East African sub-Region endangered by Museveni family crooked activities
By Moses Kamya Ssentamu
The region might need to tell President Museveni about the dangers the unbridled corruption of his regime poses to the regional economy as yet another scandal unfolds.
East Africa’s economy is largely agro-based and anything that affects the health of the sector has grave implications for everybody around. What has long been suspected – that Uganda is a conduit for fake agricultural inputs that have not only impacted yields but also plunged more farmers into hunger and poverty – was confirmed this week.
Ugandan authorities finally admitted that a drug maker cum importer contracted to supply veterinary vaccines had sold hundreds of thousands of fake doses of foot and mouth disease vaccines. This means that Uganda remains a reservoir of the deadly livestock disease. It also undermines efforts by Uganda’s neighbors to curb the disease, making prevention efforts more expensive.
The main culprit is none other than the Agriculture Ministry in cahoots with MTK –the long established main supplier of animal and human drugs in Uganda, a firm that’s also a friend of Museveni and his ruling NRM. The firm trafficked into the country bogus vaccines for Foot and Mouth Disease, the deadly zoonotic disease that can wipe out whole herds of cattle.
Despite receiving Ushs 6 billion for half a million doses of a vaccine that was supposed to halt spread of the disease, MTK instead shopped completely useless imitations that it then supplied to desperate ranchers. That is the kind of staggering crookedness, mixed with impunity of people that do business. It is most emblematic of Uganda in the years of Musevenism.
To add insult to injury, only 190,000 of the contracted half a million doses were actually supplied. But this racket is not limited to vaccines since MTK is one of two Ugandan firms that purport to manufacture agricultural pesticides. Alongside Bukoola, these two companies are protected by Museveni’s corrupt system to impoverish poor agrarian communities. It works for Museveni’s cronies in that most small farmers end up so desperate they sell their land to the system’s fat cats, at a fraction of its market price.
The only genuine agricultural chemicals that MTK and Bukoola will put on the market are those that have been banned by Europe and other western jurisdictions. Currently, Uganda is under watch by the EU until November when a verification mission jets in to see if there have been any amendments. The Museveni system racket is so ruthless that farmers are virtually trapped since, under the unwritten rules of the fake inputs cartel, it is actually illegal to import genuine agro-inputs into Uganda.
Commercial farmers with the means have to smuggle genuine inputs from Kenya if they are to get a decent yield and maintain access to western markets. Uganda watchers are now following with keen interest the quality of products that will come out of an organic fertilizer factory in Tororo, set up by Dongsong Guanghzou Energy Group.
This is a Chinese outfit that was sourced by a Kampala-based Chinese national, Min Fang, owner of Fang Fang restaurant and another of Museveni’s reputed agents. Very few will be surprised if the Tororo firm’s products will be any different from the junk that Bukoola and MTK have imposed on Ugandans.
The Museveni family rackets haven’t spared Lake Victoria either. This is a trans-boundary resource whose health is critical to all the Nile Basin Riparian states. That sub-regional status has not spared the world’s second largest fresh water lake from the impunity of the Museveni regime. Besides massive pollution from the many bootleg operations that masquerade as investors, Salim Saleh, Museveni’s younger brother has attacked the lake with a massive sand mining operation – again in cahoots with Chinese interests.
Under the guise of so-called national infrastructure projects, Saleh has been mining sand both in the lake’s catchment and within the lake itself. It has since emerged that two of the national projects to which this sand was supplied, Karuma and Isimba Hydropower Stations have suffered extensive cracking. That is because the sand from this part of Lake Victoria has poor bonding properties because of its high silicate content.
That raises the possibility that after forking out nearly US$ 3 billion on these two power stations, Ugandans may never enjoy the benefits of a long lifecycle for each. Although the last of the two projects is nearing completion, sand mining continues on an industrial scale because Saleh and his Chinese partners have apparently found an export market for the silicates.
Scientists have warned that extensive dredging of the lake poses a danger to the lake’s fisheries, something that is bound to impact Kenya and Tanzania with which Uganda shares the lake. Also, draining of the catchment could case shrinkage of Lake Victoria, because it is relatively shallow.
Museveni and his family has been a danger to the region in the serious matters of security. They are well on their way to becoming a great ecological danger to everyone as well.