Through his actions Museveni behaves as though he has never understood his role as head of state. He acts as though he is representing western interests in Uganda particularly imposing structural adjustment and joining the west on major issues. He also acts as though he is a representative of Bahororo people in Uganda who are increasingly positioning themselves to govern Uganda for a long time. He sees other Ugandans as a nuisance and despises us as people below his dignity. This comes out clearly from his statements and his body language. These actions that have defined Museveni’s twenty five year presidency should disqualify him for re-election.
Museveni has managed to hang on because of his repressive style of governance with tacit endorsement of western interests and not because he is loved by the people of Uganda except Bahororo. Western interests in Uganda will be served better by letting Museveni go – without western support Museveni would not have lasted a couple of years.
While still in the bush and during the first year as president, Museveni behaved as though he had Uganda’s interests at heart. He vehemently criticized structural adjustment program under Obote II for its adverse impact on the people. To counter structural adjustment, Museveni crafted the ten-point program later adjusted to fifteen which was truly a people-centered blue print negotiated and agreed to by many Uganda interested parties. He formed a representative cabinet of national unity and announced that individual merit would be the only criterion for managing the affairs of state. And he was applauded even by those who knew Museveni very well and still had doubts!
Since 1987 (and especially after the 1989 conference on “A critical look at Uganda’s economy under the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government” held in Kampala on 12-17 December 1989) after signing a structural adjustment with the IMF, Museveni became a totally different person, shifting from representing Uganda to western interests.
Museveni started to behave as though he had been naturalized and was now a representative of western interests in Uganda. He received tutorials and advice from Europeans (S. Mallaby 2004) and would not invite back highly qualified and experienced Ugandans that had fled the country since 1971. He even retrenched experienced Ugandans and marginalized others and encouraged them to seek employment abroad and remit foreign currency as their contribution to reconstruction efforts (but he selectively invited some back home – some of them became ambassadors in strategic missions and are still there!). His language and actions switched from what he had preached before 1987. Key staff members in the ministry of finance and central bank whose ideas differed from those of IMF, World Bank staff and Lynda Chalker were shown the exit.
Museveni shifted from encouraging balanced diet to expanding and diversifying agricultural production for export that included foodstuffs such as maize, beans and fish traditionally consumed at home. He shifted from talking about food production for the stomach to food for cash. Museveni shifted policy formulation from an integrated, independent and self-sustaining economy that would end colonial structures that excluded manufacturing to comparative advantage that favored Uganda’s production and export of agricultural commodities as in colonial days. He blamed Keynesian economics and embraced Friedman’s monetary economics that had no room for the state and focused on inflation control at the expense of employment. He favored economic growth and per capita income at the expense of growth with equity, believing that trickle down mechanism would take care of distributional aspects.
Museveni focused on inflation control and credit contraction in the economy and forgot about low interest rates that would have encouraged small and medium enterprises to borrow and invest in labor intensive enterprises thereby contributing to economic growth, employment creation and increased household incomes and improved standard of living for all. He focused on mostly service sectors at the expense of social sectors (education, healthcare, housing etc) and infrastructure.
Museveni shifted from industrialization that adds value, reduces losses and prolongs product life to economic liberalization that permitted free entry into Uganda markets of all sorts of cheap imported manufactured products including used and in most cases inappropriate for domestic use such as second hand winter clothes in a tropical climate. He ignored infant industry argument in case of unfair competition which Uganda was obviously being subjected to.
He focused on production for export which resulted in cut flowers replacing foodstuff for domestic consumption. He speeded up exploitation of natural resources to accumulate foreign currency such as timber and fish resulting in exploitation in excess of reproduction. He ignored advice on sustainable fish harvesting (Kashambuzi 1999). Consequently, fish is in danger of extinction. Excessive timber harvesting for export has also resulted in deforestation with adverse impact on biodiversity and climate change.
Museveni’s export-oriented economic growth scenario is in line with structural adjustment requirements to generate foreign exchange with which to retire external debts and save international financial system from collapsing. That is why Museveni never explained the use to which foreign currency would be put.
One day I listened to him addressing fishers. He urged them to increase fish harvesting for export to earn foreign exchange, implying reducing the amount of fish consumed at home. I was surprised he never explained how this foreign exchange would benefit fishers. After the speech, I visited fish markets on lakes Victoria and Albert. I discovered that traditional (local) fishers had been out-competed by modern ones with better equipment who produced for export. (Fish from Butiaba port was transported to Jinja for the export market leaving virtually nothing for domestic consumption). Traditional fishers were unable to borrow because of high interest rates to improve their equipment. Consequently, their catch dwindled and resulted in lower income and household fish consumption the main source of protein.
Government would not protect local fishers because the state had no business in Uganda’s economy which was fully under the direction of the invisible hand of market forces and laissez faire capitalism. Consequently local fishers’ incomes and protein consumption were significantly affected. Meanwhile Museveni was reporting how his export-oriented policy had succeeded in generating foreign exchange mainly from non-traditional exports of fish, beans and maize. The international community whose interests he represented and served well graded Museveni as a star performer and blue-eyed darling of the west.
Then came population explosion! Museveni who had earlier preached that Uganda had plenty of idle arable land and a population below optimal level encouraged Ugandans to produce more children. He even encouraged a liberal immigration policy to attain the population level needed to speed up economic growth.
Suddenly, Museveni started to complain that Uganda’s economic growth was being negatively impacted by rapid population growth of over 3 percent that had also contributed to high and rising unemployment. Instead of creating education and economic conditions for girls’ education and women empowerment that would permit reduction in fertility, birth control became the avenue for either enticing or forcing poor couples or individuals to have fewer children. A population report published in 2010 has exaggerated fertility rate, dependency ratio, excluded net migration and underestimated contraceptive use all designed to make a strong case for birth control while at the same time encouraging immigration through a liberal immigration policy and economic integration and federation. This report should be rejected as a basis for demographic policy formulation. I have communicated with relevant authorities on this but have not received a response. The birth control approach adopted with a focus on poor people (because they produce more than the rich) could raise questions about a ‘genocide threat’.
Clearly since 1987, Museveni has represented western interests in Uganda rather than those of Ugandans. Consequently, he does not deserve to be re-elected because he will continue to serve the west and not Uganda.
That Museveni has not represented Uganda is reflected in the following observation by Gerry Helleiner. “One senior (and informed) World Bank official has remarked to me privately that despite all the favorable press on Uganda [perhaps implying that it is fake], Tanzania [which represented people’s interests] is actually about four years or more ahead of it [Uganda]in terms of truly nationally-owned (and thus sustainable) economic policy for overall development. Tanzania may seem to move more slowly he noted, and I agree, but it does so on a firmer and more stable base” (D. A. McDonald and E. N. Sahle 2002).
The difference between Uganda and Tanzania is that former and late President Nyerere and to a certain extent his successors put up a tough fight against IMF and World Bank conditionality in defense of their peoples’ interests whereas in Uganda Museveni embraced all of it as if he was an IMF or World Bank official in Uganda at the expense of Uganda interests as manifested in the disease of poverty and ecological devastation.
The Bahororo story in Uganda is very complex and needs to be fully understood in a larger geographical and historical context and how Museveni has mobilized them and is preparing them to govern Uganda. So we need to begin by identifying who amongst us are Bahororo. Let us begin.
Bahororo are Batutsi people from Rwanda who founded a short-lived Mpororo kingdom in southwest Uganda – roughly in present day Ntungamo district and parts of Kabale district. The kingdom lasted less than 100 years from mid-17th century.
Upon disintegration, many Bahororo returned to Rwanda where opportunities were better than under Bahima chiefs of Ankole. In Rwanda they assumed the name of Batutsi but remained Bahororo through and through. So that is the first source of Bahororo. Other Bahororo stayed in Ankole as Bahima and in Kabale as Bakiga. So that is a second source. They avoided being called Bahororo which meant commoners or Bairu/Bahutu (slaves) thereby becoming on surface Bahima, Batutsi and Bakiga when in actual fact they are Bahororo. And that is why originally Museveni was known as a Muhima (some referred to him as Muhima Mututsi of Ankole). Now Museveni has admitted he is a Muhororo. There are still questions about his place of birth – a Muhororo born in Rwanda, Uganda or elsewhere? Ugandans have a right to know.
Around 1800, a group of Bahororo under the leadership of Rwebiraro of Bashambo clan fled to Rujumbura and sought refuge in Nyakinengo area in present day Rubabo county of Rukungiri district where they registered as Bahima (Bahororo meant commoner). And this is the third source of Bahororo.
The fourth source includes Bahororo scattered in other parts of Uganda (Buganda, Teso, Lango etc). They were joined by Batutsi/Bahororo from Rwanda and Burundi (?) who had come in search of work in cattle herding areas in Ankole, Buganda, eastern and northern Uganda. They were later joined by Tutsi/Bahororo refugees after 1959 social revolution in Rwanda.
They adopted local names and language but retained Bahororo and Nilotic identity (their ancestors were Nilotic Luo speakers from Bahr el Ghazal in southern Sudan and not Ethiopia as wrongly reported by Speke. By the way, Speke had a problem of simplifying complex situations and distorting observations to suit his biases). Because of this disguise Bahororo were not known and we still need to do more since they are bent on governing Uganda in perpetuity (Muhoozi is now being introduced as the next president or king of Uganda. Fellow Ugandans who have not seen that have a problem).
Let me repeat this by way of emphasis: One principal characteristic of Bahororo is that wherever they settled (in Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya, eastern DRC and various parts of Uganda or even outside Africa) they tenaciously clung together and have established invisible communication networks. To achieve this cohesiveness Bahororo men decided never to marry non-Bahororo women (a few Bahima women here and there) so that non-Bahororo women do not discover Bahororo secrets about governing Uganda. It is not true that non-Bahororo women are not as beautiful as Bahororo ones. If that was the case Bahororo men would not be having sex with non-Bahororo women out of wedlock and even having babies together. Bahororo men sneak out because there is something that attracts them away from their Bahororo women.
Conversely, in order to know the secrets of non-Bahororo men against Bahororo people, the latter have arranged political or security marriages between Bahororo women and non-Bahororo men targeting influential or those with potential influence in their communities. There is no love about it – it is all security business!
During preparations for independence, Bahororo in Ankole (until then known as Bahima) for the first time came out of the shadows and demanded a separate Bahororo district to no avail – Bahima said no. This may have triggered Bahororo like Museveni and others to organize themselves and fight in order to have a place under Uganda’s sun (Museveni began preparations shortly after independence in 1962). To what extent and through what channels have Bahororo of Rwanda and elsewhere and in Uganda itself managed to connect under Museveni? Here is what I think has happened.
In 1959, there was a social revolution in Rwanda. Bahutu/Bakiga, with a concentration in northern Rwanda, captured power and formed independence government in 1962. Many Batutsi fled to neighboring countries with a majority coming to Uganda the most difficult destination to reach because of hostile Bahutu in the north bordering Uganda and national park in north east bordering Tanzania, and Uganda being English speaking country. Batutsi were concentrated in south-central Rwanda closer to eastern DRC and Burundi and French speaking countries.
It appears that they chose to risk going to Uganda because of relatives in Kigezi and Ankole as outlined above. By the end of 1963, there were 35,000 refugees and 15,000 head of cattle concentrated in Kamwezi in Kigezi and Kazinga in Ankole. They refused to move to Toro where there was more space in large part because they wanted to stay with their relatives in Ankole and Kigezi.
According to the 1959 Uganda census figures 9 percent of the inhabitants of Ankole were Banyarwanda, most of them Batutsi (who had possibly arrived as refugees before the population census was taken). There was strong local support for Batutsi to stay in Ankole and Kigezi in spite of limited space for human settlement and livestock because of tsetse flies particularly in Ankole.
Mr. Kangaho, DP Member of Legislative Council (the party in power in Uganda under Kiwanuka as chief minister) argued that the refugees and cattle could be accommodated in Ankole (B. L. Jacobs 1965). There were two main reasons for this support. First, the refugees were relatives and second, they were Catholics that could boost DP (a party mostly of Catholics) numbers against Protestant Bairu.
Eventually Museveni migrated politically from UPC to DP possibly to be better situated to coordinate his struggle with Catholic Bahororo (?) refugees from Rwanda. During the guerrilla war and after Museveni’s trusted commanders and intelligence officers were Tutsi refugees. Rwigyema became deputy minister of defense and Kagame deputy chief of intelligence and counter-intelligence with immense power. Bahima were not so close to Museveni and they know it. Museveni has also located other Bahororo inside and outside Uganda.
Museveni has behaved as though he represents Bahororo interests not those of Ugandans as a whole. The Bahororo meeting at Rwakitura on March 15, 1992 is clear about Bahororo mission in Uganda – to rule forever! The way he has placed them in government, security forces and business leaves no doubt about Museveni’s intentions. He used the individual merit yardstick to be able to hire people from the same Bahororo family in key positions and escape criticism because they were selected on merit – hence his wife and brother as ministers, his son as commander of UPDF’s Special Forces Group and his in-law as minister of foreign affairs. Others are Ambassadors and in other strategic positions.
As Ugandans we need to know who these Bahororo leaders or future leaders are and where they hail from (not to harm them please). One of them wrote recently and confidently that they are positioning themselves to take over.
Research into these areas has been frustrated by anti-sectarian and anti-terrorist laws and genocide sentiments. Recently Ahamed Katerega tried to intimidate me through Ugandans-at-Heart Forum by accusing me of inciting terrorism and genocide because I wrote about how Bahororo in Rujumbura of Rukungiri district have impoverished and marginalized Bairu and are now being pushed into municipality to force them abandon their land and become landless and penniless because they are largely functionally illiterate.
There are stories that Museveni selected carefully candidates to run on NRM ticket in 2011 parliamentary elections causing some temporary problems. Ugandans have a right to investigate and find out who these favored candidates are. We also need to know who these Batutsi people being bused into Uganda daily from Rwanda and Burundi are, what they come to do and whether or not they return. These could be Bahororo reconnecting and consolidating to stage another Ivory Coast surprise. The disappearance of vital registration and migrant files should cause great concern. We should demand they should be returned intact.
And the lesson of 1994 when people in high places thought to be Ugandans packed their bags and left for their home in Rwanda taking Uganda secrets with them should never be forgotten.
The summary above was intended to make a case that Museveni has not behaved as a true leader of all Ugandans. His actions are clear. He has acted as a European Ambassador to Uganda and/or Bahororo representative in Uganda. Non-Bahororo people have had a rough time under Museveni. We should not continue that way for another five years now that we have the opportunity on February 18, 2011 to exercise our inalienable right and decide who should govern us. Use that right wisely and your children will be very grateful. Good luck.