President Yoweri Museveni presided over Uganda’s 57th National independence anniversary celebrations at Sironko district headquarter grounds in Eastern Region and called upon Ugandans to support the National Resistance Movement plan of developing Uganda by prioritising production ahead of consumption. He said this would enable the country to solve the strategic bottlenecks to her economic growth adding that once solved, Uganda’s economy will grow in double digits.
Mr. Museveni said that Uganda’s economy has been growing by 6% annually in the last 33 years of the NRM government notwithstanding the several strategic bottlenecks the country has been facing. He, therefore, stressed that it was time for Ugandans to support government to totally eliminate the remaining bottlenecks that will see the economy register double its growth rate.
The 57th Independence celebrations that ran under the theme “Consolidation of National Unity, Security, Freedom and Prosperity” were grace by the visiting President Emerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe who was the chief guest.
Mr. Museveni singled out the remaining bottlenecks as high transport cost, high cost of electricity and high interest rates levied by commercial banks. He said that to overcome the enumerated bottlenecks, there is need to invest in the water and railway transport sectors in the country because they are cheap and economical means of transportation. He also said there was need to lower the cost of electricity especially for priority areas such as manufacturing and other priority services, lowering of the cost of money for industries, tourism, agriculture and local manufacturers, particularly those in value addition, through the capitalization of Uganda Development Bank.
He further emphasised the need to prioritise and commit funds to agriculture especially irrigation in order to mitigate the effects of climate change and the resultant long drought spells that have had adverse effects on agricultural production. He assured the country that government will invest in the construction of oil and tourism roads because of their importance to the economy.
He, at this juncture, reminded the people that to realize the stated goals government needed to prioritise and commit funds to those particular production-oriented areas and reduce on consumption. He called upon Ugandans to support government in implementing these development plans.
He also used the occasion to ask Ugandans to support and embrace the East African Federation and the African Continental Free Trade Area as it was impossible for Uganda to develop in isolation. He added East African Federation and the Continental Free Trade Area were very crucial in the development of Africa. He called on everyone to love and cherish the realization of the East African Federation and the African Continental Free Trade Area.
“The East African Federation and the African Continental Free Trade Area are a matter of life and death because they are for our own salvation and prosperity. They will not only help provide market for our produce but also strengthen our bargaining power when dealing with the rest of the world,” he said.
“Uganda cannot develop alone but with the rest of Africa and as for the East African Federation it’s important to create a centre of gravity for the unity of the African continent. The 1.3 billion Africans are actually related and one and those who think otherwise are lost and you should ignore them as we work for the African unity. I am happy the African Union and SADC have recognised Swahili as the official language which will greatly enhance our unity,” he added.
Mr. Museveni welcomed President Emmerson Mnangagwa to Uganda and thanked him for sparing time to be the guest of honour at this year’s celebrations. He noted the visit will go a long way in strengthening the relationship between the two brotherly countries whose citizens, he said, are brothers and sisters. He decorated President Mnangagwa with the Most Excellent Order of the Pearl of Africa – The Grand Master medal, the highest honour in Uganda. Mr. Museveni also awarded a number of Ugandans – military and civilians – with medals in recognition of their contributions to the country.
He paid glowing tribute to the fallen Zimbabwean leader, Robert Gabriel Mugabe whom he referred to as a freedom fighter who contributed a lot to the liberation of Zimbabwe and many other African countries. He observed a one-minute silence in remembrance of late Mugabe’s works.
President Mnangagwa congratulated all Ugandans on the 57th independence anniversary celebrations and thanked his host for inviting him to celebrate with Ugandans. He observed that when Uganda attained independence in 1962, Zimbabwe and many other Southern Africa countries, which were still under colonialism, were inspired the more to fight for their freedom, liberation and independence.
President stressed that Zimbabweans cherish the brotherhood and solidarity Uganda and other African countries have shown them for the last 20 years when their country has been under sanctions that have caused economic turmoil. He was, however, elated that Zimbabwe has been able to survive through those difficult times because of the solidarity of Uganda and other African countries.