Museveni and external backers have made elections meaningless and wasteful

Museveni who was unpopular in student, youth and party politics before becoming president has remained so since 1986. After hard political and military campaign, Museveni was disappointed and humiliated at the Moshi conference when he failed to get elected to either of the two most important positions of leader of the transition team to replace Amin or chairman of the military commission. During the transition period (1979 to 1980), he also realized that he could not lead either UPC or DP parties. Consequently, he formed his own party – Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM) to contest the 1980 elections. UPM won one parliamentary seat! Museveni concluded that he would never realize his dream of becoming president or any other public office through the free will of the people of Uganda. He decided he would use force, bribes and tricks to achieve his goals.

That is how he began the destructive guerrilla war that lasted five years. He deliberately destroyed Luwero to put blame on Obote and have him overthrown (EIR 1997). Knowing that Baganda and Catholics were unhappy with Obote and his UPC government, Museveni tricked them that he would provide military backing to get them into power if they came together and form a political movement. Museveni showed no external interest in wanting the post of president for himself. He presented himself as a liberator with no political ambitions.

Uganda’s elections project has failed

Every project in human history has at least four phases: the design phase, implementation phase, monitoring phase and evaluation phase. The purpose of monitoring is to ensure that the implementation of the project is on course as designed. When new problems arise they are corrected. When circumstances change fundamentally, it may become necessary to close the project and draw up a new one. An evaluation takes place usually at the end of the project to see whether the objectives were achieved or not and to draw lessons as a guide for future work.

The purpose of an election is to offer voters the opportunity to select their representatives in free and fair conditions. During the campaign candidates propose what they would do if elected to improve the standard of living of their constituents. If they do not deliver, they are voted out at the next elections. Thus, representatives’ primary responsibility is to serve all the people in their constituencies whether they elected them or not. In Uganda, it has turned out that the primary and perhaps only purpose of representatives is to enrich themselves, their families, relatives and friends. Take Rujumbura constituency as an example (no disrespect intended). The wife of the Member of Parliament (MP) is Senior Presidential Adviser and his sister in-law is also Senior Presidential Adviser! There are many others down the line. This is a case of winner-take-all.

The creation of Rukungiri municipality represents robbery at gun point

In theory, the idea of democracy, of elections and of decentralization is to enable local communities to participate in discussions and make informed decisions including electing representatives that protect, promote and improve the quality of their lives.

Furthermore, the idea of market forces, laissez faire (let alone) and private ownership is designed to allocate resources efficiently, encourage private initiative, speed up economic growth, create jobs and, through a trickle down mechanism, benefit everyone in the community.

The two ideas, largely foreign in origin, have been fully embraced by the NRM government since 1987. The NRM leadership originally rejected stabilization and structural adjustment as promoted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank for the good and simple reason that if implemented as recommended it would hurt ordinary citizens by reducing jobs, education, health care, nutrition and bargaining power of workers, etc. Given the profit motive of the private sector many in the government felt that, left alone, structural adjustment would squeeze the weak and force them into endemic poverty and permanent under-development.

President Museveni must have been tired

After reading President Museveni’s two-part interview with Daniel Kalinaki, Monitor Managing Editor which was posted on the website on April 11 and 12, 2010, I contacted Monitor readers – Ugandans and non-Ugandans – for their assessment. They all agreed that the president’s performance fell short of expectations especially as he prepares for 2011 presidential elections. Two main reasons were given – either he was tired or he is no longer on top of developments in Uganda. They even wondered why he did not praise his government for controlling inflation, maintaining a high level of economic growth and per capita income, reducing poverty and providing universal primary education which has been extended to secondary education because these have been areas of NRM’s strength. Let me make some observations selectively because Uganda newspapers restrict my articles to around 700 words.

First, on the issue of democracy, President Museveni has allowed presidential and parliamentary elections to take place every five years because development partners have made them a condition for foreign aid and technical assistance. Since 1996, President Museveni’s popularity has declined with each election. This is not the kind of information the President would want to share with Ugandans much less with the outside world which has given him much support particularly for macroeconomic stability.