Sunday, June 13, 2010
Politics and Leadership Influence Job Allocation and Development
By Bakampa Brian Baryaguma
The Daily Monitor of Tuesday, June 8, 2010, reported a story entitled “Government jobs not fairly distributed – poll”. It was shown that President Museveni’s Western region had the lion’s share of ministerial appointments with 34%, followed by East with 33%, Central with 22% and lastly North with 11%. The civil service is also said to be dominated by Westerners. It is my humble submission that this state of affairs is not merely accidental but designed as it is willful and deliberate.
The point is that job allocation and ultimately national development are, to a large extent, influenced and determined by politics and leadership, more so in less democratic and authoritarian countries like those of the third world where the Head of State (whether President or Prime Minister) is virtually everything. There is hardly any tangible check on his/her power and influence. Everything in the country operates at his will and pleasure including who holds what job. A common characteristic of such regimes is long stay in power. Its consolidation becomes the leader’s only preoccupation which is best achieved through vices like nepotism and tribalism. The tendency to favour one’s cronies is almost a natural instinct that is propped by the desire to reward those who brought him to power. Definitely these are none other than relatives and friends. The point is that it is simply impossible to expect a leader to appoint people whom he doesn’t know.
Ugandans are no strangers to this phenomenon as President Museveni has publicly stated before that only his NRM party supporters will get jobs! He fell short of saying that only his kinsmen will. It is imperative to mention that to some extent, this is also the case even in the cherished and admired democracies. For example, during George W. Bush’s Presidency, CNN reported that he had filled key government posts with his fellow Texans. But unlike in Uganda, this didn’t become a thorny issue in U.S.A because the Americans knew that there would be change of leadership after eight years. In effect, they have accepted it as a natural consequence, remedied democratically through regular elections.
In The African Dream, I argued that change of leadership is vital for facilitating equitable flow of income in an economy. Fairly new democratic societies like U.S.A and Australia developed rapidly in a similar manner. A team in government receives salaries and gets lucrative contracts and when it leaves, others get those opportunities. This is known as economic justice in development terms. Contrast this system with old monarchial societies like Saudi Arabia and Egypt that are now dependant on them for aid! European monarchies were forced to embrace regime change to spur national development. In East Africa, Tanzania which has observed term limits over the last twenty years has overtaken Uganda as the second largest economy during the same period of time.
Creating a free enterprise environment is not enough as people should be availed sources of capital. Public employment is an important source of capital because government has a higher potential of resource mobilization than individuals. Later, public employees transform into private entrepreneurs. No wonder therefore, that President Museveni’s Mbarara district has developed very fast during his tenure. The President’s kinsmen have landed well paying government jobs whose salaries they investment. So as Ugandans continue chanting “NO CHANGE”, they should bear in mind the consequences of their choice. Societies develop and fall basing on politics and leadership. This is the nexus between the two.