Ndinawe Byekwaso


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President Museveni's tactics of clinging on to power in Uganda: the type of modern politics is killing society

Posted by Ndinawe Byekwaso on January 11, 2018 at 9:05 AM

President Museveni’s tactics of clinging on to power in Uganda: the type of modern politics is killing society

When Mr. Museveni captured power by force from the bush in 1986, at first he told Ugandans that he was going to rule for an interim period of four years after which the people would be given freedom to select a leader of their choice. Actually some people thought that since his mission of the bush war was to free the country from dictatorship as he claimed, then he would hand over power to somebody else after the promised interim period. This could not be because apparently all the so-called freedom fighters are power hungry. For that matter, the interim period was not only too short for him to be in power but also not enough to organise general elections in which he would be a contestant. Therefore, President Museveni extended the interim period by five more years claiming that he needed more time to involve Ugandans in making a new constitution that would cater for their aspirations. Without knowing the true colours of Mr. Museveni then, not many people protested the move except Hon. Ziritwahura who resigned his parliamentary seat won during the expansion of the then National Resistance Council (NRC), which was formed in the bush.

As a gimmick, a constitutional review commission, headed by Professor Ssempebwa, was put in place for gathering views from the people throughout the country and compiling them into a document. Then elections were held for the delegates that formed the constituency assembly, which debated the 1995 Constitution and passed it into the supreme law of Uganda. As it was a vogue in Africa as a whole, possibly due to donor conditionality, the new constitution contained two-term presidential limits. Apparently, this was a waste of time and money. President was simply entrenching himself in power. In 1996, after being in power for ten years, President Museveni organised general elections held under the controversial no-party movement system. They were held on the basis of individual merit. As a result, the opposition candidates were disadvantaged because they did not have enough time and organisational base as a political party to effectively challenge Mr. Museveni who had been campaigning all the time as the president of Uganda. The same was repeated in 2001. Possibly as a stratagem to prevent the supporters of the then National Resistance Movement (NRM), said to be a broad-based organisation but not a political party, from supporting the Reform Agenda formed by Colonel Besigye to challenge the incumbent from within, President Museveni campaigned in 2001 on the grounds that he was soliciting votes for his last term of office as was stipulated by the 1995 Constitution. This was politics Machiavellian style as events proved later.

To stop the then free Members of Parliament (MPs) from voting the way they liked, as events proved later, President Museveni adopted a multi-party system in 1995, which he had vehemently opposed in the past. Afterwards, he amended the constitution to contest for a third term of office, which was actually the fifth one from the time he captured power in 1986. To get the broad support from the MPs of the ruling NRM party for the apparently unpopular move, as is common knowledge, they were bribed with money. This opened a new chapter in Ugandan politics. President Museveni learnt that he can use money to make the MPs from the ruling NRM party do what he wants. This led to what happened on May 20, 2017, when the majority MPs mainly from NRM voted openly to remove the age limit from the Ugandan constitution so that President can remain in power possibly until death (life president like Amin had declared himself to be). It is not certainly known how much money they were given, but what is public knowledge is that they were bribed. To fool Ugandans, term limits were restored commencing from the next elections. If the constitution is being amended anytime President Museveni wishes, what will prevent him to remove the term limits when it is deemed necessary?

Meanwhile as President Museveni has clang on to power using immoral tactics, he has been implementing anti-people people policies (SAPs) derived from the Baker Plan made in 1985 (James A. 111, was the secretary to the secretary of the US in the Reagan administration) (see Peet, 2003: 77). When there is impeccable evidence that these policies were foreign-formulated, like President Museveni uses politics of deceit, on economic level, it was said that they were home grown (see Kutesa et al. 2010). However, despite the naked lie that they have led to rapid poverty reduction, these policies instead have impoverished and therefore made many Ugandans destitute - abantu bakowu as Walukagga’s popular song illustrates. It seems President Museveni is able to influence the MPs using money because the middle class he promised to build was killed by these policies.

To most people in Uganda, President Museveni, who has clung to power using immoral strategies, is solely responsible for the suffering they are experiencing. But when an analysis of what has been taking place in the world from a historical perspective, he has been influenced by the so-called modern international system he is operating under, which has adopted the immoral politics proposed by Machiavelli and later Hobbes. Most likely, it is this type of modernity, which removed morality from politics that has been used to make Mr. Museveni behave the way he has been doing. And this type of modernity is actually destroying the societies not only in Uganda but the whole world – poverty has increased in the US, which is the bastion of capitalism, encroaching on even the White middle class as the campaigns towards the recently concluded elections in that country revealed.

According to the logic of classical and neo-classical liberalism (ideology of capitalism), individuals are naturally selfish and therefore they owe nothing to society and society owes nothing to them. The classical capitalists conceived the individual “as essentially the proprietor of his own person or capacities, owing nothing to society for them. The individual was seen as neither a moral whole, nor as part of a larger social whole, but as an owner of himself” (Macpherson [1962] (1979: 3). To Margret Thatcher, who pioneered the ideology of neo-liberalism, “there is no such thing as society, only individuals and their families” (in Heywood 2002: 50). Most recently, Ronald Trump, the president of America (the hegemonic capitalistic power in the world), on selfish grounds of business interests, pulled out of the protocol intended to curb global warming. By implication, the propagators of individualism as a good value, do not mind about the environment, which is the source of livelihood for the people, being destroyed so long as they continue pursuing their selfish interests of making profits. This is callousness and according to African culture, the capitalists would be labeled and stigmatised as witches.

Considering the capitalistic ideology of individualism imposed on most countries of the South through the policies of neo-liberalism, is it surprising that there is rampant corruption in Uganda and that President Museveni recently asserted that he is in power primarily to serve his own interests? Most likely, he was assuring his Western friends that he was unwavering adherent of their ideology of individualism. This culture of individualism has been cultivated in Uganda and generally in the so-called developing countries (they are said to be developing because they trying to be like the West) through the commercialisation of the society in all aspects of life, misnamed modernisation. In Uganda, the commercialisation of agriculture promoted and heavily funded by the donors, was stepped up during the policies of neo-liberal reform.

When President Museveni stood firm and undemocratically pushed through the p

olicies of neo-liberalism, he was praised and described as a “benign dictator” (see for instance Whitworth and Williamson 2010: 34). Even if he was not practising multiparty democracy promoted by the West, it can be remembered that he was praised and described as a new breed of African leaders. This is typical of Western modernity. From what has been briefly revealed, although it is thought that capitalism is about the freedom to own private property and accumulate unlimited wealth under a market economy, it is much more than that. It can be said that it is sadistic chicanery to trap the people into danger so as to make them suffer as a game. This has been going on in the world for a very long time. The people were made suffer and starve, especially in Britain, during the process of the so-called social transformation vigorously pursued in Uganda. As a result of social transformation, the major industrial centres in Europe suffered great hardships in the nineteenth century because of unemployment brought about by massive youth migration to towns, as is currently happening in Uganda. As Adler et al. [1991] (2007 : 202) reveals, “London is said to have had at least 20,000 individuals who rose every morning without knowing how they were to be supported through the day or where they were to lodge on the succeeding night, and cases of death from starvation appeared in the coroner’s lists”.


To conceal the game of making people suffer under the so-called modernity of contemporary times, propaganda or ideological indoctrination is undertaken for controlling the thinking of the people so they cannot understand the cause of the predicament they find themselves in (see Peet 2003; Hill [1997] 2002; Cohn [2008] 2012). What Machiavelli preached for a ruler to be brutal and a skilled liar while pretending to be “a man of compassion, a man of good faith, a man of integrity, a kind and religious man” (Machiavelli 1999:54), has been adopted in the contemporary times.

The people are fooled and made to believe that their interests are being catered for when actually their opportunities for better living are diminishing, like President Museveni has done for a long time. He has deceived Ugandans that he is fighting poverty using schemes like prosperity for all - bona bagagawale, wealth creation etc), when actually he is impoverishing them. Apparently his unattractive activities are undertaken to please his global capitalistic masters who can remove him from power if he didn’t do what they wish. This is evidenced by the fact that he has implemented the policies he was originally opposed to, like the liberalisation of the economy (see The NRM Ten-point Programme n.d).

It appears Mr. Museveni could have been deliberately promoted by the West, well knowing that he is a megalomaniac, so that he can destroy all state institutions to cling on power and that when he eventually leaves, the centre cannot hold. Like there has been political instability where dictators have ruled their countries for long when they are ousted, Uganda might disintegrate when President Museveni eventually leaves the scene unless he bribes nature, like he has been doing to the MPs to remain in power, so that he cannot grow old and eventually die. Through the decentralisation policy that has been used to virtually turn every county a district in the name of bringing services to the people, he balkanised Uganda. Again using the logic of decentralisation, which stipulates that it is not only about transferring power from the centre to the lower local units but also to other constituents, he has restored the old kingdoms as well as creating many new hitherto unknown ones. As a result, through this policy, he has killed the national world outlook because the people’s attention is focussed on local issues. This parochial world outlook has been reinforced and worsened by the existence of local-based radios the people usually listen to.

To link the practice of making the people’s have a parochial world outlook with the modernity contemporary times, it should be noted that the policy of decentralisation was inherited from the colonial policy of divide and rule. It seems the decentralisation policy, which was promoted and supported by the so-called development partners through funding, this time round it was meant to divide and destroy. Predictably, when President Museveni eventually leaves the scene, with the people having no national consciousness, power struggle based on ethnic or tribal wars as we are witnessing in Iraq for instance, might erupt. It should be noted that Sadaam Hussein was a close ally of America before it turned against him. The policy of decentralisation and promoting President Museveni could have been a long-term strategy of modern Western forces to take over the land that the societies of Uganda have been occupying. To those who don’t know what the modern forces have ever done in the past elsewhere to commit genocide cannot believe it. But to those who are aware of it, it is now clear that a small group of people in the West can deliberately create conditions for people to suffer as a game of amusement, like hunters derive pleasure from killing wild animals. A recent experience of malice afterthought, are the structural adjustment programmes (SAPs) designed by a handful of individuals in America and imposed on the so-called developing countries, which have made the innocent people suffer as we have witnessed in Uganda.

It appears to me that the so-called developing countries, which were mainly created by the modern forces during colonialism, are actually being dismantled as the traditional societies are being killed as well. The phenomenon of failed or failing states has emerged in the world meanwhile what used to be stable communities in the so-called developing countries are disintegrating as is clearly evident in Uganda. Immorality and dishonesty (obuyaye) has penetrated society deeply even to rural areas as a result of commercialising of all activities using money- described by a local artiste as a terrorist (omutujju). But according to the supporters of neo-barbarianism, misnamed capitalism, moral degeneration is blamed on the individuals, not the evil forces of modernity. (The term neo-barbarianism is preferred because not all the owners of capital are interested in seeing the disadvantaged suffer. For instance, Engels, a capitalist, worked closely with Marx to propagate the ideology of socialism). It should be revealed that a market economy, not an ordinary economy using money as a unit of exchange, was created to perpetuate and spread the immorality of modern times. Actually it was created to force those who were not interested in continuously invading the poor peasants to dispossess them of their land and freedom to join the game of attacking others to accumulate unlimited wealth. According to the logic of Hobbes, the pioneer of the political philosophy of individualism, if those who are contented with what they have, without joining the game of competing ever more for the power of others (acquiring not only their possessions, like through land grabbing, but also using their labour by employing them), they risk lagging behind and losing what they have to those who continuously become richer and richer by dispossessing others (see Macpherson [1962] (1979: 59, 68). As a result of the politically created market society, which promotes the immorality of endless accumulation by dispossession, criminality increased in Britain (Sabine and Thorson [1973] (1978: 405). Is it surprising that immorality (obuyaye) has increased as we have adopted, or we were imposed on, the Western modernisation model of development?

Although the immoral modernity came up with sophisticated way of thinking, which led to the advancement of science and technology in the

world, whether by design or accident, it has not brought about improved wellbeing to the majority of the people. Instead it has stressed and made them suffer. The knowledge of science instead of helping the people, it is being used to oppress and kill them, as well as destroying the mother earth. Science and technology cannot and will not be beneficial to society unless there is justice in the world. The politics practised by the likes of President Museveni, under the immoral system of modernity, must stop first.

However, even if the modern forces of neo-barbarianism are to blame for the immorality going on in Uganda, Mr. Museveni is held responsible for his actions. If he were not interested in what he is doing, he would have left power long time ago to condemn what is going on in the world.

Ndinawe Byekwaso

University lecturer

Email: ndinaweb@gmail.com

Categories: Politics

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