Opinion | Museveni Politics of Deception Laundered Clean by Elections – By Moses Khisa

Posted March 19, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Featured ~ 3,496 views


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Weekly Observer — On Wednesday The Observer published a detailed, but by no means exhaustive, list of President Museveni’s election pledges over the last three election cycles. Only a few have materialized. Whereas it is possible to genuinely fail to honour pledges, many unfulfilled promises are borne of deceptive politics, a hallmark of Museveni’s three-decade rule.

The biggest lie was in the 2001 manifesto, in which the president said he was seeking reelection for his last term in office, to complete the process of professionalizing the army and end the rebellion in the north. But the deception did not begin in 2001; it started in earnest in 1986, with a phantom promise of fundamental change that has increasingly become fundamental decay and stagnation.

In the recent weeks, we have heard two equally deceptive pronouncements: first, we are told that the president controls all the resources in the country and whoever wants development should not elect opposition leaders. Second, that corrupt civil servants are to blame for the appalling state of basic public services.

Blatant abuse of office and outright theft of public funds has been integral to the NRM rule since the early years. At a press conference at Entebbe airport in 1989, Philip Wafula Oguttu, then editor of the Weekly Topic, informed Museveni that there were people in his government using their positions for personal aggrandizement.

“Where is the evidence?” Museveni retorted.
“They are living lives and owning property not commensurate with their official income,” Oguttu countered.

Museveni’s concluding remark was that he could only take action if he got concrete evidence. Although it’s difficult to be deceptively consistent, General Museveni has been remarkably consistent on this issue: there is corruption in his government but he has no evidence to punish the corrupt! Yet the name of his brother, the powerful General Salim Saleh, keeps popping up in one corruption scandal after another.

In the past few weeks, Saleh’s name has appeared in two parliamentary reports on big-money scandals in the coffee sector and at the Microfinance Support Center. If Museveni’s current rhetoric about corruption is not just cheap and deceptive talk, will he tell the nation what he has done about his brother’s seemingly-endless involvement in government deals that ultimately end in scandal?

To be fair, the president took action in the case of the 1999 junk helicopter scandal. Only that the action the president took was to forgive Saleh for taking a stupendous bribe of $800,000!

While the gimmickry about fighting corruption has been around for a while, there is a new lie being peddled effortlessly and aggressively: that the president owns all public resources in the country and whoever wants development must go to him! The president made this ludicrous claim during the Busia district chairmanship by-election, and again in Bugiri.

That a head of state can utter such a canard, not once but repeatedly at public rallies, and he gets away with it is testimony to how Museveni despises Ugandans and has utter contempt for the people he supposedly serves.

Elsewhere, such an outrageous statement generates public disapproval and civic protest. In Uganda, the masses applaud, while sections of the intelligentsia will even rationalize it. Others will maintain the usual indifference. And life goes on.

The intelligentsia and the political class are the biggest culprits here. Instead of telling Museveni pointedly that he has no resources of his own to dispense, they are busy falling on each other going to State House to do their own begging. We have tales of indebted MPs and religious leaders begging the chief. University lecturers too; and even an institution as powerful as the Mengo government!

In the end, General Museveni remains fully persuaded that he not only has the vision for Uganda, but also has the overriding ownership of the country: it used to be his army (it still is), then came his oil, and now we are told he controls all the money .

In a recent interview with The Observer, the chairman of the Electoral Commission told the world that he has to lobby the president because it’s him who is the real minister of finance!

You would expect that someone heading such a crucial and supposedly-independent institution as the elections management body would take pride in the fact that his is a constitutionally-mandated body. Thus, he has no business begging for money from someone who at any rate will soon be a player in a game where he is the ultimate umpire. But not in Uganda.

Let’s face it, dear fellow compatriots: we are living in a chiefdom ruled by a disdainful military chief, General Museveni. Ours is not a modern state under a responsible and respectful president.

But the chief can do all of us a great service by ending the pretence of elections and multiparty politics. Mr President, it is not enough to be crowned ‘sole candidate.’ Just declare yourself life president, abolish the constitution, elections and opposition, then you can own all the money and give it to whoever you like without being lobbied! Elections are inconveniencing you…

The author is a PhD  candidate in Political Science at Northwestern University, Evanston/Chicago-USA.

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


    Hmm hmm say nomore, UG in a nutshell! I dream of a Uganda For the people by the people of the people of the people

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