Uganda: Why Museveni Has Failed As Leader

Tunnel vision
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Uganda's ruler of 34 years, Gen. Museveni.
 
[View From Uganda]
 
It is evident that Uganda has a leadership crisis. Not because there are no leaders in the country, but because the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government is bereft of leadership. Our current scenario reminds me of a book on leadership written by Jon Gordon. It is entitled "Soup."
 
By setting down several principles about leadership, it holds invaluable lessons that may explain the leadership crisis in Uganda today. 
 
Here are some of the principles: 
 
People follow the leader first and the leader's vision second – This places personality over persuasion. So if a leader has been brutalizing opponents, subverting the rules of engagement and actively widening the gap between the leader and the led, his or her vision is immaterial. This is key to why people follow Robert Kyagulanyi, a.k.a Bobi Wine, and not President Yoweri Museveni. The latter may have a more powerful vision, but his arrogance has atrophied the utility of his vision to a disutility. No amount of money, ideas or spin will rescue him.
 
Trust is the force that connects people to the leader and his or her vision –When there is no trust, a leader will be seen as a “consummate liar”; this is how the late President Obote once described President Museveni. In such an instance, such a leader makes the people wary instead of willing to follow his or her lead. Indeed, trust is a priceless asset that shall never lose its purchase. Sadly, from the president down to his cadres, there is a deficit of trust in our body politic.
 
Whenever government announces a new initiative, good or bad, Ugandans immediately deem it a scam to blindside them through OTT or another perceived Ponzi scheme. This is why it seems Ugandans are against Covid-19 guidelines, but they are not. Only that these guidelines are being manipulated in favor of further enriching the rich and impoverishing the poor. 
 
Leadership is not just about what you do but what you can inspire, encourage and empower others to do. President Museveni once told a journalist, "I'm working for myself, I'm not working for other people, I'm working for my grandchildren, for my children." In a public address he also said, “I am not a servant of anybody." How can  anyone possibly be inspired? Instead, people are repelled. For they remember when this same leader  promised a “fundamental change” when he seized power in 1986, after so many lives and so much property were destroyed by a war he started. 
 
A leader brings out the best within others by sharing the best within themselves. Sadly, when you look around Uganda all you see is the violent legacy of the NRM/NRA mirrored by the masses demanding their pound of flesh. NRM banditry has begotten a cynicism in Ugandans that leads them to ask, “When is it our turn to eat?” Indeed, everything that's wrong with our leaders has become what is wrong with us.
 
Just because you're driving the bus doesn't mean you have the right to run people over. Having power implies responsibility and a willingness to share resources in an equitable fashion. Power should be used to empower not disempower. It should be used to cleanse and sanitize. It should not be used to soil the moral character of the nation.
 
In Uganda, power has led to the atomization of the nation. So the spoils are enjoyed by those who divide the country. Furthermore, the leaders and led dwarf each other by the gigantic mutual suspicion and animosity they have for each other.
 
“Rules without Relationship Leads to Rebellion---As our ruler, President Museveni may have all the Public Order Management Acts he wants. These are the laws used to control public garherings. But if he does not invest in our people and thereby develop a relationship with them, they will continue to see red. People Power-red, to be precise.
 
Lead with optimism, enthusiasm and positive energy, guard against pessimism and weed out negativity. By staying in power "in the interest of the people" for 34 years, President Museveni’s rule cynically presupposes that the people do not have it in themselves to lead without him. Such latent pessimism and negativity on his part erodes good leadership.
 
Great leaders know they don't have all the answers--rather they build a team of people who either know the answers or will find them. Great leaders will never claim to be the "only ones" with a vision as President Museveni does. 
 
Leaders inspire and teach their people to focus on solutions, not complaints. Yet we have heard President Museveni compare himself to a pope without princes. His brother Gen. Salim Saleh even once complained that if Ugandans were as “sharp” as Museveni, Uganda would be “far.” He meant that we are holding our dear president back. Yet the buck really stops with the man on top.
 
Great leaders know that success is a process not a destination. As a leader, focus on your people and process, not the outcome. So by so-called “winning” elections, President Museveni forgets that he has not won the dream. Instead, his “wins” are a byproduct to a process grounded in who we are and not necessarily where we are going.
 
And who we are is a plural society with contributions to be made from every segment of the community, not just a single individual who believes he has “arrived”. 
 
Columnist Matogo is based in Uganda.

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