If you think Museveni picked up a gun to save Uganda, you are mistaken

If you think Museveni picked up a gun while still a student at Dar es Salaam University in the 1960s to remove Amin (who had not yet become president) you are mistaken. Amin became president in 1971 after Museveni had left the university in 1970.

If you think Museveni abandoned his family and waged a very destructive five year guerrilla war in Luwero because of the rigged 1980 elections you are again mistaken. Museveni had begun recruiting fighters well before the 1980 elections. He had some 10,000 fighters (Communication from the Chair April 23 1985) – not 27 as he claims – when he launched the guerrilla war in 1981.

If you think Museveni adopted shock therapy structural adjustment to end the suffering of the people of Uganda quickly you are even more mistaken. He was already aware of its devastation in Chile and Ghana. He was also aware (because he had a good source of information) that even World Bank officials had expressed alarm at the negative impact on the African people. For example, in 1984 Ernest Stern senior vice-president at the World Bank was candid when he observed that structural adjustment had failed the Africa region. He continued “We … have failed in Africa along with everybody else … we have not always designed our projects to fit the … conditions in Africa”. Julian Samboma amplified that “… with their usual arrogance, the IMF/World Bank continued to force these self-same policies down Africa’s throat”(New African February 1993). Some African countries like Tanzania and Ghana protested but not Uganda.

Museveni did all these things because he wanted to colonize Uganda, turn it into Bahororo dynasty and then use it as a springboard for imperial expansion into the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region initially as he articulated in April 1997. He had alluded to this goal of imperial expansion earlier soon after he became president when he stated that he would soon quit Uganda politics to focus on Pan-African issues once peace returned to Uganda. But because peace did not come to the whole country as planned because of LRA activities, Museveni chose to stay on as Uganda president while he pursued his imperial designs by becoming very active in the politics of Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, DRC, Kenya, Somalia and East African integration and political federation to which vast resources and expertise were diverted from the development of Uganda.

That is why there is nothing to show for the generous donor support and billions of dollars from export earnings and remittances of Ugandans abroad. Here is a clear case that Museveni’s actions in regional geopolitics have spoken louder than his words to eradicate poverty and improve overall conditions of Ugandans.

And the minister of finance has just written that Uganda is actually broke (she should have said the treasury has been robbed) while billions of shillings are out there buying voters to vote for Museveni while children are dying in hospitals for lack of medicines and supplies that have become hospices and an increasing number of women are dying in child birth.

Any person who ignores the welfare especially of mothers and children should occupy any position of leadership. If this happens when some people are already in power they should be thrown out at the first opportunity.

As time is running out, Museveni has begun preparing his son Muhoozi to take over the presidency (as discussed and agreed at the Bahororo meeting on March 15, 1992 that Museveni should begin to groom a successor). The publication of a book by Muhoozi in 2011 could not be more revealing of what action Museveni is going to take rather than his words about the criteria for a successor.

Through the publication of his son’s book titled “Battles of the Uganda Resistance: A Tradition of Maneuver”, Museveni is telling Uganda and the whole world that a new leader of Uganda is coming. Silence by Ugandans and others will mean consent. Museveni will be watching and once he figures there is no strong opposition, he will make the announcement.

To prevent this from happening, Ugandans and their friends must make all the noise they can muster because that is not the correct way of presidential succession. That is dictatorship and it should not be tolerated because it has the potential of plunging the country into political chaos. Ugandans are tired of having leaders imposed on them.

There is general consensus that Obote was imposed on Uganda by Britain in 1962, Amin was imposed on Uganda mainly by Britain the first country to recognize Amin’s government in 1971, and Museveni was imposed on Uganda mainly by Britain in 1986 (the first foreign official to meet Museveni as president was British – Lynda Chalker). We should not accept Museveni imposing Muhoozi on Uganda. If this were to happen the whole world would laugh at us as a people without a backbone who talk a lot but do nothing when it comes to action.

Let us see how Museveni has used structural adjustment or WC to consolidate his power and prepare for his son’s succession using divide and rule, marginalization and impoverishment tactics. To understand this strategy let us briefly review the purpose of structural adjustment and why Museveni found it suitable for his designs and embraced it wholeheartedly while other African leaders were complaining about its negative impact.

The economic and political difficulties of the 1970s created conditions for the rise of conservative political parties and leaders in the western world particularly in UK and USA. To restore their global dominance, the two leaders especially Margaret Thatcher of Britain pushed for the rebirth of the 19th century capitalist fundamentalism to end socialism and re-launch the operation of Adam Smith invisible hand of market forces and laissez faire capitalism.

This new ideology was christened the Washington Consensus (WC), neo-liberalism, structural adjustment, economic reform or simply globalization. The WC was intended to discredit state-assisted capitalism or mixed socialism of Japan and Yugoslavia type respectively that had succeeded (C. Johnson 2004 and W. Engdahl 1992), and to weaken the sovereignty of developing countries and reduce them so they become dependent on foreign aid from developed countries and are controlled by them.

“It is critically important to understand that the doctrine of globalism is a kind of intellectual sedative that lulls and distracts its Third World victims while rich countries cripple them, ensuring that they will never be able to challenge the imperial powers” (Chalmers Johnson 2004). Similarly, as shown below, Museveni would use structural adjustment to cripple Ugandans ensuring that they would never challenge his rule and succession plans.

The Washington Consensus requires that governments pull out of economic activities, balance the budget by reducing expenditure through elimination of subsidies, retrenchment of staff, imposition of user charges especially on education and healthcare etc, strangling unions and freezing wages, controlling inflation while interest rates rise, liberalizing the economy by lowering or eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers, privatizing the economy, promoting and diversifying exports according to a country’s comparative advantage.

The designers of the WC knew that the impact on the population would be severe resulting in riots and emergence of opposition groups to block reforms. To pre-empt this development, it was decided that structural adjustment should be of the shock therapy rather than the gradual and incremental type. According to the European Bank report (1999) the political argument in favor of rapid over gradual reform was that “speed can prevent opposition from mobilizing and blocking reforms” – hence the adoption of shock therapy strategy.

The implementation of WC was entrusted to the IMF and World Bank. These two institutions have since played crucial roles in developing countries’ economies including in Uganda. The implementation of WC has had disastrous consequences in developing countries.

In Jamaica, for example, WC “… resulted in lower productivity, higher debt, and great poverty. The loans had a crucial rider: they required the abolition of tariffs. So Jamaica was forced to compete in the open globalized market, which they could not do because foreign goods, coming in at lower prices, overwhelmed the country [which de-industrialized and lost jobs]. … As a result a native economy was ruined. Crime went up … attack dogs [were] trained [to contain crime] in what has suddenly become a flourishing industry” (Morris Berman (2006).

The impact of structural adjustment in Jamaica has parallels in Uganda: lower productivity, de-industrialization, rising unemployment and poverty, rising crime, opposition and riots and repressive response by Museveni’s security forces including kiboko boys.

Museveni came to power to colonize Uganda, pure and simple. Museveni’s actions which resemble those of colonial Britain have made many Ugandans to conclude that Museveni is a foreign colonizer. Museveni was aware that there would be resistance to his brand of colonial rule. He realized that a shock therapy approach to structural adjustment would provide the means to tame Ugandans without anyone discovering his colonial motive. After all, Museveni reasoned, these were reforms introduced and enforced by IMF and World Bank. He would silently crush resistance with the help of donors. He therefore implemented structural adjustment as donors wanted it and nicely served his hidden agenda of crippling Ugandans and imposing his dictatorial rule which was acceptable to donors (but was diplomatically referred to as bold leadership to maintain stability in an otherwise volatile region which paradoxically was caused by Museveni in Rwanda, Burundi, DRC and Sudan!) to prevent riots and opposition to reforms.

In 1987, Museveni signed a structural adjustment agreement with IMF that opened the door for other donors to enter Uganda. With donor cover, Museveni launched a process of crippling Ugandans that had earlier included imposition of a 30 percent tax to convert old into new currency (which some donors opposed), removing subsidies on social sectors, imposing user fees, closing schools and downgrading others, dismissing teachers and health staff, retrenching civil servants, raising the price of oil and devaluing Uganda currency that pushed domestic prices through the roof, exporting food traditionally consumed at home, knocking down domestic industries through trade liberalization that increased cheap imports and created massive unemployment, strangling trade unions and freezing wages and privatizing all public enterprises like no other African government and handing them over to foreign ownership including the return of British Indians.

Overnight Museveni who had been branded a Marxist (Africa Events January 1986) became a star pupil of structural adjustment and blue-eyed darling of the west, bold leader (read dictator) and dean of the new breed of African leaders (all of them through the barrel of the gun). Western delegations including presidents flocked to Uganda to shower praise on Museveni’s exemplary performance that had achieved macroeconomic stability but avoided to mention the adverse political, social and ecological impacts which were everywhere for anybody to see.

With this pat on his shoulder and exemption from launching multiparty politics, Museveni intensified repression and promulgated anti-terrorism law that in effect silenced dissent. Prison and police capacity was expanded to jail trouble makers including criminals who tried to make ends meet and those fighting for freedom and human rights.

Museveni used his rubber stamp parliament to pass any laws he wanted including declaring municipalities like the one in Rukungiri without following procedures at the district and parliament levels to punish dissent and clear the area occupied mostly by Bairu indigenous people for purchase by Bahororo billionaires.

Museveni prolonged the war in northern and eastern Uganda to bring people there on their knees (and he is now seeking their vote apparently telling them he ended the war. The truth of the matter is that Museveni wanted to prolong the war but the international community including the United Nations objected and forced him to end the fighting. So credit should not go to Museveni. Let us wait and see how the people of Lango, Teso, Acholi and Karamoja will vote on February 18, 2011).

So what do we have in Uganda now? Actions have spoken louder than words. We have areas in Luwero, northern and eastern Uganda where destruction of humans, animals, institutions and infrastructure was extensive with survivors still in bad shape. They are hungry, poor, sick and illiterate. Karamajong people abandoned their area and culture and became street beggars in Kampala and other towns. Insane people are over thirty percent of the total population.

Poverty has forced proud people to break with tradition to make ends meet. As Janet McGrath reported “There are situations, such as economic need, when it is acceptable in Buganda culture for a woman to have a partner outside of her primary union. If sexual partnership involve financial gain or increased financial security, then simply advising them to reduce their sexual contacts without recognizing the potential economic harm that may result is problematic” (H. A. Baer et al., 1997).

The sum total is a dilapidated nation of poor people with over 50 percent living below the poverty line while 20 percent in the lowest income bracket are poorer than in 1986 when Museveni became president. Diseases of poverty (jiggers and malnutrition in particular) have become an integral part of Uganda’s landscape.

Museveni has particularly targeted his destructive efforts to the youth for marginalization so that his son does not have difficulties ruling over them. Through these polices school dropout and youth unemployment have reached unprecedented levels of over 80 percent. Underweight children with permanent mental and physical abnormalities are about 20 percent while forty percent of children under five are undernourished which means they are unable to learn much less become productive as adults.

Instead of helping them to concentrate on their studies children spend a disproportionate amount of time loitering or engaging in sex work or watching movies after they have stolen money or sold stolen crops or domestic animals. Museveni has deliberately refused primary school feeding program but he is ready to release money for funeral expenses. He has also tacitly allowed birth control of poor families that are producing more babies than the rich invoking a ‘genocide threat’ instead of improving impoverished conditions in which they live as a condition for fertility decline.

Through a policy of rural-urban migration and willing seller and willing buyer concept Museveni is encouraging peasants to sell their land which will be taken over by the rich Ugandans and foreign buyers. By revoking a Uganda law against foreign ownership of Ugandan land, Museveni opened the door to the sale of vast chunks of land to foreigners (The New Federalist May 25, 1998).

Ugandans must understand that once you lose your land you are finished – repeat finished! Without functional literacy, you won’t find a job outside agriculture. And with modern farming that uses machines from tilling the land to bagging the harvested crop, you won’t find a job on the farm either. So where will you and your family go? There is only one solution. Have you ever heard of people who commit suicide because they have nothing else to do with their lives?

To prevent that from happening make sure that you retain your piece of land and tell your children to do the same thing. You do not allow anyone to take over your land no matter who is behind him. I cannot stress enough the importance of land in Uganda’s circumstances. That’s all you have got. Do not mess up with it and don’t be fooled into selling it.

That is why I have taken a very strong stand against the East African economic integration and political federation. The ideas are good in theory. In practice it is a different story. Look at the problems Tanzania is having. That may explain why Tanzania is moving cautiously.

Museveni is pushing because he wants to be the first head of the East African federation which he will use to complete his Tutsi Empire project.

Kenya is keen because it stands to gain Uganda land, labor and markets for its manufactured products.

Let Kenya and Uganda leaders tell Ugandans in specific terms what Uganda will gain so that gains (by whatever measure) will exceed losses. These leaders should not push Ugandans into harm’s way.

Kenya’s involvement in Uganda politics on behalf of Museveni has not gone done well with many Ugandans at home and abroad. We want the Kenya leadership and people to know that. This has been a gross violation of Uganda’s sovereignty. How come Kenya has forgotten so quickly that it complained about Museveni’s interference in their 2007 elections?

When people write like the permanent secretary, Kenya’s Ministry of East African Community or they conduct seminars about integration and federation Ugandans should ask authors and presenters at least this: what will happen to Uganda’s land, jobs and industries?

As you know economic integration and political federation entail free movement of people and their families and livestock within areas of integration or federation. Once the economic integration and political federation treaties have been ratified, Uganda will be flooded by people and animals from Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi. These new people will own and occupy Uganda land which is already in short supply and causing serious (some of them deadly) conflicts among family members and neighbors. Ugandans cannot go to Kenya, Rwanda or Burundi because there is no land there! So Uganda will be the loser.

Kenyan workers will occupy Uganda jobs because they are more skilled than Ugandans. Ugandans will not go to Kenya because they have no skills to compete there! So Uganda will be the loser.

Kenya has more and cheaper manufactured products than Uganda and will therefore dominate Uganda markets and cause Uganda’s industries and jobs to disappear. So Uganda will be the loser.

Increased human and animal population pressure will result in rapid environmental degradation. Already Uganda is turning into a desert according to FAO report. While Uganda government is imposing birth control on poor peasants to reduce population pressure on resources, it does not make sense that the same government should be encouraging an influx of Kenyans, Burundians and Rwandans and others through economic integration, federation and a liberal migration policy unless the idea is to replace indigenous Ugandans. There is no other way of understanding Museveni’s rationale as far as I am concerned. If these processes continue along this trajectory we are going to see so many people drowning in Lake Victoria and Nile River because they have nothing else to do with their lives. Let me add quickly that this is not an exaggeration.

To avoid all this headache Ugandan voters should just defeat Museveni on February 18, 2011. This is the only golden opportunity you have to exercise your inalienable right. If you do not use it wisely, you should not complain that you did not know it would turn out this way when a noose is tightened around your neck to force you off your land or lose your job because you re-elected Museveni and NRM.

Being nice or gentle in a calm environment is commendable, not so in a rough game. Fellow Ugandans the choice is yours – and yours only. Good luck.

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