There is really little anyone can add without distorting the truth or creatively plagiarising the same.
Over the years, analysis of disparate party manifestos has revealed one constant ... NRM’s 10-Point Programme and its subsequent manifestos compounds almost everything.
By Rene Ndyomugyenyi
There is really little anyone can add without distorting the truth or creatively plagiarising the same. It is a result of this predicament that the opposition to Museveni’s rule is individualised and or personalised. The opposition’s theme is ‘he must go’… the rest will come later.
There hasn’t been notable academic challenge to his flagship policies of security first, sustainable economic growth, infrastructure, household income, UPE/USE, regional integration etc, neither has there been alternatives tabled. That is why he is saying today what he did in 1987. His speeches on national challenges and direction never considerably differ.
In order to defeat him through the ballot box, an academic attack on his manifesto cannot win the hearts and minds of the voters. However, an attack of his ideology (libertarian realist) will most likely pose a thinking point for voters.
I would like to think that he is a libertarian, he believes in individual liberty, personal responsibility and freedom from government – on all issues at all times.
He believes that Ugandans should live their lives the way they want not as he wants them to live it. So do whatever you want as long as it is done with respect to others. He believes that the government should not initiate force that violates Ugandans’ natural rights.
The second strand of his ideology is realism, he wants problems to be appreciated as they are and be prepared to deal with them regardless of the costs. Sustainable not exotic solutions are sought.
As a realist, he does not respond to emotional protests or blackmail, instead focuses on the end result. For example, ‘in order to have sustainable peace in western Uganda, the army had to overthrow the Mobutu government 2,000 miles away’. The emotional pleas of human and financial cost, political onslaught in Parliament commanded by Cecilia Ogwal fell on deaf ears, in hindsight today, it was the right decision.
The construction of Bujagali was opposed by many, including Gen. Mugisha Muntu, but it is not a coincidence that upon its completion, Foreign Direct Investment flows increased by 50% in 2012 to $4b.
Now this Museveni’s disheartening realist ‘slow, painful, but sure’ ideology has its own problems. In realism, the results are not immediate, they take time, they could even be seen long after he is out of power and enjoyed by the next generation.
On the other hand, with a libertarian ideology, there is near anarchy and complete disregard of the law, bodabodas riding on pavements, vendors in the middle of the road in defiance of Police authority and squatters taking peoples land.
So this causes discomfort across the spectrum, because the posh middle and upper class want to drive their cars on cemented roads without being inconvenienced by bodabodas, the lower class want to be as rich as the middle class without breaking a sweat. The youth want jobs in the big city and will not go back to the village to rear goats to improve their household income. That is the lacuna that the opposition seeks to exploit by being populists.
Populism is used to describe a certain leadership style, through which politicians seek to govern by directly appealing to the people, without the mediation of political institutions like parties or parliaments. This is the venue sought by Museveni’s opposition; it pits the elite against the poor, the people against the establishment.
Because it works outside the facts and institutions, it wholly disregards the reality of the situation and tells the people what they want to hear. I will put a vehicle in every home; I will take away the riches of the middle class and give it you the poor. In other words it is based on fantasy, dreams with mostly good intentions but realistically impossible to achieve and little questions are asked.
Populism thrives on opportunism and inevitably lies and slander. The bulk of our society is vulnerable as a result of ignorance and they don’t know what is good for them, other than ‘emere yalero’ or put food on my table. My assertion is vindicated by considering that our people still believe in child sacrifices in order to get riches, with shrines being flocked by even the elite to seek riches. So you can understand why the get rich quick message can be far-reaching.
Populism survives on anti-oligarchic propaganda which creates two classes of citizenry, the political and the ‘marginalised’ classes. This is why, for example, FDC does not talk much about policies when addressing issues of income inequality, they talk about deficit financing and generalised financial controls but nothing about the basic economic equilbria. It is this disregard of the equilibria that has caused economic crises to the detriment of the poor.
The Museveni ideology model is driven by patience, pain and sacrifice and suffering. This is the reason why come voting time, Museveni shall be divorced from the NRM system. The now politically aware citizenry will not fall for a personalised anti-Museveni propaganda instead they will give him a ‘reward vote’ for his patience and sacrifices over the years. However a ‘protest or dissenting vote’ shall be registered with other NRM candidates because they have failed to live within Museveni’s ideology and the principles of sacrifice, they cannot show the folks the thorny painstaking road of patience and selflessness yet they take the road of luxuries, arrogance in some and being completely placid to dealing with corruption. They will be punished for not helping Museveni.
The voters will continue to see the opposition candidates particularly Besigye and Mbabazi as ones who had a senior platform to administratively address these concerns from within the NRM system. But all the same they will expect Museveni to acknowledge and own these weaknesses and express resentment by promising to turn rhetoric into a doable operation with clear performance indicators or benchmarks.
The writer is specialist in counter corruption and counter fraud