The national treasurer of the ruling political party National Resistance Movement (NRM), Rose Namayanja Nsereko says her party and President Yoweri Museveni have greatly enhanced the provision and extension of social services across the country, noting that the advancement has led to a steady progress among citizenry.
She made the remarks while appearing on Top radio on Friday evening.
According to Namayanja, key sectors like health, education, transport, energy, security and the economy in general have since 1986 when President Museveni captured power after a five-year guerrilla war, witnessed a drastic and tremendous outward shift, despite the existing challenges and threats.
Namayanja explains that Uganda was politically stable for only four years after acquiring Independence in 1962 after which, it ascended into political turmoil but when NRM came into power, they embarked on stabilizing the country.
This, she says, has been successfully achieved since there is currently no any part of the country which has been at war in the last more than 15 years.
“We had had Allied Democratic Forces in Rwenzori, Itongwa, Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army, Lakwena and others whom we defeated and the country is now secure from border to border,” said Namayanja.
She added that the peace Ugandans are enjoying is enabling them to involve in a number of income generating and developmental activities.
On transport, kilometres of tarmac roads have increased from 1,200 in 1982 to nearly 5,000 today across the country. Namayanja says the development has eased the movement of people and goods.
NRM wants in the next couple of years 2,000km of new roads to be constructed which will increase in tarmac to 6,000km as well as reconstruct and rehabilitate sections of national roads and turning specific sections into dual carriages.
“There are passenger vehicles plying all routes across the country. A person can now travel from Kabaale and return in just a day unlike in the past when one would use the whole day only to move to Kampala. All the country’s borders are connected by tarmac roads, a big boost to the traders. This is unprecedented. We opened up from Nimule to Busia, Katuna and then DRC border,” said Namayanja.
On health, the National Treasurer notes that by 1986, there was no any Health Center II in the whole country, but Uganda now boasts 3,549 Health Centre IIs.
“We had 89 Health Center IIIs but they are now 1,379. We only had 81 District Hospitals, now they are 162. So our people even in the most rural areas can access good medical care from within their areas,” reiterated the former minister.
By 1986, there were less than 100 health facilities in the country. Currently, there are 2,547 health facilities out of which government runs 1,708, Non-governmental Organisations 559 and individuals run 280. These include two national referral hospitals (Mulago and Butabika Hospitals) and 10 regional referral hospitals.
Namayanja says when NRM took over government, only 10 percent of the people would be immunised unlike now where the numbers are 98% in the whole country and that the public has now realized that all their babies have to be immunised. She explains that it makes news today if a child dies of Measles unlike in the past when it was a common killer.
Asked why the this growth in the number of health facilities has not been matched by improvement in availability of medical workers or medicines, the NRM treasurer said, everything can not be achieved at once.
“On service delivery, everyone has where they want to reach. I can’t stand here and say we have achieved 100%, no but at least we see where we are headed to. When NRM came in power, the health delivery system was very poor because of the non-existent infrastructure, there were no health service providers and that the materials to use weren’t available. There are things we started with including increasing facilities and we shall reach where we want to go,” said.
She however refuted that medicines are completely not available in the health facilities, saying drugs are there in the National Medical Stores (NMS) but blamed heads of health facilities whom she said could be the ones who don’t request for the required and correct drugs from NMS.
“We had a problem of theft of drugs but this was solved by labeling government medicines as well as changing the mode of delivery. Drugs are now transported from NMS to Health Center IIIs.”
Life expectancy has increased from 48.13 in 1986 to 59.18 years today. Infant mortality rate has dropped from 113.41 per 1,000 births in 1986 to 57.40 per 1,000 births in 2005. Maternal mortality dropped from 438 per 100,000 births in 2011 to 336 deaths per 100,000 in 2016.
Prior to 1986, the cooperative unions such as West and East Mengo and Wamala Growers’ Cooperative Unions were spread in diverse parts of the country, but NRM has always been criticized of ‘killing’ them out.
Namayanja however notes that government has never abolished regional cooperatives but instead blames it on the political instability that existed in the country then.
“We have never abolished them and that is why we have a ministry in charge of cooperatives and commercial officers who register them. They only that changed is the name. They are now called Savings and Credit Cooperative Societies (Saccos),” explained Namayanja.
She said the spirit of the formation of Cooperatives was for the people to start their own Saccos and use them for saving and acquiring credit within themselves.
Meanwhile, Namayanja noted that NRM government has since opened up more trade in agricultural produce, allowing market forces determine prices of goods and services as well as liberalisation of trade in foreign exchange.
On Education, Namayanja notes that there are several policy changes including liberalisation of the sector and introduction of Universal Education at primary and secondary school level which have led to increase in primary enrollment from 2.8 million in 1996 (EMIS) to about 1,000,000 today.
Teachers increased from 74,000 in 1995 to 200,000 currently and the schools increased from 12,500 in 2000 to 25,000 Classrooms increased from 68,000 in 2000 to nearly 170,000.
According to Namayanja, government has since opened a number of public universities from 1 in 1986 to 11 today as well as giving way to over 40 private universities. The increase in the number of institutions of learning and population growth, she says, have partly led to unemployment.
“400,000 Ugandans graduate every year from all higher institutions of learning in the country unlike in the 1964 were graduates were only 500 which made it easy for them to get jobs in public service. Then, a person would get a job while still at school because literates were few,” she said.
She further defended the decision by government to amend and implement the new lower Secondary School curriculum which she said will provide skills to students and help them compete favourably in the job market.
She also heaped praise on government for increasing the amount of electricity in the country as well as extending it to rural areas. This, she says, has promoted industrialization as well as creating a number of jobs for the members of the public.
Asked why some party organs like the Central Executive Committee are pushing for President Yoweri Museveni to stand as a sole candidate in the internal party primaries, Namayanja explained that as a party, president Museveni is still their able and capable leader to enable them achieve their objectives.
“NRM is premised on mainly four core principles which are Patriotism, Social-economic transformation, Democracy and Pan-Africanism. As a party we also make self evaluation to determine who can lead us in moving along these principles and indeed, we see President Museveni as the best,” said Namayanja.
She noted that there is no football team that can choose to put aside a striker who scores and so, in this case, President Museveni is that striker and they will always give him the support to lead favourably.