For an individual, group or nation lasting success does not come easily. It has to be earned. Throughout my adult life I have observed that those who succeed work very hard, have determination and resilience and usually want to change the status quo: overcome poverty or end autocratic regime etc. They innovate, sacrifice and take risks. Those who take it easy usually don’t get very far. For example, students who miss classes, don’t do home work, complain about teachers all the time have no chance of success. During my school days children from poor families were urged to work very hard and break the chains of poverty and vulnerability. I have also noticed that those who are favored at work fall by the wayside soon after those who favored them leave the scene.
Some Ugandans either because they work for Museveni or are not familiar with lessons of political history dismiss the possibility that Ugandans can remove Museveni from power because he enjoys solid international, military and religious support. But this is exactly what former president of the Philippines, the late Ferdinand Marcos enjoyed. What drove Marcos out of power is exactly what has been accumulating in Uganda.
Ferdinand Marcos a firmly unshakeable dictator was elected president in 1965 and reelected for the second and final term in 1969 because of presidential two term limits. Marcos and his wife Imelda did not come from wealthy families. However, Marcos had credentials to do an excellent job as leader of his country. At the time he was elected president his compatriots thought he was a war hero (it turned out to be false) with a good academic record as a lawyer and had been jailed for political reasons. He had also served as an elected member of the House of Representatives and Senate rising to the position of Senate president.
To solve a problem, one needs to fully understand its causes first. The current challenges in Uganda represent many years of wrong policies and priorities starting in 1971. For instance, Amin’s wrong policy of ‘economic war’ which called on Ugandans to use every piece of land to boost production led to serious environmental degradation, warmer local climates and spread of disease vectors like mosquitoes that spread malaria in areas that had previously been too cold for mosquito survival. When economic and social conditions continued to deteriorate, Amin government identified population ‘explosion’ as the number one problem to be addressed through birth control. The problems got worse and forced Amin to invade a neighboring country to divert attention from the mushrooming domestic anger.
When NRM government switched to structural adjustment from the ten-point program it made a wrong policy choice by sub-contracting Uganda’s economy to the private sector in an unregulated environment. Because private sector is concerned with profit maximization, it engages in activities, labor practices and selection of locations that minimize costs. The government made other mistakes of focusing on economic growth and per capita income leaving equitable aspects to the imperfections of a trickle down mechanism of market forces, encouraging export diversification into foodstuffs without first determining domestic requirements, dismissing or marginalizing experienced Ugandans to create room for NRM cadres most of whom did not have experience in negotiating agreements and contracts and monitoring program implementation. So how did adverse social and ecological outcomes come about?
According to the World Book Encyclopedia, dictatorship is a form of government in which an individual or a committee or other group holds absolute power. Dictators usually have come to power under conditions of turmoil and confusion. Often the dictator seizes power by political trickery or military violence.
Once in control, dictators and their followers retain their positions through force or threat of force. They abolish or closely control the legislature, and quickly suppress freedom of speech, assembly, and the press. They set up an elaborate secret-police system to detect opponents of the government. Persons who object to the dictatorship are persecuted by the government.
On the other hand, democracy is a form of government in which the citizens take part in political decisions that affect them directly or indirectly through their elected representatives. Representatives’ job is to transparently represent the people with whom they made a contract in making decisions about laws and other matters that affect constituents including defending and protecting their rights, freedoms and property.
Uganda as a military dictatorship