Yesterday I was invited on a fundraiser by an NGO led by Mayor Nabbosa Ssebuggwawo in mengo.
The major purpose for the gathering was to join hands to give our brethren dying of hunger accross the country relief food. Besigye gave close to 2 tonnes of maize floor, Ingrid close to a tone among others. Many dignitaries spoke about the hunger and the possible causes. Many experts have related this shocking famine out dependence on the little rainfall, drought, rapid population growth and agricultural dysfunctional plans. I agree that such factors are significant but every speaker tend to hide the gist of the cause of this critical hunger in Uganda- the lack of accountable people’s government and the lack of rights.
Hunger and politics
In his book Development as freedoms, Amartya San elucidates the relationship between democracy and famine. He says democracies are not affected by famines but the authoritarians. He says famines happen where the victims are oppressed by the dictator. The reason is that autocrats do not care enough to their populations to avoid the famine bit maintain power through force and not popular approval.
This is not the first hit of famine in Uganda, but the regime seems to have learnt and forgot nothing from the experience.
Reports that the regime just like everywhere else in Africa got the warnings of the risk of seasonal rain failure right in time but chose to keep it to itself. Had the regime shared the information in the media and local government and used traditional institutions to inform farmers to stock food and herdsmen to move their cattle near rivers much of the loss would have been averted. Now I hear a cow upcountry costs 50.000= . The regime is acting so irresponsibly because there is no drive to work hard to avert the crisis.
Even the head of state keeps diverting efforts because they would expose the rote in the house. He talks about road constructions as if the roads would be used by copses.
Amartya Sen’s argument relates absence of political incentives generated by free and fair elections, functional political parties and free investigative journalism is reciprocal to Uganda.
If there was a Democratic system to keep the government accountable, governments response would have been much different. Now Besigye and mere NGOS are ones lending hands to Ugandans. Even the little food sent to famine hit areas by government is his in government officials houses hence leaving Ugandans lives at the mercy of termites, flies, and ants.
Take Botswana, which is prone to droughts but because its a true democracy since its independence in 1966, she never experience famine though she is usually hit by drought. Their govt immediately deploys relief efforts which even get improved from one drought to the next.
It takes timely action which controls the threat. Sen goes on to give his main argument; the information flow and free press. This tight relief have brought about enormous impact on policies for famine prevention. But because the regime keeps gaging the media, information was locked in the shelves. Had the press been free, political opposition active there would have been the best early warning system and people would have improvised before government aid would approach.
Now we have Besigye and FDC trying to help but because we are under a dictatorship its better to them that the people die of hunger than receiving Besigye’s relief food as we witnessed recently in Teso region recently.
READ: Gunfire locks Katakwi as police disperses residents gathered to receive food aid
Therefore Uganda’s famine being caused by natural calamity nolonger holds but the authoritarian political system does.