By Sam Akaki
“Give the devil his due”, wrote William Shakespeare in King Henry V.
Had I been the young Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta’s class teacher at Ntare High School, I would have been reminded by William Shakespeare to give my controversial student a credit in his school term report. In the event, the credit applies to his performance as President of Uganda since the return to multi-party democracy.
Uganda is a near-impossible nation state to govern; having been born as conjoined multiple twins who share nothing in common except their short-lived love for their leaders and ever-lasting hatred thereafter. Ask the British, Obote, Amin and Museveni.
Ignoring his best performance, most people including former bush war fighters, foreign diplomats and some clerics who once adored Museveni, have focused on his weakest points and concluded that the President is an irredeemable devil reincarnated.
For example, in a Nile Post headline, ‘Archbishop Lwanga urges security forces to stop torturing innocent civilians’ (18th November 2020), the Archbishop reportedly said in his sermon at Namugongo Martyrs Shrine:
“Why should police beat up innocent people? People who have done nothing wrong for instance the students of Makerere university such actions can cause hatred against the president and the government at large”.
What a divine damnation! Delivered just weeks before the general election, it is not unreasonable to conclude that it did cost President Museveni considerable votes in Buganda.
But even I, a former FDC international Envoy, who spent fifteen years doing everything diplomatically possible to bring down the NRM government, I must admit the president is not the most intolerant leader, by African standards.
Where is the evidence?
Look no further than Museveni’s most vitriolic critics, Dr Kizza Besigye, Robert Kyagulanyi and several newspaper columnists, who are all alive, kicking sticky mud at Museveni.
In other African countries, every critic including Amama Mbabazi, Gen Sejusa and Gen Tumukunde would have been quietly “disappeared”, shot by unidentified gunmen, locked up, or forced to flee to exile.
For example, Nile Post report, ‘Tanzania’s opposition leader flees to Belgium after election’, published on 26th November 2020, informed us, “Nothing to take lightly after surviving a 2017 assassination attempt which nearly took his life…Tanzanian main opposition leader Tundu Lissu is back in exile in Europe.”
I too, would have been counted one of the high profile “enemies” of state.
I was the one who introduced Dr Kizza Besigye and FDC to the British Conservative party, which gave considerable material and diplomatic support. I connected Dr Besigye to international diplomats, some of whom often referred to him as “your Excellency”.
My biggest strategic achievement was that Dr Besigye become the first African opposition leader to meet a sitting British Prime Minister, then Prime Minister David Cameron; thus bringing political change in Uganda within a tantalising touching distance.
External Security Organisation operatives, who had infiltrated FDC UK Chapter leadership, must have reported on all these. Yet, like other “enemies” of state, I am also still alive and almost completing my memoir, ‘My diplomatic guerrilla war against Gen Museveni.’
Literally using the dictum ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me’, Museveni left his critics free to talk themselves to physical exhaustion and political oblivion. We give him full marks for that.
Sadly, Gen Museveni has miserably failed in two critical examination questions, namely, how to tackle corruption and population exposition, the twin existential threats facing Uganda as a nation. Consider the following:
Gen Museveni is unable to provide adequate and quality social services, especially education and health because of population explosion and corruption
For the same reasons, millions of young people, regardless of qualification, are unemployed, and dependency ratio is so acute that the employed at home and aboard cannot or invest in productive ventures
Family members and neighbours are killing each other over land, while Kampala and other regional cities and towns are choking in traffic jams, dust and noise pollution.
Deforestation is turning forest reserves into arid wasteland, thanks to population explosion and the attendant need for more farmland, building materials and wood fuel.
Roads and bridges are being washed away because of corruption and population exposition.
Teachers and employers are reportedly demanding and receiving payment in cash, or kind in exchange for grades and jobs because of corruption and population exposition.
Peace and security are seriously threatened because the unemployed are loudly, publicly but unfairly accusing “westerners” of grabbing the lion’s share of the national cake.
The truth is, corruption and population explosion are not only tribless. The two evils are turning Uganda into a virtual Apartheid state in which people in rural north, east, south and west are divided on the basis of ill-gotten wealth and poverty.
In this Apartheid Uganda, as it was in the Apartheid South Africa, the minority rich and the majority poor are accessing health and education through separate doors leading to separate destinations in live.
And, like in the Apartheid South Africa, Ugandan children are inheriting their wealth or poverty form their parents and bequeathing the same to their children and grandchildren.
The creeping Uganda Apartheid system is destined for an explosive by 2050, only 29 years away, when the population of Uganda is expected to exceed 100 million!
Left unattended, that unpalatable outcome will sink president Museveni’s legacy and kill any succeeding government at birth.
For president Museveni to achieve distinction in his final examination and save Uganda, we strongly advise that he uses his remaining time to squarely tackle population explosion and corruption by putting in place laws that will:
Incentivise young couples to volunteer to medically limit the number of their children to two in return for free, private education and medical treatment for the children.
Introduce a mandatory death penalty, as it is in China, for anyone convicted of direct or indirect involvement in corrupt practices. The ever-meddling donor courtiers and their ever-moralising NGOs with oppose this law, but they will get over it.
Ultimately, all Ugandans would be the winners, with president Museveni being remembered as the man who launched the Uganda on course to a sustainable population and corruption-free, middle-income country.
To rest my case in context, Norway, one of our donors, is not a middle income country by wishful thinking.
Geographically larger than Uganda (385,207 km² vs 241,037 km²), Norway has population much smaller than Uganda (5.3m vs 44m) and a GDP per capita larger than Uganda of $ 75,500 vs $ 794, so large that they are able to give some of their extra cash in aid to Uganda!
Living in London but staying in Apac and feeling the pain of corruption and population explosion