Museveni’s address was not directed at Ugandans but donors who have withdrawn support largely because of rampant corruption and mismanagement of public funds. He was I think also addressing the United Nations on one Millennium Development Goal – Achieve universal primary education. He focused on the glass half full, leaving out the empty half.
He was telling donors that his administration met the requirements or conditionality of stabilization and structural adjustment program (SAP).
1. That is why he talked about growth of the economy or GNI and per capita income;
2. That is why he talked about inflation control to single digits;
3. That is why he talked about export growth and diversification;
4. That is why he talked about accumulating international reserves;
5. That is why he talked about his determination to stamp out rampant corruption as part of good governance practice.
These were the conditions together with market forces, austerity and trickle down that were imposed by donors including IMF and World Bank which Uganda adhered to rigidly with serious social and environmental costs that he left out in his address. In other words, Museveni was saying that he did religiously what the donors wanted him to do except stamping out corruption which he has begun addressing and calling on the resumption of aid and technical assistance.
UDU premise is finding and telling the truth about Uganda and Ugandans in order to identify problems and recommend solutions that will benefit all. In our culture we have a saying developed before refrigeration became available that if you hide meat from fire it will rot. Either you roast or boil it.
When confronted with a difficult situation, we Ugandans have developed a habit of brushing sensitive issues under the carpet/rug hoping time will provide solutions. We especially politicians have therefore developed a tendency of saying what the audience wants to hear or skipping vital issues to earn popularity.
There is ample evidence that if discussions before independence had been genuine, Uganda would have avoided the situation we are in. But because they were rushing our negotiators made some blunders. They avoided the issue of the head of state and we ended up with a Governor-General which delayed the problem. They avoided the right solution to Amin problem and we all know what we got from him. They avoided the issue of ‘Lost Counties” and we know what happened and what still lingers on. The colonial administration simply handed over the problems it created.
There are Ugandans who still harbor the notion that a foreign power (s) will dispatch troops to Uganda, remove Museveni and his government and install a new one. And they are complaining bitterly why the suffering of Ugandans has been ignored. It is unclear where they got this idea of foreign invasion from or that the suffering of the people of Uganda is ignored. What is clear is that foreign powers, organizations and individuals have not closed their eyes and ears to the suffering of Ugandans. They are seeing, they are consulting, they are hearing, they are acting privately and publicly. We have read press releases expressing concern about violation of human rights and freedoms in Uganda. We have also seen missions dispatched to Uganda for direct talks with the government. Museveni and NRM image has shifted from a darling of the west to a dictatorial regime uncaring about the welfare of Ugandans. That is a powerful message. Museveni is scared. Some world leaders have spoken eloquently about their opposition to dictatorial regimes that have overstayed in power. They have been warned that they are on the wrong side of history. And you know who these leaders are. The dictatorial regimes they are talking about include Uganda. So let us be very careful how we express our feelings. That is why it is important ideally to have one spokesperson with a command of the appropriate diplomatic language to use to convey messages without ruffling feathers.
Uganda has been described as a failed state under a military dictatorship disguised as democratic. Many of those supporting the NRM government publicly have misgivings when contacted privately. The question that has occupied center stage in discussions about the future of Uganda is what should be done to turn the country around before it is too late. Five ideas have been proposed.
First, there are those who are still committed to NRM for whatever reason and want it to stay. They are suggesting that pressure should be applied to NRM leadership to make the necessary changes and reverse the current failed trajectory. But the changes they are suggesting such as restoration of presidential term limits, ending corruption, sectarianism and mismanagement, formation of an independent electoral commission, limiting advantages of incumbency, restoration of independence of the judiciary and keeping the military out of politics will ensure defeat of NRM at the next elections. NRM is not a popular party and it is these malpractices that have kept it in power. In free and fair elections NRM cannot win. Therefore NRM is unlikely to go along with this advice. NRM has become like a very sick person that cannot work anymore and has to be retired. In other words NRM does not have the will and capacity under fundamentally changed economic circumstances – from neo-liberalism to public-private partnership – to turn the country around. If allowed to stay in power, NRM, crippled with all sorts of problems, will only make matters worse and the damage will be more costly down the road.
I am a strong believer in understanding the root cause of a problem before attempting a solution. I am also a strong believer in using peaceful means including diplomacy to solve disputes.
These two beliefs have forced me to take risks and write and speak about Bahororo who are the rulers of Uganda since 1986. Articles on Bahororo – their origin, connection with Batutsi of Rwanda and their rise to power in Uganda are posted on www.kashambuzi.com.
Questions have continued to be raised about Bahororo ancestry, their connection with Nilotic people, Batutsi, Bahima and Banyamulenge.
For easy reference let me summarize what I have written about Bahororo mindful that in trying to simplify a complex story, I may skip some useful information. If unsatisfied with the story below, do not hesitate to contact me if necessary privately at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bahororo are Batutsi from Rwanda who founded a short-lived Mpororo kingdom (hence the name Bahororo that is people of Mpororo kingdom) in present-day northern Rwanda and southwest Uganda mostly in present-day Ntungamo and parts of present-day Kabale district.
The kingdom was established around 1650 in areas already settled by Bantu people. It disintegrated around 1750 or earlier because of internal disputes.
As campaigning for February 2011 presidential elections enters the last phase, Ugandans need to consider the following illustrative events before deciding whether or not to re-elect Museveni for another five-year term.
1. There are increasing allegations that Museveni and/or his collaborators murdered key Ugandans to discredit Amin and have him overthrown.
2. There are increasing allegations that human, physical and institutional destruction in the Luwero Triangle was committed by Museveni and his guerrilla fighters to discredit Obote and have him overthrown.
3. There are reports that Museveni prolonged the northern and eastern war causing much destruction in human, physical and institutional terms. He was forced by the international community to end the war. Museveni should not earn credit for ending the war and be re-elected by northern and eastern voters.
4. A few months after he formed the government, Museveni introduced new Uganda currency and charged 30 percent conversion tax against the advice of IMF as such a tax hike would significantly reduce household incomes and cause untold suffering which it did in many families. It is not clear where that revenue went.
Discussions about Uganda by Ugandans convey a simple message: there is anger out there. People have been hit hard (insanity, joblessness, alcoholism, domestic violence, jiggers, human sacrifice etc) and blame Museveni for this suffering. In Uganda culture, the head of the family has overall responsibility. He/she takes credit when things go well and accepts blame when they go wrong. They seek guidance on how to make things better. Similarly, Museveni as Uganda head of state has responsibility and accountability for commissions and omissions in Uganda. Like head of the household, Museveni should seek guidance on how to improve the desperate situation. Here are examples of the damage he has caused as president for twenty five years.
Damage number one: The first responsibility of the head of a family or nation is to make sure that every member of the household eats enough breakfast, lunch and dinner. Men travelled long distances in search of food when there was famine in their locations. Others committed suicide as punishment for failure to feed their families, demonstrating the importance of food security.