This is what a good leader does. When things go well, he/she shares credit with his/her team. When things go wrong the leader takes full responsibility.
In Museveni’s Uganda things are done differently. When Uganda was described as star performer in structural adjustment program; when Uganda was congratulated for confronting HIV & AIDS boldly and when Uganda was praised for its efforts to bring about peace and stability in the Great Lakes region, President Museveni took all the credit. He attended all the Summits at the United Nations in New York and G8. He spoke with confidence that Uganda would end poverty and suffering and would become an industrialized nation within fifteen years. And nothing would stop Museveni in these endeavors.
When things turned sour, Museveni has blamed everyone but himself. He is known for blaming Ugandans as lazy and drunkards, blaming Ugandans as empty tins, idiots and bankrupt. He has blamed opposition groups for sabotaging NRM worthy efforts, civil servants for incompetence and corruption although he is the one who appoints and promotes them. He has blamed development partners for donating insufficient funds and foreign experts for giving wrong advice. He has blamed slowdown in economic growth on external factors including weak developed country markets and “Acts of God” beyond NRM control. His New Year message is a repeat of what Museveni does when things have gone wrong.
Museveni blamed Uganda’s economic hard times in 2011 and 2012 partly on weak demand for Uganda exports in Europe and USA. The other part of the problem was leveled at internal indiscipline of some politicians particularly in the opposition camp and the unfriendly media. But Museveni knows that there are countries that have continued to export to Europe and USA. The difference between these successful exporting countries and Uganda is that the former export manufactured products whereas Uganda exports raw materials with a lower effective demand especially during economic hard times. Museveni didn’t realize that by setting interest rates so high, depreciating Uganda currency so much and liberalizing Uganda economy so wide he was making it virtually impossible for Uganda manufactured products to compete in domestic markets. Consequently Uganda has de-industrialized: factories are closing down, others have relocated outside Uganda and yet others are operating far below installed capacity due to expensive imports and high interest rates. This is due to NRM’s inappropriate policies that have made it difficult for Uganda’s small and medium enterprises to expand and/or start new enterprises that would have created jobs, grew the economy and produced manufactured products with value addition.
Because there isn’t much to report in productive sectors such as agriculture and social sectors especially education and healthcare, Museveni devoted much of his message describing what has been done and is planned to be done particularly in infrastructure such as roads and energy. While these are necessary, they are not sufficient in improving the quality of life of Ugandans. The success or failure of the economy is judged by the extent to which it lifts people out of poverty and impacts life expectancy at birth. That Museveni focused on boda-boda, hair salons, video houses, petrol stations and housing estates etc as success areas shows the extent of NRM desperation. It is agriculture and agro-based manufacturing enterprises which NRM has neglected that will transform Uganda – not hair salons and boda-boda enterprises.
That Uganda has not reached the general standard of living level attained in 1970 demonstrates that NRM performance has fallen far short of expectations. Contrary to promises made, many Ugandans don’t have shoes and live in dusty shelters that have created conditions for jiggers to thrive and deform Ugandan physical appearance. Because many Ugandans can’t afford soap, scabies have reappeared. Uganda is nowhere near becoming a middle income country as Museveni has tried to make us believe. Uganda is regressing toward a fourth world country. Uganda is a failed state. This is bad news for NRM and for Museveni in particular who boasted that his was a fundamental change that would metamorphose Uganda from a country of peasants to middle income earners. The only metamorphosis we have witnessed is re-emergence of diseases that had disappeared. Donors and experts that had prematurely pinned hopes on Museveni as dean of a new breed of African leaders and champion of a new development paradigm are silently withdrawing support.
There are areas that Museveni has become uncomfortable reporting about including education and healthcare as well as East African community. He didn’t say anything on education and healthcare promising to do so in the State of the Nation address which he will deliver in June or July. The shocking news that a woman died giving birth at Mulago Hospital because she was neglected for not paying bribes to the medical staff was so hot that he decided to avoid mentioning the health situation in the country. UDU has demanded in its January 2 press release that the medical staff concerned be held accountable and the minister of health resigns. The president also avoided mentioning education presumably for fear that he would be grilled for personally refusing to provide school lunch that has forced primary school children to drop out of school in large numbers jeopardizing Uganda future development prospects.
President Museveni has also been silent for sometime on the East African political federation possibly because he has realized that East Africans now know that he is using the community to push his Tutsi Empire dream. But he hasn’t eased on the project. The recent meeting of Uganda and Rwanda delegations in Kigali and agreement on creating a borderless East African community still signifies his efforts to carve a Tutsi Empire by any means possible including doing it bit by bit starting with annexing Eastern DRC and later southwest Uganda to Rwanda and Burundi. East Africans should therefore keep their eyes and ears wide open on this matter of creating Tutsi Empire disguised as East African political federation.
Happy New Year