Museveni: We must be sisters and brothers in the struggle for democracy

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By President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

The NRM has always been a revolutionary organization, aiming at four principles: patriotism (non-sectarianism and no gender chauvinism), Pan-Africanism, social-economic transformation and democracy.

We started by conducting, successfully, two wars of resistance (1971-79 and 1981-86). We won those wars because we had a correct ideology, strategy and a just cause. Since 1986 we have successfully defended the revolution against a whole spectrum of counter-revolutionaries and terrorists, many sponsored by external forces.

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We, therefore, as in the resistance wars, used bullets to successfully defend the Revolution. Since we were in the open society by this time, we had also, through democracy, to defend the Revolution using ballots. In the election for the CA (1993), the General Elections of 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011, the people, working with the NRM, successfully defended the Revolution. Even in the present exercise, again, the people of Uganda, so many petty contradictions notwithstanding, have stood with the NRM to defend the Revolution.

We have won a resounding victory of about 65% in the Presidential elections and 282 NRM MPs elected. We have delivered a knock-out in spite of the evil-minded falsehoods and demagoguery of the opposition.

I say 65% because many of the 455,175 invalid votes were NRM votes. How did I know this? I knew this because at Mafudu, the Late Wapa’s place, my young brother Mbabazi beat me by 5 votes. Yet 45 invalid votes were all mine. How were they invalid? It was because my supporters ticked on the symbol (the bus) or even on the candidate. The intention of the voter would be clear.

This was due to not sensitizing our agents and even the election officials. This ended up taking away about 5% of our votes. This, however, is not a new phenomenon. Even in the past elections, we got these types of losses for NRM, probably not on the same magnitude.

Without this organizational weakness, our vote should be around 65% for the President in this week’s vote. Even then, that should not have been the vote we should have got given the work NRM has done, especially in the area of infrastructure (roads, electricity, schools, health centres, piped water, etc.) and also in the area of peace and security. We should have got 80% in my opinion. However, that potential high score was undermined by some mistakes of some of our leaders.

One long standing mistake has been poor supervision of government services e.g. health care and the stealing of drugs from health centres. Wherever I went during the campaigns, the youthful population of our children and grand-children was complaining about this – stealing of drugs by health workers, absenteeism by the same workers, negligence and even asking for bribes.

In Kassanda Health Centre, these accusations were confirmed when I sent, subsequently, an investigation team. We were about to arrest the health workers but the public forgave them.

This is all due to poor supervision by both the technical staff (PS, CAO, Gombolola Chief, Town Clerk, etc.) and also by the political class. Why should it be difficult to check on the drugs even by the political class in the area? The argument that health workers are poorly paid is nonsensical because the workers in private hospitals are paid less than in government hospitals. Yet they work efficiently.

This irritates the public alot in spite of their support for the NRM. Dr. Diana Atwiine’s Unit has arrested 227 health workers. The problem, however, is the leniency of the Courts. They release these people. I have talked to the Chief Justice about this.

The other contradiction within the NRM was on account of the Primaries. There was alot of alleged rigging by some of the actors. To compound this problem, our Electoral Commission did not get time to exhaustively investigate and rectify these allegations. Sometimes, it would involve the misuse of the security forces or bias by the RDCs.

I, personally, investigated two situations and provided some remedy which stabilized the political situation in the two areas. One situation was Kanungu (especially Kinkizi West) and the other situation was in Bukono Constituency of Namutumba. In Kanungu, it was clear that the Primaries’ results of the MP candidate for Kinkizi West and the LCV Chairperson had been altered in favour of other people because the winners were thought to be “pro-Mbabazi”. This was very wrong.

How were they “pro-Mbabazi”? The allegation was that during the day, they are pro-NRM but during the night they are pro-Mbabazi. Even if that was the case, this was not the correct way to handle it. The correct way would have been to patiently investigate these allegations and, if confirmed, discipline those leaders, including expelling them from the Party – transparently and openly. Any other approach is wrong and clique-formation. I caused Tanga- Odoi and some other people to investigate and establish the truth. Josephine Kasya and Kaberuka had won the primaries and were, therefore, the flag-bearers.

The good vote we got from Kanungu has confirmed the correctness of this truthful approach.

My first rally in the Busoga area was at Kibbale Primary School, Kibbale sub-county, Bukono Constituency. As I was departing from the rally, the flag-bearer, Micheal Saire, told me that “a woman” who had stood in the primaries had caused a section of the constituency to boycott the rally that had just ended.

I did not pay much heed because the rally was, in any case, massive as most of our rallies were. It was only some days later that somebody else told me that “the woman” that had caused a section of the constituency to boycott my rally was my own daughter, Namuganza, that had been one of my most loyal youth cadres for a long time.

On account of that, I had appointed her Deputy RDC, Luwero. I, however, did not even know that she had resigned the Deputy RDC-ship. When I addressed my very first campaign rally at Zirobwe, I had searched for her in the crowd by looking around (Kurondesa amaisho) without seeing her. I thought that she may be sick or something and did not think much about it. Only now to hear that she was “the woman” that had ‘Kujemesa’ people (make people boycott) from attending my rally at Kibbale Primary School. I, immediately, looked for her and she came to see me in Jinja only to tell me of stories of bias by the concerned officials and even Police arrests of her supporters, etc.

To complicate matters for the Kaliro – Namutumba area, there was also the issue of the Kyabazinga where some of our leaders in the area had taken sides in that non-political issue. The area had become very hostile politically to the NRM on account of the mistakes of our actors. The rally I addressed at Kaliro on the 24th of December, 2015, was the worst of the whole campaign. Probably, only 5,000 people attended – almost similar to the one of the IK people in Kaabong where there were only 2,051 voters. I sat with Namuganza and we talked.

Eventually, she brought me all the youth that had been alienated (their leaders) and the royal councils of Busiki and Bukono to whom I explained that the NRM never involved itself in the issue of whether there should be traditional leaders in any area and, if so, who? These were none of our business and have never been. It was for the wanainchi of the concerned areas. They only needed to follow the law. These groups, whom I met while in Masindi, were satisfied and went back to clarify the situation. Our recent scores in Namutumba and Kaliro of 81.86% and 70.14% respectively, were a direct result of this. Namuganza had been told by some persons in the NRM that if her group wanted to go away, they can go away. The NRM will continue, without them!! Why should any NRM person alienate anybody because of the selfishness of the individuals? This is not acceptable.

The other mistake is the selfishness and dishonesty of some of the NRM leaders. When money is sent to do political work, these leaders steal it. The money that was sent to help the Village Committees to buy stationery was stolen by some leaders. The masses come to know about it and they, really, get annoyed. Those who stole that money must refund it or be arrested. It is not only the dishonesty; but there is the attitude of only undertaking missions for money. No money, no mission. This mercenary attitude is un-NRM and not acceptable.

No sooner had I pacified the Namuganza group than the youth that had remained loyal to the NRM started complaining as to why I had met the “bad” group, etc., etc. I had also to meet this group and talk to them about winning back anybody that may be disgruntled or even the ones who had never supported us before.
That is the correct politics: “unite the many, to defeat the few and isolate the enemy to the maximum”, Mao Tse Tung used to say. Yet here in Uganda, some groups seem to say: “alienate as many as possible and remain with a few”. I reject that mistaken view. I am for the Maoist principle of uniting the many.
It is some of the leaders that demand money. The wanainchi walk to and from the rallies on foot. They demand nothing; they stand in the sun while the leaders are in hired tents. Of course, we could not manage tents for everybody. What is interesting, however, is that the masses are hungry for the word of the NRM while some of the leaders are hungry for money.

To show that the masses are hungry for the word of the NRM, even the rallies that were held on Sundays, were massively attended. The thirst by the leaders for money through politics needs to be rejected totally. In a few cases, we need money if the distance is far; no more than that. Politics is about mission, not money. It is voluntary association of people who share the same mission. It is not employer-employee relationship.

We must be sisters, brothers or comrades-in-the struggle for the mission of patriotism, Pan-Africanism, social-economic transformation and democracy. This, indeed, was the spirit during the bush war and soon after. Our people would work voluntarily because they could see that we were working voluntarily – we, the leaders. This spirit was undermined by the ego-centric MPs that were misusing their presence in Parliament and the vague Constitution of 1995 on the issue of remuneration for Public Servants to award themselves huge salaries. This selfishness and short- sightedness transformed the MP job from being a mission – oriented job to being a rewarding job for the individuals involved. This caused the others, the generality of our membership, to say that if politics is for personal gain, we need our own share. This mercenarism must be wound backwards, starting with the leaders.

Nevertheless, there is need to use production to cater for the welfare of our long serving cadres and leaders at the local level, the army veterans as well as the Luwero war civilian veterans. The Secretary General should take the lead in this as should have been the case in the past. The districts are now, mainly, small: Lwengo, Kalangala, Buvuma, Kyankwanzi, Kiboga, Buyende etc. The Aruas, the Kaseses, the Mubendes etc. are few. There is an Administrative Secretary, fulltime party worker, in each district. Why does not this Administrative Secretary have the record of these long time mobilisers, party workers and local leaders (especially the past ones) so that wealth creation programmes are organized for them and, if necessary, they are guided in those programmes. With the lists, the Administrative Secretaries should work with the Secretary-General who should, in turn, work with the Wealth Creation department to engage all these leaders and party workers in gainful production. The disgruntlement of many of these party workers also ate into our support. This should not be the case.
Then, there is the problem of selfish leaders who undermine fellow Movement leaders from their common areas so as to remain “the only bulls in the kraal” so that they have better chances of becoming Ministers. This is not a good sign in leaders. You should not think about your own promotion but about the mission and all those who support that mission you regard as your comrade – in- arms. If you come from the same constituency, you should have peaceful competition championing the same mission. You tell the voters that you share the same mission but they can choose whoever they think can better execute the mission. This should be in the primaries. Whoever is chosen in the totally free primaries, should get all your support. You should be totally neutral among all the other contenders in the primaries in your area and only support the flag-bearers chosen transparently.
Then, there is the practice of some individuals trying to be King-makers in their zones. They divide our Movement people by taking sides among individuals and trying to force candidates on the electorate. This is very wrong. It is the NRM members who are electing their flag-bearers – not you. Neither in public nor in private should you ever express a preference. As long as they publically declare loyalty to the Movement, you welcome all of them. That is the cut-off point for you – loyalty to the Party, publically declared. No other consideration should enter your assessment of our members.

The issues of “efficiency”, “morality”, “presentability”, “reliability”, should be none of your concerns as a senior leader in the area or a co-leader. Those aspects are for the public to determine – not you, not me. Our only yard-stick for the NRM members should be loyalty publically declared. The rest should be for the NRM membership. Once the membership have made their choice, you should, unreservedly, support that choice.
Above, we have dealt with governance, organizational and ideological issues. There are, however, social-economic issues that also affect the politics. There are, in particular, two issues that the opposition, opportunistically, exploits. These are the issues of poverty and jobs for the youth. The NRM has for long had answers to these two problems. The problem was that in the past, we did not yet have the basics, the foundation, to tackle decisively these two problems. We did not have the infrastructure (the roads, the electricity etc.) that was a necessary pre-condition for more private investments, that would, in turn, widen the tax base that would generate more revenue for the Government to tackle some of those problems.

By our correct policies, our tax collection now stands at Shs.13,000bn which is about US$4bn. This is a decent level of resource mobilization. It is not like in the past when we had to depend on the donors for the whole of the development budget. With the increasingly more decent level of revenue collection, in 2006, I insisted on prioritizing electricity, the roads, education, health and defence. It is this decision that has won the recent General Elections. Although the opposition, supported by the Aga Khan’s Monitor newspaper and NTV television, would do everything to paint a bleak and deteriorating situation in Uganda, the population, with our explanations, would, instead, see hope and progress.

If the tarmac road has reached Oraba, Moroto, Bundibugyo, Kisoro and the electricity has reached all the 112 districts of Uganda except four (Kaabong, Nwoya, Kotido and Buvuma), things people never dreamed of, surely other problems will also be addressed. That was, indeed, my message. The eight words: unity, strength, peace, development, wealth, skills, jobs and political stability. Had the political class been more focused on the issue of the funds, our task of winning by 80%, instead of the present 65%, would have been very easy. In the new budget, we must, therefore, ensure the Shs.1000bn for NAADS (wealth creation), Shs.234bn for the Youth Fund, Shs.234bn for the Women Fund, Shs.180bn for Micro-Finance and Shs.500bn for the Innovation Fund. This is, in addition, to the present level of funding for the roads Shs.3,400bn, Shs.2,900bn for electricity, etc.

We were able to give a knock-out on the first round to the opposition, as we always do, because of, mainly, four factors: promoting unity among the people; peace; electricity; and the new tarmac roads in areas that had never seen much development. These gave hope to the people that even what is not done will be done. Hence, the 65% support for the President and 70% support for the NRM MPs and NRM leaning independents. The huge masses of our children, our grand-children with our great- grand children in tow that I addressed in 305 rallies and 290 constituencies, plus a few elders in attendance, were, on the one hand, happy with these factors: unity, peace, tarmac roads and electricity.

On the other hand, however, there were problems of the corruption of Government accounting officers, poor supervision of schools and health centres, badly managed primaries, greedy politicians trying to be warlords and hijack the authority of the people to elect leaders of their choice, the moneylessness in many families, the lack of jobs for the university graduates that did Social Sciences and the poor communication by the NRM Secretariat, the RDCs, the Ministry of Information, etc. In some areas, there was the question of cattle compensation for cows lost in the wars, veterans pensions and the chasing of hawkers from selling at the road sides without an alternative. It is these weak points that reduced NRM’s support from 80% to 65% – 70%.

The opportunistic and unserious opposition could not realize that their demagoguery would be seen through by the wanainchi. The NRM won in the following zones: Karamoja – 91.4%; Bunyoro-76.4%; Ankole – 74.8%; Sebei – 72.8%; Toro/Rwenzori – 69.7%; Busoga – 64.9%; Kigezi – 64.6%; West Nile – 63.5%; Bugisu – 55%; Bukedi – 53.2%; Buganda – 52%; Teso – 52% and Lango– 50.7%. It only lost in Acholi – 41% against FDC’s 42%. By solving the residual problems, the opposition will be deposited where it belongs – the dust-bin of opportunism. The masses could see the irreversible steps achieved. Why could not the elite of the opposition do the same?

In this article, I talk of moneylessness, rather than poverty. This is because the poverty statistics are not easily understood by the public. Drawing the poverty line is done scientifically, especially biologically. They ask the question: What is the necessary calories intake per persovv n per day? They then, add education, health access etc. and monetize those elements. Obviously, food in Uganda is not such an absolute unavailability. Yes, there is stunted growth not because there is no food but because people do not know what to eat because of the lethargic Ministry of Health. Otherwise, the food is there or can be there. That is absolute poverty, scientifically defined, as at 56.4% in 1993 in the whole country and at 19.7% today. The problem, therefore, is moneylessness. That is what people call obwavu, obwooro, can- not lack of food – nutritious or otherwise.

Social – political – economic poverty means lack of money. The poverty line of the IMF and the Ministry of Finance is a biological categorization. The NRM has established a strong base. The people saw that base, recognized its importance and supported the NRM, not just in the Presidential vote but with a whooping number of 282 NRM MPs and scores of NRM leaning Independents.

There is also the question of land grabbing by some thieves and blind landlords that collude with some authorities to evict bibanja owners. This problem has two sides that must be handled correctly. First of all, nobody should get land illegally. The five legal ways of getting land are: being allocated a kibanja by the mailo-owner or his agent (omusigire); buying a kibanja from the one who got it from the first method; the bona-fide occupants that were on that land by 1983 or before; being the first to settle on the public land (kutembuura) or buying from the one who did that; and having a leasehold or milo title. The leasehold could only be acquired on uninhabited land. A lease hold should not be acquired on a piece of land that is occupied; unless the occupants are few and, on a willing buyer-willing seller basis, are ready to accept compensation. If you do not fall in these categories do not tell lies. We can look for other ways of helping you legally – e.g. a soft loan to buy a few acres, etc. Myopic and opportunistic politicians must be warned about encouraging people to invade any land illegally. During the campaign, for instance, I had two pieces of land that had been occupied by people. One was the National Housing Corporation land at Kasokoso. This is easier to deal with. NHC got this land in September, 1966 but did not develop it on account of the chaos in the country.

Meanwhile, the wanainchi came and settled there, built permanent houses etc. Nobody was there to restrain them. NHC is a public corporation. The Government could assist to compensate them so that they get other land to go on with their projects. There is, however, the question of the railway land that people settled on. We have much less room for manoeuver here. The country must have the railway. Nobody who claims to be Ugandan should, either in public or privately, think that Uganda should not have a modern railway because people illegally encroached on the railway land and they “are our voters”. “Our voters” or those who “vote for the opposition” must be the first to realize that Uganda needs a modern railway. Anybody who does not see this, is an enemy of Uganda’s future. If there is no other route for the railway, then the encroachers must leave. Some assistance can be given to them if feasible. These people should, however, have been talked to and even the timing should have been agreed to and discussed with them.
As far as the Forest Reserves are concerned, they fall into two categories: the ecologically sensitive that may be protecting rivers or part of the high rain forest or the ones that were just gazetted for producing fire-wood and timber. The latter are easier to deal with – a compromise should be found with the bona-fide encroachers. However, the ecologically sensitive forests must be protected.

Nevertheless, no politician should encourage or cover up illegal land-grabbing because endangering security of legal owner-ship of property is a great disservice to Uganda. It will discredit Uganda internally and internationally. Our present success and strength is, precisely, due to a good business reputation. When we returned the 4000 properties of the Asians, Uganda gained a good reputation internationally. Here below, read the list of the biggest tax payers in Uganda.

The NRM Secretariat must be very active in sensitizing our masses. We have the capacity to resolve the residual problems, one by one. That is why the opposition in Uganda is an endangered species.

Yoweri K. Museveni


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