There has been a mixed reaction on the President’s state of the nation address. Some people like myself welcomed it because it was timely and focused on issues of national importance, while others are complaining that it was too brief and wanting on security and foreign relations. As a senior citizen and journalist by profession, this is what I have to say;
The NRM Government remains committed to ensuring a secure and peaceful Uganda. This has come about by promoting and upholding patriotism, democracy and good governance as core values for National socio-economic transformation. Significant focus has been placed on professionalizing and modernizing the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) and building the Uganda Police Force (UPF) capabilities.
Afew months ago, killers, robbers and rapists had intensified their activities. They were committing these crimes with impunity because the Police had been infiltrated by criminals and people who had been compromised in some ways. The National Security Council reviewed the situation and came to some conclusions. The president addressed a special sitting of Parliament on the 20thof June, 2018, where he outlined the measures to be taken to cope with the heightened crime. A number of those measures have been and continue to be implemented. As the president assured the country, that crime wave was indeed defeated.
As the president noted in his State of the Nation Address, it is indeed true that UPDF works with other security agencies to deter or curtail any acts of lawlessness. The recent peaceful holding of the Martyrs Day, where an estimated 3 million people turned up surely shows that Police and the UPDF already have good capacity.
I wonder why critiques are saying that the President was too brief on security while others are ‘wondering’ why he did not go into detail about Uganda’s diplomatic relations with Rwanda especially after the closer of Gatuna border. They forget that the president earlier on communicated that he wouldn’t address matters of Rwanda in the full glare of the media, security is not something to simply play around with.
The Commander in Chief made it clear that UPDF was working with other security agencies to deter and curtail any acts of lawlessness. Achievements are visible and he cited holding Uganda Martyrs Day at Namugongo where there was no bloody incident. That I think was enough on Defence and National Security, unfortunately some of our people on both sides of parliament wanted to turn the state of the nation address into some sort of address of the High Command of UPDF or that of the National Security Council, where details are discussed but in camera in order not to jeopardize anything related to Defence and National Security.
For a very long time, I have been a keen listener and viewer of the President’s address, and he at times talks about foreign relations but the details always depend on the situation. This time, he talked about regional integration and how he was chosen by his fellow heads of state and government to oversee the writing of the East Africa Confederation constitution by a committee of experts, when the current chairperson of the community is President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.
I believe president Museveni’s State of the Nation Address was a clear demonstration that he is a mature and experienced statesman, and Pan Africanist. I encourage those who may want to read the address for purposes of knowledge or to make informed positive criticism to go on the Government Citizen Interaction Centre (GCIC) social media handles for a full version of President Museveni’s State of the Nation Address 2019.
By Haji Ahmed KatereggaMusaazi
The writer is a Communications Assistant at Government Citizen Interaction Centre (GCIC), Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.