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.
Opposition should protect its Own!
A rare phenomenon exists in the groups opposed to the dictatorial regime in our country today, that makes them seem unfit for the great cause of liberation. Basic revolutionary code demands that a force must protect itself – its fighters, and those who support its cause, from the attacks of their common enemy.
But not Ugandan opposition groups. They view this – protecting the revolution, as the concern of each independent opposition group or person. This is also how they approach the task of liberating the country – going it solo!
They meet, “agree”, even “sign”… and yet before the sun goes down they lie, cheat and betray themselves. Every day they say “all we want is to – overthrow this dictatorship, create authentic democracy and protect you.
Unless we believe that logic works the same way the chameleon works, personally I don’t think protection, or democracy could come from one who does not stand on a principle for a full day!
It is because of believing such fallacies (misconception resulting from incorrect reasoning), that those who fought the 1980-86 struggle, ended up creating bufere democracy and a mafia state
We all know that the opposition parties/group/camps do not agree (consent), on pretty much anything, it doesn’t matter if they claim to agree, because the actions give it away, but the protection of revolutionary fighters like Nyanzi, and the supporters of the revolution – this is so pertinent that a mutual defense pact needs to be in place, for a common response against the strikes of the mafia regime, against them.
Protecting your own is a cardinal principle in revolutionary politics. Not only locally, but also regionally. The popular rebellion in Sudan North should by now have benefited from loud voices of support from Ugandan opposition.
How to do it – protecting fighters is protecting the revolution
The strategy of political opposition in Uganda should be broad in its coverage of political matters, and all inclusive in terms of its appeal.
Exposing the evils of the junta regime locally, regionally & internally
The opposition groups should seize every incident of the mafia and junta regime, each time they unleash terror against the citizens, killing of innocents, jailing innocents, and using the judiciary system as tools of political oppression. The opposition should seize each and every incident of these to decisively record, report and expose it across all corners of the country, the region and the international forums. This is a core function of peaceful opposition, and it should not be done without coordination of the groups, but all opposition players should have a common approach to exposing the regime. The junta regime loosing credibility locally, regionally & globally for its jailing opponents, activists, shutting businesses of those perceived to be not supporting the military junta in private sector, stiffing free speech by shutting newspapers and radios, and creating sub-human conditions for citizens in hospitals, schools, jails – these serve as material to build the right momentum for popular liberation of the country.
Pinning down the Individuals who carry out injustice
The individuals within the junta regime who are the executioners and purveyors of injustice who carry out the matching orders from the political junta, against citizens, should be meticulously recorded in the black books of Uganda’s history. Their names should be mentioned out out of the noise and cries they met on innocents, to be on the record as tools of political persecution, so that they may not escape justice when the junta can no-longer protect them. The opposition needs to be meticulous, thorough and scientific when pinning injustice to the real individuals who carry them out, and all their assistants – you cannot bring justice to a land without pinning the ones who committed the injustice. So all those members in the army, police, intelligence, judiciary and other areas of the junta state who are doing the work of political mercenaries should be well documented and exposed to the public, for the day of reckoning
Again this something that all political opposition would find common ground on, since they’re affected by it, so a common approach and efforts to doing it is the right answer to protecting themselves against the excesses of the junta regime
It is not logical to say say: we’re going to win the coming election, if you cannot win personal freedom first. Obviously you’re not allowed to mobilise for the said election. If as opposition politician, your personal freedom is debatable, then by all means your mission is not winning elections, it is winning freedom!
Do not claim on the podium, to be the poster child of certain values, while in fact, there is no evidence of you having put such values in action
Letter to Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine)
A man in chains stands tall and strong, pushing a child up, towards the sky, as symbol of freedom. The man is a concrete monument that stands in the middle of Kampala city; it represents the freedom and independence of Uganda, from colonialism
No one knew, at that time (1962) what Uganda had in its belly. As it turned out, Uganda produced Obote, Amin and Museveni, to name a few who stood most at the helm of things. Between them, they managed to kill millions of Ugandans, buried in unmarked graves, their names forgotten. Misuse of the centralised form of power, as handed down by the colonialist, has been the bedrock of regimes in our new self-ruling republic
And yet before that, by 1908, Uganda had already captured the eyes and minds of visitors, anyone who came and saw it, described it as the pearl of Africa; indeed Ugandans maintain the title as the most welcoming and friendly people the world has ever seen.
A question begins to form in mind – if the people are the most welcoming and friendly, and the country is the jewel of Africa, why do millions of welcoming, friendly people continue to fall on the sword of their supposed-to-be freedom, since 1962?
It is not easy to find words that reconcile the world which those people saw, and the world we actually live in.
The Banyankole have a saying – “Enda ezaara mwiru na muhima”, the Luganda equivalent is “Enda muwogo, y’azaala abalungi n’ababi”. In context, Uganda is like a stomach which produces the welcoming, friendly people the world knows, and the power-hungry despots who chain them.
It is against these thoughts that the fixture of our Independence monument kept lingering in my mind, until a message came through. That child being lifted, as a symbol of freedom, in the independence monument is beginning to look a lot like Kyagulanyi Robert Sentamu. The monument woman is carrying baby Wine!
Unlike the first liberations, the act of taking political power by mere words, had never happened in this republic. It has always been – power belongs to the bloodiest. Unscrupulous people making designs on the welcoming, friendly people, usurping their power, never engaging in their real problems, and turning against them
So you stand out for taking political power by use of mere words. The reason you’re wrestling with military and ex-military men on the chessboard of political power, is that you have an edge over them, a type of power the people naturally prefer; the oppressors don’t have that, therefore they must put you in military chains, so that you can look like you’re tanned with the same brush as them in politics! They must make you look like a military man, a criminal, a usurper, someone who took power by force. Lucky for you, that image cannot stick. Every crime they have committed, they’ll try to pacify their guilt by making innocent people look like they did it too. Hosea Ballou says that “Those who commit injustice bear the greatest burden”
All you have done is stand on the podium and tell the people the truth – and they believed, in Kyadondo, in Buikwe, in Arua
You cracked the pot, Bobby! Neither Obote nor Amin nor Museveni took power by convincing the people. So they must make you like one of them. Being yourself – a fair brained young man with nothing more than a genuine understanding of the problems the people face. They never cared for the real aspirations of the people, because they had their eyes fixed on the seat power.
Right now the whole world has its eyes out, looking for you; they know that you’re hammering at a principle which the criminal leaders of Africa hate the most – “Power to the People”. Only the greats like Mandela have ever trodden this path
It is not easy to understand by the educated, who make their living as the coward fixers within the strongman problem.
But the peasant, the street kid, the beggar, the dirt poor – these people understand your message, because they are tired of having their face crashed under the military boot, every time they raise a point of order to the regime. And the rest of the world which has genuine interest in Africa, and an wish to see democracy take root in Uganda, these people know exactly what you have done – making the case of Power to the People vs. power of despots, seem like a simple task
In many ways, this upgrades political intellectualism in our land, from mere commentary on the status quo, to changing the status quo.
Your detractors are keeping the flip-flops running in the media. They’re saying it’s wrong to compare you to “our leaders”, that you’re from the Ghetto – a Ghetto President? They’re like the Pharisees
They don’t know that they’re in the Ghetto too, the difference is, they don’t know the name of their Ghetto. At-least for you, you know that you’re from the Ghetto of Kyadondo, Kamwokya, Boom!
Ghetto is not a place, it’s a concept. If you live hand-to-mouth, with no guarantee of financial or social security for yourself or your children, are you not in a Ghetto? If you live in a country where the hospitals have no medicine, are you not in a Ghetto? Less than 20% of people in the country access electricity, that’s not a Ghetto? Unemployment at 88.30%, no? GDP share by Manufacturing 0.002%, no? Country economy is 0.04% of World Economy, not a ghetto? There is room for stupidity among the ‘elites’, because how do you be in Ghetto, and not know?
It’s a pretty accurate description of the majority of Ugandans, that word ghetto; 93,065 square miles of Ghetto is the Republic of Uganda! People don’t want to face reality.
Without military backing, taking political power with just talking radically changes the character of the country. Are you not a seed in taking Uganda from military to civilian rule, by winning with words? People are now used to AK47s being ever present in the management of politics and elections, and they have never asked – why?
The folks holding you only know military politics, they don’t believe in “Power to the People”, they believe in “power comes out of the barrel of a gun” – that is the basic Marxist rule
You’re pitching a new political chessboard, and they’re not ready, because they’re holding political power like a thief holding a loot. It is guilt playing on their conscious, to make you look like you’re the one who grabbed power. Winning the population with mere words, living up-to the aspirations of Ugandans as at Independence, breaking away the political chains, winning without shedding blood, this is against the political canvas they have laid.
They must put a gun charge, they must put a treason charge, anything that makes the use of guns in the management of everyday politics seem normal to them and whoever sympathizes with them. So many have been accused of the same; the injustice always resulting in the same: human rights abuses and economic waste
For a long time, the regime had deployed their ideology. For you to unpack the contents of their long held ideology; of fake democracy, fake promises, fake services, you unleashed the young population on them. The days you have been in prison have seen the young generation maturing very fast in politics. Kids previously not participating in politics, who are often talked down to as the young and confused, as the so called leaders of tomorrow – but these names have changed in the last few days. They’re now called Terrorists, Bazzukulu all in the same breath; its a funny mixture of flattery and threats, designed to make the movement of young people interested in “power to the people”, forget what they must do.
I want to thank you for not being just another Kampala MP, who, like Kato Lubwama quips, are there to “Okulya Obulamu”
You have a higher calling, beyond Kyadondo. The Message of power belongs to the people has been heard in other parts of Uganda. It is particularly good at sending regime candidates to the trashcans.
As to the cases brought against you and 33 others, at least the people know better than to “kowtow in their poohoo“, (in the voice of Mbidde). The people know this a malicious political manoeuvre, and have resoundingly pronounced themselves, saying “Free Bobi Wine”, “Free the 33” political prisoners. It only remains to see how the regime fixers will wiggle out of this one (a case against people who have just beat you in an election), without proving that the the whole thing was a circus.
Those who commit injustice bear the greatest burden. Hosea Ballou
A movement is in shifted gears; a political surge is now a matter of when, and anything can trigger it now. The regime will lose the upper hand in its misuse of soldiers to stifle people’s freedoms. Freedom of Association, Freedom of Assembly, Free speech – these are not negotiable. Your assessment was correct – the regime’s greatest fear is: numbers
I wish you a quick recovery
Yours in Struggle,
Frank Birondwa (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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