If my editor maintains the above title, it will likely be the longest I have had for this column. Dear reader, intellectual fatigue has taken a toll. Out of the window goes brevity and finesse.
Writing can be a lonely and dispiriting affair, worse so on matters that are depressing and disheartening. I have been at this for a good eight years, nonstop, every week.
Writing about the ills and evils of the current regime of rule in Uganda is emotionally exhausting and intellectually draining. For those writing from a distance and disinterested, like the gazing Western journalist and academic whose primary goal is professional advancement and career progress, it may be fun analysing and commenting on the state of politics in Uganda.
For a citizen, however, it is impossible to avoid the feeling of loss and anguish every time you have to inevitably cast the spotlight on the rot, the dysfunction and the decay that characterises the government of the day. And when that government has been ruling you for three and a half decades, it is painful to stomach. Yes, Museveni and his coterie have been misruling Uganda for 35 long years.
On Wednesday, he will go through the meaningless ritual of swearing in for another term to take him to the 40-year milestone by which time some Ugandans, not born when he captured power by the barrel of the gun, will have grand children!
Assuming after 35 years ruling a country, and not misruling it as I insist, in which one has done great things and achieved significant strides, what is he or she looking for? What can one do in five years that they have not done in 35? In the case of Museveni, on the balance of many things, his rule has grown rusted and corrosive.
Even the symbolic ritual of swearing in a president is shrouded in allegations of graft and the usual scrambling for the spoils. The fallout at the national carrier, Uganda Airlines, which from the outset many predicted would fall prey to the preying instincts of the politically connected. The reported malfeasance around the pandemic activities, yes, even the pandemic, a national and international emergency provides avenues for both petty pilfering and grand thieving never mind the healthcare system is a shambles, which in itself would be bad enough.
There was a clip doing the rounds on social media of Museveni seemingly if disingenuously complaining bitterly how he was duped by the entry of electricity company Umeme into managing Uganda’s power distribution.
That a head of state can openly confess to not have known what Umeme, a South African company, came to do in Uganda’s electricity sector suggests that he is either insincere or incompetent or both. It is most likely the latter. Worse, Kampala city is a national embarrassment, not worth the name city. There is crass nepotism and cronyism all over the place.
This is the Uganda of Mr Museveni, where he is the president and presides over all that goes wrong and whatever that is good, micro-manages yet is increasingly out of step and unable to keep up with all myriad happenings in a fast-paced social environment.
There is no way a 76 year-old (officially) who has ruled a country for 35 years and belongs to a totally different generation, worldview and work habits can effectively lead a country of 40 plus million mostly young people, a country with so much complexity, complications and contestations. If Uganda had well-established and robust institutions, functioning systems and more prosperity for the majority of citizens, then anyone however less dynamic could well manage the pressing task of leading the nation. As matters stand now, there is a lot of heavy-lifting needed and decisive if radical departure from the existing modus operandi if we are to get out of the current malaise and tragic set of circumstances.
This Uganda of Mr Museveni that columnists like me comment on every week is one where the country seems to just sink deeper. It’s depressing and the weekly writing gets to a point of sounding repetitive, unable to say anything novel.
Yet this, at once, is also the Uganda where we cannot gainsay the many out there intrepidly struggling and succeeding, doing extraordinary things in spite of the system of broken national politics. There are incredible stories and admirable developments by ordinary Ugandans, which unfortunately do not get their due space in a column like this, otherwise aptly named ‘Majority Report,’ when the country is in the throes of misrule.