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From king to emperor

In his essay “Finishing off with the Idea of the Third World, The Concept of the Political Trajectory” Jean Francois Bayart argues that politics must be understood as a moment in a very long-term story. This can be a story of a civilization, of a culture and of a system of inequalities. Out of a people’s experience of this past, a past involving external and endogenous forces, people construct various “discursive genres” through which politics is understood and participated in. Bayart gives examples of such genres as the British system of representative government and civil liberties, Islamic thought, etc.

In Uganda, and indeed across most of Sub Sahara Africa, the “discursive genre” about political power is “eating.” From inception, the colonial economy was built as an integral part of politics – economic resources flowed to those with power. The benefits of modernity (jobs as chiefs, civil servants, teachers, etc. or allocation of land and trading licenses) went to those who collaborated with the colonial state.

Thus control of state power became a means of controlling economic resources and in turn control of economic resources became a means of reproducing power through neo-patrimonial networks. African elites did not fight for independence to dismantle the colonial state but to inherit its privileges. Listening to them, it becomes clear that People Power is the embodiment of this popular expectation. Given power, it would reproduce exactly what Museveni has presided over – massive corruption and patronage – but most likely (and sadly) without his finesse.

We have a rich history from which to draw such a conclusion. In 2002, Kenyans voted Daniel arap Moi’s KANU out of office because of its massive corruption. The new president, Mwai Kibaki, even appointed the indefatigable John Githongo as ombudsman. Githongo had been a leading anti corruption campaigner working with Transparency International – at one time I worked under him as a consultant. Under Kibaki, corruption skyrocketed. Within two years, Githongo had run to exile because the “looting mafia” was closing in to kill him. If Kenyans thought this was it, today they find the corruption of the Uhuru Kenyatta government to surpass everything they have witnessed before.

This is the story of Zambia, Malawi, Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Benin, DRC, etc. Change of power, whether violent or peaceful, has led to more, not less corruption. The lesson is simple but fundamental: corruption is the way the system works, not the way it fails. People Power supporters accuse anyone who defends Museveni/government of being paid. This is because their “discursive genre” of politics is the cash nexus. Give them power and cash in politics will cease to be king and become emperor.



  1. I really disagree with you Mwenda on some aspects and would be glad if you shade some light on the following issues:
    Firstly, you have consistently strongly accused the opposition of intolerance. Was M7 tolerant by going to the bush after rigged elections? Can you resist dictatorship by being tolerant? The conditions of intolerance can be blamed on the dictatorship as a reaction to the injustice meted out. When citizens are not fairly treated and are unequal before the courts of law, how can you have tolerance.

    Secondly you have bashed People power for not having policies: How many of the 10 point programs have been attained in 33 years? What were the policies of RPF before it took power? Were Land grabbing and connection based corruption with patronage and creation of safe houses part of the NRM policies?
    Uganda’s policies are the solutions to the current problems. As a learned comrade you are aware that leadership is about assembling the best possible team to deal with issues of national interest.

  2. ” Many intellectuals would be horrified at my suggestion that patronage and clientelism (otherwise called corruption) is the real basis for order in poor countries and without it, the state could easily disintegrate. But this is largely because they are naïve and idealistic.”

    “Many intellectuals…………….. But this is largely because they are naive(sometimes read stupid) and idealistic.”

    This is what M9 is saying this week, or call it today, only having said this last week.

    “This realisation came in large part because I became deeply conscious of my own weaknesses. Once this happened, I felt liberated from self-righteous anger and what it leads to – the delusion that I am perfect and everyone else is incompetent and corrupt.”

    Here you are claiming you became “liberated” from “self delusion” and became deeply conscious of your own weaknesses. The delusion that you are PERFECT and everyone else is incompetent(naive) and yet here you are taking the high altar and looking down on everyone else.

  3. Andrew I agree with you on the people’s power cult failure to demonstrate to the citizen on whether they have the capacity to lead the country on the right direction should they win the election come 2021.
    They don’t have a clear campaign manifesto all I hear them shout is removing museveni out of power . Sometimes I ask my self why should we replace a dictator with another bunch of dictators.
    But you support to NRM is clear suspect because NRM has failed Ugandans very badly.
    Thirty three years down the line and ugandans are poorer than before.
    Our healthcare is hailing , no markets for our agricultural products, insecurity is hurting everyone, no jobs for the youth , the vice of graft is now a culture being perpetrated by all the big fish in gov’t and you still recommend NRM.
    I wish only the opposition could form a United well structured opposition then museveni will be force to hung up is boots and Live a peace full life in his village in rwakitura.

  4. 1. People Power is a non starter its just a gathering of people with bad luck; (Akisiraani)
    2. i wish Bobi Wine had just an itch of Andrew’s IQ.
    3.The youth take pride in being young just for the sake it they think that matters like Foreign policy and Fiscal Policy are meant for the old.
    4. Each time Bobi Wine says M7 does not make them speak freely i know its not true Ugandans speak freely untill they form at the corners of their mouth.
    4. Recently there was massive recruitment of LDUs i was shocked that most of the youth had forged PLE and O’level certificates yet these are the same idle youth who want to be appointed as CEO BOU.
    5.The youth of today are a Voluntary National Crisis; Girls as young as 15 years are having sex with old sick men,the boy are high on weed.

  5. Andrew Mwenda is trying to label the “people power movement” as a cult. It is for certain that he gets paid and not well any more to write such articles. This is a tactic used by bullies like Trump that seek to demean people that have a view different from theirs.

    Mwenda is being a bully by assigning a negative connotation label to the people power movement. Does Mwenda know what it takes to put one’s life on the line and risk being a leader of the people power movement?

    Andrew Mwenda is a Pseudo intellectual, who is trying to create some relevance to himself after losing credibility by being a political flip flopper. Mwenda sold his journalistic credentials and self respect a long time ago to the powers to be in Kigali and Kampala. And now has he no self respect and tries hard to conjur some psuedo political analysis which is so lopsided and bears no balanced views.

    Even the powers to be that he sold his soul to are acutely aware that Mwenda no longer has any pull. Mwenda is now just but a laughing stock within the circles in Kigali and Kampala.

    Its time for him to quit!

    • Cults last for 25 years unless there is a sense of right and wrong nrm is a cult as well and the strong sense of right and wrong monstrous to make volition political ly possible .
      En falsus uno en falsus omnibus .

  6. Cults last for 25 years unless there is a sense of right and wrong nrm is a cult as well and the strong sense of right and wrong monstrous to make volition political ly possible .
    En falsus uno en falsus omnibus .

  7. I like mwenda’s persistent labelling of anything/one who disagrees with his views about nrm/ M7 as being intolerant and cult followers. M9 forgets that as he fingerpoints at his so called opponents with one finger, the remaining four are pointing at him! I. e he is the most intolerant cult follower of his god M7, that’s why he prides in himself wearing his wrist watch on the right hand like M7.
    Andrew, remember that the higher the monkey climbs the tree, the more it exposes it’s naked s**thole!

  8. Wycliffee Atwine Muhangi

    We all agree that Uganda is currently handicapped by corruption, but am sure the leaf that people power officials have borrowed is that they aim to put their ethno group to the frontier and tap at the trough. But the controversy ahead is whether they will be able to maintain the economy running or stagnate it amidst their looting.

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