By and large a decision taken when one is angry, frustrated, tired or in a hurry is likely to be wrong. In 1981, Baganda and Catholics (no offense) with backing of some western powers led by Britain decided to wage a guerrilla war because they were angry, frustrated, tired and in a hurry that Obote had returned to power. Without proper scrutiny of each other, two ideologically opposed groups: Popular Resistance Army (PRA) and Uganda Freedom Fighters (UFF) formed the National Resistance Movement (NRM) with Yusuf Lule (RIP) as chairman and Museveni as vice chairman and also chairman of the high command of its armed wing, the National Resistance Army (NRA). This became a clear case of enemy’s enemy is a friend. What was common between the two groups is that they were both enemies (opponents to use a milder word) of Obote and UPC. What both wanted was to remove Obote and sort out their differences later, if any.
The two groups had expected a prolonged guerrilla war and sorting out their differences including especially a proper scrutiny of Museveni’s profile was not a priority (Lule was known to most people, not Museveni). Two things happened faster than expected that changed the formula: untimely death of Yusuf Lule in early 1985 that made Yoweri Museveni interim chairman of NRM pending elections for a successor, and the overthrow of Obote by a section of the national army in July 1985.
Under normal circumstances the chairman of NRM would have become president of Uganda when the Okello government fell. Museveni who was interim chairman made sure elections were not held to elect a new chairman who probably would have been someone else other than Museveni. So for one year Museveni made sure elections were not held. Museveni entered Kampala as commander of NRA and interim chairman of NRM. Nobody had the guts to raise the issue of NRM chairman. His NRM title was quietly changed from interim to chairman – no elections please (EIR 1997).
The game was over and Museveni became president by default – and Museveni knows many Baganda and Catholics were unhappy about it and still are!
Through connections Museveni managed to link up with journalists including William Pike and Camerooon Duodu who began to write stories that Museveni was an intellectual, born leader, possibly of white ancestry with magic powers and like other Bahororo superior to other Ugandans.
Besides connecting with foreign journalists, financiers and politicians, Museveni surrounded himself with people who spoke a strange language and marginalized Bahima he started the bush war with. Although Museveni claims to be anti-tribalist in theory, in practice he is a staunch tribalist. Most of the leadership of the guerrilla war was from another group that spoke a different language. One of the Bahima youth protested that the leaders were not Bahima. Museveni – as if to press a point home to others – quickly arrested the youth, put him in a very cold underground tunnel half naked, tortured and threatened to kill him. According to Museveni the youth “immediately fell on his knees, quaking and begging for mercy as he had many children to look after, and so on”(EIR 1997).
Two things came out of this incident but were never followed up because those issues would come after Kampala had fallen. First, who are these close friends of Museveni who spoke a language that the Muhima youth could not understand? Where did they come from and where did they go after Kampala was taken? Or if they stayed who are they and what are they doing? Aren’t these legitimate questions that Museveni must answer?
The second point is that Museveni exhibited disproportionate ruthlessness by threatening to kill a young guerrilla fighter for asking an innocent question about who these people were that spoke a different language in their midst and had replaced Bahima as commanders.
Museveni also introduced anti-sectarian ideology very early on presumably to hide something. It should not be a crime to mention your tribe or to ask someone his/her religion. But Museveni did stop that through parliament. And Museveni reacts angrily or through surrogates when he smells something sectarian. This means frankly that there is something Ugandans have not been told about Museveni’s deep and extremely sensitive concern about sectarian issues.
Since he has insisted he wants to remain president of Uganda and possibly become the first Muhororo king of Uganda (it is not lunacy if you do not stop Museveni you will see) or the first president of the East African federation, Ugandans and indeed other east Africans have every right to know who Museveni is even at this rather late hour. It is better late than never! Therefore nobody, Ugandan or non-Ugandan, has a right to stop this probe. And Museveni has no right to refuse to answer this and other questions.
The first question then is where was Museveni actually born? In his own words, “Yoweri Museveni was born in 1944 in Kyamate, Ankole District. He was the first born of Amos Kaguta and Esteri Kokundeka”(Yoweri Museveni Selected Articles on the Uganda Resistance War 1986). This story has been contested by many Ugandans and foreign commentators alike.
Nina Mbabazi has jumped into the debate and offered a different birth place in Uganda without giving satisfactory details. She has been asked to substantiate her statement and readers are still waiting (if Nina does not respond satisfactorily her reputation will be badly damaged). Others think Museveni was born outside Uganda including possibly in Rwanda. There are increasing voices that want Museveni to clear the air before February 2011 elections. Otherwise doubts will be heightened and undermine his leadership should he be re-elected for another five year term especially now that the demand for an answer is louder than ever before. Foreigners may also become more uncomfortable supporting a leader who has failed to disclose his undisputed place of birth.
Another element that has cast a thick shadow over his presidency is why Museveni has surrounded himself with Bahororo to an extraordinary degree – in state house, security forces, in finance and foreign affairs etc. especially when they are not well qualified and much less experienced in the art of governing even after 25 years in power. The next layer of advisors is in-laws who have married Bahororo women. And Bahima after that.
Although Museveni insisted that appointments, promotions and assignments would be based on individual merit only, the Bahororo he has selected to run key public institutions could not have even been short listed for interviews under normal recruitment conditions. There must be something that Museveni is hiding from the public and Ugandans must get to the bottom of it preferably before elections in 2011. With determination there is enough time to do it. Possibly there are some people who know the answer already but want an opening to spill the beans. So let us ask!
The third puzzle that links up with Bahororo recruitment is Museveni’s preference for European experts especially British over Ugandans. Some years back I asked an official in the aid industry in Uganda why well educated and experienced Ugandans at home and abroad were by passed in favor of inexperienced Ugandans and young foreign experts. He agreed that that was a problem but the answer would have to come from the government of Uganda. I asked him whether this problem had ever been brought to the attention of the president. I interpreted his body language to mean yes. Ugandans therefore need to ask Museveni why he has refused to hire Ugandans whom he has urged to stay abroad or to go abroad if they are still at home when he continues to rely on junior and very expensive foreign experts.
Some Ugandans that have tried to answer why Museveni hires foreigners over Ugandans have reasoned that Museveni is not an intelligent man whose quality of university education is even doubted. For these reasons they believe he is more comfortable lectured to by foreign experts. Because foreigners do not know much about the history and culture of Uganda that gap gives Museveni an opportunity to impress foreign advisers when he talks about cultural and historical things even when he is not entirely correct. Uganda experts are likely to be all rounded leaving no room for Museveni to make a contribution. Second, foreigners would not compete with him for leadership of the country. Uganda vocal critics were either hounded out of the country or given jobs with fancy titles without responsibility and silently marginalized.
Because Uganda’s economic policy is in foreign hands we have got a raw deal. Foreign experts have advised the government to formulate policy that benefits foreigners, not Ugandans. That is why the main focus of structural adjustment was on liberalization, privatization and export-oriented economic growth that consolidated the static comparative advantage that has condemned Uganda to the export of raw materials as in colonial days which Museveni had vowed to dismantle while he was fighting a guerrilla war.
Museveni made fundamental changes in the ministry of finance, planning and economic development and central bank before he introduced structural adjustment bringing in Ugandans who had been thoroughly brainwashed by foreign experts. The ‘good guys’ like Museveni’s first minister of finance and governor of the central bank were thrown out because they preferred a gradual and less socially painful adjustment. The harsh version Museveni adopted in May 1987 turned out to be a disaster and Museveni very reluctantly abandoned it in late 2009. He replaced it with a five year development plan but retained all staff in the ministry of finance, planning and economic development and central bank as well as their foreign advisers that have continued to behave as though structural adjustment was still in place. The development plan was designed for elections. Once elections are over and Museveni is re-elected you can be sure structural adjustment will resume may be under a new name but key national and external players will be retained – those that favor neoliberal economic policies of market forces, laissez faire capitalism and trickle down ideology.
Without question Muhakanizi will continue to report economic growth and per capita income figures that do not address social and environmental issues that matter most to Ugandans. The central bank will continue to stress low inflation that keep interest rates high and discourage borrowing and labor intensive investments resulting in continued high levels of unemployment.
Uganda has all the ingredients for rapid economic growth, transformation and development. But it has had bad leadership under Museveni. Museveni seems to care more about foreign interests through inter alia liberal immigration and tax policies than those of Ugandans raising pertinent concerns that he is either a foreigner who does not care about Ugandans or an employee who takes instructions from foreign employers.
To run the country without much trouble, Museveni has carefully selected ministers without backbone. You examine them one by one and tell Ugandans which among them can challenge Museveni in a cabinet meeting on a major development issue. You can be sure if Museveni is re-elected he will reappoint them defeating the purpose of an election which is to re-energize the executive and legislative branches – not returning old folks.
Ugandans also need to be given space to determine political and economic priorities that will affect their lives with a helping hand from development partners and neighbors. Foreigners and neighbors should not determine Uganda’s priorities. But to prevent that Ugandans need leadership that has total commitment, qualifications and management experience and above all confidence to defend the interests of the people of Uganda. There are many Ugandans with this profile. The people of Uganda need to identify and work with them for the good of all.
Let me end up by repeating what I have said before. If Museveni is re-elected he will move faster than before to implement his agenda:
1. Force parliament to pass a law declaring Uganda a kingdom with Museveni as the first hereditary Muhororo king (the direction is clear on this).
2. Force rural Ugandans into some form of camps or into urban areas and sell or lease vacated land to foreigners who will then keep him in power.
3. Force Uganda into East African economic integration and political federation as losers mostly in terms of land and jobs, making Ugandans landless and jobless in their own country.
4. Encourage migrants into Uganda through economic integration and political federation channels which will suit Museveni because he will have supporters against indigenous population that has never been happy with him – and he knows it.
5. Encourage or force birth control on indigenous poor Ugandans to reduce their population size and ultimately be outnumbered by immigrants as in Ivory Coast. If Ugandans have not seen this coming then we have a problem. Why do you think all the files on migration and vital statistics on births, deaths and marriages etc have suddenly disappeared – to hide information on immigration in elections, jobs etc? That is why Ugandans must demand that all the files be returned intact because those who ‘stole’ them are known.
6. Encourage foreign control of the economy to continue supported by brainwashed nationals mostly in the ministry of finance and central bank driving more Ugandans into abject poverty. Distorted statistics as Muhakanizi released recently cannot hide reality for too long. The mushrooming diseases of poverty reflect Museveni’s failed policy for 25 years under ruthless dictatorship which finally has been acknowledged internationally.
If this is not what Ugandans want we can prevent it through one option: defeat Museveni come February 2011.