It’s been a while since the Independent Editor and Magazine owner Andrew Mwenda has written a “Last Word” and on the 5th September 2021 he released another edition in this series called “To Whom It May Concern”. Fittingly I feel the need to respond to this.
In the starting paragraph, he really sets the tone for the article: “section of the Ugandan talking heads have made a fetish of “credibility”, particularly the sort of “credibility” purchased by denouncing President Yoweri Museveni as a murderous tyrant who has destroyed Uganda. To preserve such “credibility”, opposition leaders like Dr. Kizza Besigye and now Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine), take very extreme positions that make it difficult for them to grow their political appeal beyond a significant and loud but, numerically, a minority of opposition activists” (Mwenda, 05.09.2021).
Well, where do I begin. It is just like Mwenda doesn’t want to go to the heart or the cause of the problem. Only reflect on the opposition and deflect from the creator of the current affairs. That’s because his carrying the water of his master and wants to salvage his legacy. Therefore, he demeans and distort the pleas and the causes of the opposition. Calling it a minority and saying it has lack of appeal. While there is no dancing in the streets or jubilation for the lifelong Presidency of Museveni.
First: “It should therefore be obvious that if any politician wants to command a political majority, they need to build a supra partisan base who appeal is trans-group. I think this has been Museveni’s greatest strength. He appreciates that you cannot seek any form of purity in a diverse country in Uganda and succeed. He has, therefore, made himself flexible and adaptable. He does not demand purity – whether of ethnic, religious, ideological or policy nature. Instead, he is willing to work with anyone even when they don’t agree on many things” (Mwenda, 05.09.2021).
It is just like we don’t know the man he speaks of or what he has done in office. Yes, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) is across the Republic and has members from everywhere. However, the base and the ones in-charge are from one tribe and one ethnic group. That’s why the President has his family all close-knit and a kitchen cabinet, which rules beyond the powers of the offices in government. We are just supposed to forget that and think, because the NRM has a representative from Karamoja. That it is a national party and for everyone. This is just a place and a façade… not the mere reality as the NRM CEC and anyone with power comes from one area. If they differ with him or his ideals, which is changing after what is profitable can easily be expelled or lose their offices. That has happened to, everyone is supposed to follow the “correct line”.
Second: “For someone interested in influencing public policy, whether through mass media or private meetings, there is more to be achieved engaging Museveni than in denouncing him. In my engagements with him I have been impressed by how open-minded Museveni is; he is always willing to listen and to take advice; especially when backed by facts and based on sound research” (Mwenda, 05.09.2021).
When the personification of the state is supreme it all has to go through one man. In this instance, it just happens to be Museveni. That is the only truth Mwenda spills here. However, for the only man with a vision and self-serving individual like Museveni will not change his mind. It is only changed when he sees no benefit or profit out of the policy or order. Therefore, believing in sitting with him and discussing will bear fruits are naïve. It is like thinking you can sway a stubborn and self-righteous man. Well, that won’t happen and it’s a delusion. If you work with Museveni, you are willing to compromise and play into his games. Then there is no difference between you and the other foes his connected too. That is where Mwenda is wrong.
Third: “I believe that Museveni, like many of his contemporaries in Africa, is genuinely committed to transforming Uganda, just like Besigye and Bobi Wine are genuinely committed to liberating it. For Museveni to achieve his goal, he needs power – he cannot transform Uganda when he has been overthrown (and therefore in jail or exile) or been defeated in an election (and therefore in Rwakitura grazing cows). However, retaining power involves navigating a treacherous terrain of coup plots, internal intrigues, making compromises and giving concessions; especially in an ethnically diverse society, that often undermine the pace at which leaders can realise their goals” (Mwenda, 05.09.2021).
If Museveni would “transform” Uganda that would have happened ages ago. There is no reason to believe that now. He is not interested and not serving even the ideals of his 10-point programme. Yet along any of the other fancy development programmes he has unleashed on the general public over the years. These are just cannon-fodders to the UN organizations and multi-national development organizations to find ways to get grants and donations.
Yes, nobody can “transform” anything when they are overthrown. That is a bargain that Museveni has asked for, since he doesn’t believe anyone else can run the Republic. He has retained power, but not built structures or institutions worthy of their names. It is all a reflection of his hackwork and lack of statesmanship. Museveni rather spoil and grind every dime out of a project, than build something sustainable. If he wasn’t the personification of the state… he wouldn’t worry about treason or compromise. Because, all politics and politicking are to one extent compromise between two parties seeking their objective goals. Alas, Museveni rather destroy the other party, than working with them, unless he has corrupted them.
Fourth: “Neither Besigye nor Bobi Wine is a radical extremist by character. But to keep their base happy they have to act as radical extremists; using language uncharacteristic of them. They are strategic radical extremists” (Mwenda, 05.09.2021).
He has called both People Power/National Unity Platform (NUP) and the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) all sorts of name. Andrew has called the supporters extremists, hoodlums and other derogatory names. That’s why this is no shocker at this point. Just a mere reflection of Mwenda is. Because, he cannot understand the activists, members and whatnot who wants to end the Museveni era. They are “militant” and maybe willing to use defiance as a means to an end. Since, Museveni and his regime gives no way to other ways of a peaceful transition. Not, like the NRM or Museveni has offered any other way out or bargained to secure the future. No, his just lingering in power by the gun, using the authorities and even killing the opposition, if he has the opportunity too. And Mwenda wonder why people get “radical” or get organized in various of ways. Museveni is lucky that his opposition haven’t started their own bush-wars, because they have had the same reasons to retort, in the same fashion as Museveni did in the early 1980s. Not that I want that, but Mwenda is surely not selling his point. With the knowledge of the system, the militarization of politics and the usage of arms to bend the will for one man.
He ends with: “I am not willing to purchase “credibility” by mutilating myself. Besigye and/or Bobi Wine can afford to because the price of self-mutilation is the presidency. So, to the many people that write to me or about me almost demanding that I become a spokesperson of their grievances, with the hidden blackmail that I have changed, and therefore not what they knew, here is my message: I do not want to be anyone else’s version of Andrew Mwenda. I want to be Andrew Mwenda’s version of Andrew Mwenda” (Mwenda, 05.09.2021).
It is funny and tragicomically way of ending this article. As he speaks of selling itself for the Presidency. While Mwenda is trading his own name and reputation to safeguard the current status quo. He rather defends the tyrant and the tyranny, than oppose the oppression. Mwenda calling them “sell-outs” for the Presidency. Because, they dare challenge the man who charges, kidnaps, detains, attacks with weapons and even kill their supporters.
We know Mwenda changed, alas he will not resemble the man who was a speaking fire at the KFM Radio days. Maybe, that was just a front and he was faking it. If that is true, then a sorry excuse of a man. More than just trading off his career to be a spokesperson for this presidency. His just a “finessed” OO and that’s not a good look by the way. Well, we can never know, but what we do know. Is what he has said and done over the years. That is already been published and therefore recorded too. Therefore, he can never save or return to the promise, which his career looked like in the past.
That’s why he must undermine and mock the opposition. These folks still have some resemble of hope, which he doesn’t have. They can speak the truth and be blunt about it. While Mwenda got to trade carefully and mind his manners. Because, he can never challenge the Throne again. Peace.