Uganda not democratic

According to the results of the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index for 2008 Uganda ranks 101 in the world in democratisation. The index shows that globally the spread of democracy has stagnated after decades-long global trend in democratisation.

Uganda has performed worst in political participation scoring just 3.9 out of ten. In east Africa, Uganda comes behind Tanzania but is above Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda is the only authoritarian regime in the region.

Here’s the link to the Index,

With less than 20 months to the preisdential elections and more than half way into the year 2009, do you think Uganda has improved on the 2008 indicators?

Can a disastrous Minister respond to a disaster?

Last evening I went home late and I missed the night news. People in my house had one thing to tell me about the news, MPs wept. I wondered what could have moved Members of Parliament to shed tears publicly in the house. I was told it was about the famine in the Eastern and Northern parts of the country. These areas have gone through years of war but haven’t seen substantial recovery programmes. This famine is a result of lack of a proper rebuilding and resettlement plans as a country and the increasing effects of climate change. It has been reported that about 35 people have died due hunger.

The Prime Minister of Uganda Apolo Nsibambi moved to console the region by calling the famine a “national catastrophe” and that the government had provided an extra Shs10 billion to buy food supplies for affected people.

But this will this government and the minister for disaster preparedness who uttered insentive words in the face of criticism continue to sit and wait for disasters?  Female MPs shed tears as they protested government indifference.

Children in Katakwi collect some vegitables. The area has been hit by famine. John Njoroge Photo
Children in Katakwi collect some vegitables. The area has been hit by famine. John Njoroge Photo

The other MPs called for Prof. Kabwegyere’s resignation. Instead of looking for a logical way to defend himself, the old Prof, known for his verbal disparage displayed arrogance in the fame of death of Ugandans saying “If I resign you think those people will not die of hunger?”  Unbelievable! The day before Kabwegyere had addressed the press together with the State Minister for Agriculture Aggrey Bagiire blaming the famine on drunkenness.

You would expect Minister Bagiire, himself an Agriculture graduate to give the nation a more convincing answer to the crop failures in the regions. Even though the government gives millions in emergency aid, these areas will continue to experience such famine in future unless they rethink agriculture production in the face of climate changes. Also people in Teso and the north must be resettled properly and there should be a lot of efforts put into agriculture production both in terms of capital but also in technical support. And Kabwegyere with his loose mouth might be after all the right person for the post of disaster response.

A book on Sudan

I read the review in The Independent last week. I am interested in the writer’s portrayal of the situation in Sudan. I believe it bookcould be the same as in DRC and other troubled regions. Health care and violent conflict are subjects that I love to read about. And I would expect to read on how medical officers try to stay sane in these circumstances.

Will AMISOM new mandate complicate the Somali situation?

The African Union once again pledged to send more troops to Somalia adding onto the 4,300 force in Mogadishu. For the last two years African countries except for Uganda and Burundi have been silent despite pledging to contribute troops for the peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

Whether the countries will finally meet the pledge reiterated at the AU summit that ended at the weekend in Sirte Libya is what will be awaited. But more important the leaders agreed to amend the current AMISOM mandate that prevents peacekeepers from attacking the insurgents except for in self-defence.

Under the new mandate which is yet to be fully explained, the AU troops will be allowed to “fight along government soldiers” according to Somalia’s Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke.

AU troops in Somalia

The question is will this new mandate AU troops more of targets by Al Shabab? And will this mandate further complicate the situation in Somalia?

And are African countries prepared to pay the price – both in money and life- as the new mandate comes into force?

Uganda comes 21on list of failed states

Here is the list of failed states The list is produced by Foreign Policy and The Fund for Peace. While Uganda is not in a critical situation, the report shows that our country is in the danger of becoming a failed state. I will come back to this subject in the coming days.

Obama in Africa.What should he address?

obama2A week from now President Obama will make his first visit to Africa(Sub Saharan). He will be in Ghana on July 10-11. Besides discussing bilateral issues with the Ghanian President John Atta Mills he is expeced to give a speech to the whole of Africa. The out going US ambassador to Uganda told the media yesterday that President Obama will adress issues of corruption and governance. But I think Africans also would like to hear more regarding Obama’s plans on trade, conflicts like Somalia, DRC, Darfur. I believe his trip to Ghana should be given attention by the west just like they did with the Cairo speech. I would like to know what you think should be the center of his Africa policy.

Rwanda sterilisation bill should open debate on mental disability

A proposed law in Rwanda meant to stem the spread of HIV has been put on the spotlight. But what mostly stands out is the proposal to sterilise people who are mentally disabled. The Human Rights Watch has come out to say the proposal is as a crime against humanity by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. And Rwanda is being urged to drop a draft law.

The law as controversial as it may seem, I find HRW lacking context here by quoting this the crime against Humanity. The sterilization as a crime against humanity by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court looks sterilization with a purpose to extinct a certain population.

I think this proposed law needs a lot of debate than just judgement.  This idea that a government is out to hurt some citizens is not the way to look at it. I don’t wholly agree with the proposal but how HRW approached the proposal is what I beg disagree with. My first thoughts when I read the story were that this is a government trying to face difficulties faced by mentally disabled people. And back in UgandaSupporters of such a proposal may be thought to prevent such mentally disabled people from having children not for other reasons but for their own good and for those of families although the law if passed may face  many challenges in implemenation. I am not saying it is the best option but instead of condemning we should be looking for ways that governments in Africa can stop this double suffering. everyday you walk through the country, you hear chilling stories of mentally ill or disabled women raped and they are pregnant. No one will ever come to claim responsibility. Then relatives of these people are left to look after them with a lot of difficulty and many families cannot afford the time or the money to take care of these women. And for those who are on the streets it’s even worse. No one cares and  most these children concieved by mentally disabled women die immediately after they are born becuase the mothers cannot care for them that is if the mothers don’t die as they deliver on their own in streets and bushes.

So besides asking Rwanda to drop this proposal I would want to hear what can be done to prevent the unwanted pregnancies among mentally disabled people. This bill should cover areas of protecting such groups not just from pregnancies but also from HIV. How do we ensure mentally disabled people are protected from all this is the key question here but not viewing the proposed law as just abusive.