Part 3: The ideological position
The NRM regime has sold itself as being ideological. Dig deep into its practice of the said ideology, and you’ll find instances of carrying out internal purges, prevention of open competition for its ranks, all the while using brute force as the means. Ideas have a top-down flow. Whereas these are relics of 19th century communism, the NRM leaders maintain a political rhetoric that they introduced democracy in Uganda. They have bamboozled don’t seem be aware of the ideological meaning of their political practice
Bamboozling its membership about ideology aside, the true NRA/NRM military revolution ideology seems to have been more about methods of war, than about building a sound political ideology for a country to move forward on. Just like the counterfeiting of political systems, the ideology is to have all government structures running as bulwarks against political opposition. That is the real bankruptcy of NRM
A population that had long suffered, believed without checking the facts or holding the revolutionaries on the standards which they professed. That initial misrepresentation on the source of power – that power belongs to the people, set problems in motion for the country, as political disorder begun playing out in the political space. Let it be remembered that Uganda held two referendums in a space of 5 years (June 2000, and July 2005), on this very issue of political system.
That lack of distinction, is what has made the NRM government, on the local scale to assume the role of managing political parties, rather than itself adhering to the rules of political engagement & competitive politics. The use of military in the post-1986 political space and the nature of political parties the government has created, are some of the carcasses of that NRM ideological deception.
On the international scale, that ideological deception has taken the form of jumping in bed (or threatening to) with Western powers (U.S.A, Britain), or Asian powers (China, Russia) or Arab powers (Iran, UAE) as and when it suited the NRM government, taking the whole country with it on such whimsical judgments. These are not the actions of a party steadfast in its political convictions, or a government sure of its ideological path, as these geo-political powers have drastically different ideological formations.
Indeed, the NRM has taken Uganda on a journey of ideological prostitution for 30 years. We have neither adhered to true democratic theories of democratic governance and capitalistic economy, nor real Marxist theories of communist government and socialist economy. Neither have we engaged in a think process to produce our own combination of political theory & economic theory.
After 30 years, we have seen the results of the NRM ideology in practice.
What was the NRM ideology?
But first, what is ideology itself. Does it have a purpose in the political, social, economic progress of a country?
For this explanation, I’ll take ideology defined simply as a political theory. A nation is governed, beyond written constitution, by a set of beliefs that crystalize the thinking, the hopes & the peculiarities of its people. In simple terms it is the common beliefs & principles we hold true as a people, written or unwritten. The political system of a country, by nature of theorisation, is needfully dovetailed by a corresponding economic system, as in the case Democracy/Capitalism, Communism/Socialism . This serves the purpose of giving form to the people’s common beliefs, and to develop them, and define their progression & relation with the rest of the world. We have almost had no new or major political theories/ideologies since the cold war that pit western powers (Democracy/Capitalism principles) with Russia & China (Communism/Socialist principles). Democracy emerged from that as defacto world political theory, and America/Britain have since gone to many wars to establish that system in other countries.
Broadly, a consistent political ideology provides a framework upon which countries and peoples can interface & solve bigger, shared problems.
The countries often referenced to as ‘developed or first world countries’ have already succeeded in aligning the beliefs of their people with the political system & economic regimes of their successive governments. That alignment causes social stability in those countries. In the undeveloped, or poor countries like ours, the mismatch in blackmailed Ugandans into poverty
So ideology is a delicate matter for a nation. It is not something that an individual defines, or political entity makes.
It is not something to be copied and pasted as well, from other societies. Ideology is inherent in the body of the society it prevails.
Whereas components of an ideology are shared across peoples, which drives the school of thought which says the human race is one, shares the same destiny.
Therefore, what the NRM and Museveni have been prophesying is not the true ideological interest of Ugandans. From 1986 they deployed an elaborate ideological alibi to justify, what in essence was the re-enactment of the same military government & its related counterfactuality to civilian rule.
They have been hiding behind blurred ideological formation to delude the uninformed peasant class & then paying homage to common African formations like Pan-Africanism, to elites astray. These tactics have largely covered-up crude government methodology, anti-people practices inhibiting their government. The NRM has thus had people going on ideological make-believe. That is Ugandans have not owned the NRM’s ideological farce, such as the onset of a 3 decades long one-man rule political system. They have certainly not called this an ideology. The best of us challenged it from the go, even those formerly part of the 1986 revolution. The population has ignored, or watched in disbelief as politicians both for & against such government setup make fools of themselves on a day to day.
Ugandans did not ask for government suppression of free political thought; or the endemic theft of public resources by government.
Political ideology is complex all by itself, but it must also interplay with the economic ideology to be complete. This is why there is a real danger before Ugandans today. The physical violence meted on Ugandans by the quasi-military regime of NRM in itself, in the quest to suspend political thought and keep itself in power behind closed doors, that is not the biggest danger of NRM to Uganda. But blacmailing of Ugandans with propaganda veiled as ideology. This is pushing our society into a state of economic hopelessness.
Having observed that our country is our greatest inheritance – beyond the reproach of any government (Part 1), and that the political order established by NRM is a convenience form of government, undesirable in Uganda (Part 2), I will now address the ideological alignment of political and economic ideologies that is desirable,
The decisions of country must be based on a thinking that we all share. The way the country is government – our political system, the way our economy is organized – our economic system, the way our laws are made and protected – our judicial system. All these must be borne of the principles and beliefs of our ancestors and ourselves. But has this been the case? No! All the governments have been establishing their own political regimes without a continuous value system or beliefs and principles harnessed into the laws for our land.
Communist states are often dominated by a single party, or a group of people. A planned economy is often part of the governing class, and in many cases resources are taken and then redistributed to others, at the top of the system.
Our war, beyond removing dictators from power, must be about ideology. The history of Uganda must remain on a free path throughout time – not for lack of corrupt men alter this, but because of Uganda’s ability to correct itself against attempts to alter by such men. The generational interventionism has now taken root in our society. No sooner a dictator unveils his diabolical plan, than the population organizes itself and defeats the dictator.
Therefore all the speeches about ideology from NRM have been like having knowledge without having understanding.
The matrices of political freedom and private sector-led economic growth is well documented in working democracies. You cant have autocracy in the political arena, and private sector led economic growth in the economic arena – that is not how it works. To get private sector led transformation, you must have a fully competitive political space and a sound, independent legal system.
A government maintained by the military cannot pretend to have an economy maintained by the free enterprise. When the military is used to suppress the freedom of individuals, that is in effect stifling the working principle of free enterprise. In that situation, the sale of the country becomes the primary means of existence of that government. The government divorces the citizens of the country from its resources, and brings on foreign citizenry, both to finance dubiously provided deals, and also to become conduits for channeling the loot from the country.
The relationship between a government maintained by the military and an economy purported to be free enterprise, cannot be symbiotic. It can only be parasitic. The military is not a commercial organ in the tax system of the country. If a political regime is forced onto the population and maintained in power by the military, as the NRM is; this means that the political decisions, rather than being pro free-enterprise adventures, will be pro-military adventures, and the economy, whatever the source, will be made to finance those decisions. I do not need to go into the instances of how this has been the case here in our country, because this is very recent history.
Without registering deep constitutional, democratic and freedom acuity or evolving the system of governance, choosing to deceitfully going to polls every five years, while the incumbent circumvents government institutions and resources to defeat the purpose of democracy, only fools can continue to operate like that.