COMMENT: By Mwambutysa Ndebesa
Recent ambassadorial appointments show domestic political calculations trumping ideological clarity
The NRM government, and President Yoweri Museveni in particular, prides in being a president that is ideologically anchored. The President always says that his political actions are informed and guided by his beliefs and ideology. And this ideology is normally defined by the trinity of revolutionary progressivism, Pan-Africanism, and anti-imperialism.
This opinion article will dwell on ideology and how it informed or failed to inform the recent diplomatic appointments which are yet to be approved by parliament at the time of writing this piece. It is true a country’s foreign policy among others is based on history, culture, economy, security and ideology. When assessing these ambassadorial appointments one notices that the ideological basis of appointments is conspicuous by its absence.
When NRM had come into power in 1986s, ideology was a priority criterion for such appointments. On account of ideological solidarity with the socialist progressive regimes in the global geopolitics, Museveni would not miss out on posting an ambassador to capitals such as Havana in Cuba. Fidel Castro’s Cuba was a center around which revolutionary rhetoric gravitated. It was in Cuba that Che Guevara, the legendary Argentine Marxists revolutionary was buried. But what do we see today?
There is no ambassador who has been sent to Havana. Is it a reflection of ideological shift away from the radical and progressive politics by the Museveni administration? As a revolutionary progressive and radical regime, is the NRM still identifying itself with the struggle for the global justice movement? Is NRM still defined by the politics of social justice as it claimed when it came into power three decades ago?
In a similar surprise, we do not see any ambassador posted to the whole continent of South America. And yet that is the continent where the current surviving, radical, and left of the centre socialist and progressive regimes that can stand against corporate globalisation are found. This is a continent of countries that are leading the global justice movement. We are here talking of countries in South America such as Bolivia, Uruguay, and Ecuador. We are here referring to socialist progressive and radical presidents such as Evo Morales of Bolivia, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, and former president of Uruguay Jose Mujica; the most humble and poorest president the whole world had ever seen in recent history and who retired in 2015.
Back here on the African continent and using the lens of ideological based appointments, we expected diplomatic envoys to be sent to say capitals such as Maputo in Mozambique. Is it not in Mozambique that Museveni cut his teeth in practical revolutionary politics when he went into the liberated zones to carry out his fieldwork research for his B.A graduating dissertation titled ”Fanonian Theory of Violence and its Verification in Mozambique?” Was the founder of Frelimo, Edwardo Mondalane, not the icon of NRM during the Bush war in Luwero and was one of the NRA camps not named after him? How come then, based on these ideological and historical ties, are we not having an envoy designated to Maputo!