Generalissimo Museveni — after 28 years gearing for another rigged election
The great majority of people in Uganda, with a growing political consciousness forged by their suffering and mobilization facilitated by many organized groups, are on the threshold of getting rid of the fear that has hovered over them like a permanent nightmare in the past nearly 30 years of sordid corruption and divide-and-rule dictatorship fostered by President Yoweri Museveni and the band of mafia-type sycophants around him.
If Ugandans are not to end up in a refurbished state of servitude by exchanging one gang of operatives for another singing a different tune but carrying on the same dance, it is imperative to disclose and understand the nature of the regime that has so ruthlessly treated them as pawns in a tragic game of raw power politics, as well as to appreciate what in the first place drove the mafia-like gang of men to power.
It is important to realize that from the outset, the leading figures that constituted the National Resistance Movement (NRM) were driven by two very powerful major lethal factors. The first was hatred of people who came from the social groups of the leaders who had hitherto been at the helm of state power, which happened to be from the geographical region of the greater northern Uganda. And the second factor was voracious greed to accumulate political power and economic wealth by hook or by crook.
In history and practical politics, people infected and driven by pathological causes could not and cannot be expected to yield healthy outcomes, which is analogous to the fact that militarists cannot serve as midwives for democracy. Indeed, democracy and unity in any country cannot be brought about by gratuitous violence, prejudice and intolerance.
In fact, the outstanding distinction between the NRM cartel of politicians and the political leaders that came before them is less so that both made significant mistakes than that, whereas the latter were motivated by some form of overarching nationalist aspirations, the former were and are totally bereft of a larger socio-political vision and strategy for the country leave alone the region, except to utilize state power to exploit people and resources by the most corrupt means, for private ends.
This may explain why the ruling politico-military elites have been rapacious in amassing wealth, even when the great majority of people live in abject poverty and when most infrastructures such as hospitals, schools and roads are in a state of utter disrepair.
It is therefore not a surprise that having been motivated by negative factors rather than positive considerations, once President Yoweri Museveni and the gang of men around him usurped power through violent means under the banner of the NRM, they established a vampire regime in Uganda, which is cold-bloodedly parasitic without any iota of shame.
There are four main features of the vampire regime established in Uganda.
The first is the callous manner in which President Museveni and his satraps, have, with characteristic Machiavellian cynicism, sucked virtually all vitality out of the once dynamic and independent-minded citizenry and institutions of the country.
They have done this by using the repressive apparatuses of the state not only to instill fear in people and paralyze most institutions, but also to plunder resources within the country, as well as in neighboring countries, for their private benefit. And in turn, they have elevated their personal whims into policies of the state.
The second feature, from which the first is derived, is that the gang of militarists is devoid of any ethical values. As such, they are political opportunists of the first order to whom ethical values have no meaning or significance. Accordingly, when they usurped power, they fashioned a scheme to maintain it. This involved the propagation and use of Orwellian double-speak language in propaganda, toxic prejudice, cruelty and sheer terror.
To them dissent or any political view critical of the official orthodoxy is tantamount to treason; and they are always prepared to coerce where they cannot persuade.
Third, they have turned the expediency of a conspiratorial secret society, which they had used as a cabal to seize power, into a method and doctrine of political organization. As such, they are willing and ready to stamp out the vitality and the importance of the habit of open and robust discussion, which is the lifeblood of any democratic system. (Witness the Public Order Management law; a meeting of three or more Ugandans requires written approval from the Police).
And fourth, is the excessive centralization of power in the person of the president, which has meant that virtually all cultural, political, social and economic life of the country is subordinated to the desire of the president to retain power. As a result, all individuals and groups who genuinely oppose the regime have been harmed or destroyed or placed under constant surveillance.
It is with the above facts at hand that Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) with its partner the Federalist Alliance for Democracy and Development in Uganda (FADDU) maintain that the current dictatorship in Uganda is beyond the pale of redemption and not capable of reform, unless its leadership experiences a Pauline conversion, which is doubtful.
Armed with the historical facts above, we believe that if Ugandans are to write a new and affirmative chapter in their history, they must learn from the lessons of the past. That is why we are committed to be guided by positive ethical values of compassion, tolerance, inclusiveness, reciprocal respect, equality of treatment, social justice, economic empowerment, political emancipation and unity of the country brought by consent and not imposed by force.
And in order to effectively tackle the perennial problem of autocratic concentration and centralization of power in the president, we are unwavering in our principled position about adopting a federal system of government in Uganda, which would afford people optimum opportunities to engage in affairs that affect them, as well as enable them to control their resources and governance.
The federalism we champion is therefore not a political gimmickry to hoodwink people into subservience to the central authorities; rather, it is a means to empower people to be agents of their development and governance.
It is apparent that a convergence of forces and factors in and outside Uganda is pushing the medieval-type vampire regime under Museveni to an end.
When the regime comes to an end, just as like day comes after night, if the post-Museveni Uganda is to be different and to inspire hope among the people, it is necessary not to waste time in sterile debates. Rather, we must be animated by positive ethical values and affirmative faith that is far more powerful than the negative forces and factors that motivated and propel to power the gang of NRM men who have held the country hostage to their whims and prejudices.
The leadership of FUF-FADDU partnership is confident that the ethical values that serve as compass for our political activism will also inspire all Ugandans to open a new chapter in our history: a future in which all who live in the country enjoy equal rights as citizens.
It is on the basis of equal rights of all that an affirmative sense of purpose and unity will flower for God and our country.
Professor Amii Omara-Otunnu is Chairman of Freedom and Unity Front (FUF)