Ugandan Diaspora News | Letter from the Editor | April 2014 | Museveni/Mbabazi falling out and what it means for Uganda

Posted April 1, 2014 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Editorial ~ 4,848 views


Dear Readers,

What a month March has been! For those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere this was perhaps the worst winter in decades but it was also a hive of activity for Ugandan politics. For now I will limit myself to discussing the ongoing impasse between the President and his Prime Minister and what it means for democracy in Uganda. We have been told by various party leaders that there is NO rift, but underneath there is a brewing tsunami as volleys of counter accusations and arrests have been made recently.

All this on the heels of what was a month of negative reporting on Uganda by the Western press as news wires were awash with stories of Uganda’s anti-gay laws. Amazingly, the West is tight-lipped as the civil liberties of Ugandans are violated daily through the use of draconian laws and heavy handed policing of those with dissenting views from the Movement government. Someone rightly put it — For our Western ‘saviors’ issues of civil liberties and political freedoms are for Ugandans to decide, but issues of homosexuality are for them to determine! (Based on the international interest/reaction to Uganda following the passing of the anti-gay legislation).

I like to consider myself an optimist who will always look to the better side of things. However of recent I have become a skeptic and here is why: last year General Tinyefunza – Sejjusa fled the country after releasing a dossier that was published in the press that was critical of the NRM government. Prior to his departure he had been the Coordinator of National Intelligence. Also last year we saw some NRM young Turks–or call them vocal rebel MPs–expelled from their party for what was described as party indiscipline. The Ssekikubo, Tinkasimire, Nsereko and Niwagaba lot represented firebrands of NRM politicians that wanted to effect change within the ruling party that was increasingly becoming authoritarian. The latest has been a  rumor of the postponement of the 2016 elections for God knows what — but again all things start as rumors on social media that then get confirmed in the Ugandan press – remember the term limit debate back in the day!

Fast forward to the NRM caucus meeting in Kyankwanzi and then you will agree with me that this move to nip any Presidential aspirants out of the running and effectively ring fence the Presidency was like something that played out of a movie script. Reading the commentaries that followed you will appreciate how and why it caught the Prime Minister off guard and took so many by surprise. A senior politician and Secretary General of a ruling party was humiliated by junior party members. Apparently the Kyankwanzi Meet was meant, among other things, to address party loyalty and check indiscipline among members — this time not jumping the queue but those who felt their turn had finally arrived. For a party founded on the principle of fundamental change a lot has changed since the NRM and its 10 point program were ushered into power in 1986. Some believe that NRM party structures are now fully funded by the State as NRM caucus meetings are now held at the national Political Training School in Kyankwanzi and State House Entebbe fully funded by the tax payer. It has also emerged, in not so many words, that considering a run for the Presidency within the movement structure is now a criminal offence!

The Kyankwanzi episode proved the old adage – when two elephants fight the grass will indeed suffer. This is the scenario unfolding before our very eyes. There is a growing fear of how this standoff will end, now that the Inspector General of Police has also been sucked into the ongoing NRM partisan politics. Let us not forget that the mobilizing of three or more individuals is now an offence if you have no police permission to meet. In my view this so-called Kyankwanzi approach was a cowardly move, given that NRM was a strong party with a clear majority in Parliament. The recent maneuvers and caucusing outside Parliament and the correct party forums reflect a government that is increasingly undemocratic/autocratic and bent on silencing all voices of internal dissent.

Equally surprising have been the headlines of the various dailies. Monitor and Observer have led and reported on the Museveni/Mbabazi falling out with some degree of detail. New Vision, Uganda’s leading daily with the largest circulation, on the other hand, has been largely lukewarm/absent from the discussion, leaving many in the court of public opinion with the false impression of how free state institutions are of partisan control. One particular institution that looks like an extension of the NRM government programs has been the nationally funded UBC national broadcaster. One would have thought that following CHOGM this national broadcaster was ready to take on the same standards as say SABC in South Africa, but even with all government support this national television was hugely mismanaged and continues to lag behind privately-owned little-funded stations as an extension and mouth piece of the NRM government. Hopefully the newly instituted UBC Board will put an end to this practice.

However, back to NRM internal politics– there is growing fear that the party might implode. Kenya’s turning point came in 2007 with the election that ended in chaos. The divisions within the NRM ruling party should be a wake up call and the writing is on the wall. With a young population and rising unemployment we need to focus on service delivery and open the political space to allow free and fair competition and the long overdue electoral reforms. Ring fencing powerful positions or only allowing a few to contest might create a pressure cooker scenario and lead to an explosive situation. The former Vice President and several other players who left the NRM alluded to mafia-like tendencies within the party and now the Prime Minister and his wife seem to display similar sentiments, especially given Mrs. Mbabazi’s recent dossier in the Ugandan press. Uganda is slowly evolving into a Presidential monarchy with a Supreme leader and he alone has the power to determine Uganda’s political future. Of course contrary to the tenets he preached in his book — a must read, “Sowing the Mustard Seed – The Struggle for Freedom and Democracy in Uganda” !

As the count down to 2016 begins and the Executive requests funding to help promote and spread its brand of Patriotism, it is time for Parliament to also step up to the plate as true patriots. There are so many Ugandans at heart out there and no amount of training can cause us to embrace “their” patriotism because the love of country is in-born.  True patriotism should begin with our missions/embassies, Parliamentarians, government officials and civil servants, most of whom are just there enjoying the emoluments that allow them to milk the system dry. If you were to ask today how many government officials pay tax for their goods and services entering the country you would be surprised. We also need to see an end to corruption and nepotism which kill a sense of nationalism among many. Today our passport is one of the easiest travel documents to acquire and abuse. In my view, patriotism needs to start with government and the support of its institutions only then shall we see a fundamental change in our attitude as a people. We need to support our hospitals, athletes, the football teams – Uganda Cranes and overhaul the school system so school going children start with a Pledge of Allegiance to the Republic–only then shall we see a change–not when we go to Parliament to request another billion shillings of taxpayer money that only benefits party faithfuls.

As I conclude let us remember that Democracy — has been defined in part as a government of the people, by the people and for the people. The failure to groom a successor after almost 30 years in power is President Museveni’s biggest undoing. Fellow Ugandans its time to stand up and hold our leaders accountable to their visions and the freedoms we the people were promised many years ago!

“The difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election while the statesman think about the next generation”  ― Hillary Rodham Clinton

For God and My Country

Ronnie Mayanja

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About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

One Comment

    Edwin Busuulwa

    Hi editorial, am a Ugandan living in Pretoria, south Africa. however, am not satisfied with the covering of issues about Ugandans in south Africa if am told u ever did. as your theme of “Ugandans outside Uganda stands”, please let it be. because if am mistaken, south Africa is one of those top five countries harboring a bigger number of Ugandans, but it never been covered at all in your publications.


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