The editor and founder of the Independent Magazine, Andrew Mwenda is back with his articles on social media. Today he published an article called ‘Uganda’s anti corruption pretense’ which I will discuss. Last time I did this was in September and once in March 2021. So, this year I haven’t cared much about his writing. Neither, has he been so controversial either, but he always has a mannerism ,which puts him on my radar.
Mwenda did defend corruption on a TV Program yesterday on NBS Television. Since 2015 he has become a man who defends that and does it wholeheartedly. That’s why I have to address it. Because, someone needs to retort him and it just happens to be me…
“President Yoweri Museveni came to power promising to fight graft. He has presided over the most corrupt government in Uganda’s history. This, in large part, explains why he has lasted longest. This is not a moral judgment on his leadership. I do not think he would (and can) govern Uganda without corruption. It is just a statement of fact. I believe many opposition politicians genuinely believe corruption can be defeated. However, if they came into power, they would be just as corrupt” (Mwenda, 10.12.2021).
We know that the editor doesn’t believe anyone else can rule in the Republic. He just another pawn of the National Resistance Movement (NRM). His paternalistic way is that everyone in a system just has to get corrupted and continue the what the previous leaders did. Because, nobody has agency or ability to choose themselves… secondly, if life was as tragic as this… than there would never be reform or development. In the way Mwenda looks at things… cars would never have been created and people would still use horses to get from A to B. So, the opposition should get to try and some might get caught in the greed of power, but hopefully some will be morally strong to compete against the greed and easy money.
“There are many sources of legitimacy for governments. However, critical to the legitimacy of the modern state is the ability of the state to provide a large basket of public goods and services to all its citizens. This governance model requires high levels of social organization and lots of money. Poor countries don’t have these two endowments to govern this way. So, they rely on cheaper and affordable strategies of governance – repression and patronage” (Mwenda, 10.12.2021).
Mwenda starts his defence of it and does it deliberately…. and it’s not funny anymore. It’s like the poor countries doesn’t have money, but if they have money to pay the patronage and use corrupt methods they are depleting the funds, which could have been spent on the government service. The same government services only the rich countries has and not spend it on vehicles for MPs for instance. Alas, this is an flawed argument, because the incentives is taken away and the poor are just supposed to stay power. In the same manner, which no opposition can ever reform or transform a nation. That’s a lie, because some might fall in the same trap of the past, but others might resolve the issues and find another way to govern. That implies another ending, which repression and patronage doesn’t become the end-game for any government.
“Poor countries of today inherited the ethical and moral architecture of their governance from departing colonial powers and/or as copy and paste values based on “best practice” in rich Western countries. Yet reading the history of the West showed me that these ethical and moral values had not always been the basis of their governance. When still at the same level of per capita spending as us, the state did not provide a large basket of public goods and services to all citizens. Instead, governments in the West managed their societies using similar cheaper and affordable strategies of governance our leaders employ today – repression and patronage” (Mwenda, 10.12.2021).
Here is what is ironic here… yet, part of it is true too. Yes, the undefined “poor countries” have inherited a state, laws and institutions of which was based on the nations, which held them captive until liberation from the previous colonizes. However, in plenty of these nations, the rulers and the elites have thrived in using the same means, as the colonizer did. They have inherited it and used the same tricks to salvage wealth and create a microscopic local middle-class and wealthy elite. This elite is most likely connected to the political elite. That’s what his neglecting here.. by just saying the leaders employ repression and patronage.
Secondly, in this manner, yes, the West and multi-national organizations have imposed the governance and government policies, which has been strings reflected on the barrier or stipulations of loans. If not these has come as a costs for cheap loans, grants or development funds. These are money and funds the state could have blocked or not taken. Therefore, the state is doing this to cover for own deficits and shortfalls. Third, as a matter of truth here. The leaders and the elites has used the means of the new governance to assault and stop the others in the tracks. Also, issue in new forms of agendas to be the “new breed” of leaders, which has paid of in the West. One man doing so was Museveni and his party. He promised all of this, but instead only paid of the patronage. That shows that it wasn’t his priorities, but he masked it by following “western” objectives to get funds to cover the shortfall of his cronyism. Which is an ideal, that Mwenda masks over with brush of the pen. It is like it’s no need to mention that, but just take it under the rug and forget it about it.
“Poor countries adopted this architecture of governance without the financial and a developed social organization to deliver on it. So, our nations are over developed in functions but under developed in capacity – their reach goes far beyond their grasp. The consequence of this mismatch between ambitions and resources leads inevitably to corruption. Meagre resources are spread too thinly across a large territory that is sparsely populated. Then they are placed into the hands of myriads of state employees with limited skills and oversight to do the job. Corruption and incompetence are inevitable byproducts of this effort” (Mwenda, 10.12.2021).
Here again he continues. It is like the states and republics, the former colonies or anyone didn’t have a choice. Yes, there would be reactions and efforts would have been made to change it. We know the former colonizers and the Western powers used all means and ploys to get their favoured leaders in office. Therefore, the will and abilities wasn’t huge.
However… every nation and head of state has choices. Like Museveni could have invested in education, schools and the such. Instead he has decided to spend on huge patronage, cronies and the army. Which isn’t means to an end, but to secure his longevity. The state could have used the resources and decided to spend on education, infrastructure and create policies of which had made thing reform in a positive direction. Nevertheless, when that isn’t the goal, but the end-game has been set-up differently and for only the ones that breathes lives to the rulers. That’s why things are not moving forward, but stagnate. It’s like Mwenda doesn’t want to see that and only wants to defend the corrupt and the ones eating of the plates of others. Instead of sharing the resources they actually have… that’s pathetic.
“Because financial and human resources available cannot deliver the large basket of public goods and services, governments find it cheaper (and affordable) to invest in buying-off elites in the different ethnic or religious communities with patronage. In exchange, these elites create a bridge between the state and their constituents. This forms the basis for the politicization of ethnicity – as ambitious people make moral, cultural and psychological appeals to identity to gain the following of particular constituencies. They leverage this following to gain positions of power and influence; and they sustain these through the distribution of material benefits to their constituents by indulging in activities that are largely corrupt” (Mwenda, 10.12.2021).
Here his saying it’s cheaper and easier, which is partly true, but also shows the ideals or the supposed states has given up on their mission. It is like he accept the idea that the state only serves an elite or the patronage of the state. They are accepting to buy up a small patronage, but not use the resources it has to serve it’s citizens. That is devaluing the state and what it could do. This is showing the needs for reform and change things. The government and the state could actually try to serve the communities or the citizens, but the focus isn’t on them, but a chosen few who can get to eat. That is a tragic pattern and prospects for the state.
“At the top corruption is the glue that holds the flabby and heterogenous coalition of powerful religious and ethnic elites together. Then below, corruption is the grease that turns the wheels of the state because public sector employees work in large part because their official incomes are supplemented by unofficial earnings through corruption. Therefore, corruption is the way the system works not the way it fails. By adopting the ethics of a modern state at very low levels of public spending, we have criminalized the very governance strategies that allow our states to function. This conclusion is frustrating but realistic. It means that we need to see corruption not as a problem which we can solve but one we should manage” (Mwenda, 10.12.2021).
Here is the end to this sad tale of defending corruption. The magical way of building society by stealing, thieving and siphoning funds. The way of taking money and eating of other people’s plate. The state and the elites are allowed to run rampant and only give scraps away to the majority. Because, that keeps the status quo alive and everything dandy for the elites of Mwenda. He lives with the wealthy and hang around the greedy guts… this is maybe why he endures corruption and gets a few kickbacks himself.
The editor and the journalist should think more straight ahead. The patronage, the cronyism and the corruption is only making everything costly. That’s why roads are so expensive to build, so many needs their envelopes and it gets plenty more hurdles to get things done. The state isn’t becoming better, but everyone needs to be greased. That’s not how to build anything and the values of life will go away as well. Since, everyone is down to be bought and possibly corrupted. If Mwenda believes that is how he builds society. He surely belong in a den of thieves.
This pseudo-intellectualism at it’s finest. Some will buy into it, but anyone who can see through it. Will know it is nonsense and deservingly so. Peace.