For the distinctive brand of authoritarian capitalism that Lee Yuen, who served as prime minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990, imposed on his tiny homeland didn’t merely propel Singapore into the ranks of the world’s wealthiest and most developed countries. It also served as a model for China, the world’s largest country, and, according to some analysts, it is set to dominate the rest of the twenty-first century. Pan the map west and you have Africa, a continent of 54 countries that is predominantly ruled by one man rule even when elections are held regularly and the leaders drop and nominate laws like they change under wear but the continent never seems to move forward yet we are the best known when it comes to photocopying what other countries are implementing at least per what we hear our governments doing and saying in the press. Western style democracy, western clothes, capitalism but we never have anything to show for it literally western style everything.
In Uganda the president photocopied the universal education program from Obotes manifestos and implemented it en masses and twenty years down the road we have more children doing schooling than learning. Yet one would have thought that for a collection of leaders more have learnt how to manipulate the loop holes in their constitutions we have something to show for it however we are still running development budgets heavily tied to debts and borrowing from the western governments.
Take Singapore’s development program built entirely on the typical thinking of an African leader thing mimicking the best practices of the West: competitive markets, meritocracy, and pragmatism, the rule of law, universal public education, and a Master of Science and technology but how our leaders only mimic their extravagancies and love for weapons still beats my understanding. By embracing these things, and setting up a strong and efficient state to help harness them, Singapore managed to rise its per-capita G.D.P. from under five hundred dollars in 1960 to about fifty-five thousand dollars in 2013 in Africa however our leaders have stubbornly refused all of these sectors and instead invested more in their armies up to until the early 20s at least. Our GDP has risen to 600 dollars up from below 100 dollars even after a period of three decades of UN interrupted rule half of that under one party system.
Yet our governments remind us each miserable day of our lives how they have provided security for development and rule of law in the land but look closely at it and you have laws implemented on ones emotion and not the business of developing the country, they talk about how pragmatic they are and how they are willing to push through policies in parliament and are investing heavily in infrastructure like dams at inflated prices to bring this development we crave for why because for the record none of these governments ever seems to invest in science and research which is key for development. This begs the question how you going to develop when your man power cannot understand how to run the new industries you are trying to attract. Zimbabwe the other day admitted it made mistakes when re distributing land grabbed from the whites to the natives and instead of correcting that mistake by giving the new owners skills to manage these vast tracts of land they have been left to their devices. No wonder I can’t blame them for leasing this and back to the previous owners who in turn re employs them. The Nigerian army once the strongest army and somehow it cannot contain a rag tag army like the Boko Haram with many alluding that fear of being toppled is one of the reasons the government has not invested in their army to strengthen them. Thus instead they president invests his energies on sending his wife and other attack dogs to pounce on dissent.
In Uganda the president is on record for saying he ‘firing people’ is not his model of leadership but publically laments about how the country is not moving forward and instead digs up old statics from the 70’s and 60’s to show how far behind the country had fallen. This is on top of building the right conditions to move the country forward however nothing we have to show for his great leap forward. He has even decried how Uganda is a small market for big time investors and the need for the East African Community however if you ask is Uganda empowered enough to be competitive in this market??