Despite Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s 30-year long presidency full of claims that he would route out the evil of corrupt public officers and ‘unmask the thieves,’ very little has changed in this regard. Government employees and officers are still deeply embedded in the system of dirty deals, stealing government funds, misusing public assets, abusing office and influence peddling.
Growth has slowed in part due to private sector credit and the most recent IMF report makes no reference of the natural, ingrained corruption within the banking system nor comment as to just how much of the non-performing loan issue might well be due to the deliberate lack of quality due diligence conducted in order to help certain business partners or connected individuals.
Most Ugandan’s see the country’s greatest threat to development coming from the police force’s well-documented corruption, cronyism, power-grabbing and, often, violent ways. From a business perspective, working in Uganda would quite literally be a rollercoaster ride. There is absolutely no chance of success, for example, if one’s business opponent is closely aligned with the police.
If the country is able to start oil production in the next couple of years the economy may well begin to show signs of healthy growth. However, this must not be viewed as an indicator the country is anywhere near ready for a Western business to accept as a new developing market.
There are far too many factors for a CEO to juggle with on a daily basis to consider Uganda a profitable venture. The issues of corruption, cronyism, nepotism and theft (to name but a few) within government, the military and police have not even begun to be addressed, and are not likely to while Museveni is in power.
Worse still is the obvious power void that would be left after his eventual passing. With no effective government opposition, his death or retirement would signal nothing more than a return to the old days of mass violence on a national level as the warlords fight over who will run the country.