People who know Museveni well will tell you that during his secondary education life he exhibited restless rather than leadership behavior. Two developments appear to have disoriented him fundamentally in the late 1950s and early 1960s. First, during negotiations for Uganda’s independence, Bahororo (Museveni is a Muhororo) of Ankole demanded a separate district to recover part of former Mpororo kingdom. Bahima refused. It is believed that in retaliation, Museveni, as president, has refused restoration of Ankole kingdom. Second, Bairu’s political ascendancy in Ankole kingdom as independence approached was disturbing. Until then Bairu had been treated like slaves by Bahima and Bahororo. Bairu – a term coined by Bahima according to Speke (1863, 2006) – means slaves.
Realizing that numerically, Bahororo are insignificant and could not change Bairu’s political trajectory democratically, Museveni opted for a military solution: to stop Bairu’s political advance and restore Bahororo’s lost glory. His military participation in the overthrow of Amin was supposed to catapult him to Uganda’s presidency in 1980 election which he lost. He used the excuse of rigged 1980 elections which had been certified by the Commonwealth Observer team (which he has used to certify his rigged elections since 1996) to start a devastating guerrilla war. Museveni was aware that he would not win the next elections – hence the military option.
The return to power of Obote considered a socialist leader of UPC disturbed western capitalist interests that decided he had to go as in January 1971. Museveni was chosen as their surrogate in Uganda and the rest of the Great Lakes region (Peter Phillips 2006). He received open backing from Britain during and after the war. Supporters have included Linda Chalker, William Pike, Paul Collier and Tiny Rowlands. He became president in January 1986 with three principal missions: (1) rapid promotion of Bahororo dominance; (2) imperial expansion in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region that would result in a Tutsi Empire; (3) major damage to the rest of Uganda through military, economic and other instruments to forestall resistance to Bahororo dominance.
Let us start with Bahororo dominance. Museveni convened a meeting of Bahororo leaders from Ntungamo and Rukungiri districts at his Rwakitura residence on March 15, 1992. After prayers led by former Anglican Bishop of Rukungiri (North Kigezi) Diocese, Bahororo discussed a wide range of things which can be compressed into one point: Bahororo dominance of Uganda for at least 50 years through education, economic, political and military empowerment at the expense of others based on a zero-sum game. Bahororo would attend the best schools and get the best health services in Uganda and/or abroad, dominate the private sector, strategic public institutions especially those connected with security, finance, foreign affairs and recently oil. Quality health and education services would be provided through private facilities since Bahororo would be rich enough to pay for those services. The report of the meeting has been circulated widely.
Museveni’s second mission is to establish a Tutsi Empire with himself as the first emperor. On April 4, 1997, Museveni stated that his “Mission is to see that Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, and Zaire/DRC become federal [imperial] states under one nation [and one leader]” (EIR Special Report 1997). Somalia may be added on with Museveni’s military involvement there.
The third mission which he does not mention openly but can be deduced from his actions is weakening and marginalizing the rest of the population by destroying institutions and means of livelihood through military and a wide range of other tools. The balance of the article will focus on this unspoken mission.
By conducting his destructive guerrilla war in the most developed southern part of Uganda (Luwero Triangle), and not providing adequate resources for reconstruction and full recovery, Buganda’s advancement has been dealt a severe blow. Months of demonstrations at parliament by Luwero people seeking assistance to rehabilitate their area ended up in failure.
The more than twenty years of rebel war in northern and eastern Uganda gave Museveni an opportunity to cripple the two regions. Many people have died and others herded into camps. The economic base including livestock was destroyed and many years of education lost. The war ended in 2008 only after the international community forced Museveni who wanted it to continue until total military victory regardless of how long it would take and at what cost. It will take these areas decades to regain what they have lost.
In western Uganda which did not experience much military destruction, Museveni has used other means. Exploiting structural adjustment conditionality – inflation control at the expense of employment; high interest rates to control the quantity of money in circulation at the expense of borrowing and investing in labor-saving enterprises; currency devaluation that raised the price of imports including farming and industrial inputs; privatization of public enterprises that resulted in massive retrenchment of workers; export diversification that included foodstuffs traditionally for domestic consumption; and balanced budget that resulted in retrenchment of civil servants, elimination of subsidies and introduction of user charges especially in education and health – Museveni began the destruction of the area that is home to Bairu and other Bantu people.
Many schools were closed and others downgraded from secondary to primary level and school fees and health charges were introduced that drove many children out of school and patients away from hospitals and dispensaries. Museveni has refused to provide school lunches when he full well knows that they keep children in school and improve performance especially of girls. A parent who refuses to feed his children and chooses to sell food to others so they can feed their children is not normal. Museveni as father of the nation has failed the children of Uganda. Consequently 80 percent of primary school children drop out of school every year while Museveni continues to boast that he has given Uganda children free education at primary which he has extended to secondary level. This is not only an insult to Uganda’s children but to their parents as well. Conditions and terms of service for teachers at all levels have deteriorated forcing many to quit teaching. Instructional materials have been scarce everywhere made worse by corruption which Museveni has tolerated. At the same time many teaching colleges were closed. Consequently, the majority of graduates are functionally illiterate and unemployable. Over 80 percent of Uganda youth are unemployed. Those who are working are earning at or below subsistence level. Thus schools have become institutions that graduate functionally illiterate people. Hospitals have largely become hospices (where sick people go to die) as reported vividly by a nurse in the children’s ward at Mulago Hospital. Rt. Rev. Edward Muhima, Bishop of North Kigezi Diocese (Rukungiri district) recently (December 2010) spoke eloquently on institutional decay with reference to Mulago hospital and Makerere University.
Museveni knows that beans and fish are the main source of protein for low income families. The British colonial administration must be commended for developing Uganda fisheries for providing an affordable source of protein for low income households. Museveni has deliberately targeted beans and fish for export thus depriving many Ugandans a source of protein which has resulted in eating too much cassava and maize/corn without adequate nutrient supplements. The outcome has been a significant increase in neurological abnormalities and insanity. Stress has added to insanity which is reported to be increasing in Uganda. Bahororo derive their proteins from dairy products including meat and milk available in sufficient quantities but beyond the means of poor consumers.
Those of you that have followed economic development processes will have realized that Museveni is good at commissioning policy studies and programs such as the modernization of agriculture, poverty reduction action plan, industrial policy and national plan of action for nutrition etc. While these documents have been applauded for their quality, their implementation has remained very low, if at all. Some of them have been revised and updated regularly but never implemented. Agriculture and rural development that cater to some 90 percent of Ugandans receive about three to four percent of national budget instead of ten percent as agreed at the AU Summit in 1993 in Maputo, Mozambique. Peasant farmers are being enticed to sell their land and drift into towns where they won’t find jobs given their functional illiteracy. Cooperatives that served peasants relatively well were eliminated while road maintenance was neglected to the extent that private transport companies are unwilling to go to remote areas. Mobile phones alone which Museveni mentions all the time as a major achievement in economic and social development cannot force trucks to collect agricultural produce in impassable areas. Besides, mobile phones are so costly that they have become a drain on meager resources of many users.
All in all, after 25 years in power, Museveni’s Uganda is experiencing high levels of poverty: over 50 percent live below the poverty line of $1.25 while 20 percent in the lowest income bracket have become poorer (those 20 percent in the top income bracket including majority of Bahororo have become so rich that they talk in millions of USA dollars. Sam Njuba described Bahororo greed graphically in a recent interview in one of the local newspapers. Major General Jim Muhwezi’s (former police officer) exceptionally huge country home is a glaring example of Bahororo greed and insensitivity!).
The diseases of poverty are increasing including those that had disappeared like jiggers and scabies (European experts are in Uganda to help deal with jiggers! This shows how desperate Uganda has become under Museveni’s misrule!). Lack of water and soap has resulted in reduced bathing and increased repellent body odors. Moral standards have broken down as families try to make ends meet. Some wives are engaging in sex work with full knowledge of husbands and some parents are marrying off their teenage daughters to put food on the table. Human sacrifice has increased in part as Ugandans try to get out of the poverty trap. Some have sold so much land that they do not have a place to construct a latrine! Theft of food in gardens, coffee cherries and livestock at night has become a serious investment deterrent. Domestic workers cannot be trusted. Infant mortality (a measure of a country’s progress) and maternal mortality have increased. The standard of sanitation is appalling. Environmental degradation has alarmed FAO and other interested parties yet Museveni does not seem to take the warning seriously.
With poor feeding mothers are producing underweight children with permanent physical and mental disabilities, brain development which takes place during the first three years of human life from conception is being impaired due to inadequate nutrition, child malnutrition under five years of age is at an alarming level of 40 percent (under-nourished children become stunted and cannot learn well) while some ten out of 33 million Ugandans go to bed hungry every night. The sad part is that Museveni is fully aware of these adverse developments but that is part of his strategy to strangle Ugandans so that Bahororo have an easy ride over the next fifty years as rulers of Uganda. Museveni has explained these challenges as the fault of Ugandans who are basically lazy.
Everyone at home and abroad is in agreement that at this rate of retrogression, Uganda is fast approaching a steep cliff. To stop the country from going down there is only one solution: defeating Museveni in 2011 elections. Ugandans must muster courage for the sake of their children led by all Uganda Faith leaders and have another occupant of State House. While prayers and complaints are necessary, they are not a sufficient condition to remove Museveni from power. The courage of the Rt. Rev. Edward Muhima, Bishop of North Kigezi (Rukungiri district where poverty is rampant and where Major General Jim Muhwezi’s immense house is located and he is an MP of Rujumbura constituency) should be emulated throughout the country. By his courage Bishop Muhima has earned a place for himself and his descendants in the history of Uganda and indeed of the world for openly challenging a military dictator.
Those leaders at home and abroad who will sustain Museveni in power to continue the suffering of the people of Uganda beyond February 2011 will be held accountable on earth and prevented from entering the Kingdom of Heaven!