What you need to know:
- ‘‘Those who criticise Museveni’s appointees don’t seem to realise they are wasting their time”
Imagine that you own a property in central Kampala worth many millions of dollars and where millions of people earn barely enough to survive. Maybe you also own lucrative businesses and you are in the happy position of never having to worry about money.
The police and UPDF are at your beck and call. You are a Brigadier and have maximum security 24/7. If you have a flight to catch at Entebbe International Airport, you get a siren-fitted lead car in the convoy to help clear the road for you so that you do not sit in a traffic snarl-up for hours — like ordinary Ugandans.
You are using a diplomatic passport and you sit in the VIP lounge at the airport. When you need top-flight medical care, you fly to Nairobi, South Africa or Germany because the hospitals that should be equipped by the government you serve do not work.
The government can even pick up your medical bills and all other expenses. Basically, you rarely spend your own money on things such as health, yet you have plenty of money (at least by Ugandan standards).
What is more, you are the vice chairman of the National Resistance Movement, the governing political party, which has hogged state power for 36 years by employing unscrupulous methods. Everywhere you go, people grovel to you because they know you are part of the ruling class. They do that because they know they may need favours from you — and favours from people that wield state power matter a lot. They, for example, can come in the form of a job offer to your son or daughter.
Now imagine that Ugandans want the man who is presiding over the very system that has given you everything you wanted/everything that matters (and maybe things you never imagined you would get) to hand over power to people you know little about and you do not even trust. Why on earth would you listen to those Ugandans?
We get surprised, even shocked, when people like Brig Moses Kigongo come out to say that President Museveni should seek re-election despite being in power for nearly four decades.
But should we be surprised at all? What they are doing is only to be expected. For Brig Kigongo and other Ugandans who are close to the regime and are beneficiaries, Uganda is totally different from the Uganda ordinary Ugandans complain about. In fact, the beneficiaries see Uganda the same way Mr Museveni sees it.
If you asked Mr Museveni whether he has reliable electricity in the State House, he would be surprised. And I think that Mr Museveni thinks that all Ugandans with access to electricity actually get it as they need it. So when you complain that his government is failing to deliver on social services, he may struggle to understand you — just as Brig Kigingo may struggle to understand people who say that the NRM is presiding over tired and rotten leadership.
On social media, wars of words have been fought, with government critics hurling abuse at individuals working with/for Mr Museveni.
But those who criticise Museveni’s appointees do not seem to realise they are wasting their time. Why would a woman like Robinah Nabbanja, the Prime Minister, or Vice President Jessica Alupo say no to Mr Museveni’s re-election bid?
Museveni’s praise singers have to continue saying he is the best because there is something in it for them. Those who are advocating change should just ignore praise singers and tell Ugandans why the government is past its sell-by date.
Mr Namiti is a journalist and former Al Jazeera digital editor in charge of the Africa desk
[email protected] @kazbuk