Those Who Break Promises Lose Trust and Get Punished

By Eric Kashambuzi

In behavioral economics trust is an important concept. People feel good when dealing with people they trust and are trusted. “This feeling is related to the positive stimuli they get from trusting engagements. … People also tend to get high on punishing others, but they most enjoy punishing those who have betrayed them. They enjoy punishing individuals who have breached their trust or behaved unfairly. … This type of punishment [which is referred to] as reciprocal punishment, is payback for perceived behavior” (Morris Altman 2012).

In Uganda Museveni and his NRM government has broken many promises entered into with the people of Uganda during and after the guerrilla war of 1981-85. In 1985, a year before NRM captured power in 1986 Museveni published a ten point program that included introduction of democracy through free and fair elections and good governance; observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms; ending corruption and sectarianism; restoration of people’s sovereignty and ending suffering in Uganda through providing infrastructure and social institutions and services.
Museveni further promised restoration of what was lost when Obote abolished the independence constitution including kingdoms, federalism and properties such as land. Asians were promised restoration of their properties. Because it is believed that the Democratic Party (DP) was robbed of victory in the 1980 elections, promise or impression was made that upon ousting UPC and Obote II from power, DP would form the next government with a Catholic president. Not least, Museveni promised law and order, peace and individual security broadly defined including food and job security etc and good neighborly relations.

It is now 26 years since Protestant Museveni became president instead of a Catholic president as promised. DP which was supposed to recover and dominate Uganda politics following ousting of Protestant backed Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) has instead been systematically strangled and badly weakened. Chances of Catholics earning the presidency are becoming remote by the day as Museveni grooms his son to take over at the appropriate time. That Museveni believes Catholics are firmly on his side with no viable alternative can be deduced by comparing the gifts he gives to Protestant and Catholic bishops on their installation. Because he needs Protestants bishops who are UPC supporters more than Catholic bishops he already has in his camp, Museveni gives Protestant bishops Pajero (four wheel drive) vehicles and gives a cow or two to Catholic bishops. This clearly represents a promise made with Catholics and then broken thereby endangering trust Museveni has with DP Catholic supporters. Appointing Catholic vice presidents and to other senior positions won’t compensate for failure to have a Catholic president. The promise was breached.

Buganda was promised restoration of federo as confirmed by Sam Njuba. This deal was reached between Museveni and the soon-to-be Kabaka of Buganda in London. It is now more than 26 years and the promise is fading from NRM memory although Buganda keeps reminding Museveni. This is a promise that won’t be delivered because Museveni believes in absolute power and federalism by definition means sharing power between national and provincial or local governments. Any other arrangement, however sweetened, won’t deliver federo. It is also for this reason of absolute power that Museveni denied Bahinda of Ankole their kingdom because Museveni who hails from Ankole can’t share power or be below another leader in Ankole. As they say two bulls don’t occupy the same hill. Ankole is Museveni’s hill. It should also be noted that restoration of kingdoms is limited to cultural affairs, leaving Museveni in full control of Uganda at the political level.

Museveni was very clear about restoration of land to its owners. This included Mailo and forest lands in Buganda. At the same time he promised his Tutsi guerrillas that he would get them land and land in Buganda is more preferable because of closeness to the market and developed infrastructure to move goods in and out of farms. In 1989 a complaint was lodged with Museveni about land grabbing and in 1990 a decision was made that Tutsi should not own land in Uganda. This handicap was overcome in the 1995 constitution that allowed Ugandans to settle and own land anywhere in the country and use their local languages (by the way we are told that many contentious articles in the constitution were adopted without a quorum as many members abstained. This is something to bear in mind when we are revisiting the constitution which is a living instrument subject to revision and updating). This was meant to accommodate Tutsi who speak local languages including Lukiga and Kifumbira.

Professionals including Apollo Nsibambi also wrote advocating privatization of land and allowing people from densely populated areas to settle in low densely settled areas including in Buganda and Bunyoro and Toro. These new settlers are officially described as Bakiga but they are Tutsi. Mayanja Nkangi was appointed Uganda’s land commissioner with responsibilities possibly including facilitation of new settlers.

The nomadic nature of Tutsi has enabled them to settle in all parts of Uganda where they have consciously adopted local languages and local names. Museveni through his agents has traced where Tutsi have settled and in dividing Uganda into tiny districts he is trying to give them areas where they have critical mass to influence political decisions through representatives in parliament and district councils. With financial backing, Tutsi are winning elections at national and district levels and influencing decisions in their favor. Many Ugandans who have read Museveni’s mind incorrectly believe he is empowering them to take care of their affairs. The truth of the matter is that Museveni is marginalizing and impoverishing indigenous Ugandans who are losing more land including through expansion of municipal boundaries that automatically transfers land ownership from peasants to municipal councils that dish it out to the rich or who have access to credit facilities who are mostly Tutsi. Ugandans are further hoodwinked by believing that Museveni is creating more representatives in parliament to better represent constituents’ interests. Museveni is pushing Tutsi into all branches of Uganda public and private life. Having them in parliament and in district councils has helped Museveni to implement his plan of “Tutsifying” Uganda which is his principal and ultimate objective and to be used as a base in pursuit of Tutsi Empire initially in the Great Lakes region. This is not conspiracy theory. It is real.
Those Ugandans benefiting from NRM government or marrying Tutsi women to gain entry to state house are refusing to see the writing on the wall and don’t seem to care about the future of their country and children which is very sad indeed. They are investing in themselves and not in the future of their children. We hope that when the chips are down they won’t claim that they didn’t understand what Museveni was up to and shouldn’t be held accountable. We are now telling you what Museveni is up to you either desert him or you will be held accountable according to the law of the land.
We warn especially those dishing out peasant land to rich buyers through various ways to be very careful. The hand of the law won’t miss you. It is time to adjust because every commission or omission has consequences. We are risking our and our families’ lives at home and abroad to tell you. I trust Ugandans at home and abroad understand the difficult conditions under which we are working – very dangerous conditions indeed. For me it is better to die in the struggle for a public cause than in private and comfortable silence.

Museveni promised quantity and quality education and healthcare as well as good jobs and food and nutrition security. He promoted a few women so they would fight for the interests of more women including drastic reduction in maternal mortality and getting good education, jobs and income. Museveni blamed previous governments for degrading the environment and promised he would re-grow hair on Uganda bald hills and restore wetlands. The record shows that Museveni hasn’t delivered on any of these promises. And he has been in power for 26 years. He has done much talking largely blaming his predecessors and formulated development programs for public consumption with little or no implementation.

The SAP which was his signature macroeconomic policy with foreign full backing crumbled and was buried in 2009. Museveni lost the will to develop a viable alternative and Uganda is being governed without guidelines because the five year development plan which was adopted as replacement of SAP hasn’t been implemented as advised by the prime minister not too long ago. It is not surprising that economic growth has dropped from 10 percent in mid-1990s to some three percent currently. Because of allegations that Uganda was involved in genocide of Hutu in DRC and in M23 invasion of North Kivu of DRC, Museveni has also lost his recognition as a regional peacemaker.

Museveni is now confronted with so many challenges including the potential NRM implosion and succession struggle, economic crisis and associated non-violent dissent through demonstrations and strikes that are depressing the economy further as well as political and military turbulence in DRC that has tarnished his image in the regional and international community and is embarrassing his external staunch supporters.

Impoverished people and school dropouts are producing babies faster than the economy can absorb. Uganda porous borders are letting more people in than are going out. The result is population ‘explosion’ which foreign experts or their Uganda surrogates falsely believe can be contained by contraception alone. Rapid population growth ahead of economic growth is suppressing per capita income and spreading and deepening poverty and associated ills. That is what NRM is harvesting after 26 years in power with generous donor support and remittances by Ugandans in the diaspora. What this tells us is that there is a serious leadership deficit in the “Pearl of Africa”.
Use of force doesn’t seem to be a solution.

The more Ugandans are tortured and tear gassed the more they resolve to dissent. The wives of police officers have been demonstrating for a while because their husbands are not paid and families are in bad shape. Some police and military officers are beginning to question the wisdom of suppressing the will of the people and diverting public funds into private pockets. Some are resigning in protest and others are being dismissed. Frequent reshuffles in security forces are an indication of the potential revolt.

Religious leaders and development partners have also raised their voices about human suffering and excessive corruption and misuse of public funds including donations for development purposes. NRM is now on the defensive and has no time for planning the future of Uganda. Museveni’s recent visit to Russia and the statement he made there has given mixed signals. Is he losing western support or is he warning them that if they desert him he has an alternative in Russians?

In an attempt to prevent a catastrophe, UDU has provided an alternative blue print for Uganda’s recovery and sustained development and offered it to NRM for implementation with UDU advice under appropriate arrangements but no response has been received. UDU has also suggested that Uganda needs a fresh start through establishment of a transitional government of all stakeholders that would prepare for a free and fair multi-party elections based on a level playing field that would include an independent electoral commission and standardized campaign finance. UDU has gained recognition through its excellent recovery plan, civic education and diplomatic networking. UDU was represented at the London conference on federalism and presented papers.

We have signaled interest to participate in the working committee to be established shortly and we are working more closely with Uganda federation confederates. UDU representatives are appearing on media programs to articulate its program. We call on the international community to extend a helping hand in this noble effort.
For the sake of laying a strong foundation for Uganda in the 21st century let all Ugandans come together at this moment of crisis. A beginning was made in London on October 27, 2012 when Ugandans from all parts and all walks of life debated federalism and agreed to set up a national working committee to consult with all Ugandans at home and abroad and then convene a national convention to agree on the way forward. Let 2013 be a watershed year and a year defined more by action than words.

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