Friday, June 10, 2011

Budget and 3 East African ways of dividing the national cake

Kenyan Finance Minister Uhuru Kenyatta with the Kenyan budget
On Wednesday, 8th June 2011 the East African states with exception of Burundi read their budget estimates to their parliaments. The budgets have tried to mitigate he high inflation that has caused street unrest in the region especially in Uganda and Kenya.

To a country, reading of the budget is the most important thing as the ministries allocations shows the development path within a year.
Adding to the budget there are three EA ways of ensuring the cake and the crumbs reach the common mwanainchi. The region has military, tribalism and ideology as means of ensuring the tickle down effect of budget.
Uganda with her president Yoweri Museveni who posed with an AK47 rifle in public slices the cake by military. Presidential candidates in the last general election and even the cabinet lineup have a strong presence of military personnel and connections.
This militarization of politics was brought to the country by Milton Obote with his power ambitions. To quash Kabaka Edward Mutesa as the head of state, Obote the then PM solicited support of the army through Idi Amin in 1966.
Later, internecine squabble between Amin and Obote lead to the 1971 coup lead by the latter. The army was given party and government positions to buy loyalty. Subsequent rebel offensives entrenched the army factor in politics.
M7 party National Resistance movement, NRM has its armed wing National Resistance Army, NRA doubling as state army. Apart from policing the state, Uganda uses the army for its expansionist interests in the region with the latest being Kenyan islands in Lake Victoria, Ugingo and Migingo.
And talking of Kenya, tribalism seems like the main way of slicing the national cake. Tribe factor majors in party affiliation with politicians as tribal chiefs using their blocs to bargaining for ministerial positions.
The government big man strives to offer the picking of his office; jobs, tenders and scholarships. This was the major cause of 2007/08 PEV with grumbling by left out tribes.
The problem originated before independence. KANU controlled by Luo and Kikuyu made other smaller tribes to form KADDU. The first devolution debate in sharing of resources was based on tribal politics.
The last PEV which claimed over 1,500 lives and left thousands others homeless as a precursor to all elections in the country shows the bad effect of crumbs from the national table reaching the wanainchi through tribalism.
Though goric, the scale couldn’t reach Burundi and Rwanda clashes like the 1994 genocide brought by tribalism between the Hutus and Tutsis.
On the other hand Tanzania with a quiet military and over 200 small tribes opted for ideology to distribute its resources from tribalism and millitary. The founding president Julius Nyerere worried about classism and elitism staged an intellectual coup on February 7th 1967 by ushering Ujamaa in Arusha declaration.
Public resources like schooling, property ownership and social amenities depended on the declaration. TZ finally abolished socialism to develop the economy through capitalism.
The other world
Considering the world stage, EA is not the strange in dividing the national resources. USA and Britain policies depend on the winning party (like Abortion and immigrants rights). Monarchies and autocrats like Saudi Arabia, falling Arab dictatorships and North Korea depends of wishes of princes and first family members.
While Iran still uses religion and Afghanistan is shaking off mullahs in dividing resources, Russia still depends on oligarchies backed by the Kremlin.

(Published on The People Monday 13th June 2011)

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