If Museveni despises his fanatics

Author: Alan Tacca. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Museveni did not even care – although he definitely foresaw – that the sins he listed against Amin would be exactly the same sins as those his (Museveni’s) critics would list to flog him.

Listening to President Museveni’s propagandists at our radio/TV talk shows, you have to endure, not only the cant about the terror from which Museveni retrieved the country, and how only Museveni can take us forward, but also their ceaseless grumbling that Museveni does not reward them enough for their effort.

They remind whoever cares to listen how the NRM bigwigs – the fellows who haul away serious money – hardly ever step forward to defend what (the propagandists admit) is an increasingly difficult regime to defend.

They bitterly condemn Museveni’s habit of giving huge gifts to shifty and occasional supporters while his unwavering team remains uncared-for and uncomforted as it is attacked or ridiculed by a public tired of NRM rule.

Of course sometimes they lie. Insiders tell how seemingly neglected propagandists are periodically rewarded in ways your regular ‘malwa’ gossip is not.

Other serial grumblers inadvertently reveal (as loose mouths often do) how they have exploited NRM’s impunity to harvest more than other people who produce nothing of value to the body of citizens.

But after allowing for the fake grumblers who are only trying to blackmail Museveni for bigger favours, the question is: Why should Museveni pamper his diehard campaigners? Historically, Museveni did not suffer fools easily. 

More than any other reason, his instant rejection of Idi Amin, for instance, was probably because he thoroughly despised Amin. Very poorly educated, and something of a buffoon, Amin looked an incongruous figure as (an executive) president of a country.

In 1971, when Amin seized power, many African politicians still convinced themselves that there was a level of intellectualism, or at least a degree of ideological awareness, that accompanied power.

A decade after independence, pure brute force was already (or still?) frowned upon.

In Uganda, the then deposed Milton Obote had during his rule eloquently blended bare-knuckled repression with his doctrinaire dance moves to The Left.

Whether as a political friend or an in-house enemy, Museveni had served as a young research/intelligence functionary in UPC/Obote’s pre-1971 government.

During Obote’s (second) 1981-1985 rule, Museveni was of course already a sworn enemy waging a Bush War in which an estimated half-million people were killed, with millions displaced or dispossessed.

The current theme where people aggregate Obote’s or Amin’s rights and wrongs (and put either of them more or less at par with Museveni) greatly disturbs the 1986 ‘liberator’. 

Witness his prompt and uncompromising response to a (mock?) proposal to build a school/institute in memory of Amin! 

Museveni did not even care – although he definitely foresaw – that the sins he listed against Amin would be exactly the same sins as those his (Museveni’s) critics would list to flog him.

We have, therefore, perhaps arrived at a point where Museveni privately admits similarity of type, but in public insists on a difference in quantity; insists that Obote and Amin sinned far more than him.

The problem is that when people start to count the victims, many also insist on attributing the Bush War dead to Museveni, whether directly or indirectly, since he has lost the moral high ground that justified their sacrifice.

Following these debates in the media, Museveni contemplates the propagandists who claim to have supported him all the way, and vow to support him forever, until his son, Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, ascends the throne, and he concludes that these must be opportunists, unless they are idiots.

Indeed, he once referred to his son’s promoters as opportunists.

You now know why the President might have good reasons for despising his eternal fanatical ‘supporters’.

Mr Alan Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.
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