Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | Uganda’s Microfinance Minister, Haruna Kasolo Kyeyune, has advocated for the introduction of legislation under which lazy-poor Ugandans will be “beaten so that they can learn how to work and become rich.”
During a meeting addressed to members of the Kayunga Muslim District SACCO at the Kayunga District headquarters, Minister Kasolo argued that despite government initiatives like Emyooga, Parish Development Model (PDM), Bonna baggaggawale, and among others aimed at eradicating poverty, a significant number of Ugandans have remained impoverished and resistant to improvement.
“In the future, the government could pass a law in Parliament whereby all the lazy-poor people would be given strokes so that they can also learn to work and become rich because we have discovered that some Ugandans need to be pushed into wealth acquisition,” remarked Minister Kasolo on Tuesday 14, November 2023.
Hon. Kasolo’s proposal has drawn criticism for its authoritarian approach, with concerns raised about the ethical and legal implications of physically punishing citizens for perceived laziness.
The former Kyotera County MP also took the opportunity to criticize the mismanagement of Emyooga funds by beneficiaries in the Buganda region. In contrast, he highlighted the success of the Emyooga program in western Uganda. Hon. Kasolo expressed frustration with the lack of progress despite government efforts to empower citizens economically.
The controversial remarks by the Microfinance Minister, Hon. Kasolo that lazy-poor Ugandans be beaten to become rich have sparked a heated debate on the role of the state in citizens’ economic development, and the appropriateness of using physical punishment as a motivational tool. Critics argue for more inclusive and supportive approaches to address poverty and promote sustainable wealth creation.
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The purpose of the meeting with members of the Kayunga Muslim District Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization (SACCO) was to educate members about adopting a savings culture and understanding the principles of Muslim banking in anticipation of the SACCO’s inauguration later this month by President Museveni.
The Muslim SACCO operates based on Islamic banking principles, which prohibit the payment and receipt of interest but encourage profit sharing. Hon. Kasolo expressed disappointment, noting that some Muslims had misunderstood this principle, believing it meant not paying any interest on a loan. He clarified that Islamic banking allows for profit sharing while discouraging interest transactions.
Sulaiman Madada, a Muslim leader in the district, addressed the gathering, emphasizing that Islamic banking promotes financial inclusion. He revealed that the SACCO had developed a five-year strategic plan to support income-generating projects for Muslim leaders in the district, aiming to attract over 500 members.
In a broader context, official government data indicates that over 18 million Ugandans are living in multi-dimensional poverty.
The primary factors contributing to poverty in Uganda encompass various challenges:
- Low levels of education and skills: A significant portion of Ugandans lacks the necessary education and skills required for lucrative employment, limiting their capacity to secure a decent income and break free from poverty.
- High unemployment: Uganda faces a considerable unemployment rate, particularly among young individuals, making it challenging for people to find gainful employment and support themselves and their families.
- Low agricultural productivity: Agriculture serves as the primary income source for many Ugandans. However, low agricultural productivity hinders farmers from producing enough food for their needs or for profitable sales.
- Inequality: The distribution of wealth in Uganda is highly uneven, with the wealthiest 10% controlling a substantial portion of the country’s wealth. This results in a situation where a small fraction of the population is affluent, while the majority faces poverty.
To address these challenges and alleviate poverty in Uganda, several strategies can be pursued:
- Investing in Education: The government should prioritize education investment to enhance its quality and accessibility. This would equip individuals with the necessary skills for better employment opportunities.
- Job creation: The government must focus on creating jobs by investing in infrastructure, agriculture, and other sectors of the economy to alleviate the unemployment burden.
- Enhancing agricultural productivity: Investment in agricultural research and development is crucial to improving productivity. This support enables farmers to produce more efficiently, leading to increased food production and income.
- Reducing Inequality: Implementation of policies aimed at reducing wealth inequality, such as progressive taxation, land reform, and social safety nets, is vital to creating a more equitable society.
While addressing poverty in Uganda requires sustained efforts from both the government and the international community, progress is attainable through the implementation of appropriate policies. Additional targeted solutions include:
- Microcredit: Providing small loans through microcredit programs can empower individuals who cannot access traditional bank loans, enabling them to start or improve their businesses.
- Social safety nets: Establishing government programs that offer financial assistance to the impoverished, addressing basic needs like food, shelter, and healthcare, can significantly reduce poverty.
- Community-based development: Engaging in community-based development involves collaborating with communities to identify and tackle their own challenges. This approach empowers communities to take charge of their development, fostering sustainable solutions to poverty.
These proposed solutions represent only a fraction of the strategies aimed at addressing poverty in Uganda. The most effective approach to tackling poverty will depend on the unique circumstances of each community.
Nevertheless, through collaborative efforts, substantial strides can be made in alleviating poverty and enhancing the well-being of millions of individuals in Uganda. Or you also do support the remarks by Hon. Haruna Kasolo Kyeyune, that lazy-poor Ugandans should be beaten to become rich?