Can Museveni’s power be divorced from responsibility?

Sunday July 14 2019


By Alan Tacca

At our broadcast talk shows, President Museveni’s staunch supporters can say virtually whatever they want. However contradictory or reckless, they can depend on their hosts to stretch their permission.
There is even one who regularly prophesies and relishes the day when (Museveni’s angelic?) gangs will savagely rip the internal organs out of today’s corrupt government officials. Never mind the fact that President Museveni has all the power to decisively deal with those officials today – if he wanted.
Museveni’s man has serious personal enemies in Museveni’s government, including a number in State House. Some apparently undermined him and took his turf. Some do not appreciate his qualities. Knowingly or unknowingly, all work for Uganda’s ubiquitous ‘mafia’; a characterisation used nowadays to ‘explain’ all kinds of criminal activity in President Museveni’s government; and used again to clear Mr Museveni!
In other words, although the Mafiosi cannot be separated from President Museveni’s government, and he always seems to forget to neutralise them, he is not part of their dark schemes.
Then there is this propagandist who suddenly got visually impaired, and the NRM party/government machine did not roll into motion to rush this great Museveni defender to a foreign hospital to get his condition sorted out. It is claimed that friends, including sympathetic Opposition politicians, helped the man before the NRM stepped in – if it stepped in. The man insists he still supports President Museveni, but he has not forgiven his party or the government for neglecting him.
Never mind that for the vast majority of poorer Ugandans who get ill, to be neglected and humiliated by the State is the normal experience.
Then there is this other sycophant. He could grovel in any patch of dust or lick any boot covering Mr Museveni’s foot to demonstrate his support. For days in April or May, he was swearing and cursing the NRM government, but not the President. After acquiring a degree in procurement or something, his child had failed to get a government job.
Never mind that as a staunch Museveni supporter, he must have heard the President repeatedly advising all youngsters going to university to do science-related courses. And procurement in Uganda is more closely associated with stealing government funds than with doing scientific things.
These fellows represent a strange pattern of reasoning. They all agree that the NRM government led by Mr Museveni is incompetent and even evil, and that their support for the President has not helped them rise above the generalised pain.
Now, intelligent people support a ruler because he runs a good government. So, presumably, unless they are idiots, these propagandists will only support Mr Museveni for 2021 because they expect meaty bones to fly from the President in their direction. A bone to fight for is sometimes better than good government.
But what about the other citizens, whom these propagandists will be trying to persuade to vote for Mr Museveni?
Those other citizens watch their little achievements shrinking under the burden of taxation. Those other citizens watch helplessly as their young women are murdered at their mobile money kiosks. Those other citizens painfully listen to Lwengo District chairperson Mutabaazi mocking them on CBS FM that leaders cannot make the citizens ‘understand’ without literally whipping them.
Those other citizens may be slow to understand, but they will find it really hard to be persuaded to vote for Mr Museveni on the ground that he is different from his inept government, or from the Mafiosi he has refused or failed to get rid of.
Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.