We have a proverb in western Uganda which says (crudely translated) that a wild animal that is to die does not hear the hunting horn when it is blown. It therefore stays in harm’s way until it is speared to death. The same can be said about Museveni. He does not appear to have realized that there is a wind of change blowing across Uganda. The wind which blew in his favor for the last 25 years has changed direction. How has this happened?
First, Museveni was picked in 1980 by some western powers for geopolitical purposes in the great lakes region. They helped him with finance, media and diplomatic cover as he removed old governments and installed new ones at a great cost in human life including the alleged genocide of Hutu in DRC, pillaging Congo’s resources and supporting militias. His role in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and DRC is not in dispute. That assignment is over.
Second, Museveni was used to support SPLA in the civil war in Sudan. That assignment is now over.
Third, Museveni was used to experiment structural adjustment program as a development model after it ran into trouble in Chile and Ghana. The experiment failed miserably and was terminated in 2009.
Fourth, western governments that supported him and encouraged him to take bold steps and thwart dissent against structural adjustment and delay multiparty politics have been thankfully replaced by governments that favor democracy, rule of law, short stay in power and observance of human rights.
Fifth, there is a shift from national security towards human security concerns that call for individual freedom from want, from fear and freedom to live in dignity. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution on the “Responsibility to Protect” adopted in 2005 calls on the international community to intervene in a country whose government is unable or unwilling to address violations of human rights including crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Sixth, the people of Uganda are pulling down the wall of fear and suffering in silence. They are tired of living within lies and now want the truth about who is governing them and why they have governed poorly. They want to know why Uganda’s modern sector has been taken over by foreigners mostly located in Kampala and the surrounding areas. They want to know why foreigners voted in 2011 presidential, parliamentary and local elections. They want to know who these soldiers are who speak French and where they came from and who invited them. They want to know why Uganda’s economic growth benefits have gone to a few families mostly connected with the first family. They want to know why the government refuses to subsidize school meals but does so for funeral expenses. They want to know who is behind land grabbing with some going to foreigners. They want to know why Ugandans should be under pressure to reduce their family size because there is a shortage of land while it is being dished out to foreigners including those from neighboring countries. They want to know specifically under what conditions is Uganda land being sold or leased to Egypt and Bangladesh. They want to know what net gains will accrue to Ugandans by joining the East African economic integration and political federation and why Uganda and Kenya have championed the drive for economic integration and political federation. What is the position of the other three members of the East African Community?
Ugandans are no longer the ones Museveni has known when he arrived in 1986. They have become enlightened thanks to the media especially communication technology that informs the world in real time about what is going on in Uganda with images about who is doing what to whom.
Museveni simply cannot defy the whole world. The fact that the media that not too long ago defined him as the darling of the west is now calling him a dictator and tyrant means that there is a wind of change. Museveni’s staunch allies are now telling him publicly to stop harassing peaceful demonstrators because it is their right to march, assemble and express opinion anywhere in Uganda. They do not need police permission. They need to inform the police when and where a demonstration will take place so that law and order is maintained. So Museveni should not mislead the public that a permit is needed first.
Ugandans have rejected the 2011 presidential, parliamentary and local elections primarily because they were dominated by foreigners and Ugandans were disenfranchised. If Museveni forms a government by force, it will be an illegitimate one that should not be recognized and no business should be conducted with it because it will be a government of, by and for foreigners, not Ugandans. This is a major departure from previous rigged elections because there was no foreign involvement in voting by people bused into Uganda from neighboring countries.
The people of Uganda have spoken and are getting international support at bilateral, multilateral and NGO levels. The media has swung to the side of the people witness BBC, CNN, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Time Magazine to mention a few – the very media that supported Museveni has abandoned him because it has understood him.
Museveni’s refusal to intervene in Uganda’s economy and soften the suffering of citizens and instead use force to kill and injure especially mothers and children has shocked the world. The pictures of the two year old child killed in Masaka and the barbaric manner in which Kiiza Besigye was treated by security forces have made millions cry in disbelief. Those pictures and many others have swept away the little international credibility he still had.
Against this back ground, Museveni and those who advise him or kill Ugandans on his orders or on their own will be unwise to continue to behave as though nothing has changed. Charles I of England, Louis XVI of France, Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and Ceausescu of Romania failed to realize that the world around them had changed fundamentally.
Museveni would be irresponsible if he fails to learn from these sad lessons. The world has changed and so should Museveni to save Ugandans from further suffering because of his ego.