Uganda’s Path To Progress -Independence Day Speech By H.E The President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

In this Independence Day speech , President Yoweri Museveni emphasizes Uganda’s path to success through eight crucial ingredients. Rejecting identity politics in favor of emphasizing common interests and needs, he stresses patriotism and Pan-Africanism. Encouraging a vibrant private sector, the President emphasizes the importance of reliable actors like the private sector in nation-building. He highlights the significance of robust economic and social infrastructure, regional integration, international partnerships, and eliminating corruption. Protecting the environment, particularly water resources, becomes paramount. The President’s vision is rooted in self-reliance, focusing on internal strengths, making foreign aid irrelevant. His message underscores the need for internal cohesion, good governance, and responsible resource management for Uganda’s unstoppable progress. Below is the detailed speech :

Excellencies, Heads of State;

H.E. Vice President of Uganda;

Rt. Hon. Speaker;

His Lordship the Chief Justice;

Rt. Hon Prime Minister;

Hon. Ministers;

Hon. Members of Parliament;

The Rt. Hon. Secretary General of the NRM;

Members of the Diplomatic Corps;

Ladies and Gentlemen.


This is on page 42 in the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 of the Church of Uganda.  This is one of the many scripture pieces, that stuck in my head.  I remember the Reverend Karyahwari, always reciting this portion.  How well it describes many situations in the World and, especially, in Africa.  However, in the last 60 years or so, but especially after 1965, what became the NRM, has been defogging this confusion and disorientation.

Therefore, today, on the 61st Anniversary of Uganda’s Independence, it is crucial to restate clearly, again, the essential ingredients of success for Uganda and, may be, the wider Africa.  Here below are the crucial ingredients.

  1. First and foremost, we reject the pseudo-ideology of emphasizing the politics of identity and we emphasize the politics of interests.  While we recognize and respect the respective identities of our People (religion, tribes, gender), we insist that, in order to ensure the economic and social prosperity of our People, we must not forget their needs (food, jobs, market for their products, sources of raw materials for their industries, shelter, etc.).  Since 1965, the NRM has been insisting that although our People belong to different tribes, religions, etc., they, first of all, have similar needs (hunger, poverty, shelter, poor infrastructure, inadequate clothing, health, etc.) and, secondly, they need the supra-tribal Ugandan market and the Pan-African market, for their products to ensure their prosperity.  Hence, the two principles of the NRM of patriotism and Pan-Africanism.  Otherwise, we have told you, repeatedly, we shall build a Latin America in Africa instead of building a United States of Africa in Africa.  You all watch on TV channels, the misery of the Latin American populations, walking on foot fleeing man-made poverty in their respective Countries, their tremendous natural resources (the rivers, the forests, the minerals, the good climate for some of them, the ancient heritage of indigenous Indian Peoples, etc.) and culture notwithstanding, to the man-made affluence in the USA simply because the latter (the USA) emphasized integration while the former (Latin America) emphasized fragmentation.

Pictures of immigrants to the USA

Emphasizing the four principles of the NRM, therefore, of patriotism, Pan-Africanism, Social-economic transformation and democracy, creates adequate space for guaranteeing the prosperity of the Wealth creators (the farmers, the artisans, the manufacturers and, the services groups), by giving them a big enough market and also, by expunging sectarianism which act helps us in building strong national institutions such as the Army, that guarantees our security.  The ideology of patriotism and Pan-Africanism, also promotes harmony among the People.  That is why we no longer have a refugee problem while by 1986, Uganda was among the 4 top – Countries in the World, in Refugees’ generation.  500,000 Ugandans (mainly peasants) and a large group of exiles (mainly the elite) in the USA, UK, Sweden, Kenya, South Africa, etc.  There were so many Ugandan doctors that had fled and working abroad.  All the Refugees came back and the Ugandans who are still outside, are there voluntarily.  The ideology of emphasizing interests rather than opportunistically manipulating identity, has, therefore, created more opportunity for prosperity, created stability and created capable institutions of State.  It is one of the necessary ingredients for success.

  • The second ingredient for success, is the philosophy and strategy of emancipating the private sector and encouraging it to be the basic creator of wealth in the economy.  In the Book of John Chapter 10, Verse 11-13, Jesus talked of the “hired hand (Omukozi w’empeera)”. 

It says: “11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

Even the Banyankore say: “Obwengye kububurira mukama w’ente, Omufumu aragurira busha” – “when the owner of the cow does not know how to manage it, the Vet cannot save the Cow”.  The Nakivubo Announcements of 1970 and the actions of Idi Amin of expelling the Indian investors, were strategic mistakes because they undermined the work of those wealth creators by confiscating, either partially or wholly, the wealth of those actors.  There are a few actors in the World that can work for ultruistic reasons and those are the likes of Mother Theresa, Mwalimu Nyerere, the NRA fighters, etc.  However, for the majority of cases, they are motivated to work for personal gains.  It was, therefore, philosophically wrong to think that you can sustainably and efficiently build an economy, based on parastatals.  It is a strategy that had implied risks.  This is why the NRM, while not ruling out the role of parastatals here and there, encouraged the private sector.  The private sector players – foreign and local – are very reliable actors because they act in their own interest but, in the process, for the majority of cases, also act in the interest of the Country.  There is, however, a great need for the Government to play a regulatory role to ensure that the private sector does not take short cuts and endanger the health of the consumers.   It is, therefore, the patriotic duty of all Ugandans to encourage the private sector – whether they are local or foreign.  They all build our GDP which means the value of the wealth on the territory of Uganda whether by our Citizens or others.  In the process, it also helps us to expand our GNP which is the value of the Wealth of our Citizens whether located here or abroad.  The GDP of the USA is USD 26.24 trillion.  Its GNP is USD 24 trillion.  That of China is USD 19.37 trillion for GDP and 14 for GNP.  Delaying investors, whether local or foreign, is enemy action and we shall take it as such.

  •  The third most crucial ingredient is economic

infrastructure, especially, electricity, the railway, the roads, the ICT backbone, Airports, Ports, piped water, irrigation canals, etc.  These are crucial so as to create connectivity by linking the producers with the consumers (roads, the railway, Airports, the ICT backbone, the Ports, etc.), lowering costs of doing business and stabilizing agriculture.  These will make our products plentiful and competitive.

  • The fourth ingredient, is social-infrastructure in the form of schools, health centres and research institutions, that will help us or are helping us to deal with the health, knowledge and skills of the human resource.  A modern society and economy, need healthy People that are knowledgeable and skilled.
  • The fifth ingredient, is working on regional economic and political integration so as to guarantee a market for our products and also ensuring our strategic security against any and all threats to our future.
  • Sixth ingredient, are some international contacts with those that are willing to trade with us on equitable basis and are reliable partners when it comes to the exchange of goods and services.  Some of these international contacts, apart from trading with us, can also generate investors to come to our Country, they can be sources of tourists and can bring technology into our Country.
  • The seventh ingredient, is to eliminate corruption.  Corruption takes the forms of stealing Government money meant for pro-People efforts (economic, infrastructure, service delivery, etc.), taking bribes from the public looking for services (jobs, medical care, licenses, etc.); and from investors.  Ugandans and non-Ugandans that want to do business in Uganda, do not pay bribes.  Report the scum to the State House Anti-Corruption team and Colonel Nakalema’s group.  Action will be taken.
  • The eighth crucial ingredient, is protecting our environment which means the Wetlands, the forests, the rivers, the lakes and the water-towers in the form of our high Mountains of the Rwenzori, the Elgon, the Kigyezi Mountains, the Agoro hills and the hills of Ssiingo, Kookyi, Buhweju-Bunyaruguru, Rwampara-Ruhaama, etc.  Why do we need to protect these environmental assets?  It is because they provide us with three of the most primary life-savers.  These are: air, water and food.  You cannot live without air for 3 minutes; you cannot leave without water for 3 days; and you cannot leave without food for 8 days.  These environmental assets are responsible for our plentiful rainfall and water (enjura na amaizi, enkuba na amazzi – kot and pii).  As long as our rainfall is maintained and our water supply is maintained, we shall always be sure of food, including food supported by irrigation; we shall always be sure of water for drinking and other forms of human personal use e.g. bathing, etc.; factories need water; etc.  Those in the Wetlands, must leave them peacefully persuaded by this unimpeachable logic of our survival.  The ones in the Bukedi-Busoga and Kigyezi areas, will be assisted to shift from wetland rice-growing to either growing that rice by irrigation on the non-wetland land (obutaka obukalu) or to fish-farming at the edges of the Wetlands, allowing the rest of the wetlands to regenerate.  Those who have encroached on wetlands in other areas, must leave unconditionally because they went there, knowing it was a mistake.  The ones of Busoga, Bukedi and Kigyezi, were misled by the Governments e.g. Kibimba Rice Scheme.

Two hundred meters from the Lake shore must be allowed to regenerate into forest or waterline shrubbery which we the indigenous People of this area know well – eminaaba, emibobo, eminyeganyegye, etc. 100 metres from the River Banks, must be similarly vacated.  It is only the factories that are already built in what used to be wetlands that will be kept.  No new ones.  Even those that were erroneously licensed by the UIA but where the construction has not yet started, should be allocated alternative land.  The environmental authorities, may permit well organized residential houses and hotels near the Lake shore or the River banks which observe environmental rules – e.g. planting grass and trees so that there are no bare patches of soil from which the mukoka – mutuunga (run-off water) would pick soil to silt the water bodies.  There should be no cultivation or slumsnear these water bodies.  However, residential houses built in the wetlands, must be demolished.  Water is not only important for air, life support and food generation, but also enables us to get electricity – hydroelectricity. 

As far as the Rivers are concerned, Uganda is both a down-stream and an up-stream Country. According to our water People, 14 billion cubic metres of water per year that Uganda gets, come from Rivers that originate from Uganda, while 29 billion cubic metres of water, comes from Rivers that we share with other sister Countries.  Given the political fragmentation that we try to heal by regional integration, we cannot always guarantee the proper management of the Rivers and their catchment areas that spring from the brother Countries vis avis soil erosion, silting, etc.  However, we should set the good example by correctly managing the water bodies within our jurisdiction.  We will, then, have the moral authority to approach the brother African Countries about the shared rivers.  I, therefore, demand that all those encroaching on the wetlands in the manner mentioned above, vacate those sites as laid out above.  The Rivers like Rwizi, Mpanga, Mayanja, Kafu, Lugogo, Manaafwa, Aswa, Agago, Mpologoma, Mubuku and their tributary wetlands, must be fully protected from those uninformed encroachers.  This will ensure that all our 14 billion cubic metres of our internal rivers is safe and, then, we can additionally, interact with the brother Countries about the 29 billion cubic metres of water from them.  Remember that we are mandated by common sense that we must share the water generated in Uganda and what we get from the brother up-stream Countries with the down-stream brother Countries: South Sudan, Sudan and Egypt.  Of course, water should not be a problem for Africa because the Congo River alone, produces 3000 billion cubic metres of water per annum.  Our wonderful Nile, at Khartoum, only has 85 billion cubic metres per annum.  It is this much smaller quantity of water that some of the actors in the Nile valley spend so much time quarreling over.  Yet, the Congo River is equal to 35 Nile Rivers in terms of water.  If only Congo was stable and afro-oriented, I imagine that Africa would not be talking about lack of water.  Every second, this huge amount of water is feeding the Atlantic Ocean.  Who told you that the Atlantic is thirsty for water?  It is Africa that is thirsty for vision.

With these (8), success is guaranteed.  It is these, that we should work on and ignore the noise of those that leave undone what they ought to have done and do that they ought not to have done and there is no truth in them.  Ugandans, should not waste time worrying about aid, loans, etc.  We do not need most of these loans.  We happily work with all the Countries in the World that respect our Sovereignty.  That is how the UN system should operate.  No Country should interfere in the internal affairs of another Country.  That is why we separate “Foreign” Affairs from “Internal” Affairs. Why should anybody catapult his values, through foreign affairs, into the internal affairs of another country?  Human needs are similar – food, shelter, clothing, mobility, poverty, etc.  However, their management evolves differently and at different speeds in the different Countries.  It is wrong to try to export systems and values or to export Revolution (new ideas) or counter-revolution (old ideas).  This was the mistake of the Pope when Protestantism rose up; the mistake of Metternich when capitalism came on the scene; the mistake of Napoleon when he tried to export the ideas of the French Revolution; the mistake of the Western intervention powers against Bolshevik communism in Russia; the mistake of the Imperialist Countries trying to maintain neo-colonialism in Africa like the killing of Patrice Lumumba or the killing of Salvador Allende in Chile.  If you think that your ideas are correct, read the gospel of Matthew Chapter 5 Verse 16. 

It says: “……let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

In otherwords, influence People by your good examples and not by coercion.

Those actors who try to interfere in the internal affairs of other Countries, over-estimate themselves and under-estimate the capacity of the People of the World and their ability to defend their legitimate interests.  Those actors, are also uninformed.  The Imperialist actors, used the gap in history following when the Ottoman Turks captured Constantinople in 1453, while the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America, were not mobilized, to control much of the World.  However, two phenomena outside the control of the imperialists, marked the beginning of the counter-offensive by the colonized People of the World.  One phenomenon was the coming to power in Russia of the Communists in 1917.  This was a social political force in a semi-modern big Country that had no interest in colonizing other Peoples of the World.  Marshal of the Soviet Union, Georgy Zhukov in his book Reminiscences and Reflections on page 267, he writes as follows:

Let me recall a set of facts, which when reported to Stalin were likely to heighten his distrust for the above warning.  I mean the secret negotiations with Nazi Germany in London in 1939, precised when Britain, France and the USSR were holding military talks in Moscow.  British Diplomats were offering the Nazis an agreement on dividing the spheres of influence on a world scale.  The British Minister of Trade, Hudson, said during his talks with Wohltat, a Nazi privy counsellor, close to Field Marshal Goering, that three extensive regions offering unlimited opportunities of economic activity – the British Empire, China and Russia – were open to the 2 countries.  They discussed political and military issues, problems of procuring raw materials for Germany and the like.

When Hitler tried to offer the Soviet Union to discuss the idea of diving the World into spheres of influence, he encountered a sharp and unequivocal refusal of the Soviet side, which would not even hear of the subject.

The imperialist actors did not pay heed to this just stand and inter-imperialist rivalry, soon plunged the globe into the catastrophic 2nd World War where the Soviet Union played the major role of defeating fascist Germany and Japan.  The anti-imperialist camp, grew when the communists took control of another big Country, China in 1949.  In fact one clever American General, Omar Bradley, aptly described the involvement of the Western Countries in the Korean War as “a wrong war, at a wrong time, in a wrong place, with a wrong enemy”. 

The second phenomenon, was the founding of the ANC by the broad-sections of the African Peoples in South Africa to spearhead the resistance of the African People against the evil system of colonialism.  The African resistance, would no longer be led by chiefs with Ostrich feathers, but by more enlightened freedom fighters: Jomo Kenyatta, Nkrumah, Nyerere, Samora Machel, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Robert Mugabe, etc.

With these two factors, it is futile for the imperialist actors, to entertain illusions of perpetuating their control over Africa, let alone the whole of the global South.  They are squandering abundant goodwill that Africans have towards citizens of those Countries in spite of the past mistakes.  Since the founding of the ANC in 1912, much of the global south, has ejected the Imperialists: Indonesia – Sukarno in 1946; India – Gandhi – Nehru in 1947; Vietnam in 1954 – Ho Chi Minh; Fidel Castro in 1959 – Cuba; etc.  Yet, these victorious anti-colonial Revolutions, are not necessarily anti-West in all aspects.  Take Vietnam. Who lost when the victorious Vietnam united and became a strong power house in South East Asia?  Even the USA today seems to have good relations with a strong Vietnam.  Therefore, these stand-offs and conflicts, are due to philosophical, ideological and strategic shallowness or parasitism by some narrow groups in the respective Countries, or both.  Those involved should stop wasting our time and the good opportunities of the whole World.

With these 8 ingredients, Uganda is unstoppable.  With these eight, talk of aid is laughable.  We do not need aid.  It is the mishandling of these eight, that is the killer.  Jesus, in the book of Matthew, Chapter 15, Verse 11, pointed out that what kills a person is what comes from within him but not what comes from outside. 

It says:  11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”

Thank you so much.

Yoweri K. Museveni


9th October, 2023