Museveni had an interview with Bill Berkeley. Berkeley’s report was published in the Atlantic Monthly magazine (USA) of September 1994. Museveni stated at the start of the interview that “I have never blamed the whites [Museveni considers himself white] for colonizing Africa; I have never blamed these whites for taking slaves. If you are stupid, you should be taken a slave”. This statement reveals a lot about the character of Museveni and why he has (mis)treated Ugandans with no remorse.
Slave trade was a ruthless enterprise that had no respect for human lives whatsoever. Slave trade involved foreigners who facilitated local slave catchers with guns that were used in slave trade wars. When slavery was suppressed for various reasons, slave trade was replaced by colonialism that continued foreign ruthless exploitation of Africans using local agents. Museveni is trying to cover up his being used by foreigners as an agent in the western neo-colonization project led by Britain and the atrocities that have occurred amounting to Ugandans being treated as slaves witness their low wages and awful working conditions.
Museveni has become very unpopular at home (and he knows it witness the volume of envelopes packed with money his agents are handing out to buy votes and support he is seeking from Kenya leaders) and increasingly abroad (he has been reported in a credible magazine as one of the worst dictators in the world) not so much because of questions about his birth place – important as they are – but principally because of the inhuman and insensitive manner (primitive and bankrupt Ugandans, short men and ugly women etc) in which he has treated Ugandans since his guerrilla days (when he jailed in a very cold cave and threatened to shoot and kill a half naked Muhima man for asking Museveni about those guerrilla fighters in their midst that spoke a strange language) (EIR Special Report 1997).
If Museveni had treated Ugandans as he promised in his ten-point program and consolidated Uganda’s independence instead of adopting shock therapy structural adjustment program and handing the country over to Britain as a neo-colony respectively in return for Museveni protection as president, nobody would be discussing whether he was born in Rwanda or Tanzania or who his father and relatives are or where his ancestors are buried.
The comments and questions I am receiving from readers of my books and blog have rekindled hope that Uganda might exit from the current neo-colonial, private sector dominated and market oriented model to a truly poverty-reduction paradigm based on building viable and lasting institutions and infrastructure (rather than governments and individual leaders) and promoting public and private partnership. But for this to happen, leaders in Uganda must have a different political economy profile from those in power today.
Museveni has failed the people of Uganda and pleased his western sponsors because he has had two conflictingstrategies. On the one hand, he has told Ugandans the right things such as transformation of Uganda’s economy through industrialization and improving the living standards of all Ugandans etc. On the other hand, he has in practice implemented what western powers have demanded – integrating Uganda into a global market economy embodied in the Washington Consensus (WC) similar to what Britain demanded during the colonial period. The WC model requires Uganda leadership to adopt policies and strategies similar to those in the colonial days under the indirect rule system. In essence Museveni has behaved like an indirect rule chief under the direction of western powers including the World Bank, IMF and especially Britain. Let us review a few examples to show that Museveni has served western and not Ugandan interests.
There is consensus that Museveni is a leader guided by a unique philosophy based on the use of force and fear, dependence on foreigners and regional focus that has made his presidency counter-productive, calling for his defeat in 2011 elections. Museveni’s defeat is very important for Uganda, neighboring countries and development partners in order to avoid heavier losses in the future. Thick clouds are gathering on the political horizon and if they are not dissipated quickly they could unleash a very destructive storm. If preventive steps had been taken Ethiopia and Zaire could have avoided the adverse impact of 1974 and 1996/7 events respectively. To prevent the possibility of such events occurring in Uganda, we need to adopt a preventive strategy because it is always cheaper than cure. We should at all times avoid emotions about what Museveni has done for or against us. We should be guided only by considerations of dignity, liberty/freedom and equality of all Ugandans. We should seek and tell the truth because a diversion will be catastrophic. For easy reference let us review the rationale behind Museveni’s philosophy.
Let me make two observations at the start of this article to clear the air. In my writings I have referred to Museveni as president, not in his personal capacity. Second, you cannot meaningfully talk about NRM government without talking about Museveni – for all intents and purposes Museveni has become NRM government. I do not hear much from ministers or senior civil servants. And in the absence of a government spokesperson, we are left with Museveni.
In a month’s time, Ugandans will elect a president, members of parliament, district councilors and mayors. These elections are taking place in unique circumstances which voters must be very familiar with before they cast their votes. Voters must therefore choose leaders that will genuinely represent their interests. The last twenty five years were dominated by structural adjustment (macroeconomic stability) and national security (defense of the state from external threats) at the expense of human security (protection of individuals economically and socially).
Museveni behaves as though he does not understand the concept of accountability even though he grew up in an environment where accountability is very well understood. For example, in western Uganda culture – where Museveni comes from – when your cows destroy a neighbor’s garden when your son was tending them, it is the father who is accountable and pays the fine. Similarly when Museveni’s employees (national or foreign) make mistakes he should be accountable and accept the consequences. Instead Museveni blames others. But before coming to cases where Museveni and those who support him have blamed others, let us examine briefly why Museveni has done poorly with a view to drawing lessons for future leaders and whoever forms the next government after February 18, 2011 elections.
1. Museveni’s school performance through undergraduate studies was not bright. This can be deduced from his own writings and reports (subject to confirmation) that he obtained a pass at the university of Dar es Salaam. At that time a pass was like a certificate of attendance. He did not pursue graduate studies that introduce students to analytical tools and research methodology. So he has a deficit at the academic level. And he became president when the world economy had shifted from Keynesian to neoliberal ideology known as the Washington Consensus that requires a lot of adjustment from state to market forces and laissez-faire capitalism.
Many – if not most – Ugandans have not figured out who Museveni is and much less what he stands for although some have voted for him since 1996. However, going by the voters supporting him, his popularity is dwindling. The uncertainty about Museveni has led to stress and – combined with poor diet of cassava and maize – contributed to insanity which stands at over thirty percent and is rising at an alarming rate – a process that is destroying human capital formation.
The mystery about Museveni springs from many fronts. First, his birth place has remained unresolved. Some Ugandans and others believe he is Rwandese and that he came to Uganda on his mother’s back symbolizing that he was too young to walk on his own. Museveni has written that he was born in Kyamate of Ankole district, now Ntungamo district. Nina Mbabazi has disputed that arguing that Museveni was actually born in Rukungiri district but did not explain. And Nina has declined requests to elaborate which has corroded her reputation. Then, to make matters worse came Shifa Mwesigye with his own story that actually it is Museveni’s grandfather who was born in Rukungiri as if to deny that Museveni was. Like Nina, Shifa did not elaborate. He has been requested to do so. As we shall see later Ugandans are beginning to tilt towards Rwanda as being Museveni’s birth place.
Before Ugandans head for the polls on February 18, 2011 to elect a president, members of parliament, district councilors and mayors, it might be helpful to consider the following developments.
1. The general standard of living of Ugandans has not reached the level attained in 1970.
2. Fifty two percent of Ugandans live below the poverty line of $1.25 a day (HDR 2010).
3. Some twenty percent of Ugandans in the lowest income bracket have become poorer.
4. Economic growth has fallen short of 7 or 8 percent required as a minimum to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
5. Seventy percent of Uganda’s GDP is generated in Kampala and its vicinity with a population of some two million. The remaining 31 million Ugandans contribute a mere 30 percent of GDP.
6. Household income distribution is highly skewed with 20 percent in the highest income bracket taking over 50 percent while 40 percent in the lowest income bracket taking 15 percent. Urban areas have performed relatively better than rural areas and southern has performed relatively better than northern Uganda.
Let me clear two things upfront: (1) we Ugandans must stop the deceptive habit of pleading ignorance when things go wrong and (2) we Ugandans must know that Museveni derives his mandate and instructions to govern Uganda from external sources.
I meet Uganda ministers, MPs and officials regularly. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard them deceive us that they did not know that Museveni would do such and such a thing. They would argue that if they had had advance information they would definitely have advised him against such commission. But when you probe them, more often than not, you discover that they knew but did not have the courage to confront Museveni lest they lose their jobs.
Most MPs are there to protect their jobs and get Museveni’s backing for reelection and are not going to risk all that for the sake of defending their constituents’ interests – they are not there for that! So Ugandans do not rely on your MPs to present and defend your interests. Do not return MPs that have done a poor job. That way you send a message to the new MPs that if they do not work for you they will suffer the same consequences like the ones before them who lost re-election bid.
If we Ugandans do not put our act together quickly, we are going to lose Uganda as we have known it. Museveni who began preparations as early as 1965 (Bahororo failure to get a separate district in Ankole at independence and political ascendancy of Bairu in Ankole disturbed him) came to power with a clear mission known to himself and his inner core of Bahororo people – (1) the ascendancy of Bahororo in Uganda’s political economy and great lakes region (Tutsi Empire), and (2) metamorphosis of Uganda into a new landscape.
Museveni was also aware that these transformations would take a long time to be realized. That is why he initially asked for a fifteen year mandate which has turned out to be inadequate. During an interview on New Year’s Day (2011), Museveni declined to indicate when he would quit Uganda’s political stage. The impression he gave left no doubt that he is still around for a while possibly by force should Ugandans refuse to re-elect him. What he has not admitted is that he thought (wrongly) that he would quickly trample on Ugandans through wars and impoverishment and reduce them to insignificant vulnerable minority and transform Uganda into a new landscape ecologically, economically, demographically and politically without difficulty. Ugandans have turned out to be resilient in the face of wars, pandemics, epidemics and impoverishment and are still kicking with considerable force that cannot be ignored.