Gen. Yoweri Museveni: Anatomy Of an Absolute Tyrant

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Gen. Museveni.

[Letter From Gulu]

In the last two weeks, we have been writing about the character of Uganda's $750 million per year U.S.-financed dictator of 31 years Gen. Yoweri Museveni and the impact of his rule on our land.

We started by analyzing how Gen. Museveni deceived all his comrades and the people of Uganda to stay in power for over three decades now. Then, we examined the destructive impact of his rule on our nation. This week, we continue examining the impact and legacy of Gen. Museveni’s rule on his contemporaries, our generation and the generation before us.When we were in High School, I think it was our history teacher who told us that there was a philosopher who opined that when one wants to rule a people for a long time, they should do one of two things. One should make those he or she is ruling extremely rich or extremely poor. When one makes those he or she is ruling rich, they will forget about political power and live comfortable lives in enjoyment of their wealth.

On the other hand, when one makes those he or she is ruling extremely poor, it becomes very easy to manage them because they won’t have the capacity to think and organize to seize political power.

Gen. Museveni perfected the latter approach. A good student of Niccolo Machiavelli, he uses deception as the main tool to achieve the objective of impoverishing all Ugandans so as to rule till death. Like Machiavelli once said, “The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.” Gen. Museveni would make promises he knew he would never honor as long as they served the purpose of regime survival.

Museveni has reduced almost all Ugandans – from government ministers, members of parliament, civil servants, security personnel to religious leaders, traditional leaders, civil society, into beggars whose life stream is wholly dependent on his whims and crumbs from the State. We are a country of barely-survivors. We spend most of our time engaging in bread and butter thoughts. We live from hand to mouth. We face existential challenges almost all the time. We are therefore incapable of aspiring for the big things in life. We cannot think and plan long term. We think and plan for the day and in some few cases, for the day after.

The test Gen. Museveni has made us to ponder on every single day is whether to choose the side of bread or the side of principle. In other words, does one submit to the status quo or work for change? This test is faced by Ugandans from all walks of life; whether government officials, teachers, university students, taxi drivers or peasant farmers. Unfortunately, this is a test that many Ugandans belonging to Gen. Museveni’s generation have failed. This is the same for the generation just before ours – the independence generation.
Several supposedly respectable Ugandan politicians momentarily broke ranks with Gen. Museveni but found it very difficult to hold out on their own and after a short while, returned to the fold.
Then there are supposedly respectable Ugandan opposition politicians who never worked with Museveni before but had to join him because they faced real existential threats. Examples abound. The late Eriya Kategaya, Gen. David Sejusa, the late John Butime, Major Ruranga Rubaramira, Omara Atube, Henry Mayiga, Betty Kamya. This is because, Gen. Museveni makes it impossible for such politicians to survive without him. Almost all sources of decent income passes by Museveni.  The state or government is completely fused into his person.

His National Resistance Movement (NRM) party and many opposition big guns can't survive without him and the state. Consequently other phenomena emerged; especially within the opposition ranks. These are suspicion and careerism in politics. Gen. Museveni succeeded in making opposition politicians suspect each other of being his Trojan horse within their ranks, hell bent on destroying them.

These allegations have of course been true in some cases but not in all. Certainly, the consequences have been adverse to the ranks of the opposition whenever they turned out to be true. The biggest challenge that this phenomenon introduced within opposition ranks is however, that opposition politicians suspect each other for working with Museveni without any piece of concrete, incontrovertible evidence.

Careerism in politics emanates from the fact that Gen. Museveni, because of the state perks he extends to his patronage networks, made politics look like it is the only viable source of livelihood. This is because all other sectors that would have provided alternative employment and a chance to decent living are either sick and ailing or already dead and buried. Whether it is the agricultural sector, civil service, education sector, arts and crafts or sports.

So, yes, many of Gen. Museveni’s generation have failed the test. They have chosen the side of bread over principle. In other words, they have submitted to the status quo and negated their responsibility to work for change in the country. So have the independence generation.

This year, my three sons, Okeny Fortunate, Lakelle Aasmund and Ogenrwot Trevor are turning 5, 13 and 15 respectively. They all have very inquisitive minds. I am sure it won’t be very long before I face the question, “Daddy, where were you and what did you do when our country was being destroyed?”

I will not want to fidget answering such a question. I choose the side of principle.

If you belong to our generation, tell me, which side will you choose?



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