Dear Mr Yoweri Museveni
A while back, I wrote giving some advice on what I thought could help you: “An Idiot’s Guide To Museveni Leaving Power” (https://ugandaspeaks.wordpress.com/2011/07/30/an-idiot%E2%80%99s-guide-to-museveni-leaving-power/). My promise then was that I would follow it up with something else if you did not find it useful.
Considering that I haven’t seen any positive change since then, I conclude that you did not find it useful. Possibly you did not even understand it, in which case I will cease my communication with you and write to those that may not only understand the message, but also find it useful.
If I am to ever write to you again, I’ll make it much simpler but nevertheless, I appreciate your time.
Yours in wishing your exit,
Now to fellow Ugandans,
I previously promised that if President Museveni would not find the previous Idiot’s Guide useful, I will follow it up with an Idiot’s guide on how to force him out of power, and below I outline the steps:
Step 1: Realise that Uganda is the loser each extra day he spends as the leader of the country. This is a step many of you have passed.
Step 2: Decide that as somebody who is concerned about the country and the future of her children, you are going to do something about it.
Step 3: Start doing something about it. This is the most crucial stage but one important thing is that you have the power to do it. You should in fact remember that it’s through your power that he came to power but he misused your power to abuse the power he was entrusted with. Therefore with your power, you can still recall the power he thinks he owns yet it is your power. Many of you have started doing something and this is very commendable.
There is still a lot within your power that you can do.
When Museveni came to power in 1986, he asked Ugandans to trust him and we indeed trusted him, surrendering all our power to him. In a previous writing, “Uganda, explained by our Cultural Dimensions” (https://ugandaspeaks.wordpress.com/2010/04/02/uganda-explained-by-our-cultural-dimensions/), I explained that Uganda is a country with a high Power Distance Index where “the less powerful members of society accept that power is distributed unequally and look up to authority more readily. Both the followers and the leaders endorse this power difference.” Museveni readily exploited – and even enforced – this position. Eventually Ugandans realised that they have no power at all, and Museveni’s actions and statements have seemed to indicate that this is the belief that he too holds. Recent events however show that Ugandans are embarking on a process of reclaiming their power. Museveni too, is aware of this and his brutal clampdown on any dissent is an attempt to maintain the high Power Distance Index. His attempts to curtail human freedoms and liberties in the country are borne out of his realisation that people are beginning to reclaim their power. In July this year, America’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in report commissioned by the US military’s Africa Command, AFRICOM, noted that “the NRM is on a long-term trajectory of decline, and thus its survivability by the end of President Museveni’s current presidential term is certainly in doubt.” I wish to be less optimistic than the Americans.
There was a time Museveni used to be mentioned (mistakenly) in the same sentence as Mandela. Nowadays, he is mentioned (correctly) in the same sentence as Idi Amin. He now largely avoids international gatherings where decent people sit and democracy is a discussable topic. He skipped the recent UN summit in New York as well the Common Wealth Heads of Government summit in Perth. Much of this is because you Ugandans have reached step 3 i.e decided to do something about it. Challenging the authority of dictators makes them panic.
There is still a lot more.
Dictators survive on their victim’s minds. They make it seem to the victims that without them (dictators), the victims wouldn’t survive. We feed the tools that sustain the dictators. An important step in eroding the power of a despot is to deny them the tools they survive on and frustrate their efforts. Ugandans need to use their civil power to frustrate Museveni’s authoritarianism. Part of what we have seen in the form of strikes by various sectors of society has played a huge role and it’s some of these actions that have emboldened Museveni’s own to start openly challenging him.
Like other societies faced with similar situations have done, Ugandans need to embark on acts of resistance and I advocate for civil disobedience – a legitimimate exercise. You should simply keep away from or refrain from implementing the regime’s exercises. Just as the international community can impose sanctions on the regime, you too can frustrate the regime from within. You can for instance choose one day to stay at home, refrain from buying the regime’s tools like New Vision, refuse to attend the president’s addresses, formulate songs that highlight the excesses of the regime and ask party representatives hard questions about their role in the regime. All these actions need to be done in a non-violent manner so as not only to protect the general population, but also keep away from the violence that would inevitably be unleashed on you by the regime.
During the apartheid time, there were some people within the communities that worked with the security apparatus of the regime against the people. The moment they were found out, the communities made them answer. I see many policemen and security agents openly torturing people without shame or feelings. We live in an era of high communication and phone cameras. If such tortures are identified, let messages be sent to their communities such that whenever they attempt to return, people whistle at them (akaruru) and make their lives difficult until they realise that being part of the exercises of a brutal regime is not helpful.
Every Ugandan needs to take it upon him/herself to be a fighter for the country’s democracy and human rights. There were many people that individually did their part in fighting apartheid without coming out in the open or seeking recognition for their efforts. Similarly, there were many people that worked for Obama’s victory without his team ever getting to know them. In all the cases, their motivation and satisfaction was the goal at the end. The effort of every Ugandan, however small it may appear, is significant. Some actions can fall under “passive resistance”.
All these efforts though may look small, add up to break the back of the regime. There is a tendency for people to look at Museveni’s army and think it is his strength. Forget that. His strength is the fear he creates. The army is made up of men and women who are in fact living worse lives than us. They suffer the general conditions that the country has descended to. They are our brothers and sisters that are more or less imprisoned in a service that they cannot walk away from – remember what it took Dr Kiiza Besigye to leave the army? What is keeping them in the army is anything but royalty. In all cases where despots have been deposed, people have wondered where the armies went. Museveni’s army is only his small inner circle of top officers – period. So please , if you get a chance to speak to your brothers and sisters within the security forces, point out to them the pain they are causing the nation by serving this regime. They are only supporting a small, brutal and corrupt group that hardly cares about them except to make them their tools of sustenance.
In summary, every Ugandan who cares about the country should start disobeying the regime, consciously but in a non-violent manner, and deliberately work toward its downfall. Soon or later, Museveni will be forced out of power.
These have been much fewer steps than the previous Idiot’s Guide. Next I will be writing An Idiot’s Guide On What To Do With Museveni After Forcing Him Out Of Power. I expect that to consist of much fewer steps – probably one.