Our Farm; Or Museveni Is Always Right

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[Africa: Commentary]

Museveni is an “apocalyptic” type of person whose rise to power was narrated by George Orwell in Animal Farm.

Orwell conveyed his message through Napoleon, an utterly corrupt opportunist who led Animal Farm. Napoleon made no single contribution to the revolution with no credit for the ensuing ideology. Napoleon neither contributed to the very bloody struggle nor to the efforts to establish the farm. Familiar?

Our Farm is a strikingly parallel and alarmingly shocking as it is mind boggling. For all we have been through, mirroring Animal Farm is the last thing we expected. Amazing how fiction imitates life. In religious terms, the reality is of apocalyptic proportions. Being the avid visionary I am, I salute all those who contributed to the cause we have digressed. I claim no patent on Our Vision.

Who held what gun, who contributed and did what during the struggle are issues Orwell’s portrayal of Napoleon deals with in striking similarity between Animal Farm and Our [Museveni’s] Farm. Our absolute disregard of form, civility, legality and official protocol, hallmarks of democracy is evidenced by CHOGM & GAVI scandals. Our vision had been to engage in conduct intended to inure to our collective best interests.

Today, Our Farm leadership has little or no interest in our collective strength, growth and success. Similarly, Napoleon never showed interest in Animal Farm. Rather, he was interested in the strength of his power over that farm. He undertook with sizeable enthusiasm, the training of a litter of puppies that was neither intended for their own good nor that of the farm. Orwell made no mistake in showing Napoleon undertook this for his own personal good. Lately, on Our Farm that is, almost every noticeable activity is undertaken for the wrong reasons.

In point of fact, each of the CHOGM --monies were embezzled by officials when Uganda hosted the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting-- related inquiries, anecdotal information and testimony before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in parliament, has tended to show nothing less.

Notably poignant is the regrettably sad reality that those who either appeared or expected to appear or were somehow involved with issues investigated by PAC, mysteriously or abruptly suffered some form of illness. In a couple of instances, they succumbed to death.

As strangely coincidental as this might be, it is characteristically similar to Orwell’s depiction of circumstances arising after opposition of Napoleon’s uncontested leadership. Death at the teeth of the attack dogs was assured, paving the way for what became the unquestioned leadership of Napoleon, in turn giving rise to the “Napoleon is always right” maxim or slogan.
In short order, Napoleon expanded his powers and, rewrote history to make Snowball a villain. On Our farm, we rewrote the constitution and, in many respects, powers and the stay in power were expanded at our cost. Well, 5,000,000/= is what it cost each of our custodians! The same custodians, have suddenly become duty-bound, undertaking to unearth evidence of corruption.

The source of their presumed moral authority is a valid area of inquiry. The timing however is a different story. Why now? Absent moral authority, their defective compass takes them nowhere. Moreover, they supposedly have no vision because, only one person on Our Farm has ‘vision’. For that purpose, he may as well be ‘always right’.

Napoleon’s greed and avarice enabled him create his own private army. Our Farm circumstances are not any different. If not for the 200 Banyala being trained for God knows what, it is the Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB) being expanded and constituted as if one’s private army of sorts. Orders issued do not suggest anything to the contrary. Recently, PAC members were at State House for an interview with Museveni. It is alarming to note that, in the first place, the PAC contemplated seeking input. Equally alarming were the remarks their questions elicited. “I will order them . . .” and “as long as there is no bias politics, I will order”.
Lawmakers appear to be under the mistaken impression they need someone’s ok or blessing to perform their duties. I also find it strange that they appear to be appreciative and thankful for that conversation as if it is some privileged accomplishment without which they were unable to perform their duty.

The VP saga is no different wherein the PAC's interview with Vice President Gilbert Bukenya was reduced to a farce. Basic and fundamental workings of government and the separation of powers doctrine preclude their approach. But then, we get to reap what we sow. Ours is, in all fairness, a mockery of a system gone haywire. Our backwardness and failed system is the outcome of greed, selfishness and avarice. Conducting Our Farm’s business like it were our own personal property, only ensures the continued mess.

We have conceded powers that people are not vested with, while acquiescing to circumstances we are not obliged to submit to. Launching an investigation and referring findings to the prosecutorial arm of government are matters that do not require the ok of anyone on the Farm. This is a bizarre set of circumstances. There is no effort intended to inquire into what happened to the money, who looted and to what extent. Of course, being asked and answering questions in this regard seem to deter given what has occurred in recent times. If so, the question then becomes “is this a show orchestrated to provide the semblance of due diligence”? Is it assumed there is an audience?

Randomly choose any article in our papers yields to the conclusion Our Constitution, army, Farm’s resources and everything for that matter, is singularly owned. Cash is disbursed at will and at the Farm Manager’s discretion and/or, that of a designated few. Quite alarming and troubling is the disregard for the communal good. Even more troubling is the predetermined end of a process seemingly instituted for no public good. When all is said and done, there does not appear to be in place, credible facilities that automatically trigger relevant action for and on our behalf. 

Inquiry into CHOGM, embezzled GAVI Funds (The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization) and others, without corresponding facilities to address issues arising, is not credible. Otherwise, the continuing reckless disregard of the public good would have abated some. Instead, we have what appears to be the consistent thumbing of the nose at us, as if to say, “So what? What will you do about it”?

The continuing state of affairs is infuriating, evokes sentiments of anger that, if not controlled, has the potential to reach unseen-before and untold levels of emotions and associated conduct. Unchecked, circumstances have the potential to reach critical mass. How do you check it? Doing the right thing and not engaging in business as usual.

George Orwell shows how Napoleon and his four legged buddies digressing from the course their principles strictly forbade. Occasionally, he portrays Napoleon’s lust, greed and avarice as it is justified by Squealer, Napoleon’s propagandist who tries to convince the animals that Napoleon is a great leader who is making things better for everyone. The fact that the record suggested a contradictory state of affairs which included hunger, the bitter cold and being overworked did not the least bother him.

Our Farm is not different. While not hard to determine who fits Squealer’s character, it is evident greed and selfishness are front and center. We have been told, it is easier to train and constitute an army than it is to eradicate corruption. No credible reasons were advanced and, much less, efforts to combat the ill indicated. Is it because the experience in building an army took priority over other issues thereby leaving the impression it is what it is claimed to be? Does the claimed ease in creating an army exist independent of corruption? Is that credible? Spirited by selfishness and self-preservation, is such believable? 

Mr. Frederick, a neighbour who cheats Napoleon during the purchase of timber leading to the attacks that ensued, the destruction of the windmill and battle during which Boxer is injured, are realities that live on Our Farm. Looting of minerals, timber, rape, injuries and deaths of soldiers and civilians are all too familiar. Our own Gen. James Kazini was very much involved with the DRC war. Allegedly, he took valuable resources for his personal gain and that of others before his much publicized death under bizarre, questionable and ridiculous circumstances alleged to have occurred immediately before, during and after his death.

Not strangely perhaps, for art imitates life, one day, Boxer is nowhere to be found on Animal Farm. According to Squealer, he died in peace after having been taken to the hospital, praising the Rebellion with his last breath. What happened was as bizarre then as Kazini’s demise. Therein, whiskey and money were part of the circumstances that surrounded Kazini’s death. The timing of Kazini’s death is as suspect as Boxer’s death. That he purportedly died in peace after having been taken to the hospital is as comical as it is coincidentally mimicked by circumstances on Our Farm.

As we recall, one of us, the purportedly registered owner of a certain hotel, appeared to answer questions regarding CHOGM. Strangely, he died peacefully and soon after his appearance. Similarly, the same questioners have shown keen interest relating to millions of dollars unaccounted for and, presumably intended for construction works involving several projects. Whether one of our late friends was involved with those projects is not exactly clear. What is clear nonetheless, is the fact he had his fair share of construction projects the greater bulk of which were for and on our behalf. As strange as it might sound, he passed away in no violent circumstances and, presumably no less loyal to Our Farm than Boxer was.

Most of us assume we are all created equal and nobody on Our Farm is more equal than the other. Many of us struggle with sentiments Our Farm’s circumstances trigger when we ponder the reasons we partook of the struggle, our goals and vision on the one hand, and,  what is becoming alarmingly clear, all of us are equal, but some are more equal than others. The reality is, those more equal can travel overseas for treatment while we languish on make shift beds in the corridors of our main barn; those more equal can afford to send their kids overseas for their education leaving us to ceremoniously chant and praise the UPE that will take our kids nowhere; the more equal can afford as many meals as their stomachs can hold before busting while we hardly can afford to chew anything with our rotten teeth. Those more equal are embezzle and allocate themselves shares and ownership interest in Our Farm’s assets while we have nothing to our individual names.

Orwell depicts Napoleon as some megalomaniac obsessed with power and power games. For that and other reasons, he changes the name of Animal Farm back to Manor Farm, claiming it to be the correct title. While debates and talk regarding changing Our Farm to some other name have fizzled, talk about Titles and ownership will outlive us because of the barbaric and outright thievery we have engaged in, making it necessary for generations that follow, to write the wrongs.

Title is one of the most spoken words on Our Farm. Who has what title to what and how it was obtained, are questions that appear to consume much of our time. Titles, whether correct or not, might pale in comparison with survival issues that confront most of us. The need for medicine, decent hospital beds, competent treatment, therapy, diagnostic machines and procedures, along with a decent health system infrastructure are some of the fundamental basic requirements of a civilized society. Those of us less equal, are consistently and intentionally been denied what those who are more equal are able to enjoy on Our Farm.

Our Farm would have no problem with the deeding of land intended for Our Farm’s hospital expansion if only the hotelier beneficiary it was deeded to, had plans to build structures that benefit each of us, who are not more equal than others. Building a five star hotel does not and will not change the quality of life on Our Farm.

Squealer, is the pig who spreads Napoleon’s propaganda among the other animals. Squealer justifies the monopolization of resources and spreads false statistics pointing to the farm’s success. That is why he will say he flew economy to see how the less equal fly and to save on jet fuel for the very jet he flew out of Uganda on, ostensibly to be sent back to Our Farm via Airmail. After all, the return flight is surprisingly free. Apparently, the inflating of statistical figures is an old game those more equal have always known to play and use it to prey. Look at the bogus HIV and AIDS statistics to mention but a few. We  rape our own, plunder what does not belong to us and, while we are so quick to claim successes and yields we never sowed, we are betrayed by our arrogance and pompous disregard for the very institutions we claim responsibility for creating. In the end, everything coming out of our mouth lacks credibility.

Certainly, statements like “I will only accept if there are minutes that indicate that I directed this and that” do nothing to contribute towards the credibility of the process. You cannot be the focus or subject of an investigation and also set the conditions for how the investigation is to be conducted and how the findings are to be adjudicated if the system you espouse is to maintain any credibility.  Obviously, saying “I will only accept. . . if there are minutes . . .” is to put the cart before the horse.

That statement is borne out of knowledge there is no such record. Because the process and outcome are custom-tailored, the credibility of the process is questionable at best. If we are to permit someone to assume the roles of investigator, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, we might as well dismantle our institutions. Such a culture and modus operandi render everything else, irrelevant.

Our Farm is therefore a de facto Kleptocracy. That is to say, leadership that takes advantage of institutionalized corruption to extend the personal wealth and political power of government officials. How? This is done via the embezzlement of state funds at the expense of the wider population, often without even the pretense of honest service. Effectively, this is rule by thieves and a disgrace to all well-meaning people. Obviously, given the widespread looting that exists as well as the size of the loot, I doubt anyone on Our Farm has the ability and time to engage the corresponding and requisite pretense of honest service. Nobody can muster the ability to pretend at the level the size of loot will require you pretend. Sadly, many appear not to be bothered.

Worse, is an ever increasing culture of impunity, validating conduct otherwise unacceptable in civilized society and, with no corresponding alarm bells chiming in horror and collective disgust. When a sixth grader gave his classmates money to vote him class prefect, we each were effectively placed on notice of a dawn of a new era that was unwittingly ushered in as a result of our past deeds. Sadly, this grim reality is an amalgamation of our collective stupidity, greed, avarice, selfishness and disregard of neighbour.

Nonetheless, Museveni’s Farm is, like it or not, Our Farm. Our Farm is NOT his personal property because, that is the unavoidably true state of affairs, perception and wishful thinking notwithstanding.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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