A group of fellow compatriots are very committed supporters and defenders of the current regime of rule. They especially reserve their strongest support for our ruler-for-life. I call them Musevenists. There are quite a few of them active and outspoken on social media and in newspaper pages as well as electronic media platforms. They overtly and unabashedly spin for their man. Others are less strident. They prefer to bid for Museveni in less direct ways, often posing as independent-minded analysts when in the final analysis, they are voices for the status quo and less than disguised apologists of the regime.
Now, under normal circumstances, every citizen should have the right to politically support whomever they prefer. It is everyone’s fundamental right. But we are not in normal conditions in Uganda. Supporting a regime that displays roguish characters and a ruler who has engaged in questionable actions in his quest for power, raises significant moral questions. Is it the right thing to do even if it is one’s right?
At any rate, the Musevenists would have less baggage to contend with only that in their support and defence of the ruler, they inevitably commit gross intellectual dishonesty. They want to fault opponents of the regime on precisely the very issues that their man excels at doing.
Take the case of charges that Opposition actors are fronts and agents of outside interests backing them to bring about regime change, ostensibly because Mr Museveni is a strong and focused leader whose ideological commitment is nationalist and pan-Africanist. This is as hollow as they go, for Mr Museveni has been a leading agent of Western imperial interests in not just Uganda, but the African continent as a whole.
The manner in which he embraced Western neoliberal economic policy prescriptions is simply unrivalled and an act that must have left his Western masters fully impressed. The rush to embrace unfettered free market economics has done little to transform Uganda’s economic outlook for the long-run.
At another level, the United States and the European Union have for long viewed Museveni as their trusted points-man in the region on matters of security particularly with respect to counterterrorism. In fact, contrary to often half-hearted ‘expressions of concern’ and calls for respect of rights and freedoms, the US and the EU have for the most part given the Museveni regime the green light and latitude, providing budgetary support and especially giving military aid that helps underwrite the regime’s coercive and repressive activities.
Arguably, the biggest source of the sheer intellectual dishonesty of the Musevenists is the brazen claim that somehow, their man is the ultimate guarantor of a stable and prosperous Uganda. The re-election slogan ‘securing the future’ could not have been more absurd!
First, quite to the contrary, Museveni is now an impediment to a stable today let alone a secure future. Given that he presides over a corrupt and incompetent regime, Museveni is Uganda’s foremost problem and not a solution. It makes absolutely no sense for someone overseeing an inefficient system of rule, characterised by blatant abuses of authority and violations of basic decency, to be the one entrusted with securing the future. Uganda’s problem is not securing some distant future, rather it is tackling the present laden with enormous difficulties. There is way too much at stake today to think about the future.
From massive youth unemployment to a distorted system of access to opportunity where ethnicity and cronyism trump merit and fairness, there is an urgent need to ditch the status quo and workout a new Uganda that addresses the most pressing problems we face in a reasonable and prudent manner.
The sad reality is that many Musevenists make the case for their man not because they are interested in the common good and public interest as their individual considerations. They are either indirect beneficiaries of the systems of spoils or direct dependents. It is such selfish calculation that leads otherwise rational and intelligent people to see sense where there is none, to vend sycophancy when they could be voices of reason, and to defend egregious actions when they could stand on the side of justice.
Uganda predates Museveni and the NRM. It will outlive them, no doubt. The question is, what kind of Uganda Museveni will leave behind and how history will implicate all of us Ugandans in the current mess and the gathering tragic storm.
Mr Khisa is assistant professor at North Carolina State University (USA).
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