Passing through the Ministry of Education on 27th March 2008, I picked a fruitful conversation with one technical officer in the ministry on unemployment and corruption. She believes that government has no responsibility at all for corruption and unemployment in this country, but blames the ordinary citizens. For example, an engineer who does shoddy work upon winning a tender or contract from the government is responsible for the potholes which break vehicles, cost extra fuel consumption and waste time.
Sadly, she is starkly wrong. Cases abound where fake companies have been given contracts by the government. On the issue of attitude, Chinua Achebe in one of his novels observes that when mother cow is chewing grass, the young ones keep watching the mouth. Surely, do we have models in government with moral authority to tell us corruption is a cancer? It is corruption on the part of the government if it fails to supervise the people it awards tenders and contracts. Supervision ensures accountability which is a critical tenet of good governance.
On the question of unemployment, the officer told me how there are many kids who don’t go to school because of the long distance they have to cover to reach school yet many teachers who benefited from government grants but have not been absorbed seat idle. She suggests that these teachers should do voluntarily teach these children as a form of not only paying back to government which invested in them but also as a form retaining their skills. She went further to to ask how much they spend as they do nothing but wait for absorption.
A radio talk show moderator once asked me: " What have you done for Uganda?" I did respond that I pay my taxes. What more should I do for the government apart from asking it to account for my taxes?
President Museveni has fundamentally failed to transform the Ugandan society through industrialisation, employment and education. This explains why the Ugandan population is still largely peasantry.In Uganda, the highly educated are highly redundant. People without formal education are comfortably doing their jobs as shoe shiners, boda boda (motorcycle) riders, barbers, wheel barrow pushers, and doughnut bakers among others.
The struggle against corruption and unemployment is a struggle that all of us must embrace. If you are like the Commissioner for Uganda who reportedly earns a salary of 28 Million Uganda Shillings ( about US $16,000) but have fifty relatives and say twenty friends who are rendered depend on you, you will hardly make any savings or investments. Assuming you have accumulated savings and investments, can you and your property be secure in a situation where many people are unemployed? We must all raise the bar of thought and creativelt seek ways to eradicate unemployment.