By Joan Akello
Speaking against a gathering storm at the Golden Jubilee Celebration at Kololo in Kampala, President Yoweri Museveni made the shortest Independence Day speech ever. It lasted a record 26 minutes. But it had an array of philosophical ideals that have attracted attention.
Among them was his `new’ 10-ten point plan for Uganda in the next 50 year which marked both a departure and a return to 1986, when his National Resistance Army/ Movement (NRA/M), then newly- installed in power proclaimed the famous 10—Point Programme.
Hatched during Museveni’s five year guerrilla campaign in the bushes of Luwero, central Uganda; the 10—Point Programme was developed as a coherent political and economic explanation of why the NRA was fighting against the Ugandan government.
In its place, the new plan Museveni proposed at Kololo aims to thrust Uganda into the middle-income country category within a “few years”, and propel the nation’s march to first-world status within five decades.
A significant difference between the `old’ and the `new’ is the hierarchy of priorities. If restoration of democracy topped the former, good governance is bottom of the pile in the latter. While fighting corruption, a major concern today, was number seven on the old Ten-point programme; it was left out in new plan.
Instead, the new plan has fighting ideological disorientation in first place, followed by eliminating sectarianism; promoting education; the private sector; developing infrastructure; regional markets; value addition; service sector; agricultural modernization and governance last.
The maverick NRM ideologue, Soroti Municipality MP George Michael Mukula defends Museveni’s shifting positions.
“We have shifted our priorities according to the DNA in order to concentrate more into areas of wealth creation and industrialisation,” he told The Independent, “The NRM midwifed a very fundamental instrument for governance where leaders are changed using a secret ballot.”
To him, the 2012 ten-point plan is a pragmatic but transitional vision of the NRM revolution in line with the 10-point programme which was expanded to a 15-point plan in 1998.
“I see the 2012 ten point plan as an abridged version of vision 2040,” he said, adding that it plays well as an interim measure that needs to be harmonized with the other multi-sectoral strategic visions and Vision 2040.
But not everyone is as excited as Mukula.
Maj. John Kazoora an erstwhile Museveni confidante who is now a leading opponent shows how Museveni has mastered the art of duping and hoodwinking Ugandans.
“I pity those who are still unable to read Mr. Museveni’s character and see the direction our country is heading in, and those who cannot learn from the perpetual regret in which those before them live after being used as doormats.”
“There is a difference between a programme and a plan. Since the visions have shifted from 2015 to 2025 to 2040, soon it will be 2060. But the government has never accounted for the failures or achievements of the old plans or visions,” Kazoora said.
“Probably in 2016, there will be a ten-point programme, plan, policy and framework, and then ten-point nothing and ten-point nonsense,” Kazoora says.
When he speaks, Kazoora’s disillusionment with Museveni is as palpable as what he wrote in his book, Betrayed by My leader.
There, Kazoora who was a Museveni confidante in the bush narrates how, just after they captured Kampala, the rebel army High Command and NRC (National Resistance Council) sat to elect the president and to debate how long NRM should stay in power.
Members present suggested four, five, seven and nine years, Kazoora narrates, but President Museveni looked around and then: ‘screaming like a banshee’ said: “Have I wasted my time developing cadres?… this is bankruptcy of Africans wanting to overstay in power for ever; what are eight years for? Two years are enough.”
Kazoora concludes: “Ekyishuba (liar)- little did we know that it was all just mockery. He was later to lead the campaign for five year extension of NRC, and bribed MPs to amend the constitution to remove presidential term limits. 26 years later he is still clinging to power”.
Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga, who has led most of the recent opposition protests against the Museveni also punctures Museveni’s new plan.
“For sectarianism, I was waiting to hear him sack his wife, tell or advise his immediate family to quit government to enhance national unity,” he told The Independent, “He is enriching his family and cronies by reciting to us poetry. It means he has accepted his family rule”.
Mpuuga says Museveni’s actions since last year do not show a man who has his county at heart.
“He used the first oil dollars to purchase fighter jets, is using a Shs 3.3 billion limousine and yet he preaches self- sustainability, he thinks Ugandans are that gullible.” Mpuuga said.
Mpuuga was referring to President Museveni’s posh entry to Kololo in a top-of-the range Mercedes Benz S500 Pullman limousine with wife Janet by his side. By some accounts, his convoy was 32-vehicles long with an array of luxury Benzes and Toyota Land Cruisers. Three of the controversial fighter jets he purchased provided some of the day’s entertainment as they flew overhead in various formations.
Mpuuga says the president has shifted his focus from democracy and governance to a rule of rulers not rule of law.
“We have witnessed political thuggery during elections. He is not believable, unlike in the past he spoke for less than 30 minutes because he could not explain his new ten strategies.
“He (president) is trying to turn this country into one for dreamers to cover up his commissions, omissions and failure to implement the original ten points,” Mpuuga says.
“Now we have a 25-point and the old man is still recycling ideas. He must have been speaking to his foreign guests. I do not think even his henchmen believed him.”
“The new ten-point plan was just a presidential pronouncement for the Kololo celebrations. It was a diversionary tactic. We, who can read between the lines, are offended,” says Oduman Albert Charles Okello, former Bukedea Member of Parliament (MP).
Like Oduman, Aaron Mukwaya, lecturer Makerere University College of Political Science and Public Administration says the plan has no new ideas and provides no road map on how it will be implemented.
“Fighting ideological disorientation? The first thing I would ask is who is saying so? If it is the president, he is the one with ideological chaos in his mind,” Mukwaya says.
Mukwaya says he expected the President to explain the cause for the new plan after the 15-point one, to revisit all the political ills like corruption, ethnicity, unemployment, poor health and education system and describe what mechanisms he will use to ensure the new vision succeeds.
Mukwaya says democracy is not about having regular, free and fair elections but also change of faces.
Even others, like Philips Odwokacen, a lecturer at the Uganda Christian University Faculty of Social Science, who agrees that fighting ideological disorientation is a good point, say Museveni has to first fight it within NRM.
“They should stop just saying we are for NRM and be accountable to the people.”
No one loves thieves
Mukula also points out another problem.
“The problem is that we have scattered our road map .The plan is good but without budgetary discipline and enough electricity we cannot take off,” he says.
He agrees with Mpuuga on corruption.
“We can’t pride ourselves yet we have the best laws, institutions, political actors in place but corruption is an epidemic,” says Mukula who, ironically, is battling to clear his name in the biggest corruption scandal the country has witnessed.
Uganda has been ranked as the most corrupt among the five countries under the East African community (EAC), according to the 2012 report Transparency International report yet it is not mentioned in the new plan.
“You cannot fight corruption when you are corruption itself,” Mukwaya said, “You cannot teach a Ugandan who has nothing to eat to be patriotic yet he sees your people stealing from the national pot. You cannot love thieves.”
Mukula says East African leaders should marry their visions and not let Rwanda have its 2020 Vision, Kenya the 2030 Vision and Uganda 2040.
“We must think of a common East African vision if we are ending on one path,” Mukula says. “We must leave the borders open even at night because Africans still choose when to sleep and when to work yet Europe, Asia never sleep”.
Mukula wants technology research and development institutes such as those in South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, and Rwanda but there is none in Uganda.
“We must run government like it’s a business,” he says, “As Kenya’s enterprises like Nakumatt, Uchumi make an entry into Uganda, their banks; traders follow them such as Kenya Commercial Bank. We are not investing in emerging markets that is why we do not have a single indigenous commercial or financial institution. Even in the telecommunications, like WARID, MTN Ugandans hold minority or negligible shares. We see the guarantees given to Aya, Karim which should be given to people like Africana”.
He cited low competiveness, weak public sector management, low industrialization, corruption and low government investment as bottlenecks to Uganda’s development.
Mpuuga agrees with Mukula on the development model.
“Let him (president) learn and stop going to Singapore for visits and treatment but instead learn how nationalists serve their people including Malaysia, Thailand. They have transformed their economies less than the years he has spent in power”, Mpuuga said.
Mukwaya and Mpuuga agree on the need for a national dialogue to foster reconciliation.
“The president should negotiate his exit for his own good, for his attempt at governance. Ugandans will forgive him.”
But bitter Kazoora has the most pointed barb: “For 26 years, expectant mothers still buy cotton wool, syringes, ‘buvera’, Mbale referral has one doctor, and we still import mere tooth picks. I wish His Excellency General Dr. Ssabalwanyi Yoweri Kaguta Museveni another 50 years so that this new wonderful ten-point plan will be implemented. I hope these 50 years are enough.”