Saturday, October 16, 2010

What will Museveni’s manifesto look like? What is Museveni taking to campaigns?

By Asuman Bisiika

The nominations for presidential candidates slated for October 24 and 25 are now less than two weeks away. According to the Electoral Commission’s rules, campaigns begin immediately after the nominations.

Yet the two major political groups, the ruling National Resistance Movement and the Forum for Democratic Change, have not been talking about their manifestos.

In normal circumstances, a political party that has been in power for about twenty-five years would only need to review their cumulative achievements and set projections as their campaign manifesto. But the circumstances are not normal because the government communications and information dissemination systems have failed to sustainably promote government programmes.

There are two thematic options NRM’s manifesto can be approached: the promotion of the achievements of over twenty years or the projection and promise of better things to come. If it were up to me (if I were hired to write it), I would string it up in such a way that the achievements of the regime are captured as the foundation on which the projections and promises are made.

But I digress; the NRM will most likely not trust me with writing their manifesto. However, the question still remains: how will the NRM approach the campaigns for the 2011 Presidential Elections?

This essay is not intended to answer that question squarely, rather it is a rhetorical attempt to look at the NRM’s 2011 Presidential Elections campaigns from an assumed point of strong disposition, positioning and posturing.

President Museveni’s highest showing in this term (2006-2011) has been in the following areas: rural electrification, ending the armed rebellion in northern Uganda, increased access to clean water and a deliberate effort to improve on the road sector.

However, these areas of success should have been consistently promoted by the government’s communications and information dissemination systems. If these areas had been sustainably promoted, the challenge of the manifesto writers would have been limited to packaging these achievements into soluble messages for public absorption and appreciation during the campaigns.

So, how will the NRM take advantage of the improved social development indices like rural electrification, improved road network, improved access to clean water and the end of the rebellion in northern Uganda?

The rural electrification programme is supposed to extend the national electricity grid to cover 90% of the settled areas of the country. And my information is that they have already covered about 70%. One does not need to be highly educated to appreciate that rural electrification can accelerate the socio-economic transformation of the entire country.

With limitation of public servants, the government’s communications and information dissemination systems should to promote government’s high score in the social development indices without overly making it an NRM thing yet still to string it as a political mobilisation value.

In fact one of the (many?) things that President Museveni will be remembered for is rural electrification. This is the first time since independence that government is making a deliberate effort to bring the rural folk in the electricity loop; actually the national loop. Imagine for the first time the rural folk would also participate in debates over electricity tariffs.

Rural electrification will be etched in the collective minds of the people like Obote’s famous nineteen hospitals that remain the back born of the country’s health services delivery system.

In a deliberate action that was described by many as unprecedented, government allocated the road sector about one trillion for two consecutive years ending July 2010. This was the largest single allocation in the whole budget overtaking the education sector for the first time in many years.

The unprecedented increase in the budgetary allocation for the road sector bed a corresponding increase in public interest (and expectations) in the road sector. Question is: how will the NRM manifesto advantage of this public interest and expectations in the road sector? ENDS

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