes to State House  to fund among others such presidential donations.

Also there are many formal channels to make transactions. We have banks and a whole ministry for youth. Museveni decided to bypass banks and formal means and delivered the sack of money by hand.

Minister for Presidency, Frank Tumwebaze was quoted by BBC saying the president decided to carry the cash because in the past the money was stolen. He didn’t say who stole the money. This lame excuse in itself is clear sign that Museveni doesn’t trust his own government.  I can understand because when you have a government where aid money finds itself on personal accounts of government officials, there’s nothing much to trust.

This is Museveni’s failure- failure to deliver systems that can work for Ugandans. He presides over a predatory government that seeks to dig deeper into our pockets daily with not much social services to match our efforts. Such donations are an insult to hard-working Ugandan teachers and medical workers that often go months without pay.

It seems someone woke the president and told him it was already 2016 and hence that sack of shame. You can follow the discussion on twitter at #Sackofmoney.