UGANDA SHOULD KNOW BETTER

By Rigoberto Modi,

Bodies of Ugandan soldiers returned from South Sudan conflict. More than 250 Ugandan soldiers were killed on Juba-Bor road between January on 11 at Jemaza ambush alone(Photo: file)

Bodies of Ugandan soldiers returned from South Sudan conflict. More than 250 Ugandan soldiers were killed on Juba-Bor road on January on 11 at Jemaza ambush alone(Photo: file)

Oct 25, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —— One week ago, an article appeared in Monitor by a Ugandan journalist with a title ‘Machar now aims his fire at Uganda and Museveni’ by Bernard Tabaire. He catalogued the economic cost of the current war on Uganda. Tellingly, he even mentioned that beginning from ‘chapati’ makers to high level business owners, all are feeling the effect of the war in South Sudan. And when he moved to make a suggestion that is where he sounded very unethical and naïve. That Uganda should send troops in South Sudan to keep the road open.

Take a moment or two to think about this. First from military point of view. How many troops will secure the 195 kilometre road from Nimule to Juba? Every day how much does it cost in dollars to maintain that size of troops? From economic point of view in a country where everybody is leaving and looking for a way to get out, how much business opportunity still exists there to be exploited? I leave it to you to judge. But the very motive of Uganda getting in South Sudan to protect its economic interest sounds very unethical.

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Uganda cannot rely on South Sudan’s weakness to solve its economic woes. That does not make sense and it can be a cause of war in future with or without Machar in the picture. Do you think South Sudanese are that naïve or uneducated on the modern economic system?  Facts are very bad in Uganda. Let me remind you if you do not know, every year over 33,000 people graduate for work in Uganda, but less than 1000 get jobs in formal sector. The rest end as ‘boda boda’ and ‘grasshopper sellers’.

The planning of human resource development is completely in chaos. Or it does not even exist. Ugandan youth who should be productive force spend their day in taxi parks in Kampala shouting ‘Muyenga, Lungujaa’ Rubaga’ etc… Something that is not needed. Just a board is enough to direct people to which taxi goes where? And in case the person cannot read, it is social capital that works. Someone can ask for the taxi they want and get it without paying for it. This is how it works in other countries. But in Uganda this has become a job. And at the end of the day, how much do they earn anyway? Just 15,000/= which is equivalent to $3. These are people in productive economy who should be earning up to $ 200 a day. It has created kleptocracy in the country at a level not known anywhere in Africa. Literally in Kampala, there are more thieves than decent people. So you cannot trust the next person sitting to you in a taxi or even in the church. This is Uganda’s problem, not caused by South Sudan. And Uganda cannot use South Sudan to solve its problem.

In any case has this kind of solution ever worked? The cost to implement this kind of solution may be too high. Just take the case of American intervention in Vietnam. A super power pitched against a country of peasants and most people who read know the result. I do not know whether Tabaire is informed about that. The other problem is the narrative he used to arrive at the suggestion is false. In South Sudan, officially there are 64 tribes but other sources later revised that data to 72 tribes. All of these tribes are up in arm against the Dinka government. Then is it sustainable for Uganda to take side on the single tribe that the whole of South Sudan is rising against? If Uganda reasons that way, the result will soon be seen. By the way some of the communities rising against Salva Kiir have their brothers and sisters in Uganda. What I will tell this journalist is ‘wait and see’.

It would be good if his morality is not corrupted by money. Going in there for business is too risky and anybody who goes there must know they are taking a lot of risk to the extent that insurance companies will not cover the kind of risk South Sudan poses for business people. And from South Sudanese point of view, that there is war there and somebody is only interested in making money at the cost of South Sudanese lives is going to be very problematic. These Ugandans who go to South Sudan for trading become legitimate targets. In other words, they are legitimising a regime that is tribalist and involved in ethnic cleansing. Then why should they not be targeted?

By the way, do you know this far, Riak Machar has not got any support from any country. The weapons that are now being used to fight Salva Kiir are taken from his army. The same weapons procured from Israel and passed through Uganda are the one being used by SPLA-IO. That tells you the level of the commitment of the people to see the back of this regime sooner than later. So Uganda is going to support a regime that is totally unpopular in South Sudan and it will definitely fall. What will Uganda gain out of it? Just take the statement of the president when he addressed his party a few days ago. Even those Equatorians who were compromising are now shown the real nature of the man whom they try to support. Ha, ha, ha,. Let Uganda keep its troops in South Sudan. I say ‘keep’, because we know they are there. They will be defeated together with Kiir’s army.

The author, Rigoberto Modi, is a concern South Sudanese. He can be reached at rigoberto.modi@gmail.com


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