Is Museveni’s ‘victory’ helpful to Uganda?

20 Feb

By Stephen Twinoburyo

So the Ugandan electoral commission has declared incumbent president, Yoweri Museveni, the ‘winner’ of the recently concluded presidential election,   with 68% of the vote? That Museveni would ‘win’ should never have been in question. Matters, conduct and events leading up to the polls all indicated one thing – a Museveni ‘victory’.

The whole campaign was so steeped in his favour that even a mosquito placed in his position could have won. First of all I must acknowledge the lack of violence that had characterised the previous elections. In fact most of the pre-election violence we saw was between NRM candidates themselves that fought bitterly to have a seat on the plunder-train that the NRM has become. Never in the history of the country have we seen state plunder that is a simple matter of course as we have seen under the NRM. Never before have we seen the state president have absolute control and misuse of state resources as we have seen Museveni do. This then is what played in the elections.

Throughout the campaigns, Museveni has been physically giving out state money to all and sundry as he pleased. Newspapers reported that all government ministries had run broke midway through the financial year and all payments had been put on ice because all the money had been diverted to president Museveni’s re-election campaign. The Minister of Finance later confirmed the financial paralysis in government. Reports from Bank of Uganda (BOU) indicate that some officials have indicated their intentions to resign and that the governor himself has become a broken man because of the way the president has turned the institution into his money purse. It is alleged he ordered the bank to release all the money available and divert the rest from designated projects against the will of the BOU managers, and that even some in the institution who have traditionally supported him feel let down. This brings to memory the way Iddi Amin run the institution. However in Iddi Amin’s case, he used the money, without planning, to add to the country. Museveni instead has been reducing value from the country. What a pity! It’s this money that has been used to bribe people massively, right from parliamentarians going down. In a country where 84% of the population is rural – and living on presidential handouts – this works very well.

The situation has also not been helped by the army, which has indicated on many occasions that it can only serve Museveni. During the campaigns, as hospitals run without medicine, we saw scores of armoured riot vehicles and trucks being imported from China, all on display to box people into fear. The army also became very visible. All this, together with talk of chaos if Museveni were to lose, was designed to intimidate people into fear and make them choose ‘stability’ over delivery. The army has thus been portrayed as a machine of Museveni’s sustainance rather than an institution for the people. This played very well during the campaigns and elections. However events in Tunisia, Egypt and Lybia have shown that the army is made up of brothers and sisters of the common man that they also suffer under the same disrepair and poverty as their kin.

Just like has happened in many African countries where long-serving despots entrench their positions in power, I think Museveni and his supporters have pushed for extension to his 25-year rule more out of fear and individual opportunistic needs rather than what he has to deliver. Few, if any, expect him to deliver anything to the country that he has not done in 25 years. When one looks at North Africans making changes in their countries, one wonders what planet we in black Africa live on. Those North African leaders have delivered far more to their countries that we can ever dream to receive from the likes of Museveni even if he were given another 50 years, yet we seem to be in a slumber of ‘comfort’. Whenever the international TVs would briefly turn to Uganda to report on the elections, the scene would appear like it had been taken from a pre-history channel. The brown, muddy and dusty environment didn’t seem to be from a country that has been boasting of “the largest economic growth in Africa” for the last 25 years, and least of all a country on the same continent where Tunisia, Egypt and Lybia are. Ugandans should wake up and realise that they are living in a country that is one of the poorest and least developed in Africa, and not getting any better. Uganda should also be ranking among the most poorly managed countries on the continent, and there is a lot in the country to affirm this.

There were times when I wondered whether an election boycott would have made more sense despite the fact that I am generally not in favour of boycotts. However I think the campaign gave us an opportunity to learn more about Museveni. I generally think Ugandans are now more aware that Museveni is going nowhere peacefully and few genuinely expect anything positive from him. Campaign euphoria and living happily under the ‘elected’ government are two different things. As the reality sinks in, there will be greater realisation that we are deeper into the abyss than we have ever been in our history. I am more than convinced that each day longer that Museveni stays in power is a greater loss for the country. Already the country is likely to bleed from massive inflation due to the money that has been withdrawn from the country’s coffers and misused. To this, will add projects that will no longer be undertaken or essential supplies that will no longer be acquired.

I must also point out that the opposition had their failures too and did not help themselves sufficiently. The fact that they spent more time fighting each other at the beginning than tackling their opponent must have made Museveni sleep so soundly. These fights also demoralised many Ugandans that could have voted for them. That almost half of the registered voters didn’t vote says a lot. The opposition to be frank, was not inspiring. They focused more on Museveni’s failures rather than what they can deliver. Many seem to be in politics for the same reasons we want those in the NRM out. I have been involved in many facebook debates and we invited the opposition groups to briefly tell us what their programmes were so that we could debate them but none came forward. Up to this day, post-elections, I don’t know what most of the opposition groups stood for. It’s in fact people from the ruling NRM that came in to argue and debate on behalf of their parties. if the opposition thought such forum are not helpful, they then have not caught up with the latest communication methods – and politics is about communication. Uganda definitely needs a new political space, most preferably among our youths. Uganda needs leadership that see real value for the country and are determined to make a difference. Leadership that has an upright  moral mindset.

Yes, Museveni has ‘won’ but the mood in the country seems to be that of uncertainty than celebration. I was young then but to me this increasingly resembles the post-1980 elections period. Nothing, and not least the recently concluded elections, convinces me that Museveni should still be our president. I will continue to argue, debate and ally myself with those who say he shouldn’t.


Posted by on February 20, 2011 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs


14 responses to “Is Museveni’s ‘victory’ helpful to Uganda?


    February 21, 2011 at 04:13

    ST, I just wrote this before reading yours and we appear to gree on most points. I too believe that this election serves more to unmask museveni than to strengthen him and that debate must continue.

    Of illusions -post 2011 election

    by Drew Ddembe on Monday, February 21, 2011 at 11:39am

    I had no illusions at all that Museveni was going to ‘win’ this election. I agree with the commonwealth report and have already pointed out the same points in my own note yesterday.

    In my post yesterday, I pointed out the heavy use of incumbence, state patronage and state resources and that this will need to be examined further if necessary in the constitutional court. The laws regarding party funding will need to be examined as this is a loophole Museveni has used. The use of money in this election will need serious debate.

    Again in my post election post I mentioned the payment of LC’s as a major factor in this election. I posted a note I wrote in 2004 regarding Museveni’s grassroot campaign machine (LC’s) No other party can duplicate this structure. I personally think that the opposition should have pushed for he dissolution of LC’s an NRM party structure, when the NRM one party government ended and multiparty politics started in 2006, but Museveni is quite good at diverting them for months on useless debates like the anti homosexuality bill that am sure he never intended to pass in the first place but kept parliament from debating issues that affect Ugandans!

    Unequal access to the media -I believe something like 9 FM stations in the north denied access to opposition politicians. This should be illegal and needs to be addressed! there should be laws guaranteeing access to all political parties during campaigns.

    The use of technology. While FB has emerged as a factor that has put the NRM on their toes and the effects of this forum on this election and future debate and elections will need to be analysed for sometime, the opposition failed to use it for leverage. In this respect, Museveni was ahead of them. As you can see they at least sent their agents provocateurs like Nina, Ochola, Okello, Maria, Jimmex and Mugerwa to monitor and at times attempt to disrupt and derail debate in these forums! The opposition spokesmen failed to engage in these debates or use technology as leverage.

    The opposition still remains weak and immature, even though it has made great strides since 2006. Their main campaign strategy is still based around antipathy to Museveni the man but many fail to articulate a clear position on what they have to offer Ugandans that is different to what the NRM and Museveni have to offer! the presence of old guards who themselves are tainted either by association with previous governments or by association with the NRM does not help either! FDC has taken on more of the character of a political party rather than a coalition of desperados with personal grudges against the incubent. Thay also managed to field more candidates this time in most constituents. DP has thrown off the old guard while UPC has thrown off the Obote family that controlled and virtually owned the party for 49 years but is still controlled by old reflexes! The beginnings of single issue lobby groups and parties campaigning on a single issue such as Kamya and Ssuubi have emerged.

    KB is going to have to move aside for either Muntu or his wife or whoever else his party choses to elect as their leader. Mao is still immature and it is not clear whether he will be able to build DP back into a strong party with a young base and a national representation or whether he will go for short term gains and jump ship. One hopes that he will be ready for 2016. Otunnu was still born and his petulance and childishness in this election has exposed him as just another egoistic politician seeking power for himself. He hoped that ugandans would view him as a saviour and that their hate of Museveni would act in his favour. Unfortunately like many politicians from previous governments who have lived outside the country for a long time he continues in the delusion that Ugandans hate Museveni. Its true some do but many don’t. To many he was a necessary evil -against people like Otunnu and his previous friends many of whom remain his current friends. While many are tired of Museveni and would like to see him go, in a direct contest between otunnu and Museveni, Otunnu Museveni would win hands down! the only way that Otunnu will be able to change that is actually getting down on the ground and doing ‘kakuyege’ -do the hearts and minds thing and not the ‘shock and awe’ thing which obviously does not seem to have traction with the masses! He needs to actually build a base if he wishes to have a future as a Ugandan politician else he should just return to New York and look for a job! Intellectuals maybe impressed by his resume but paesants don’t care -and paesants have the power here! Paesants are more interested in “twebaka ku tulo” and their next meal and he needs to articulate how he is going to guarantee that!

    The NRM was more mature in not giving him free publicity by making him a martyr which is what he wanted. Am sure he was itching to be arrested! Like Awori, such people fade away when ignored but like Besigye gain traction when persecuted.

    The heavy deployment of the army in this election needs to be discussed. Policing is the job of the police and not the army. During an election, emphasis should be on the use of police which should be resourced and trained to maintain the peace. Instead resources were diverted to the army! I just received a message from my mother while writing this. I will quote her sms verbatim; “Museveni again! We pray that there will be peace. We are OK, but still in houses! Greetings and God bless.

    My parents are not aware of my writings or activities on this forum as I do not discuss them with them. For years they supported and in some way helped maintain the NRM in the early days. They were very active in civil education campaigns of the CA and early LC’s but lost interest when it became clear Museveni had no intention of stepping down and corruption was not going anywhere. I am very sure that they do not feel the same way about Museveni since about 1999-2006 and am sure they are not the only ones. If they voted any other party, it would be a protest vote. Again I have never asked them who they voted but I wouldnt be surprised if they voted against Museveni. Traditionally they were DP, by I would be surprised if they voted DP either. I suspect that their vote would go to one of the smaller new candidates like Kamya even though they would be well aware she had no chance. On the other hand I would not be surprised if they chose to vote for “stability” and voted for Museveni!

    It is interesting that in many places, people decided to vote out Museveni’s minsters but voted to keep him! This probably boils down to ‘stability’ and twebaka ku tulo’ as Museveni and his Generals have made it very clear that they will shoot anyone who threatens their hold on power and they are not about to salute anyone else! Surely it is not because they think that they are doing a wonderful job otherwise why sack a performing team? And we know that on corruption, on poverty, on infrastructure etc, the NRM and Museveni score a big zero!

    The fact that 3 days after the election, they still haven’t ventured outside their homes is telling and explains why there really hasn’t been much celebration even if the NRM should be celebrating! The intimidating presence of the army given the circumstances and our history may therefore have played a role in peoples choices. It is the same ridiculous choice that Egyptians had to make in entrusting the stability and security of their country to the frailty of an 80-something year old man until they got the courage to overcome their fear!! All this military presence is designed to heighten anxiety and stampede people into voting for stability just like Tony Blair stampeded his parliament into rubber stamping his war in Iraq by stationing tanks at Heathrow even though there is no conceivable role for tanks in a fight against a suicide bomber with a backpack or even stolen plane! This is psychological manipulation of the population as is all the talk of terrorism and intimidation of anyone who talks about demonstrating against the NRM by labelling them a war monger or terrorist!

    The opposition is going to have to become more sophisticated. The funding of the NRM in this campaign has got to be questioned including in courts. If there are laws that require parties to declare their funding, they should be used to force the NRM to declare their funding sources. If they used state resources as we all know they did, then that should become subject to legal and constitutional interpretation. The use of state funds will need to be explored and queried including the supplementary budgets passed during campaigns and the funds given to the presidency as well as MP’s. The passing of the unconstitutional “Traditional Leaders Bill” should be reversed and discussed and redrafted properly if it is really deemed to be necessary! One hopes that the new strength of opposition politicians in parliament will be used to force debate on all of these issues including cutting the powers of the presidency as well as bringing back term limits!

    If there has beel oil company money in this election, this needs to be declared. The WikiLeaks documents clearly demonstrate that Tullow oil sought to exert influence through possibly blackmail on our politicians. If they have made any major payments to the NRM or any other party, this should be explored including using the US governments laws on private companies payments to and links to foreign governments!

    I pointed out to Nina in this forum before that there is such a thing as a pyrrhic victory. Like for Ben Ali and Mubarak, this may turn out to be one.

    The Jasmine train is not yet derailed. This debate must continue!

  2. sam

    February 21, 2011 at 08:34

    Thank you Stephen.’
    Someone in the oppsition is asking.
    So what next for Uganda?

    • Robert Bellermine

      February 21, 2011 at 14:15

      Hey Steve, i think you have raised issues that everybody in their right mind who is objective can see and should agree with. The likes of the Nzeeyi’s are beneficiaries of the corrupt government machineries… They do not support the NRM but look out for their business interests as opportunistic capitalists, so if you evoke them to such debates , then they too are guilty of keeping the M7 in power. All dictators eventually leave power, whether they claim to be life presidents or whatever! Unfortunatley the exit for such people is normally not pleasant. What are guns when people are tired you just have to go. That time will come and there will be no option but to leave the Republic and seek refuge elsewhere!

      Robert .

  3. Amos Nzei

    February 21, 2011 at 08:45

    Thank you for your article. I m alwasy fascinated by the onesidedness of your posts. For some reason I find my self reading them even when I ve decided that they warrant no attention from me. Your latest article is another veuiled attempt to depict the elections rigged and there by not worthwhile. You re entitled to your opinios;however, U re happily settled in South Africa so you can only blow your vuvuzela away from the mother land. I dont think 4,000,000 souls can all be wrong and one Steven twino be right- thank about this,

    • ssuuna

      February 22, 2011 at 00:06

      I am surprised that Amos Nzei has the audacity of calling this artcle one sided. If it is not that important, why does he even bother responding to it. What would have been good for him is to get a blanket and cover his head after fleecing the poor workers of their money from NSSF, they have now won a ‘majority’ vote. Why bother with disgruntled people like Twino surely?


    February 21, 2011 at 12:56


    @ ST, if this is really Amos Nzeyi of the Temangalogate fame, then your blog is reeling in the big fish!

    It is a pyrrhic victory and they know it. They know people are tired of them, the corruption, the cronyism and nepotism, the thieving, the crappy infrastructure, the militant posturing and intimidation when faced with dissent!

    They watch Libya and know that the guns wont protect them when the people get really cheesed off like they did in the Buganda riots. And after the Buganda riots, they cannot claim that it is impossible for Ugandans to spontaneously start an uprising! The military hardware at the disposal of Mubarak, Ben Ali and Ghadafi makes Museveni’s look like toys -but they had to go!

    They watch Tunisia and Egypt and realise that no matter how big the ‘majority’ with which they ‘won’ the elections, when the Jasmine train docks in Kampala as it will in its own time, the same people who gave them that ‘majority’ will be shoving pitchforks up their backsides!!! Both Ben Ali and Mubarak won their elections with majorities of well over 80%.

    The foreign relations and business interests of the Europeans and Americans will not help them either. All of the above recently deposed leaders were a lot more important to the west than Museveni even will be. European oil companies like BP have sunk over 2 billion US dollars into libya. Tunisia was very important to Europeans while MuMubarak was very important to the US and Israel -so important that they sink over 2 billion US dollars a year into Egypt!

    The infrastructure, the per capita income, levels of education, and the levels of governance in these countries are by far superior to those of Uganda. Uganda relies on the relative ignorance of the people of their rights but even that is changing very fast. The FM stations provided a short cut to civil education for those lacking formal education!

    And we have a great youth bulge -78 % of Ugandans born during Museveni’s government with a median age of 15 who are unemployed and spectators to the so called ‘development’! This coupled with rapid advances in communication technologies is a time bomb -tick, tock! if we do not rapidly find ways of fixing these problems starting by muzzling and retiring the president, then this whole country is going to go up with a big bang that will make Libya look like childs play!

    This recent ‘election win’ is not insurance against the Jasmine train docking in Kampala. Only real reforms and very fast ones are going to fix that! But given the pace at which things happen in Uganda as evidenced by the last 25 years, you can bet that five years wont be enough.

    No more extensions, no inheritance, no resetting the clock was Yemens presidents promise to his people! The Arabs are waking up and demanding more from their leaders. Black Africans will wake up too including Ugandans!

    A Libyan demonstrator today asked on TV. Fourty two years that we have suffered. Fourty two years that he has ruled. Can you imgagine one man ruling for 42 years?

    The Arab world is showing us that no one man can have the only vision for decades and that no one man should become a modern day king. Ben Ali, Mubarak, Ghadafi all had their sons waiting to take over power just like in many places in the middle east where change is being demanded.

    All of these governments claimed that people did not want change and used their wins at elections as proof! We now know that ‘winning’ an election particularly in a country where the playing field is so heavily weighted towards the ruling elite who control the states resources and use them to maintain their stranglehold on power while channeling all resources to themselves and their children does not mean that people given the choice do not want change!

    Change will come -and the trigger will be some unknown market vendor with no power committing suicide the ultimate action in powerlessness!

  5. Twino Speaks

    February 21, 2011 at 13:46

    Thank you Amos for the time you took to read my article and your response. Of course this is not a win or lose affair but it’s just a presentation of opinions, and my opinion is exactly what is laid out in this article. The only difference between me and you is how we view the situation – even in Tunisia, Egypt and Lybia, there have been two sides. I however respect your view, though I disagree with you.

    Looking at the technological developments in both communication and transportation, I don’t think being in South Africa makes a difference. Information can flow in real-time as we saw in Egypt. I live in a country where the speed of information flow is so crucial that many important transactions take place without people ever having to meet or get to an area. Ugandans should realise that information flow from the ground does not have to go through the traditional channels of press releases or New Vision. Museveni uses TV and the media precisely for the same reason – communication. I know much about him and yet I’ve only seen him twice – when he swore in at parliament in 1986 and on one of his visits to Makerere in the early 1990s. I am sure the majority of Ugandans are in a similar situation. I consider your reference to me being in S. Africa as both a veiled threat and a dismissive slant (hoping that readers of your post would dismiss my article as an out of touch nkuba kyeyo). If some people in Uganda do agree with me, then the above two are invalid. We saw a similar combination of dismissiveness and a tinted threat in Gaddafi’s son’s unimpressive show on TV last night.

    I am not writing to put myself in competition with what the 4000 000 people think. I simply disagree with them on their choice, but it’s still their choice. In any case, I am not certain that that’s what 4 000 000 people decided.

    I have noted that you haven’t made any rebuttal to specific issues raised in the article. I also think in calling the articles one-sided, you’ve ignored the part in this article where I dealt with the Ugandan opposition and the others on this blog where I have sided with the government (if you scroll down this blog, you will find them). But you need to acknowledge that there are too many instances where it’s difficult to agree with, let alone defend, the actions of government.

    I wholly agree with Drew above and he expresses other issues about the political process in Uganda that I could have expressed.

  6. James

    February 21, 2011 at 16:57

    Steve, replying to people like Amos is a sheer waste of time. When the theory of the world being round was first suggested, it was one man against the rest who beleived it was flat. But wasn’t he right and all of them wrong? So it is possible that 4,000,000 can be wrong and you are right. There are many incidences in history to support that.

    You are a noble man steven-reading your response to him proves this. Amos should have been gracious and mature enought to point and show us where Steven is wrong. Trying to intimidate him because he holds a view that is different from yours, is trying to immitate wise and strong people. onething that people like you fail to realise is that even people who hold a different opinion to yours wish Uganda good and they are entitled to express their opinion, which if you think is misleading, in an educated way point it out and provide evidence. This is what some of us learnt from the debates we held in high school. Failure to respond to a debate makes some of us wonder whether we are not throwing pearls top pigs here if you know the expression.

  7. Mary Kelly

    February 21, 2011 at 18:09

    Hi Stephen,
    Now I understand why you seem to have poked the NRM beehive! You have called a spade, a spade! You have voiced clearly what many dare not, for fear of drying the side their bread is buttered on. Well done! Facts are bitter but have to be said.
    I feel your pain, you are doing what your called to do by simply using the gift God gave you. It would be apity if you just watched in silence. History will one day reward your efforts. A prophet is not accepted by his own people.

    Thank you.

  8. Twino Speaks

    February 21, 2011 at 18:34

    People should realise that when we talk of democracy, we are not necessarily saying somebody from the opposition should replace Museveni. Democracy should be seen to exist within the NRM itself i.e the chairman’s position should be contestable too. A replacement for Museveni can come from the opposition as well as from within his party.

    Parties have always nurtured successors and that’s perfectly ok. Example are the ANC in S Africa, the Botswana ruling party, the CCM in Tanzania and even the Labour party in Britain. Why does Museveni think he is the only one that can be at the head of his party?

    I am curious to see the cabinet, PS and Ambassadorial lineup because if he does what he normally does, we are finished this time. The policy of appeasement rather than quality has taken us steps backwards.

    Our President appoints people with unique and strange leadership skills. Amin sold Uganda when there was little to sell. Museveni can’t sell Uganda when there is a lot to sell.

    Rwanda has taken our Mountain Gorillas from us due to marketing yet 80% are in Uganda.

    Uganda Tourist Board’s head is a slumbering boss who just gets a salary at the end of the day.

  9. Mathias Kulubya

    February 21, 2011 at 20:45

    Thank you Steve for well balanced post election analysis. The opposition candidates have not been as techno savvy in using the social networks to relay their message. The events in Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya show that the wider civil society is more powerful in bringing about change than the traditional opposition politicians. Strategically, it is difficult to pin down the organisers/leaders of the youthful techno savvy activists.

    Thank you once again for your always well researched talking points.

  10. Josephine Osire

    February 22, 2011 at 00:03

    Thank you Steve for heping us to think again.
    My sense is that our people are tired. It is as though cold water has been pooured on our nation. No, I do not hear the sound of drums in the streets of Kampala. People are tired, the kind of tiredness that immobilizes a nation. Almost like a clinical depression. Only this time it has enveloped the whole nation.
    I do hope that one day we as a people will have the courage to rise up and fight for our rights. However as long as there is so much poverty that peasants can be bought off with a kilo of sugar and a bar of soap, we are a long way off. Unfortunately, I really do not believe we are anywhere near the revolutions that have swept North Africa. My deep sense is that we have many years to go. Our people are too poor, illiterate and disenfrancised to stand up and fight. The kilo of sugar in their hands is the most anyone has ever given them, they have no guarantee that a new government will make their lot better but at least they are sure of the kio of sugar being thrust in their hands by Mr.Museveni so they take the kilo of sugar and give away their “useless” vote!My dear friends, this is a major moral dilema, you cannot talk freedom to a hungry man! He will fill his stomach first so he can live another day to “may be experience freedom”
    As long as we have such extreme poverty the dictators will
    continue to rule. Remember the elite make up only 20% of the population at most and many of us either live in Kampala or abroad.
    If you notice during this campaign as in all the others, Mr. Museveni was not even targeting the elite, his message was tailored for the poor masses. Suddenly because election time was here, he started speaking their language. In his uncanny way, he became one of them. He rapped, spoke in local proverbs, sat on the floor with tem and they heard his voice! It will be a long long road to freedom but we must keep working.

  11. Twino Speaks

    February 22, 2011 at 19:58

    The previous post I deleted was not mine though it seemed it seemed attributed to me.

  12. Patrick Buyaaya

    February 23, 2011 at 10:04

    I appreciate all u are trying to do in the name of ensuring that our beloved country one day gets a leader it deserves. Though all of us appreciate what the NRM government and Museveni have done,but it’s time Ugandans revisited their minds to know that what we need now is a leader who will steer this country to prosperity and that leader will never be Museveni and his henchmen.


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