Museveni also tackles various areas and also reminds mobilisers of why mistakes of past leaders caused the collapse of the independent State of Uganda by 1979
BY YOWERI K MUSEVENI-PRESIDENT
As 2021-2026 term takes shape, President Yoweri K. Museveni has taken his time to write a very long letter (18 pages) to mobilisers of the party he heads and in power, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), rebuking them on where they have gone wrong, reminding them of their duties and not repeating past regimes mistakes, what he expects of them and what can be done to salvage the party image. In the letter which can be alluded to biblical epistles, or letters, many of which were written by Paul, Museveni at the end even feels nostalgic for himself and NRM old days.
“It is the failure by many NRM actors to go back to the history of the NRM and understand the interests-based policies that boosted the prestige of the NRM and endeared it to the people that created some problems. We must cover the whole spectrum of the People’s mikyeno (solvable needs) and address, by promise or action, kukyenuura (to solve a solvable problem), all of them,” he points out.
Museveni further asks NRM mobilisers to do a soul searching and realize that it is not only peace (which NRM ushered in) that will make Ugandans praise NRM forever. He devotes plenty of time and space explaining, defining and particularizing political mobilization while referencing the history of NRM whose views and positions on public affairs (he claims) has always been correct and popular with the people of Uganda in the long term. That since his days at school, where he pioneered revolutionary study groups which he led into bigger things, his perspective has always been approved and accepted by the public as very prudent, selfless, forward-looking and farsighted. He also discusses his pet subject of wealth creation at the community level which he implies can only be translated into a successful GoU intervention after all households and homesteads in rural areas have been empowered into effective land ownership so that they abandon subsistence farming and become commercial farmers. He makes reference to the “ekibaro [the wealth creation calculation]” which he asserts continues to be demonstrated at the Presidential Demonstration farms at Nyakaana, Kawumu in Luwero, Bundibugyo, Masaka, Kisozi and other places. He calls on CEC members to decisively “de-campaign land-fragmentation through inheritance in the subsequent generations [whatever that means].”
“We cannot only depend on the historical legitimacy of the NRM. Even by 1996, the detractors of the NRM were saying: “Do we eat peace?” It is not an entirely wrong question. We must go beyond peace, unity and infrastructure and address the entire spectrum of needs as I have been telling you ever since 1995. This is the mobilization message for wealth creators, dealing with wealth creation issues, for producing goods and services, processing the goods and distributing them and not the message for the parasites who want food and wealth without working, who create fiefdoms among the people for ease of exploitation and who, consequently, seek to fragment the very people the wealth creators seek to unite into a huge viable African market and a strong East African Federation, the former for the prosperity of our people and the latter for the strategic security of East Africa and Africa.”
Just like Paul's letters which tended to be written in response to specific crises, Museveni also tackles various areas and also reminds mobilisers of why mistakes of past leaders caused the collapse of the independent State of Uganda by 1979, and army is one of them. This is how he cites one of the atrocities committed by the army on the account of politics of ethnicity and sectarianism which he says must have no place in a modern Uganda:
“…Neither the old DP nor the new one, however, had a solution for one of the problems created by colonialism and amplified by the mistakes of a wing of UPC- the Obote wing. This was the problem of a tribal Army. The colonialists, in their usual bumping (kutomerea), had the nonsensical idea of “martial’’ tribes - Acholis-Langi in Uganda, Akamba in Kenya, Kuria in Tanzania, Yao in Malawi etc. Apart from this idea being provocative, these soldiers were behaving badly. At Moshi Co-operative College, I was teaching with a Tanzanian who had studied at Makerere, known as Mbawala. While at Makerere, he interacted with a former soldier of the UA from the North who told him of how they had “taught the Baganda, a lesson” - in the 1966 crisis. One of the “lessons” was how they would rape a person’s wife while the husband was watching and after completing the rape, the soldier would tell the husband to use his Kanzu, to clean the penis of the raper. Neither the old DP nor the new one, had the capacity to create a new Army of discipline, which meant either reforming or destroying the old armies. It is only Fronasa that had that potential which we offered to the broad — based UNLF, but they were not interested.”
The 18 page document makes reference to a multiplicity of things including infrastructure, education, ethnic & religious sectarianism and land whose fragmentation the President says must end.
He also highlights other topics like corruption, Pan-Africanism, provision of health and education services-and the proposed denial of bail to murder, terrorism, rape and defilement-related offenders should be discussed and disseminated to citizens.
Museveni implores his senior NRM cadres to appreciate the fact that mobilization (a subject he implies has often been misunderstood) is not merely about appearing on radio/TV talk shows nor converting his critics or opponents from the opposition.
Below is the full letter verbatim:
TO ALL CENTRAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (CEC) MEMBERS OF THE NATIONAL RESISTANCE MOVEMENT -NRM MOBILIZATION.
This word, mobilization, is used quite often. However, many people do not bother to understand its substantive meaning.
They think that mobilization only means haranguing people, talking in the media, attending burials etc. Yes, these are butter you smear on the bread to enhance its goodness when you eat it; but the food is, first and foremost, the bread: ebyokurya (food) Vs okubobeeza (making it softer to swallow). What, then, is the real “bread” in mobilization? The real “bread” in mobilization, is correctly identifying the legitimate interests of the different groups of people and supporting them — fight for them and, if you are in position to do so, solve them. If you do that, you will have a permanent bond with the people. The mission of mobilization entails, therefore, the following: identifying, highlighting, fighting for and, when able, supporting the legitimate interests of the different groups of the population and it also means that, where necessary, you oppose the illegitimate interests of some of the actors.
It is this ability to always defend right and always oppose wrong, that transformed the NRM from a student group in 1965 to a big force it is today. At every stage, we side with the legitimate interests of the people and oppose the illegitimate interests of the oppressors. In the period 1960 to 1971, we were opposing the following mistakes by actors:
1. Sectarian politics of religion and tribe.
2. Gender chauvinism.
3. Corruption of the chiefs, vets , health workers, teachers etc.
4. Obunyaanda (selfishness of the elites - chiefs, politicians etc.) of only caring about the social-economic transformation (modem ranching, coffee growing etc.) and education of their families and not of the abatasoma (the uneducated, traditional) families; the latter remained in the okukolera ekidda kyoonka (subsistence farming) and no education for their children.
5. As a consequence of the narrow politics in No. 1 above (sectarianism), no attention was paid to and even opposition to the integration of the African continent which is crucial for the prosperity of our people (market integration) and strategic security (handling security issues together - e.g. Somalia, Congo, Central African Republic- CAR, Mozambique etc.); hence the sterile politics (whether democratic or not) that will bring stagnation, like it happened in Latin America; parochialism instead of Pan-Africanism.
6. Within Nol. (sectarianism), centrifugal forces create a situation where there is no unity, no peace and where there is no unity, no peace, there is inability to create national institutions e.g. Army. Consequently, state failure (Somalia, CAR etc.).
7. A mixture of sectarianism and indiscipline, create a brutal Army that commits extra-judicial killings. These armies were also sectarian and incapable of defending the country in case of war (the 1971 coup, the defeat of Amin in 1979).
8. Within the bunyaanda, you get historical distortions that disadvantaged sections of the Wananchi - e.g. the bibanja owners or the neglect of Karamoja or the ranching schemes that had neglected the traditional cattle-keepers, etc.
9. The bunyaanda by leaving out 96 percent of the people from the money economy (census of 1969), you conserve household poverty and lack of jobs for village youth and school leavers that do not have science disciplines.
10. Infrastructure (electricity, roads, the railway, ICT backbone etc.), supports the business sector engaged in industrialization, services, commercial agriculture, ICT, through the lowering of costs of doing business in the economy, so as to improve profitability of the business.
11. The above, deal with the material interests of the different social groups. However, in the Book of Matthew 4:4, it says that “Man shall not live by bread alone.” There are other legitimate interests such as spirituality (belief in God), culture, leisure, entertainment. With religion, it is legitimate that there is freedom of worship.
With culture, it is legitimate that those wishing to enjoy their culture (language, customs, music etc.), have the freedom to do so. However, it is illegitimate for opportunists to use either religion or culture, to promote sectarianism. It runs counter to the legitimate interests of the people. It interferes with the unity, the security and the prosperity of the people. People of different cultures buy from one another more than they buy from within each group - cattle - keepers with crop farmers, farmers with traders etc.
I have told Ugandans how, as a milk, beef and banana farmer, the Banyankore do not buy so much from me. Why? It is because they produce the same products. Who, then, buys my products? It is, mainly, the non- Banyankore that support my prosperity by buying my products. Therefore, anybody that takes a sectarian line is, first and foremost, the enemy of the Banyankore and the respective tribal groups because he attacks their prosperity.
The religious officials and some of the traditional Kingdom officials, in particular, are sometimes divorced from the production process-not engaged in wealth creation themselves but depending on offerings from the public (alms) or tribute (emitoijo). This can lead some of them to seek to maintain fiefdoms (control of unquestioning followers for one’s use) and completely be blind to the legitimate interests of even the people they purport to lead. In that situation, such actors become parasitic and must be rejected in pushing forward those illegitimate interests. Legitimate interests
Therefore, when you talk of “mobilization”, you must dissect society and its multiple and, sometimes, contradictory interests — legitimate and illegitimate. The NRM, as pointed out from the beginning, always only supports legitimate interests. What, then, are the legitimate interests that we should support in Uganda, currently? They are the following:
i. All land-owning homesteads in the rural areas, to abandon subsistence farming and join commercial farming with ekibaro — the Nyakaana-Kawumu-Bundibugyo-Masaka-Kalangala-Kisozi models.
ii. Decampaign land-fragmentation through inheritance in subsequent generations.
iii. Resist land evictions for Bibanja owners and work for the emancipation of the bibanja owners and compensation of the exploitative Mailo owners. Resist all schemes of okutemako (cut pieces from) of the Bibanja owners’ land or kyaapa mungalo (“leases” given by the illegal Buganda Land Board).
Leases were for educated, sometimes foreign, commercial producers, using land. They cannot be for the Ugandans who have their homes (obutuuro), the graves of their ancestors, on those lands. That is why the customary or freehold may be the only correct model for the Ugandans. However, that ownership should be tied, in my opinion, with the obligations to use the land as agreed with the state (farming etc.). Otherwise, the hoarders of land should be penalized, somehow. If this is not done, the people of Uganda will starve or be forced to kusaka (buying from others), while hoarders are sitting on the land of the country. Free education, bail reform and service delivery
iv. Free education in all Government schools must be enforced. We launched this in 1997. We spend Shs147.94BN on UPE and Shs 134.65 BN on USE each year. Yet, the children of the poor are chased from schools of the Government for not paying school fees.
v. Eliminating all sorts of crime such as village thefts by not granting bail or police bond to thieves or to other criminals. Let the trials be expeditious so that the only free people, should be the unguilty of any suspicion for crime. All people reasonably suspected or convicted of murder, terrorism, rape, defilement or village theft, should be in jail.
vi. Stealing of human drugs and vet drugs must be stopped by proper marking from the centre (digital marking) and proper follow up, up to the user.
vii. Cheap electricity for manufacturers and low transport costs so that production costs in Uganda are low in order to improve the profitability of our companies and improve the competitiveness of our products, widen the employment base of our economy and widen also the tax-base of the country.
viii. We are Pan-Africanists. We believe in the integration of the African Common Market of the whole of Africa and the political Federation of East Africa, so that we create a big market for our producers of goods and services and bigger space for movement of people looking for opportunity, like what exists in the USA, China, India, Russia and Indonesia.
ix. Local infrastructure to support life and agriculture — including irrigation for crops and a bore-hole per village, initially. Ultimately, we are targeting four bore holes or public taps per village.
x. Within free education, we target a Government primary school per parish and a Government secondary school per sub-county and a Government Vocational school per Constituency, starting with one per district. All these will have teachers’ houses so that the teachers stay near the school and teach more efficiently.
xi. We are targeting one Health Centre III per Sub-county, one Health Centre IV per Constituency and one Government hospital per district, with the houses of the health workers, so that they stay near the workplace.
xii. With the increasing number of factories, hotels, etc., the issue of the living wage will be addressed after we have resolved the issue of the cost of electricity and the transport costs — the rail transport. This is to ensure that companies in Uganda make profit before we carelessly demand for high wages.
Otherwise, companies will collapse or run away and we shall end up with no companies and no jobs. Wealth creation efforts and industrialization, will result in more jobs being created and more taxes being collected.
You only need to look into the political laboratory of Uganda, to understand the importance of interests-based mobilization. In the end, interests-based mobilization produces more durable loyalty than, for instance, the opportunistic use of identity (tribe, religious sects, gender-chauvinism) for mobilization and loyalty generation. Manipulation and obscurantism are also used quite often. When the NRA was advancing to the North, contrary to known facts, the Bazilio bankrupt clique, created a stampede in Gulu Town by telling the Acholis that the Bantus are coming to kill all the Acholis, they will take the ones they capture to force them to rebuild the Kabaka’s Palace in revenge for the destruction of that palace by the Northern Obote troops etc.
As a consequence, Gulu town was a deserted, ghost town. The Acholis, being cleverer than Bazilio, sent one old woman walking on a stick (empiimbo) whom they judged to be easily expendable (if she is killed, no much loss, after all, she is old). Of course, the NRA fed the old woman, gave her medicine, because that is our doctrine. People flooded back into town because the obscurantism had been exposed. Abandoned by the people of Acholi after they had properly recognized the value of the NRM positions, the opportunists now turned from manipulation to brutality. Kony and groups had to cut the ears, the nose and the arms of the people, to intimidate them into continuing to support the cause of “Gavumenti megwa” -“Our (Acholi) Government”. We had to use force to defeat these demonic parasites. That is how the North was liberated, eventually.
At Independence, through obscurantism, Ugandans had been manipulated into three (3) identity-based factions: UPC for the Protestants and some Moslems; DP for the Catholics and some tribes; and Kabaka Yekka for Baganda Protestants and some Moslems.
The precursors of the NRM, the Universities’ based study groups, rejected this ideology in 1965 and put forward the ideology of people’s needs (hunger, roads, poverty, health etc.), that were common to all our people. However, the elders, who were trapped in the ideology of identity, treated our efforts as laughable, saying that “blood was thicker than water”- a wholly unchristian idea if one remembered what Jesus told His brothers and His mother who came to look for Him when He was preaching to the multitudes. In Matthew, Chapter 12, verses 46-50, it reads as follows; “while He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside seeking to speak with Him. Then, one said to Him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with you.” But He answered and said to the one who told him, “Who is my Mother and who are my Brothers?” And He stretched His hand towards his disciples and said, "Here are my Mother and my Brothers”; “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Loyalty should, correctly, be based on interests rather than identity.
These pseudo loyalties, predictably, had caused the collapse of the independent State of Uganda by 1979. The precursors of the NRM (the study groups of the universities, Fronasa), burst on the political scene of Uganda in 1979 in the anti-Amin war.
By this time, the loyalties had altered greatly. The former KYs, many of the UPCs and all the DPs, were now anti-UPC-Obote. Why? It was on account of the following.
1. Lack of straight-forwardness of Obote on the issue of Mengo chauvinism, unlike Kiwanuka who had told off Mengo in 1961. Obote, on the other hand, had pretended as if he would do the impossible (Federo etc.) and, then, turned around and destroyed Mengo. Many people, including the KY members, appreciated, with hindsight, the straightforwardness of Kiwanuka and DP. However, DP had its sectarian character and the new members were not easily welcome. That is how UPC worked with DP, to block the return of Professor Lule to take over the leadership of DP because he was nakajja (I have just come) instead of Ssemwogere who was a kasangwawo (original).
2. Neither the old DP nor the new one, however, had a solution for one of the problems created by colonialism and amplified by the mistakes of a wing of UPC- the Obote wing. This was the problem of a tribal Army. The colonialists, in their usual bumping (kutomerea), had the nonsensical idea of “martial’’ tribes - Acholis-Langi in Uganda, Akamba in Kenya, Kuria in Tanzania, Yao in Malawi etc. Apart from this idea being provocative, these soldiers were behaving badly. At Moshi Co-operative College, I was teaching with a Tanzanian who had studied at Makerere, known as Mbawala. While at Makerere, he interacted with a former soldier of the UA from the North who told him of how they had “taught the Baganda, a lesson” - in the 1966 crisis. One of the “lessons” was how they would rape a person’s wife while the husband was watching and after completing the rape, the soldier would tell the husband to use his Kanzu, to clean the penis of the raper. Neither the old DP nor the new one, had the capacity to create a new Army of discipline, which meant either reforming or destroying the old armies. It is only Fronasa that had that potential which we offered to the broad — based UNLF, but they were not interested.
3. Besides, the ideological orientation of DP was Euro-centric. They were members of the Christian Union of Parties - linked with the political parties of Germany, Italy etc. Konrad Adenauer Foundation was supporting DP while the Filbert Ebart Foundation of the social -democrats, was supporting UPC (they are the ones that built Uganda House). What, then, happens to our prosperity (African prosperity) through market integration? None of their business. Do not concentrate on African issues, concentrate on rivalries of the Europeans.
4. By 1979, Amin’s mistakes had resulted in serious shortages. That problem had to be solved. Who would solve it? Could the new DP solve it? Could UPC solve it? However, to solve the problem of shortages, you had to solve the problem of security. In order to solve the problem of security, you had to solve the problem of the Army. It is only Fronasa that could do that. However, at that time, this fact was not very clear to the Ugandans. When DP and UPC blindly tore up UNLF, wanting to go back to their sectarian politics, Ugandans were in a dilemma. They suspected that the group of young men around Museveni, had the capacity to control security; but they doubted whether the new party the young people had created, had the capacity to win the elections. The young Party was UPM, formed by Bidandi Ssali and others, into which I was conscripted. The DP could not accept our terms of growing out of sectarianism. UPC was a no-go area on account of their mistakes.
5. Issues such as education, health, wealth creation, infrastructure etc., were not on the radar of the people. It was security of life and property and essential commodities that were upper- most, in people’s minds.
Therefore, the majority of the people in the 1980 elections, decided to vote for DP- possibly 80 percent. However, Muwanga announced his own results and UPC had “won”. One good example is the Constituency of Mubende that included Bukomero. The returning officer, announced the election results:
Dr. Senabulya DP -19,000 votes.
Samwiri Mugwisa UPC - 3,000 votes.
However, according to Muwanga, as announced, Mugwisa had “won”! The population was now in a crisis, “What do we do?” They were asking themselves. The answer is: Museveni. After the December 10th elections, wherever I went, the demand was: “Bawo kyokola.” Do something; we are in danger. Kulwaki temwalonda UPM? Why didn’t you vote for UPM? We would ask the Wanainchi. The answer was ready: “ Va kubya kalulu, bawo kyokola” — “forget about the elections — do something”.
This is how the NRM inherited all the anti-UPC (Obote) sentiment in the country. Forget about DP, NRA is the solution. By winning the difficult Civil War in 1986, the prestige of the NRM hit the roof-most of the anti- UPC people became NRM. The NRM also won over many of the UPCs in the areas of Ankole, Kigyezi, Tooro, Bunyoro, Busoga, Bukedi, Bugisu etc., because of the policy of no revenge and the politics of broad - based participation.
6. Another irritant for the people was the rigging of elections by UPC. The NRM introduced lining up behind candidates of your choice. The people liked that.
7. The Army was disciplined. “Abaserikali beyisa nga ababikira, sang one of the musicians by the name of Sumini Nnabagereka- “Soldiers of the NRA, behave like nuns”.
8. The consumer goods were in plenty — no more shortages.
9. No more sectarian tensions in politics. Bishop Odongo of Tororo (catholic), once said the following to me: “You are the founder of the NRM, but you do not know what it means”. He continued: “It is me who knows what it means when I go to say mass in my Catholic Parishes and you find Moslem leaders with their Moslem hats sitting in the front row because a big man (the Bishop) is visiting their area. They are the LCs and also part of the inter-religious structure/ In Runyankole they would say: “NRM ekaihaho oburyaane — literally it means: “the NRM stopped eating one another '' — brought communal harmony. On account of peace and harmony, the Wanainchi started saying: “Wakili, twebakka kutulo” — “at least we sleep ''.
Many NRM leaders benefitted from this when it came to elections. The prestige of the NRM has been very high ever since 1981 when we inherited the support of the people from DP and it soared when we won the civil war. That is why in the elections of 1996, we won with 76 percent in spite of efforts by DP and UPC to bring back the old sectarian politics.
Being a revolutionary, I could not content myself with the prestige of NRM for winning the civil war, banishing sectarianism, bringing peace and ending shortages, ending magendo and ending kibaanda and kusamula. Between 1986 and 1995, I carried out wealth creation experiments in the Nyabushozi area to move people into the money economy out of okukolera ekidda kyonka, tic me ic keken (subsistence farming).
I used my previous association with the peasants (traditional society), to assess and design a way forward. That is how I selected dairy farming instead of beef farming. I have summarized that struggle in the booklet entitled: From Obwiriiza to Amatafaari.
By 1995, since that pilot effort had succeeded, I traversed the whole of Uganda and advised everybody to use the peace the NRM had created to do the following:
i. Kulembeka, kutangiriza, jolo pii, aiga akipi- use peace to bring income to your house.
ii. In doing that, use ekibaro (cura,aimar,otita) in order to get maximum returns.
iii. Calculate what enterprises you can do depending on the acreage you have,
iv. Then, the Government should come in and support you.
Determining to use four (4) acres as a minimum for the small farmers who have already fragmented the land, we put this strategy in the NRM Manifesto of 1996.
10. Apart from wealth creation, we also identified the issue of education for all; hence, UPE and USE, which were in the manifesto of the NRM of 1996.
11. Health, where we introduced immunization for the six (6) killer diseases in 1987, with Dr Rugunda in Entebbe. We are now vaccinating for 13 diseases. This programme has worked very well. That is how the population of Uganda has jumped from 14 million in 1986 to now 42.8 million (2021). It is the supply of drugs that is still a problem. The drugs are stolen by health workers and the leaders do nothing.
12. Infrastructure has expanded greatly in the area of roads, electricity, telephones etc. Therefore, a lot of achievements have been attained. However, much more could have been achieved and can be achieved, especially in the areas of social-economic transformation through wealth creation; free education; anti-corruption; the fight against crime; the lowering of the costs of electricity and transport so as to accelerate industrialization and job-creation; struggle for regional integration to solve the issue of ensuring a big market for Africa’s products; and an effective communication strategy so that Ugandans know our aims and achievements clearly.
It is the failure by many NRM actors to go back to the history of the NRM and understand the interests-based policies that boosted the prestige of the NRM and endeared it to the people that creates some problems. We must cover the whole spectrum of the People’s mikyeno (solvable needs) and address, by promise or action, kukyenuura (to solve a solvable problem), all of them.
We cannot only depend on the historical legitimacy of the NRM. Even by 1996, the detractors of the NRM were saying: “Do we eat peace?” It is not an entirely wrong question. We must go beyond peace, unity and infrastructure and address the entire spectrum of needs as I have been telling you ever since 1995.
This is the mobilization message for wealth creators, dealing with wealth creation issues, for producing goods and services, processing the goods and distributing them and not the message for the parasites who want food and wealth without working, who create fiefdoms among the people for ease of exploitation and who, consequently, seek to fragment the very people the wealth creators seek to unite into a huge viable African market and a strong East African Federation, the former for the prosperity of our people and the latter for the strategic security of East Africa and Africa.