Uganda: NRM Public Holiday an Economic Loss
Assuming that 10 Million Ugandans are employed and earning UG Shs 20, 000 per day for work done; by spending Wednesday 30th Jan 2013 at home, which ideally was earmarked as a normal working day on the calendar; it means that these people will lose an estimated UG Shs 200 Billion. This same amount of money lost, if put to good use, could construct over 20,000 decent houses for needy citizens or give all roads in Kampala a facelift or even pay a decent salary to over 50,000 teachers for one year. Initially the NRM celebrations were supposed to take place on January 26th, which happened to be a Saturday and officially not a working day in Uganda.
|H.E. Museveni in a previous NRM retreat Photo courtesy|
I am not in any way saying that it is not important for the NRM to celebrate her anniversary, but I dispute the justification for declaring a public holiday in mid-week. I listened to Minister Frank Tumwebaze suggesting that the sudden change was occasioned by some invited guests, who apparently did not find January 26th a suitable date for their involvement. Mr. Tumwebaze however did not reveal the identity and number of the guests in question. How come the guests who are presumably from different countries, managed to zero down on a Wednesday? Could it be true that the organizers sent the invitations late? If so, why should Ugandans pay so much a price for some individuals’ poor preparations for the event? These questions cannot simply be ignored.
Well, whatever the case may be, I think the organizers of the NRM celebrations needed to have observed that over the past couple of years, whenever a public holiday is announced, majority of the people simply spend the day chilling at home or go about drinking. Hardly a quarter of the country’s population will certainly have a direct role to play in the celebrations. This then means that the public holiday will not only be an inconvenience to many, but will have a discreet economic impact at individual level.
In future, we might want to explore other avenues of achieving our motive of celebration whilst avoiding unnecessary encumbrances. For example, we could say that the NRM celebrations shall take place on every last Saturday of the Month of January, in which case only those directly concerned about the event would sacrifice their weekend leisure time and join in.
Otherwise, I congratulate the NRM upon marking 27 years since the end of the bush war. I also pray and hope that the celebrations shall not only remind us of our fettered past, but shall provide us an opportunity to meaningfully reflect on the Uganda we’d like to see 20 years from now.
For God and My Country!
By Tumusiime K. Deo.
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