Museveni in the 80sNRM which overthrew Okello regime in January 1986 has been in power for more than half of Uganda’s independence regained in October 1962. Since 1986, Uganda has been dominated by one individual – President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as head of state, head of government, chairman of NRM and commander in chief of Uganda armed forces. At the start of his administration, Museveni was also minister of defense, chairman of NRC (National Resistance Council) and chairman of NEC (National Executive Council).
Museveni handpicked Ugandans to help him (mis)govern the country. He disproportionately favored medical doctors including as prime minister, two vice presidents, minister of finance, minister of defense, minister of foreign affairs and minister of agriculture and animal industry. He also favored lawyers many of whom he went to Dar es Salaam University. They have included a vice president, three speakers of parliament, prime minister, first and two third deputy prime ministers and three ministers of foreign affairs. Museveni has also relied on members of his family that include “His brother, Gen. Caleb Akandwanaho, brother in law, Sam Kutesa, son Lt Col Kainerugaba Muhoozi, wife Janet Museveni and daughter Natasha Karugire among his family members to have held government posts” (NewAfrica October 31, 2010). Ambassadors to key missions have also come from Museveni relatives.
The professional group which Museveni would have needed the most given the sorry state of the economy in 1986 but has marginalized the most is the economists. Throughout his 26 years in power Museveni has relied on two Uganda economists: one started in the ministry of finance and later moved to the central bank, the other is still in the ministry of finance. Some have reasoned that Museveni ignored national economists because he has relied on economists provided by the IMF and World Bank directly or foreign economists funded by the two institutions and other donors. Sebastian Malaby (2004) in his book “The World’s Banker” has elaborated on this point. Tumusiime-Mutebile also observed that “in 1987 the government sought the assistance of the World Bank and IMF in designing and implementing an economic recovery program” (P. Langseth 1995 Page 2) thus eliminating the need to employ Uganda economists – sad but true.
Museveni came to power without much popular support (he even lost in the 1980 election). He therefore made a wide range of promises to win him support. The promises were contained in the ten point program which he extended to fifteen. They included:
1. Elimination of poverty, hunger, illiteracy, disease, corruption and sectarianism;
2. Enjoyment of free, fair, peaceful elections and human rights and freedoms;
3. Unifying the country and separating religion from politics;
4. Returning properties and institutions to previous owners;
5. Establishment of good neighborly or peaceful co-existence with neighbors
Sadly, none of these has been fulfilled.
Poverty eradication: Throughout his speeches at home and abroad, Museveni stated categorically that his government was not interested in poverty reduction. He underscored that he went to the bush to gain power with which to eradicate poverty from the face of Uganda. It’s now 26 years since he has been in power and absolute poverty is still over 50 percent.
Ending hunger, ignorance and disease: Museveni blamed his predecessors for failing to balance agricultural production to meet domestic needs and surplus for export to earn foreign exchange. It’s now twenty six years since he has been in power and some ten million Ugandans go to bed hungry every night. Undernourished mothers are producing underweight infants with permanent physical and mental disabilities if they survive. Because children are not eating enough they are developing smaller brain sizes than normal with all the negative implications that that entails. Primary school children are dropping out in large numbers partly because they don’t eat lunch and the government has consistently refused to support school lunch programs endorsed by NEPAD because school lunches improve attendance and performance especially of girls.
Education and healthcare systems are on the verge of collapse. Functional illiteracy is the order of the day. Children hospital wards are turning into hospices and maternal mortality is going through the roof. Regarding clothing, Museveni promised every Ugandans would be able to afford and wear shoes from Monday to Sunday. This hasn’t happened. Furthermore, Ugandans are still dressed in second hand clothes in a country that produces first class cotton and has factories, labor and energy to produce its own clothes.
Ending corruption and sectarianism: This was Museveni’s signature commitment. He vowed that he would see to it that corruption and sectarianism that had plagued Uganda economy and society are eliminated. What we have is a regime that is most corrupt and most sectarian in Uganda’s independence history.
Free, fair and peaceful elections: Museveni promised free, fair and peaceful elections held regularly so that Uganda citizens who are sovereign would choose their own representatives and hold them accountable for commissions and omissions. Museveni broke this promise at various levels. He refused to hold elections for ten years until 1996. He suspended political activities while he was building National Resistance Movement which he transformed into a party. He refused multi-party elections until forced by outside pressure.
Museveni refused establishment of an independent electoral commission to ensure a level playing field. All elections in 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011 have been rigged and conducted under conditions of intimidation and application of force. Let us consider two cases from Ntungamo and Rukungiri districts.
In an article titled “Voter riots in Museveni home district” Linda de Hoyer reported “In this environment, even the NRM is beginning to fracture. In the Ntungamo district of Ankole, Museveni’s birth-place, the government was forced by a growing political revolt of the Bairu ethnic majority in the district to send in the military to ‘keep law and order’ – that is, to enforce the vote for Museveni’s chosen candidate, a Hima Tutsi like Museveni himself. This also failed, with the Bantu candidate, Patrick Buriiku, winning. But no sooner were those results announced than Museveni deployed more troops to the scene and by the end of the week, the local election commission reported that Museveni’s candidate John Karazarwe had won by a measly 0.6% of the vote.
The result of this ruse was rioting throughout the district. By April 29, Museveni himself was forced to intervene, calling Karazarwe and all the candidates to his home [to cool things down]. … Although the violence has ended, the rift in the Movement has not abated” (EIR May 1998).
In Rukungiri district here is what happened in the campaign and elections of 2001. “When a constituency in which Museveni got 99.9 percent of the vote in the 1996 election was perceived to have switched to homeboy Besigye, Museveni’s elite guard which included his son, stepped in to wreak terror and grab voter’s cards in a house-to-house operation. One man was killed and several were injured. Museveni got the vote” (Business in Africa April 2001).
These are two places Museveni has claimed to be his home districts, yet he has to use armed intervention, kill a citizen, injure others and grab voter cards of opposition supporters to be able to secure a vote. Let us also remember that in 1980 elections Museveni lost to Sam Kutesa. One can conclude that Museveni doesn’t have much support in the western region which played an insignificant role in his coming to power in 1986. Most of his support came from Buganda and Tutsi mercenaries.
Ending disunity in Uganda: Museveni came to power determined to unite Ugandans that had been divided by previous leaders along religious, regional and ethnic lines.
However, in the process of so-called decentralization to bring resources and authority closer to the people, Museveni has divided the country into over 100 uneconomic districts virtually along tribal lines.
As reported by Ellen Hauser “Uganda is a more divided country today  than it was when the NRM came to power in 1986. Corruption is rampant, and regionalism and ethnicity continue to be the usual means of determining who gets what in the political and economic arenas” (The Journal of Modern African Studies 1999).
Returning property and institutions: The 1967 constitution abolished kingdoms. Many Ugandans and corporations were deprived of their properties including land through nationalization of the economy, expulsion of the Asian community and grabbing of resources including land. Museveni decided to return them to previous owners or in the case of land resettle them somewhere else. The kingdoms were restored except one. In the case of the latter kingdom commentators have reasoned that two bulls can’t occupy the same hill. The stronger prevailed and the weaker gave way but was vastly in other ways and the matter closed. In another case restoration was partial and demands for return of federo and 9,000 square miles of land etc are still being made. Baganda believe that they sacrificed a lot in property destroyed and loss of some 700,000 souls during the five year guerrilla war (Africa Events March 1986).
Peaceful co-existence among neighbors unfulfilled: Museveni promised that he would not transfer his revolution to neighboring countries. Museveni supported SPLA guerrilla activities in southern Sudan; RPF invasion of Rwanda beginning in 1990; a military coup in Burundi in 1993 and invasion of Zaire/DRC in 1996/97 and 1998/99 respectively. Here is one illustration of Museveni involvement in removing Bantu presidents from power in Burundi and Rwanda.
“The destruction of Rwanda begins not with the April 6, 1994 murder of President Juvenal Habyarimana, but with the … invasion of Rwanda by the top echelons of the Uganda army in October 1990. According to one source in Kampala, 95% of the RPF was in the Uganda army. And Museveni’s National Resistance Army (NRA), … is the source of supplies and money for the RPF. The leaders of the RPF are identical to the top echelons of the Uganda army: Uganda minister of defense was the RPF’s [Fred Rwigyema]; Paul Kagame, the current defense minister of Rwanda under the RPF, was head of intelligence and counterintelligence in the Uganda Army; the RPF’s Chris Bunyenyezi was the former commanding officer of the NRA’s 306th Brigade, notorious for the atrocities committed against Uganda’s Teso.
Museveni also had a hand in the Oct. 23, 1993 coup against Burundi President Melchior Ndadaye, whose election had ended 31 years of Tutsi military rule in Burundi. According to some sources, Museveni planned the coup in a meeting in Entebbe which included the RPF’s Paul Kagame” (EIR November 1994).
This and other stories I have published are based on my many years of researching, listening, observing, reading, visiting and consulting with many sources in and outside the Great Lakes region. I have been strategically placed to access a lot of information from which I have drawn this and other stories you have read. I felt I should share this information with you so that you are able to determine how we should approach the next fifty years and beyond. I urge you to express your substantive opinions in a civil manner with recommendations to make Uganda a better place than it has been in the last fifty years.
Let me end the story this way as I have done many times before: I don’t indulge in private and personal matters of Ugandans and others. I focus on public policies, strategies and programs and provide evidence and references to back up my position. Telling the truth requires courage because you are bound to incur the wrath of someone who could behave irresponsibly and regret when it is too late.
Additionally, I believe very strongly that Uganda belongs to all Ugandans and I support peaceful means of resolving differences in the first instance. Therefore I am totally against using force to remove the failed NRM regime from power unless in self defense. NRM will implode through constant and concerted attrition. All we need to do in the opposition is to come together under capable, courageous, patriotic and experienced leadership with impeccable character, tested and transparent record of public and/or private service.
UDU under which I am writing is not a shadowy organization. It is transparent and vocal with a National Recovery Plan (NRP) as substitute for the failed NRM policies. For more information visit www.udugandans.org