In the last two articles I have contrasted General Museveni’s performance with South Korea’s General Park and Vietnam military leadership. South Korea and Vietnam have done well under their military leaders whereas Uganda has done very poorly under the military leadership of General Museveni.
I have concluded that it is leadership – not resource endowments, external factors or “Acts of God” – that makes the difference in development. In this message, I will go a step further to show with reference to General Park and General Museveni that it is leaders’ intentions or what they plan to achieve that define their performance and determine outcomes.
I am making this contribution so that Ugandans and our friends understand why Museveni despite his rhetoric to modernize Uganda, has produced opposite outcomes which he is not attempting to correct because they fit into his intentions.
Uganda is not progressing but regressing. Uganda is a failed state wherever you turn and is drifting towards a fourth world status.
How else do you explain the reemergence of diseases that had long disappeared? How else do you explain rising maternal mortality and insanity due to food insecurity and stress and how else do you explain rapid economic growth reaching 10 percent in the mid-1990s coexisting with two-thirds of Ugandans trapped in absolute poverty, etc?
Uganda’s poor performance is not a function of adverse external factors and natural calamities as some have tried to make us believe. It is the result of Museveni’s original intentions spelled out in the 50 year master plan which was adopted at Rwakitura meeting in March, 1992.
General Park was a nationalist and anti-communist. He wanted to reduce dependence on external forces and confront communist North Korea with a view to improving Korea’s national security, survival and dignity. Park who had come to power illegitimately through a military coup in 1961 wanted to erase that image. In South Korea the military was subordinated to the literary class and Park’s military coup never gained wholehearted acceptance by Koreans. Since the end of the Korean War in 1953 Korea’s economy was unimpressive and lower than North Koreas, contributing in part to student uprising that unseated Rhee’s government in 1960.
Park understood the disadvantages of specialization in agricultural production and export of raw commodities in exchange for manufactured products from Japan. He was not prepared to repeat that. Park understood the limitations of import substituting industrialization (ISI). He was not prepared to repeat that. Park understood the disadvantages of depending on others for foreign currency and food. He was not ready to continue along that path. Park understood that high levels of poverty and hunger would not buy him political support and sustain him in power. Park was prepared to improve incomes and welfare of all classes. Park understood that to confront North Korea he needed an armaments industry.
To overcome these constraints, General Park sought solutions in rapid economic growth and transformation of the economy and society based on export of manufactured products. In a relatively short time, South Korea shifted from agrarian to industrial economy and subsequently to a member of the club of industrialized countries – OECD.
Within ten years (1963-1974) real gross national product (GNP), manufacturing and employment in the manufacturing sector all grew at a rate of 10 percent per year.
Agriculture was transformed through irrigation, mechanization, high yielding seeds and fertilizers, land reform and infrastructure that included roads, energy, schools, clinics and safe drinking water. Credit, price support and other incentives were provided.
Parity between the incomes of rural and urban households was achieved in 1974, reducing rural-urban drift. Koreans were able to meet the basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, transport, education and healthcare.
The government intervened in the economy as appropriate to correct imperfections of the invisible hand of market forces and lasses-faire capitalism.
Thus, it was Park’s intentions that drove him to design an economic strategy that transformed South Korea economically and socially, uplifting the country from agriculture to industry and from poverty to prosperity of all classes.
By contrast, General Museveni came to power with different intentions – to make people of his tribe dominate, impoverish, marginalize and dispossess the rest in Uganda – which were spelled out in the 50 year master plan whose existence has not been denied to the best of my knowledge. The intentions were to be achieved through the following goals:
1. “To have the highest education qualifications during his [Museveni’s] term of office for their children”. This explains why Museveni has not cared to correct high school dropout rate, provide school lunches that improve attendance and performance especially for girls and improve quality of education;
2. “To make sure they are the richest people in Uganda in the 50 years master plan”. It is true that members of Museveni’s tribe are the richest. They all have lucrative jobs regardless of merit. Many have become filthy rich through rampant corruption;
3. “To make sure they control the army and have the highest ranks in the army”. This goal was achieved a long time ago, making Museveni so comfortable that he has no fear of a military coup.
4. “To make sure that they take charge of the resources in the country”. They dominate the business including finance sector, livestock and food sector by encouraging exports that earn them foreign exchange while leaving very little food which then becomes expensive for household consumption, oil sector and are now acquiring land. Without functional education, without jobs and without land the rest of Ugandans are going to bed hungry, producing underweight children with permanent physical and mental disabilities, selling off their meager assets, engaging in criminal activities to make ends meet and social vices including excessive alcohol consumption and associated accidents, domestic violence and committing suicide out of desperation;
5. “To ensure that everybody is poor so that they could be controlled and respect the group”. Despite rapid economic growth that reached ten percent in the mid-1990s, over fifty percent of the total population still lives below the poverty line of $1.25 per day. And it is reported that some 20 percent in the lowest income bracket have become poorer. Economic growth has thus benefited those already rich. Poor people are easy to manipulate and bribe for instance during political campaign. Superficial respect is thus being extracted through fear like when the audience applauds after Museveni’s speeches.
6. “To ensure none of those not concerned not to know about the action plan”. Unfortunately for Museveni the plan became public knowledge soon after the meeting. Either one of the meeting participants was unhappy and decided to leak it or there was an infiltrator in the audience. This document has not been denied as far as I know.
To sum up, the intentions of General Park of South Korea made him lead his country from agrarian to industrial and great nation and prosperous and great people.
By contrast, the intentions of General Museveni of Uganda have made him lead the country towards hell by adopting strategies that have impoverished, marginalized and dispossessed the people of Uganda in order to enrich people of his tribe and make them dominate Uganda politically, economically and militarily and the East African countries through economic integration and political federation. He has used military might, scare tactics like when he wears military fatigues when addressing Ugandans on television with his eyes wide open and security apparatus to silence dissent at home and abroad.
But if history is anything to go by, even the most powerful and most feared military dictators have been toppled or worse either by their people or their own security forces with or without a helping hand from friends and well wishers.
Impoverishing Ugandans, dividing families, driving citizens out of their country and hunting them down in their hiding places and relying on faceless supporters to run the economy and security forces has bought Museveni time. Museveni has put Ugandans down but not out. Like other human beings everywhere they will not stay down forever. And Museveni and his system will go.
The next leader in Uganda should shed selfish motives and work for the greatness of his/her country and people. Lessons from Park’s leadership should be studied carefully, remove those that are not appropriate and adapt the rest to the reality in Uganda. With the right leadership Uganda has the potential to transit from agriculture to manufacturing economy and from poverty to prosperity and greatness.
We only ask the Almighty to guide us in choosing the next leader.
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