The rich-poor gap; Ugandans think the poor are lazy

Ugandans are experiencing a widening gap between the rich and the poor as the economy gets more diversified.

While inequality in society is inevitable, it also draws mixed reactions as to whether it is an incentive or a disincentive to growth and development.

In an introductory remark to their research findings dubbed ‘The haves and the have nots’, not-for-profit development watchdog Twaweza East Africa quotes some respondents as saying that inequality gives people an incentive to work.

Others however, think that the government has the duty to redistribute wealth, opportunity and power in society.

According to the survey under the Sauti za Wananchi, if Ugandans were segmented into 4 income categories, more than one quarter 27 percent of Ugandans feel they are the poorest in Uganda.

The survey covered 1925 respondents countrywide.

Another 39 percent of Ugandans consider themselves medium income, while 7 percent feel they are among the richest Ugandans.

When asked why Ugandans think some people are poorer than others, interestingly, most of them, or 54 percent said it is laziness or lack of effort at improving their incomes.

This does not go down well with Agnes Kirabo, the Executive Director, Food Rights Alliance. She says there are many things that the government must do to uplift the livelihoods of Ugandans.

‘Look at what happened to the maize farmers. They people planted maize, it did well, but the prices plunged and the farmers lost’, she says. ‘Would you say they are lazy?’

This makes it clear that when there is a shock in the economy, different sectors are affected differently, and therefore some income groups will suffer more than others.

Close to one third of Ugandans or 29 percent say the some households in Uganda are poor because there is too much injustice in the society, while 11 percent cite lack of unemployment.

One thing is for sure, that 95 percent of Ugandans know that the rich-poor gap in society is too wide and that the government has the responsibility to reduce it.

Rama Omonya, the Program Advisor at the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group, CSBAG, says more effective governance on part of the leaders would do much to improve the situation.

He admits that a lot of resources have been put towards poverty alleviation but they are misallocated, leaving sections of the society out of the beneficiaries.

On their part, respondents in the survey (41 percent), say the government should provide quality education and free healthcare for all, if income inequality is to be reduced.

More than one third urge government to reduce on taxes on small business so as to leave operators with more profits and allow that business to survive. An equal number (37 percent) say government should increase funding for social safety nets.

There is also a significant voice calling for a raise in the minimum wage, as well as taxing the rich.

By Nebert Rugadya