Kirunda Kivejjinja, Ugandaâ€™s Third Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Information and National Guidance, is a very lucky man. At 73, he is one of the longest surviving politicians in Uganda. When, in 1961, he returned from India with a degree in Zoology, he plunged straight into politics where he has stuck for the last 45 years.
Kivejjinja (whose name literally means the man from Jinja) is also lucky: He has served as Minister of Rehabilitation; Minister for Works, Transport and Communication; Minister of Information; Minister without Portfolio, and Minister for the Presidency. These posts have given him a lot of insights into Ugandaâ€™s politics.
In 1995, Kivejjinja published a book entitled â€œThe Crisis of Confidence in Ugandaâ€. Fortunately, he allowed me to review the book and say something about it in front of President Museveni who launched it.
The book proved that Kivejjinja was not only a scholar but also a good political analyst in his own right. He successfully described the event which gradually led Ugandans to lose confidence in their post-independence governments from 1962 to 1986. It was that loss of confidence which gave birth to the formation of Museveniâ€™s FRONASA (Front for National Salvation) in the early 1970s and eventually the National Resistance Army (NRA). The NRA then waged a successful five-year guerrilla war and finally grabbed power in 1986. When I reviewed the book, I posed two important questions to Kivejjinja.
- Why did he not say anything about the first nine years of the NRM government from 1986 to 1995?
- What would he do if Ugandans also lost confidence in the NRM government?
In my opinion, now is the time for Kivejjinja to use his admirable experiences in the â€œnew crisis of confidenceâ€ in Uganda. The new crisis refers to the escalating loss of confidence in the ability of the NRM to govern this country. Some Ugandans believe that there are now two governments in the country.
- The first is the FDC government in north and north eastern Uganda plus Kampala city. lThe second is the NRM government, which rules in western and central Uganda plus Busoga region.
Above all, millions of Ugandans from both the FDC and NRM believe that Museveniâ€™s government has failed to curb sectarianism, corruption, poverty, rapid population growth, environmental degradation, oligarchical tendencies, land grabbing and a host of other vices. Kivejjinja has two other challenges to address in his second book.
- First, numerous NRM insiders I have spoken to recently believe that the NRM does not have any more ideological programme. One of them insisted that NRM leaders are only interested in their survival. â€œThat is why they have sold Uganda to multi-national corporations and their comradesâ€ he said sadly.
lThe second challenge concerns the role of LC1s. Their original role was to stimulate bottom-up development and to serve as the spokesmen of the masses but the situation has changed considerably. Today, local councils, even at village level, have become the chief spokesmen of the new oppressors.
The sum up, the important question which my old friend Kivejjinja should answer in the new book is: What can be done to enable Ugandans regain confidence in NRM government?
Keeping quiet will not reduce the new crisis of confidence. Basking in old NRM conquests will not help either. Kivejjinja is currently in the best position to use his accumulated wisdom to lead the increasing struggle against ignorance and the culture of silence in Uganda. He can also use Ugandaâ€™s print and electronic media to assist in this struggle. Otherwise, his first endeavours, which led him to speak out in his first book, will be eclipsed.
The writer is the former MP for Kagoma County in Jinja
Kivejjinja should write a new book