Uganda: We’ve seen far more problem creation than solving in Museveni’s 37 years in power

Uganda: We’ve seen far more problem creation than solving in Museveni’s 37 years in power


In Africa’s post-traditional society, also called post-colonial society, we are more used to seeing those supposed to solve problems for us creating problems rather than solving them. Often, their solutions become the new problems.

While problems are created in every dimension of our environment by the actions and choices of those supposed to provide answers to our myriad of often interconnected problems, issues and challenges, it is usually in the sociopolitical dimension that most problems, issues and challenges are created, with ramifying impacts in the other dimensions of our environments – the ecological – biological, the socioeconomic, the sociocultural and the temporal. 

More often than not processes leading to new problems, issues and challenges in our environment are either created or initiated, more often than not, by the politico-military strategies of politicians with militarised minds in the command-and-obey fashion with no prior thought of consequences of intended and unintended results. In Uganda, examples of command-and-obey politico-military actions are those intended to sow seeds of the Western-oriented capitalist money economy.

These are seen in purely politico-economic ideas such as Bonna Bagaggawale, Myooga, Operation Wealth Creation and Parish Development Model (PDM) – all having their origins in presidentialism whereby everything begins and ends with President Tibuhaburwa Museveni, and extending money bonanzas to select individuals, usually the poor.

The falsehood is that if free public money is given to the poor, they will initiate development projects whose benefits will trickle down through entire communities, thereby causing them to change positively

Because they are presidential initiatives, they often exclude professionals and include both politicians of the president’s ruling party (National Resistance Movement) and the political-cum-president’s representatives in the districts (Resident District Commissioners) who more, often than not, put the political interests of the president and the ruling party before anything else. 

Unsurprisingly, the presidential initiatives are characterised more by failure than success, and by immense corruption, which is the avenue for primitive wealth accumulation by all those involved in implementing them, Increasingly, they target individuals linked to the ruling party and ignore whole communities, which in the past were the foci of change through development initiatives of government. Consequently, we have seen far more problem creation than problem-solving during the last 37 years of President Museveni’s politico-military rule. It is as if the aim of the NRM regime is to create intractable problems that no one can solve

There is no doubt that the citizens of Uganda have waited for all those years to experience meaningful and effective development, transformation and progress. Instead, they have been treated to experimental, trial and error initiatives whose results are accidental, usually negative. Frequently even more impoverishment of the entire communities is the result.

The question remains: How can we meaningfully and effectively solve our problems rather than create new ones as we try to solve those at hand?

Let me introduce the idea of TRIZ. You may or may not have heard of it. The term “creative destruction” was first defined by economist Joseph Schumpeter as mutation that incessantly revolutionises the structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one. Applied to human beings rather than economies, creative destruction is a way to incessantly stop behaviours and practices – that when stopped – make space for new things. 

Literally, TRIZ is an approach that combines an organised and systematic method for problem-solving with analysis and forecasting techniques derived from the study of patterns of invention in the global patent literature. It is the Russian acronym for the “Theory of Inventive Problem Solving,” an international system of creativity developed in the defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) between 1946 and 1985, by engineer and scientist Genrich S. Altshuller and his colleagues.

MIND TOOLS ( considers TRIZ as a powerful methodology for creative problem-solving, a problem-solving philosophy based on logic, data and research, rather than on intuition. It draws on the past knowledge and ingenuity of thousands of engineers to speed up creative problem-solving for project teams. Its approach brings repeatability, predictability and reliability to the problem-solving process and delivers a set of dependable tools.

According to MIND TOOLS, TRIZ universal principles of creativity form the basis of innovation. TRIZ identifies and codifies these principles, and uses them to make the creative process more predictable. In other words, whatever problem are being faced, somebody, somewhere, has already solved it (or has solved one very similar to it). Creative problem solving involves finding that solution and adapting it to the problem at hand.

TRIZ, however, is most useful in roles such as product development, design engineering and process management. In Uganda’s case process management is something, which is not taken seriously. Frequently the approach is Let Nature Take its Own Course. The primary findings of TRIZ are as follows:

1. Problems and solutions are repeated across industries and sciences (humanities, social science and natural science). By representing a problem as a contradiction, we can predict creative solutions to that problem.

2. Problems of technical evolution tend to repeat themselves across industries and sciences.

3. Creative innovations often using scientific effects outside the field where they were developed.

4. Using TRIZ consists of learning these repeating patterns of problems and solution, understanding the contradictions present in the situation and developing new methods of using scientific effects.

5. The general TRIZ patterns are then applied to the scientific situation confronting humanity so that a generalized version of the problem is discovered.

According to MIND TOOLs, another fundamental TRIZ concept is that there are fundamental contradictions at the root of most problems. In most cases a reliable way to solve a problem is to eliminate these contradictions. TRIZ, however, recognises two categories of contradictions, namely:

  1. Technical contradictions. These are where the desired state cannot be reached because something else in the system prevents it. In other words, when something gets better, something else automatically gets worse. For example,
  2. The product gets stronger (good) but the weight increases (bad)
  3. Service is customized to each customer (good) but the service delivery system gets complicated (bad)
  4. Training is comprehensive (good) but it keeps employees away from their assignments (bad)

2. TRIZ comes with a range of ideas and techniques beyond the basic principles outlined above. Some are conceptual and analytical, such as.

i. The law of ideality, which states that any system tends to become more reliable throughout its    life, through regular improvements

ii. Functional modelling, analysis and trimming, and TRIZ uses these methods to define problems

iii. Locating the zones of conflict, which is known as the Root Cause of the Six Sigma problem-solvers

Some are more prescriptive. For example:

  1. The Laws of Technical Evolution and Technology Forecasting, which categorise technical evolution by demand, function and system
  2. The 76 Standard Solutions, which are specific solutions devised to a range of common problems in design and innovation

We can use one such tool or many to solve a problem, depending on its nature.

  • A Tell repot
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