Addressing Ugandans that had gathered in Sembabule for Labour Day celebrations, the President- Yoweri Kaguta Museveni strongly defended the Government’s idea to import doctors from Cuba amidst all the backlash and comments from Ugandans. He claims that he decided to call them in after the recent strikes by our own Ugandan doctors, saying, “Some of our own behaved badly”. He went ahead to call them “selfish” medics with “crooked behaviour” and said that this behavior that consequentially left patients abandoned is what forced him to think of another option.
Since Cuba is well known for its reputation of having one of the best health systems in the world, he saw it best to import a few of their doctors. The Caribbean island nation provides more medical personnel to the developing world than all the G8 countries combined, according to reports. The issue of importing Cuban doctors has been a divisive one, with critics vehemently voicing their resistance to it – predominantly from the financial viewpoint.
Earlier in the day, NOTU Chairman General- Usher Wilson Owere, speaking on behalf of the Workers’ Union, expressed his disagreement with the idea of importing medics from Cuba. Owere said they had seen no need for Government to bring in doctors all the way from Cuba yet Uganda had her own with the argument that “what the local medics need is to have their salaries enhanced.” In response to that: ‘I get sh3.6m for salary’. The President mentioned how he persistently went on to do his job in spite of the low pay and said that the doctors should not use that as an excuse to go on strike. He went on to refer to the doctors as “selfish and unprofessional people” and “enemies” of the people of Uganda. “You cannot lecture me about working for Uganda. I don’t want to hear that nonsense. We, the freedom fighters, have been working for Uganda for about 55 years now – for either low pay or no pay.”
Museveni said while he gets a salary of sh3.6m per month which is far less than what many a public servant gets, he remains with authority as the Head-of-State. “I have authority although I have a low pay. I am the President of Uganda. So, don’t bring those nonsensical arguments.”
During the same Labour Day celebrations held at a rain-battered district grounds, medals were also awarded. The five Ugandan athletes who won medals at the recent 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia were the first to be awarded a medal each once the medal ceremony was underway. The athletes Joshua Cheptegei (two gold), Stella Chesang (gold), Solomon Mutai (silver), Mercyline Chelangat (bronze) and Juma Miiro (bronze) ensured that Uganda finished 15th overall at the Gold Coast in the games that brought together as many as 71 nations.
Several other people also received Labour Day medals in different categories like creators and drivers of jobs. While talking about the private sectors of commercial agriculture, industry, services and ICT as being the creators of jobs, President Museveni also said public service is equally key. He urged that the two sectors work together to generate the volume of jobs required to steer Uganda to the often-emphasised middle-income status. “The Private Sector cannot create jobs if the public problems are not solved first,” Museveni said.
According to the statistics that Museveni read out on Tuesday, there are 530,000 registered companies in Uganda – indicating a rise over the years. Of this number, 180,000 companies are in the Services Sector, employing 4.7 million people. The Industry Sector accounts for 8,200 companies and is employing 1.3 million people. In terms of employment, Commercial Agriculture is providing jobs for as many as 3.3 million people but that is twice as less as what subsistence agriculture is employing: 6.9 million people.
While praising the Operation Wealth Creation Programme for their work done so far, President Museveni urged officials handling the initiative to work even more to encourage and inspire more people into commercial agriculture.
The middle-income status seems to be well on its way basing on these facts, or at least there’s some sort of progress. Will Uganda have achieved it by 2020 though? That’s a topic for debate.