In March 1986, a month after Museveni became president of Uganda, Africa Events magazine published some articles including two by Yusuf Hassan and Yoweri Museveni on Uganda. The two articles are so linked in their messages of hope that they need to be considered together to see the extent to which what they contained has been upheld.
Yusuf Hassan observed that the triumph of the National Resistance Army (NRA) signaled a return to sanity in Uganda, which was ushered in with unlimited joy and jubilation. The NRA conveyed “Its message of a comfortable today and a better tomorrow”. Suddenly there was freedom from fear and instant death. The NRA reintroduced respect for human life, property and democracy. And NRA’s message was loud and clear; “If you kill a citizen, we’ll kill you”. Museveni formed a broad-based government which included all political movements in the country. Hassan concluded by observing that the way the new Ugandan leadership went about its functions bode well for the future of Uganda.
Yoweri Museveni’s sayings were captured in an article titled “As I see it”. In it he said “Nobody should think that what has been happening in the last few days is a mere change of guards…. This is a fundamental change in the politics of our country”. He stressed that restoration of democracy was number one of his government’s program. “The people of Africa, the people of Uganda are entitled to a democratic government… The people should be able to hire and fire any government… The government should not be the master but the servant of the people”.
On dictatorship, Museveni emphasized the need to stamp out fascist ideas which had been spreading since Amin’s time. He wanted the spirit and pride of Ugandans to be rekindled because “It is an insurance against dictatorship”, Museveni underscored.
He then dwelt on economic fundamental change to modernize and diversify agricultures, industrialize the economy beginning with agro-processing and strive to become part of the modern age. Besides Museveni wanted a Uganda that is “… relatively modernized with an integrated, self-sustained independent national economy”.
He concluded with a long section on backwardness. He pointed out that Africa has a lot of resources which are either misused or underused resulting in backwardness. Then he turned to African leadership. “And yet you find these fellows travelling around – their Excellencies, honorable ministers with flags, with what. I think somebody ought to ask these gentlemen: what have you been doing all this time?
“This Excellency who is going to the UN with jets and so on, he has got 90 percent of his people walking on bare feet, no shoes. And he is there competing with Reagan and Gorbachev”.
Museveni praised Uganda’s forefathers who were more advanced than us particularly in the area of industries. “But you find now, we have in Uganda, with our professors, with our Excellencies, with our honorable ministers, with all these big men and high security personnel you know we have a very huge supply of these gentlemen but we cannot make a needle here in the sovereign Republic of Uganda”.
Sadly, Museveni’s over 20 years’ record on freedom, democracy and development is exactly what he was opposed to – and possibly worse – when he became president. Is this a case of power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely? Readers please give us an answer.