Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

Uganda decides

Presidential Candidates hols hands before the beginning of a live Presidential Debate held at Kampala’s Serena Hotel on Saturday. PHOTO: monitor.co.ug

In under a week from today (Monday) Uganda goes to the polls to decide whether incumbent president Yoweri Kagutta Museveni who has been in power for over three decades will continue ruling the “pearl of Africa” for another five years or that he will hand over power in a new dawn that will see the country’s leadership shift to the opposition.

No doubt that this is a defining moment for Uganda whichever way ‘the dice rolls.’

These elections are however not just significant for Ugandans, across the border in Kenya people are closely following the developments. Kenyan media outlets have sent correspondents to Uganda who give live updates during news bulletins.

Kenyans are also regularly commenting about developments in Uganda on social media.

Why is this election important to Kenyans?

Uganda is a key partner in the East African Community with very strong ties to Kenya. A lot of Kenyans are working in Uganda and likewise there are so many Ugandans working in Kenya due to several agreements between the two countries.

John Okello sells car spare parts at Kisumu’s industrial area, he regularly travels to Uganda to source second hand car parts and he explains why Kenyan’s care so much about Uganda.

“Unlike Tanzania, Uganda has been very welcoming to Kenyans and a lot of us do business there or go there to get supplies. Look at Kisumu streets today, how many vehicles do you see bearing Ugandan registration?”

Esther Waliaula works with an NGO in Jinja providing bicycles to volunteer health workers and students in remote areas of Uganda to improve access to healthcare and basic education. She is from Western Kenya and is currently back in the country because of the uncertainties that could come with the hotly contested elections.

“I have only been in Uganda for a month and I largely hope that the elections will be peaceful so that we can soon go back to work. I however came back because I know how African elections sometimes go and you do not want to be caught up when violence erupts in a foreign country.”

Dr. Cyprine Oduogo an International Relations lecturer and dean at the School of Development and Strategic studies at Maseno University agrees that a stable Uganda is very key for Kenyans’ economic interests.

“Uganda being a landlocked country relies a lot on Kenya for the movement of its goods and a lot of Kenyans do business in Uganda or with Ugandans. A stable Uganda is most definitely in the entire region’s best interest.”

The Connection between Kenyan and Ugandan politics

These elections are not only significant to people who work in Uganda or travel there for business. There are domestic political reasons as well.

Kenya will be going to elections too in about a year from now. Kenya’s opposition politicians and their supporters have had very frosty relationships with Museveni’s regime. At the height of the violence that occurred in Kenya after the disputed 2007 elections, Museveni is alleged to have provided police officers that backed up the Kenyan forces in Kisumu and other opposition strongholds and helped Kibaki hold on to power. To many Kenyans he helped rob them of their victory.

“Museveni was party to our stolen victory in 2007. He was a close confidant of President Kibaki and now it’s time for him to go home too,” adds Dick Okech, a resident of Kisumu and supporter of opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Dr. Odugo (quoted earlier) thinks that Museveni has immersed himself into Kenya’s ethnic divisions and sections of Kenyans would welcome a politically neutral leader of their western neighbor.

“Kenyans would most definitely want to see a more neutral leader in Uganda who does not align themselves to the various tribal factions of Kenya.”

Even though President Kenyatta has remained silent on his stand regarding the elections across the border, his deputy who is a close ally openly campaigned for Museveni in Eastern Uganda where a huge population from his Kalenjin tribe reside. That was probably the biggest indication of President Kenyatta’s support for a Museveni win and more reason why Kenyan’s allied to the opposition are against a Museveni win.

While it’s impossible to ascertain whether Kenyans in support of Kenyatta’s administration also support a Museveni win, a lot of Kenyans think he has led the East African nation for too long and it’s now time to change guard.

Museveni is attempting to hold on to power like his counterparts from Rwanda and Burundi, a move Kenyans on social media openly showed their displeasure with.

As far as over staying in power is concerned, your guess on where Kenyans stand is as good as mine.

The politics around the disputed Migingo island in Lake Victoria have also not helped the relationship between Museveni and opposition supporters who mostly hail from Western Kenya. In 2008, Museveni’s claim to the small island led residents of Kibera in Nairobi to uproot sections of the railway connecting the Kenyan coast to Uganda thereby disrupting delivery of goods to the landlocked nation.

“Museveni is widely seen to exhibit irresponsible leadership when it comes to his frequent claims to Kenyan territory. These are things that the average Kenyan does not take lightly even if the disputed land is just a small island,” says Dr. Oduogo.

To others though a win for opposition candidate Dr. Kiza Besigye is symbolic of things to come in the greater East Africa region including Kenya. In Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete peacefully handed over power to John Pombe Magufuli (a close confidant of Raila Odinga) and an opposition win in Uganda would be a much needed morale boost in the Kenyan opposition rings.

Linda Okado ia a member of the ODM Women’s league and supports a Besigye win in the Thursday elections. To her an opposition win in Uganda  will be an affirmation that it’s possible to defeat an incumbent in Africa.

“The challenges the opposition is facing in Uganda are similar to ours. A win there would mean that it is possible for transition in free and fair elections.”

A view shared by Dr. Oduogo who thinks that the opposition in Uganda is facing an impossible challenge and ” a miraculous win” for the opposition in Uganda where “democracy is in a bad state” coming hot on the heels of a change of guard in Tanzania will be a sign of hope for the opposition politicians in Kenya and their supporters.

Follow me on Twitter @IamOminde

 

 

 

 

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Kenyans deserve more than a “cool” president

A few weeks ago while attending an African Politics bloggers conference in Nairobi, I met up with two fellow bloggers from Malawi and Zambia at the airport, they were just coming in for the same conference as well. As we waited for the hotel shuttle to come pick us up we chatted a bit about the politics situation in Africa – from President Sata’s health to Uhuru’s case at the ICC.

Jimmy Kainja from Malawi who like me is both a blogger and a journalist ( a lecturer as well) was telling Bruce and I how Kenya seems to have a vibrant president. He was referring to tweets he saw in his timeline a day earlier about Uhuru handing over power to his deputy for a couple of hours as he went to The Hague to deal with “personal issues.”

Then Bruce (our Zambian counterpart) went on about how Kenya has a president who is vibrant on social media and who can generally be described as a down to earth person – sentiments I totally agree with.

I think Kenya has the most accessible president in the whole world. At times I think Uhuru even forgets that he is president and decides to just have a ball, which is not in any way a bad thing.

Who wouldn’t want to see their president enjoy a good laugh?

Then when he goes to functions and start taking selfies with random people or when he invites musicians over to statehouse – man that is my kinda president! I wouldn’t like a president I cannot relate to and that is probably why I would never vote for anybody above 60 years of age – that’s just me.

Serious issues

If we were to rate Uhuru Kenyatta based on how sociable he is then he would probably be the best president in the whole world!

Truth is come 2017 when his first term in office expires we will be rating him based on performance in key areas that we feel need to be addressed.

It is indeed fun to see the president out there dressed in full military regalia – we all love the combat as a fashion statement but in the face of raging insecurity we would rather see our Commander in Chief ensuring that our borders are safe and that no terrorist get into the country to harm innocent citizens.

Read: HAS RAILA ODINGA OUTLIVED HIS USEFULNESS?

The sense of security that is synonymous with the uniform would make more sense when it can be felt by the residents of Kapedo in Turakana County, residents of Moyale and every other part of this country where innocent citizens cannot move on with their lives because of fear of attacks by ragtag militia. Yes, this security should move from instagram and other social media platforms to real action on the ground.

Cost of living

I do not disagree with Bruce Choome or Jimmy Kainja on what they think about our president and our democracy, but all those twitpics and instagram photos do not put food on Kenyans’ tables. Our economy is in shambles.

The cost of living is getting higher and higher everyday, the shilling is at an all time low currently trading against major world currencies at rates we last saw in 2011 clearly indicating the imbalance of trade.

If selfies would fix our economy then Mr. President is definitely on the right track.

How long will this last?

If there is one thing the president is doing right then that thing is PR – I think everyone in his communications department deserves a raise!

But every trained PR or communications professional will tell you that however good the PR Machinery is, if it is not backed up with a good product then it is all a waste of time.

When Kenyan police officers are no longer able to even protect themselves let alone members of the public, when terrorists have the nerve to stage attacks on military barracks, when Kenyan youth cannot get meaningful employment, when putting food on the table becomes impossible then “selfies” will become the most loathed word in Kenya.

It is time the president put half as much the efforts he puts in looking cool into delivering services that Kenyans elected him for, otherwise this popularity that he currently enjoys will fade as soon as it came.              

                                                       Follow me on twitter @IamOminde

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