Wednesday, March 15, 2017

#Museveni is not a servant of #Ugandans - #Politics of #Poverty


#Issue 19

By Wabuyi Denis

Yesterday or the day before yesterday, well I don’t recall but I went to Butalejja to install network boosters and a new MIS for my organization. As it has been the habit I expected to receive offers of rice from my good clients who also think that am a good “servant” of them just because what I offer is actually a service. To my dismay I was met with dismal faces, sunken eyes sat where once was a glimmer and rays of hope, life and happiness.

As I went about my work, one good lady called me to the sidelines and asked; “Papa, wakanikha khu bindu bya insurance ne ari unjeta uryena mutuwa?” literary she wanted to know whether she could subscribe to insure her already destroyed rice fields. Apparently, what has befallen the farmers of Butalejja are hail stones that have destroyed more than 2 thirds of their rice fields.

To a farmer like Violet, a mother of 5 who borrowed, using her husband’s land as collateral security, there are three options;

1.       Let the bank seize the land, sell it off and recover their money. After all the traders of Owino borrowed money from DFCU, their market was burnt and now DFCU wants to seize the market. They are not the first to suffer such loss.

2.       Secondly, Violet can convince the husband to sell off the small plot of land they had bought in the nearby trading centre and pay back the loan plus the interests.

3.       Alternatively, she can borrow from a money lender and pay the bank loan; then borrow from the bank to pay back the money lender like that in a cycle.

If she had insured her garden, she would walk into the office of the insurance vendor, fill some forms and being Uganda she would wait for the office to do its assessments and she would receive the re-imbursement for the expected yield. Thus she would pay off the loan, get a profit and get back to the garden even in this “jerrycan and bicycle economy” of Museveni.

However like all Ugandans, the farmers of Himutu in Butalejja waited for disaster to strike before they could know that insurance is helpful. Most Ugandans as I speak don't have any cover for  emergencies, they never insure against uncertainties reason being they are poor. Research needs to be done to establish whether we are poor at heart, spirit, or cash not brain but in most cases we pay the highest price for our poor judgment.

Where you could pay 120,000 a year for health insurance, one pays 50,000 per sickness and in a year spends not less than 400,000/-. Where one could have saved 50,000 per month , one goes without savings only to lose a very important asset to cover up an emergency like sickness of self or relations. I know that we have so many excuses and government has so many questions to answer but the failure to cushion ourselves against uncertainties has done a lot of harm to us and politicians can only use that as capital; keeping us in a state of begging.

Time is upon us and we need to think about how many people have borrowed money, invested it without insurance and lost it thus left with no other option but to commit suicides. Let us not wait to witness another promising businessperson lose their business to a fire or floods just because they are not insured. The x-ray machine broke down last year and government is still shaking hands with 6 billion. Will you manage $5,000 for treatment at Aga Khan in Kenya? Let us wake up my people. Time is upon us and for once let us get serious with our lives.

Insuring your life and your livelihood may not guarantee that you will not die in the next road accident but it will leave your family with something to fall back on, it will not prevent the arsonists’ fire from razing Owino market but will re-instate you to a better position. Nothing hurts like losing your money or source of income suddenly.

I know that many times we are engulfed into chasing our dreams but what we have now is like a shadow; it will disappear when the light burns out or when you burn out. That is in individual capacity.

But before we chastise, condemn, reprimand, under look, and despise our people for not always preparing for disaster, we should also look into our own government. How prepared are we to avert danger? How much do we lose just because we did not prepare for an uncertainty or did not prepare our future to meet our plans? I remember a time when debate raged about the legality of Mobile Money transaction. It exposed our naivety and it continues to do so. How else would you explain a situation where a telecommunication company holds a bigger savings portfolio and more financial transactions than many of the banking institutions? And who regulates their savings? What happens if a person died without disclosing their pin to anyone? The money is not lost but taken by MTN straight outta country to the Rainbow Nation!

But anyway, we know how the politicians benefit from such catastrophes; when Owino was razed to the ground, we saw hordes of cash being issued in front of the cameras; not a single politician was on record to tell the traders that they need to insure their stalls against probable future catastrophes.

How else will they (politicians) show that they are good unless there is a fire destroying markets or children in Isingiro are going hungry and the villagers in Buyende drinking from a dirty swamp and limping not out of swag but jigger infested legs?

It is now time to reflect and ask ourselves whether politicians are the ones that collude with devils to cause catastrophes so that they come in handy and be seen to be helping. If anyone doubts, look into the archives and tell me the person who said this while people reeled with famine and hunger in the nation; “This little “famine” scare is good because it has waked us up to look at irrigation,”

Next time your relatives die of hunger; don’t cry over them, they are waking us to look for Rwenzori water-bottle irrigation!

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