Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Rethinking Uganda’s Compulsory Military Service

Following is a piece I published in Uganda's Daily Monitor.

Compulsory military service will rob Ugandans of their two-decades-old political and economic progress. This comes at a time when Uganda’s achievements against poverty, HIV/Aids, and internal strife have become proof that any country can rise from sheer desperation.

Struggling nations have consistently been encouraged to follow Uganda’s route. But how did this little-but-great land-locked country do it? Here is how: since the late 1980s, Ugandans have continued to experience economic freedom that has resulted in progress. While other African countries were busy debating moral justifications for sex education and condom usage, Uganda wasted no time.

Today, the proportion of Ugandans living in abject poverty declined from 56% in 1990 to 37.7 per cent in 2006, whereas that of Kenya increased from 48% to 52.2 per cent. Tanzania’s figure increased from 28% to 35.7 per cent. Uganda’s success was aided by economic deregulation that unleashed its people’s entrepreneurial potential; fellow East Africans in Kenya and Tanzania continued to suffer under their respective government’s hard grip on economic activities. Ugandans became the most productive.

Indeed, according to the United Nation’s 2006 Human Development Report, an average Ugandan produces goods worth ($1,478) every year and expects to live for 48.4 years. An average Kenyan produces goods worth $1,140 annually and has a life expectancy of 47.5 years, whereas an average Tanzanian produces goods worth $674 and would most likely live to be 45.9 years-old.

Compulsory military service will relocate people from their productive activities into barracks that produce nothing but political correctness. Lastly, enlisting 7.5 million eligible Ugandans will not come cheap.

The country is already spending over $150 million every year on defence. The biggest threat to any developing country is poverty not conflicts or aggression. Forced military service would be disastrous for Uganda.


MainaT said...

M7 was first a breath of fresh air, lately, he has become a stinker and Ug is in need of some fresh air.

Btw, I really like your county council intiative. Please give it publicity...

ka-investor said...

complusory military service has no place in modern africa. it not only infringe on the peoples right to choose what they want to do, but also reduces them to mere 'zombies' or as you say 'political tools'. M7 shoud let the people decide what they want with their lives rather than regressing them into communist kind of society.