Now and then I allow myself leave to wade into Uganda’s largely puerile politics, especially if it is for a good cause. If you bear with me, you will see that I am a genius of sorts if I put my mind to it.
Every Ugandan who can read already knows that Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s president, is on the back foot, having refused to look for an extra 260bn/= ($104,000,000) for Uganda’s health sector that his own members of Parliament (MPs) have demanded before they pass his 2012/13 budget. His priority is building Uganda’s defense which he claims is already underfunded and, thus, cannot be touched.
This has led to raised voices, angry standoffs and even a confirmed hissy-fit walking out by the president when his own MPs refused to budge from their demand; if we can find billions to buy used MIG fighters from Russia, we can find the money to make sure that they are not overflying the graves of yet more mothers and children dying in childbirth, more than 300,000 a year and counting according to the government’s own figures.
All the yelling and gnashing of presidential teeth is totally unnecessary – if only Museveni would listen to the Speaker of the House, a feisty woman called Rebecca Kadaga who Museveni thought would be a fawning puppet like her predecessor (the current vice president) only to discover, to his dismay, that she has a mind of her own and exercises it rather more freely than he wishes. She recently asked Museveni and his cabinet why, if they had cut ministry budgets in the past to fight the war against Kony, they couldn’t do the same this time round to boost spending on healthcare.
That’s when a light bulb went on in my head.
Of course! Kadaga has nailed it! Start by getting rid of the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity and … voilà … that would be a saving of 4.2bn/= ($1.7m) at a stroke of a pen.
You might say that this is a drop in the bucket on the road to finding the $104m the MPs are demanding.
Not so if you consider what the Ethics and Integrity ministry’s role seems to be; looking for gay sex.
According to unofficial figures, there are 500,000 gay men and women in Uganda out of a population of 33 million: 2% of the population. Of those half million gay men and women, you have about 20 activists who constantly annoy Minister Lokodo (the current head of the Ethics Ministry) that he has spent his 2011/12 budget to run after them in hotel conferences, ferreting them out of their hotel rooms and rounding them up from public parks as they waved rainbow flags. All this in the name of trying to abolish … gay sex!
And, as we all, know, the Ethics Ministry really doesn’t have anything else to do. In other words, Minister Lokodo and his staff have been allocated $1.7m a year to … look for gay sex, and they still haven’t found it because if they had, we would have heard about it.
So, rather than spending $1.7m to look for gay sex among 20 or so activists with whom the Ethics Ministry engages in fruitless running battles (equivalent to $85,000 per head), why not simply abolish that ministry and move that budget line to the Ministry of Health where the budget allocation is a paltry $8.76 per person?
The Catholic Church and the evangelicals can then take up the anti-gay slack when Minister Lokodo is put out to grass. The latter are already getting plenty of funding from the Bible Belt of the United States and elsewhere to fight homosexuality, and the former seem to be doing rather nicely inveighing against homo-sodomy from the pulpit whenever it catches their hypocritical fancy.
Now, imagine that: being able to save $1.7m and allocate it to dying mothers and children, while still being able to fight the unholy vice of homo-sodomy … without spending a single cent of Ugandan taxpayer money.
It’s really a no-brainer, yes?
All you need is a primary school certificate to do the maths. But this is Uganda … Tss!