2017-11-18 16:33:31 UTC
the podium upon the Ugandan leaders arrival at Addis Ababa International
Airport for the African Union Summit (1973).
The public service sector in African countries has always had its fair
share of incompetence and corruption since independence. All African
countries suffer the plague to this day. How it is dealt with differs from
leader to leader.
In many countries there is alot of neglect, and as a rule, leaders who take
a back seat of ignoring the day-to-day challenges, are usually part of the
corruption scourge themselves. However there are examples of African
leaders who were known not to be incorruptible and who did their best to
resolve the problems around government's delivery of basic public services
to the people.
President Idi Amin was one of them.
His hands-on approach ensured that not only did he hear directly from the
people, he also solved the problems case by case.
From good pay to acceptable facilities, he would provide whatever was
possible to public servants then hold them accountable for their areas of
He personally monitored departments by conducting surprise visits and
encouraged citizens to take the fight against corruption themselves.
The one thing President Amin respected and strived for from the British was
standards. He therefore made sure everything worked as designed, and never
accepted decaying schools or crumbling government buildings.
One day in 1975 he publicly announced the State House ( official
presidential residence) telephone number to all Ugandans during a public
speech that was broadcast live around the country on both radio and
television. He urged any citizen who was encountering any problems with
public service delivery to call him directly. The State house telephone
number at the time was 20241.
Subsequently public service worked like clockwork. Civil servants who had
critical problems in their departments would call as well and whatever the
issue was, it would be promptly investigated and immediately resolved.
When farmers complained about lack of tools, Amin ordered tractors, trucks
and other mechanised agricultural equipment for every district in the
country to support all cooperative unions so as to enhance food security.
When civil servants complained about delayed pay, it is President Idi Amin
who immediately made it law that all public servants would be paid by the
28th of every month without fail.
Whenever there was a problem, one could just place a call and the issue
would be addressed at its infancy before it became chronic.
But under Amin, hospitals had professional staff, and never lacked basic
treatment as is the case today in Uganda. The president himself and his
family received treatment from the national referral hospital and not from
It is in 1979 immediately after the war with Tanzania, that the so-called
"Liberators" started assassinating doctors across the country. One famous
assassination being forgotten today was the brutal death of Doctor Barlow
of the National Referral Hospital Mulago. He was mercilessly murdered by
Obote's henchmen of the Uganda National Liberation Army just days after
they captured Kampala.
Today even Ugandan Members of Parliament are flown abroad at a cost to the
ordinary empoverished citizen's of over 500 million dollars annually.
Ugandans remember how in the 70's, President Amin promptly procured a
cancer treatment radiation machine when the Cancer Institute said that this
was what they needed to reduce the scourge.
It is a corrupt individual like Mr. Henry Kyemba who, instead of healing
sickly Ugandans like a Minister of Health should do, he instead
unscrupulously fled with $7 million dollars that he had been assigned by
President Amin to buy essential medicine and medical equipment for the
people of Uganda, then wrote a book called "State of Blood" simply to try
and claim that he was a political dissenter to get asylum in Europe. Yet
God knows nothing was ever done against him.
Mr. Kyemba was merely a thief who had plundered state coffers. One who
preferred that Ugandans die of preventable diseases as he enriched himself
from their money?
His Excellency President Idi Amin was patriotic. In fact he is considered
by Ugandans as the most patriotic president their country ever had. And he
was personally involved in ensuring prompt public service delivery to the
people of Uganda.
Today public servants complaints are either just shelved, or people even
fear retribution if they complain.
But in the 70's, a person who exposed the rot would be congratulated by the
president. All one had to do was place a direct call to President Idi Amin.
He was that approachable. Even stopping in the streets, alone, to chat with
It is because of his love for the people and for the country that if
investigations found that things were not moving because of one individuals
malice, corruption or incompetence, the person responsible would have to
answer for the harm and financial loss they were causing the people of
It is no miracle that Amin's enemies tried and failed for eight years to
cause internal dissent. The Ugandan people were by far all behind him. A
man who, despite his minimal education, developed his country, built
infrastructure, new industries and initiated countless rural self-help
projects for the poorly. He also sent tens of thousands of Ugandans for
higher education and specialized technical training abroad (banking
professionals, engineering, water and sanitation experts,
telecommunications, road construction, administration, pilots, accountants,
even clerks and secretaries) so that Ugandans could handle all professional
aspects of industry and public service themselves, and at a time when
foreign powers were intent on crippling his country economically.
He fought for the indeginous people, struggled for their economic
empowerment, strived for the liberation of Africans from colonialists
around the continent, and was directly in touch with the ordinary people
regardless of one's social status, tribe or rreligion. His efforts in
support of all Africans, leading the fight for their political and economic
liberation struggles, spearheading the African coalition against Apartheid
South Africa, and against Western imperialism, is the most deliberately
buried legacy that they do not want you to know.
And in the history of Pan-Africanism, few remained incorruptible. President
Idi Amin was one of them.