Fellow Countrymen and Countrywomen. I greet you and salute you on this 27th Anniversary of the NRM’s Liberation of Kampala on the 26th of January, 1986.
The final attack on Kampala started on the 24th of January, 1986, when our Forces crossed the Busega swamp and spent the night at Rubaga. The following day the 25th of January, our Forces fought the whole day and only entered the sprawling Lubiri barracks at night fall. The following day, the 26th of January, our Forces started assaulting Kampala Central through Bakuli, Kampala Road up to Radio Uganda. This was the 1st Battalion, led by the late Fred Mugisha. Meanwhile, the 11th Battalion, under the late Chefe Ali, was assaulting Nakulabye, Makerere, Wandegeya and Summit View. The 7th Battalion, under Matayo Kyaligonza and the late Stanley Muhangi, was assaulting Makindye barracks while the 5th Battalion, under Ahmed Kashillingi and the late China was blocking Entebbe Road, at Kisubi. I held the 3rd Battalion under the late Patrick Lumumba in reserve, at Bulange (Republic House). The 13th Battalion, under Ivan Koreta, was blocking Gulu Road at Matugga. The Task Force, under the late Jet Mwebaze, operated in the area of Bwaise and was supposed to cross and block Mukono Road but they did not achieve this. Meanwhile, the 19th Battalion, under the late Peter Kerim, the 15th Battalion, under Samson Mande and the 9th Battalion, under Julius Chihanda were on the Hoima-Masindi axis. I held the 21st Battalion, under the late Benon Tumukunde, at Kasese because I was afraid of the possible Mobutu’s intervention from that side. Salim Saleh coordinated the attack on Kampala while Tinyefuuza coordinated the attack on the Hoima axis.
Radio Uganda and the Summit View were captured by about 1500 hours on the afternoon of the 26th but Makindye held on up to about 1900 hours. Meanwhile, at around 1400 hours, a worrying situation developed on Entebbe Road, when a large Force from Entebbe broke through the 5th Battalion at Kisubi and was approaching Kampala from the rear. I had to dispatch the 3rd Battalion, under Salim Saleh and the late Lumumba to block this force at Najjanankumbi. I, therefore, remained without a Reserve. By 1900 hours, however, good news from all around came in - Makindye barracks had been captured and the 900 force at Zana from Entebbe had also surrendered. The following day, the 27th of January, 1986, I made a broadcast on Radio Uganda, announcing the victory.
When I call these forces Battalions, our young commanders to today should not think that they were the same size of our present Battalions of 760 officers and men. None of these Battalions was less than 1,500 officers and men. In fact 19th Battalion was 1,900 officers and men. We had arranged this in order to economize on the Command. The few good Commanders we had would each command many companies (A, B, C, D, E, F, K, etc). Therefore, the Liberation Battalions would accomplish bigger tasks than the standard Battalions.
Since that time, Uganda has moved a great distance. The economy, which was 3.5 trillion shillings is now 50 trillion shillings (about US$ 20 billion). This means that the economy has expanded in size 14 times since 1986.Income per person which was US$ 264 in 1986, is now US$ 580 per person in spite of the population growing 2.3 times from 14 million people to 34 million people. If the population had grown at a slower rate, Uganda would already be a middle-income country. I do not, however, regret the growth of our population. It is a great resource in itself. We have struggled to educate this bigger population and we are succeeding. As you, for instance, saw just recently, about 565,663 of our young people sat for Primary Leaving Education (P.L.E.) last year. How many of our children sat for P.L.E. in 1986? The figure was 150,000!! The children in the secondary schools were only 123,479 students 1986. The figure is now 1.23million students. These are big achievements. In 1986, the share of industry in GDP was only 9.9% while services’ contribution to GDP was only 36.1%. The relevant figures are now 26.8% and 44.8%, respectively. The total export of goods and services in 1986, was only US$ 411 million in 1986 and this was because of the high coffee prices of that time; otherwise, the figures went as low as about US$ 260 million in 1988 and it further fell to US$ 177 million in 1990 because of the fall in the world coffee prices. Last year our export earnings were US$4.5 billion. Non-coffee exports of goods went from almost zero to US$ 1.7 billion last year. The International Reserves grew from US$ 16 million in 1986 to US$ 2.9billion in December, 2012. Government tax revenue collections went from five billion shillings in 1986 to 6.6 trillion shillings last financial year. Private investment increased from 5.2% of GDP in 1986 to 19% of GDP in2012. Remittances from Ugandans living abroad went from almost zero to US$ 879 million last financial year2011/12. Therefore, if you add the remittances from to the export earnings of goods and services, the total inflows are US$ 5.4 billion. Inflation was 240% in 1986 but is now 5.5%.
However, the economy could have grown much faster if it was not for some ideological confusion on the part of some of the actors that we are, sometimes, forced to work with. The first problem was the delay in the modernizing our Army, after we had reduced it from100,000 to 50,000 officers and men. Some quarters took the views that we should spend less on the smaller army. We, therefore, ended up with an under-equipped and smaller Army. This made our people in the North to suffer under Kony and the cattle rustlers of Karamoja for much longer than was necessary. When the Army was reduced in 1991, we should have straight away adequately equipped it. It was not until 2001 that we took the decision to cut 23% from all the other ministries in order to start properly equipping the smaller Army - a delay of 10 years. The moment we did that, that was the end of Kony terrorism and the cattle rustling in Karamoja. ADF terrorists are still in Congo. However, if they dare cross the border, they know what happened to them last time in 2006 100 of them entered Semliki valley, only 13 of them went back to Congo. This delay in equipping the Army properly was an unnecessary mistake that cost us development time.
The other problem has been the mistake of delaying industrial projects - rehabilitation of Kilembe mines, expansion of Lugazi sugar works, the implementation of the Amuru sugar project, the Dairy Corporation expansion and modernization, the Tororo Fertilizer factory, the Muko (Kabale) iron-ore processing project, the delay of the Bujagali hydropower project etc., etc. The delays are caused by the need for compensation, arguments about land rights, arguments about the environment issues, internal political sabotage, etc. I do not have time to deal with each of these arguments here. However, delays of these projects affects the tempo of the growth and transformation of the economy. Most importantly, it affects the job creation for the youth. The development-minded people must resist sabotage to the future of our children. What Africa lacks most, starting with Uganda, both in the past and today, are factories. We were colonized because of lack of factories. We are still lagging behind other continents because of lack of factories, not because of lack of clans, lack of forests, etc. We have had plenty of these in the past. Why did we remain backward?
Another cause of delays of industrial projects are either corrupt or indifferent officials. Muko ironore project has been delayed because incapable people were given concessions. Why do you give a concession to somebody who has no financial capacity to implement the project? Kilembe Mines here, is delayed because of mis-applied procedures. Kilembe Mines is not a procurement issue. It is an investment issue. Kalangala is now booming because we successfully resisted these misguided and quite often selfish schemes. The Palm oil project has been successfully implemented.
Soon, I am going to address Parliament, on the issue of corruption and criminality. The NRM, from the bush days and from the very inception, apart from our patriotic and Pan-Africanist orientation, was motivated by the fight against criminality and corruption such as extrajudicial killings, raping of women, bribes, embezzlement, poaching of animals, etc. We stopped extra-judicial killings by soldiers and other security staff, we stopped the poaching of animals in the National Parks, we stopped illegal roadblocks by soldiers, etc. Why does somebody imagine that we cannot end embezzlement and bribery? The recent success in breaking into the rackets of suspected thieves is just a tip of the iceberg of what the NRM will do to reduce or even eliminate corruption. Who broke into the suspected rackets of mega thieves in the office of the Prime Minister (OPM), the Ministry of Public Service, the Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Uganda (BOU), the Ministry of Heath, etc.? It is the NRM sympathizers and the Police the young police officers whom we deliberately recruited to build the capacity of that institution. Who insisted on recruiting university graduates of high integrity into the Police? It is the NRM and some of its precursors such as the UNLF in 1979.
Before that time, the Police and the Army were the preserve of the uneducated or the semi-educated. Could those have coped with the high level fraud that you are witnessing today? We are going to win the battle against bribery and embezzlement as we won the other battles. The only inconveniences we have in the fight against corruption, criminality, terrorism and political indiscipline is the practice of giving bail to the suspects indiscriminately. I am going to propose an amendment to the relevant laws in this respect.
In order to improve Service Delivery and accelerate the industrialization of our country, there are two factors we must deal with pay the Scientists well as well as paying the Judges well and, eventually, pay all the Public Servants well. When the money is, however, still scarce, let us start with the Scientists and the Judges so that both our Scientific innovators and our Judges are comfortable. One group to push the economy and the other one to administer justice fairly. The next clusters of public servants to deal with on the issue of salaries will be the teachers, the health workers, the army and the other security personnel.
The Ugandans say: “Kamwe kamwe nigwo muganda” ‘one by one makes a bundle’, “akwata empola atuukawala” ‘the one who makes modest efforts, in the end covers a long distance’.I congratulate all of you on the 27th Anniversary.
Source: State House