About me.

Andrew M. Mwenda is the founding Managing Editor of The Independent, Uganda’s premier current affairs newsmagazine. One of Foreign Policy magazine 's top 100 Global Thinkers, TED Speaker and Foreign aid Critic



Monday, May 3, 2010

Will Paul Kagame Retire in 2017 ?

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had promised not to run for a second term. However, she recently changed her mind. In 2002, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya had made a similar promise only to renege on it immediately after his election. Now, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, has abandoned plans to retire and will run for re-election – after 20 years in power.

Across Africa, there are very few countries where presidents respect term limits – Tanzania, Benin, Mozambique, Botswana, Mali and Ghana are among the few examples. In Namibia, Cameroun, Gabon, Togo, Angola, Congo Brazzaville, Chad, CAR, Zimbabwe, Niger, Mauritania, Djibouti, Algeria, Burkina Faso and Uganda, term limits have been removed. In Zambia, Nigeria, Malawi and Senegal, presidents have tried but failed.

If the anti-term limits trend was limited to a few countries, we would seek the explanation from the character traits of individual presidents. But when the tendency is so widely spread, then it means that the fundamentals of the answer lie in something bigger and structural within our societies and their politics.

Take the example of Yoweri Museveni of Uganda. No president in Africa has ever spoken more grandiloquently against presidential longevity than he has. In 1986, he promised to be in office for only four years. In 1989, he extended this period for five years in order to finish writing a new constitution. In 1996, he promised he was running for only one term. In 2001, he promised he would retire after his second term.

In 2005, Museveni amended the constitution and removed term limits. Now we know he is not only in it for life but even beyond i.e. through his son. Many other African leaders have already begun to build family dynasties – in Togo, DRC and Gabon, family succession has worked. In Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, it is underway.

The case of Sirleaf’s betrayal of her promise is more intriguing because she is a female (women have so far not come across as power hungry as men). Further, she does not come from a background of deprivation having had a good international career working with the World Bank. Why did she promise something that she has found so easy to abandon?

To put it broadly, why did Kibaki, Museveni, Nujoma, Zenawi, Idris Debby etc change their mind? What incentives sustain this tendency across Africa? If the problem was one of individual presidents and their immediate praise singers, then we would see an assembly of wider societal forces resisting them. Yet we have seen few caseslike those of Nigeria, Malawi and Zambia. But it seems these were possible because the presidents of these nations had not been in power long enough to develop powerful constituencies with a vested interest in perpetuating their time in office.

Daniel arap Moi in Kenya, Jerry Rawlings in Ghana and Joachim Chisano in Mozambique are the rare examples of presidents who had served for more than 15 years and respected term limits. But close observers say there were limited possibilities for these presidents to succeed in removing term limits and therefore had to retire. Their colleagues like Omar Bongo in Gabon, Gnanssingbe Eyadema in Togo, Paul Biya in Cameroon and Museveni in Uganda removed term limits because they could.

From this perspective therefore, it seems that the longer a president stays in power, the harder it becomes to respect term limits. This is partly because longevity may create many constituencies of hostility, but it also entrenches powerful interests in the body politic. In a 2008 Afro Barometer survey, most Africans said they want term limits. Yet this popular feeling does not find much currency in politics because the powerful can still manipulate electoral politics to remain in power.

The evidence from these countries therefore is a major challenge to Rwanda’s Paul Kagame. Like Museveni before him, he has made categorical statements denouncing the removal of term limits. Critics say that when recently asked by Christiane Amanpour on CNN, Kagame seemed to hesitate. There is nothing in Rwanda’s social structure, history and politics to stop him from removing term limits if he wished.

I do not know a leader of an insurgent army that captured power as RPF did and left power voluntarily – in Zimbabwe, Uganda, North Korea, Cuba, etc. If Kagame respects term limits and retires in 2017, it will be an act with few precedents, if any. Many in RPF will want him to stay. How can we tell whether he will resist or yield?

I believe Kagame may actually leave power voluntarily like Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere because he has a strong interest in his legacy. And if precedent is a guide, his personal role in the history of RPF and Rwanda gives an indication that he will.

When the RPF captured power in 1994, its politburo met to elect a president for the country. Its chairman, Alex Kanyarwengwe, was unanimously rejected. Everyone in the meeting chose Kagame. He refused. Faustine Twagiramungu, then Prime Minister Designate under the Arusha accords led a delegation of all opposition parties to ask him to be president. Kagame still refused.

Interestingly, the Twagiramungu delegation was against the idea of Seth Sendashonga and Pastuer Bizimungu (both Hutu) becoming president. Instead Kagame proposed Bizimungu and as compromise accepted to become vice president and minister of defence. Few people who have fought as Kagame did to capture power can resist the temptation to become president. So Kagame exhibited extraordinary restraint.

One could say that times have changed; in 1994, Kagame had never been president and did not know the pleasures of the office. Now recognised as statesman all over the world for reconstructing Rwanda, he may become convinced that Rwanda’s destiny and his are intertwined. If you add the pressure from vested interests, Kagame of 2017 may look at things differently from the one of 1994.

Will Kagame prove the cynics right or wrong? Zenawi in Ethiopia and Sirleaf in Liberia have already fallen on this hurdle. Even those presidents who failed to remove term limits rigged elections for a chosen successor – Nigeria, Malawi, Zambia and Sierra Leone. It is tempting to remove term limits; difficult to restrain oneself fr-om doing so. Put differently, it is very difficult to leave power but good to do so.
amwenda@independent.co.ug

Saturday, April 24, 2010

IS THIS ANKOLE_ ACHOLI RIVALRY?

As the elections for next year get closer, the contours of its alignments are becoming apparent. The election of Norbert Mao to lead DP and Olara Otunnu to lead UPC – Uganda’s founding political parties – adds an important dimension to the leadership of NRM by Yoweri Museveni and that of FDC by Kizza Besigye.

Mao and Otunnu are ethnic Acholi; Besigye and Museveni, ethnic Banyankore. There is something significant in the fact that all the leading parties in Uganda now are led by individuals from two ethnic groups. The two have historically provided the measure of our politics. Since before independence, the most consequential politicians and soldiers in our country have tended to come from these groups.

For instance, in 1962, UPC and DP divided their votes almost equally in Ankole and Acholi. Alex Ojera was a powerful influence in UPC while Latim, leader of the opposition in parliament, was a powerful influence in DP. While DP was led in parliament initially by Basil Bataringaya from Ankole, UPC had Grace Ibingira from Ankole as a powerful Secretary General. When Bataringaya crossed to UPC and became minister of internal affairs, Boniface Byanyima became a dominant figure in DP.

The arrest of Ibingira in 1966 marked the beginning of the 1966 crisis, while the assassination of Brig. Okoya (from Acholi) in 1969 marked the beginning of the fall of Milton Obote in 1971. Officers from Ankole (Ndahendekire, Kakuhikire and Katabarwa) were consequential in the army in the 1960s even though not to the degree of officers like Okoya.

The dominance of Banyankore and Acholi was repeated in 1980, even though there were significant realignments engendered by the war that removed Idi Amin. Thus, although in 1980 UPC won all the parliamentary seats in Acholi, the two regions still provided the most powerful supporters and opponents of the UPC government.

Men like Ojok Mulozi and Andrew Adimola were as powerful in DP as Otema Alimadi and Akena P’Ojok were in UPC, and Tito and Bazilio Okello were in the UNLA, and helped define the Obote II presidency. Equally so for DP, where Francis Bwengye (secretary general), Byanyima (national president), and Sam Kutesa (Shadow Attorney General) came from Ankole. Yona Kanyomozi, Edward Rurangaranga, Ephraim Kamuntu, Chris Rwakasisi, Adonia Tiberondwa (RIP) and Patrick Rubaihayo were a powerful influence in UPC.

Out of eight seats in Mbabara District, UPC and DP got four each. It is therefore clear from our history that our political parties never divided people along ethnic lines as Museveni has always claimed and as “scholars” on Uganda have written. The contours of division tended to follow religion – but only in some places. However, this changed fundamentally under the NRM to reflect Museveni’s claims that political parties divided people along ethnic lines.

Under the NRM, we have seen Ankole vote overwhelmingly for Museveni while Acholi has voted overwhelmingly for his opponents – first for Paul Ssemogerere and later for Besigye – who are themselves not Acholi. However, although Museveni tried to redefine politics along ethnicity, he only succeeded with the masses in Ankole. Some of the strongest opponents of Museveni, like Besigye, have come from Ankole itself.

Museveni used the war in Luwero in an attempt to realign Uganda’s politics from religion towards ethnicity. The prolonged war against the LRA reflects how Museveni defined the nature of the challenge he faced from Joseph Kony. Although LRA does not represent the popular feelings of the political leaders from Acholi or the feelings of ordinary people, Museveni defined it so.

Museveni saw not just the LRA, but the Acholi as a whole as the enemy; LRA was only the armed wing of the resistance. To get the south behind him, he sought to undermine the national platform UPC and DP had built. He presented the military brutality of the UNLA as an Acholi assault on Baganda thereby casting political rivalry in ethnic terms. This has had powerful implications.

For example, Olara Otunnu is a highly intelligent, articulate, experienced, and internationally exposed politician. He is also sober, calm and reflective. But given the way Museveni has realigned our politics, it will be difficult for Otunnu to become a powerful flag bearer for the opposition ticket, except as a vice presidential running mate. His service in the Okello-Okello regime gives Museveni the excuse to play on the north-south divide. And, in order to defeat Museveni, one will need the support of Mengo and of Baganda.

Although historically Acholi and Baganda have had excellent relations, Museveni used the war in Luwero to undermine this. Some of the most powerful MPs from Buganda region like Daudi Ochieng (elected by the Lukiiko in 1962) and Ojok Mulozi (elected on a DP ticket in Kampala in 1980) were Acholi.

With the ethnicisation of the Luwero conflict, Bagandans eager to vote for the opposition may be forced to stay at home if Otunnu is the candidate. Mao is a breath of fresh air in Uganda’s politics because he is among the few politicians on whom ethnic identity reflects least. His threats that the north may secede have not significantly damaged his reputation. However, there is little to his credit that can generate the kind of euphoric support around his candidature like Besigye does.

If the opposition are to stand a good chance in the election, they need to hold their support in northern Uganda, increase their percentage vote in the east and push Museveni’s share of votes in Buganda and Busoga to below 50%. Without Buganda and Busoga, no amount of rigging can rescue Museveni from electoral defeat.

Therefore, if the opposition are looking for a single candidate, it is seems best for them to choose Besigye. Besigye has strong appeal in Buganda because of his role in the Luwero war and because of his close links with Mengo (through his marriage).

However, the opposition should not take the northern vote for granted. It will be necessary for Besigye to find accommodation with Otunnu and Mao in order to keep Acholi and the wider north firmly in his corner. In designing an opposition alliance therefore, the issues of identity will have to play a stronger role than ever before.

amwenda@independent.co.ug

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

THE DILEMMA OF FDC IN UGANDA.

Mugisha Muntu’s challenge to Kizza Besigye for the presidential candidature of FDC reveals the major dilemma facing the opposition in Uganda. Besigye has twice demonstrated extraordinary courage by challenging President Yoweri Museveni. Yet the factors that made him galvanise Ugandans in support of his candidature also carry its fundamental limitation.
This discussion will deliberately skirt the likely implications of the candidatures of Olara Otunnu and Norbert Mao, the two politicians representing Uganda’s oldest parties – UPC and DP. For now I will focus on Besigye and Muntu, and reserve Otunnu and Mao for another day.

Museveni has carefully cultivated his brand as an African strongman always willing to use “his” army to “crash” any opponent – violent or pacifist. To credibly challenge him has always required his opponent to demonstrate a strong will, a tough and resilient spirit, and an ability to rally support of the military.

Besigye embodied this profile; his record as a military man reinforced his credentials as the most credible challenger. His surprise announcement in 2000 that he was going to take on Museveni and his dramatic and courageous return from exile in 2005 revealed both the iron and steel inside the man.

Indeed, in both campaigns, Besigye talked tough and sounded belligerent. He claimed that 90% of the army was behind him, threatened army generals and powerful NRM politicians with prosecution, if he won, and presented himself as the man for this task. This reinforced his reputation as a hammer to knock Museveni out of power, a factor that galvanised fanatical support from millions of the discontented.

However, this positioning of his brand also carried the fundamental limitation of Besigye’s candidature. First, it forced Museveni to try and prove that the army was behind the president. So, in 2000-01, he unleashed the army against Besigye and his supporters. Soldiers were deployed everywhere, including polling stations. When Besigye complained against this, Museveni’s handlers pointed out that the soldiers were “Besigye’s supporters” by his own account. Why is he afraid of them?

Second, because Museveni has been in power for long, many interests have grown powerful and consolidated in politics: the army, the bureaucracy, and the private sector. Dislodging an entrenched regime like this requires finding some accommodation with such powerful interests; you have to make tactical compromises to win your strategic objective.

This is the lesson from Nelson Mandela and the democratic transition in South Africa in 1994, Robert Mugabe and the independence of Zimbabwe in 1980 and Gen. Augusto Pinochet and the democratic transition in Chile in 1990. In all these cases, those who sought change offered credible structural guarantees to entrenched economic, military and others interests that had consolidated during the oppressive years.

By threatening retribution against senior army officers and powerful NRM insiders, Besigye galvanised the base of the opposition to Museveni. But he also rallied powerful interests to defend the status quo. Those who felt threatened by change were willing to do many things to defend Museveni’s stay in power.

Third, although there was strong hostility to Museveni in 2000 and 2005, there were equally many people who were undecided. Besigye’s style tended to mobilise and motivate the base of the opposition but failed to persuade the undecided. He was therefore unable to grow his constituency. I suspect that a more centrist candidature would have won over the undecided but most likely at the price of demoralising the base.

This is where Muntu’s candidate becomes at once timely and untimely. He is the quintessential moderate. His personality has the capacity to reassure many NRM and UPDF insiders, including Museveni personally, that they can leave power without going to jail. Yet precisely because he is not belligerent, Muntu cannot motivate passion among many of his followers to be fanatical about his candidature.

Two things define a campaign: persuasion and motivation. Persuasion is most effective when appealing to the undecided, motivation when appealing to your base. Since 2000, the undecided middle has been shrinking. If they constituted 40% in 2000, they could have fallen to 20% by 2005 due to the removal of term limits. The battles between Museveni and Mengo have shrunk the undecided even further to around 6%.

Therefore, what Muntu has in large measure was most valuable in 2000 more than today. This makes Besigye’s candidature even more necessary today than it was in 2000 or 2005. For FDC grassroots, Muntu is seeking to remove Besigye at a time when the opposition needs him most. The sacrifices Besigye has made in challenging Museveni have built for him such a powerful reputation that it is difficult to defeat him in FDC. Muntu may therefore attract the support of FDC leaders, but not its rank and file.

Yet given the depth of the polarisation in Uganda today, the opposition need a candidate who can make it possible for key NRM and UPDF insiders to consider a peaceful transfer of power. A strong Besigye candidature is what Museveni needs to rally his own will and the fanaticism of his supporters to dig in. But this would turn the election into a bloody affair; the only acceptable outcome for the opposition that Museveni can buy being what has happened in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Therefore, while Besigye’s belligerence and tough talk appeals to the masses below, Muntu’s sober and calm approach appeals to elites above. True, the opposition needs the masses to win, but their numbers can only bring about change if their voice finds the organised political expression which only elites can provide.

Most voters are now decided either for or against Museveni leaving few in the undecided column. So the opposition needs a candidate who can motivate its base to turn up and vote, which makes Besigye the best candidate. But it also needs a candidate who will reassure those most threatened by change – the most powerful politically – that they will not be persecuted if they hand over power.

While Muntu provides the necessary reassurance, he may achieve this at the price of removing vital enthusiasm from the opposition’s ranks. Therefore, Besigye is the best candidate for the opposition, Muntu the best candidate for Uganda.

amwenda@independent.co.ug

WHAT UGANDA'S OPPOSITION SHOULD DO

Let me speculate. There are always ominous signs when a leader or regime is about to collapse. Take the example of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: There was the rum’s heart; then Cleopatra’s dream and later the soothsayer’s warning. There were equally also many ominous signs in 1969 to 1971 – the death of Brig. Okoya, the attempted assassination on Milton Obote, etc, that signalled his impending fall. A similar set of ominous signs were noted in 1977-79 and 1983-85 in Uganda.

I have always been suspicious of such predestination speculations leaving them to Timothy Kalyegira largely because they appear arbitrary. There are always bad events that can be used retrospectively to show that signs of collapse were there. But partly because of frustration with a corrupt and incompetent regime that does not seem to go away and partly because I am growing old and superstitious, I am inclined to believe that recent events in Uganda, like the burning down of Kasubi Tombs, signal the coming fall of Yoweri Museveni.

Since Kasubi fires many friends across our nation’s ethnic divide have written to me claiming it is Museveni who burnt down the tombs. They claim he wants to punish Mengo particularly and Baganda generally. I find this claim spurious because Museveni could not and cannot burn down those tombs. Nevertheless, the fact that such an idea gains wide currency shows how the degree of frustration with his regime is shaping political discourse in a way that makes his stay increasingly untenable.

In most of Africa, grief is always the point at which we forget our differences and rally together. In the case of Kasubi Tombs, I expected to see Baganda youth receive Museveni well for his attempted show of solidarity in their sorrow, but instead they did the unexpected and tried to block his access to the scene. Museveni responded with force, shooting to death a couple of them. Note that when his main opponent Kizza Besigye turned up, he was well received by the same youths.

Museveni seems to now believe in his politically invulnerability. He grossly underestimates the fires of hatred he is stoking in Buganda by his relentless assaults on the cultural and institutional integrity of the kingdom. His belief that bribing a few Baganda elites will enable him win the hearts and minds of the ordinary Baganda is mistaken.

His continued closure of the kingdom’s CBS radio is doing more propaganda against him that when it was on air. For example, imagine the number of Baganda who used to listen to CBS and enjoy its programmes! They used to call it “rediyo yaffe” (our radio station). Baganda have lost many symbols of their past glory; CBS was the only new source of pride. We should not be surprised when the other pillar of their cultural pride burns down and Baganda think Museveni is responsible for it as well.

Museveni’s regime is even more vulnerable from the changing demographics of Uganda. One of his major achievements has been to sustain rapid economic growth for over two decades. This has reduced infant mortality rates thus creating a huge new electorate. Growth has also fostered the emergence of various social groups – an educated middleclass and a sizeable private sector. Equally, there has been a boom in both public and private education. Many youth are leaving school and finding nothing or little to do. They are now turning into militants seeking change.

There is a clear disconnect between the achievements Uganda has registered under Museveni’s stewardship (especially because of the bold reforms he took in the late 1980s and the early to mid 1990s) and the nature of the regime that he presides over today. Sustained growth has grown hand in hand with the near collapse of public goods and services, as public schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, public buildings, etc., have deteriorated rapidly, becoming pale shadows of their past glory.

This disconnect has alienated many people – not just the youths who cannot find jobs, but most ordinary citizens who cannot find nurses, doctors or drugs in hospitals. Equally, the middleclass that furnishes the organisation, leadership and ideas for other classes is disenchanted. Many have bought cars but cannot drive through our potholed roads and those who have built nice homes cannot access them due to bad roads. These grievances are the social dynamite that is only held in check because of failure to find organised political expression.

Next year, Uganda will have 12.9 million voting-age citizens. Museveni himself will be 67 years; and only 2.4m voters will be above 60 years. Most voters will be aged 18 to 30 – these were either unborn or below 5 years when he came to power in 1986. They are not as intimidated by the sight of soldiers (witness how they courageous tried to block him at Kasubi tombs) largely because Museveni’s other achievement has been to demystify the army.

As I have always argued, I believe that those who seek to unseat Museveni should first internalise his achievements before they address his failures. It is in his achievements that they can find the quarry that will furnish them rocks to stone him out of power. Because even Mengo that today offers inspiration for his opponents is actually one of Museveni’s achievements – the restoration of traditional rulers.

In many ways therefore, Museveni will not fall because he has been a failure but because he has been a success. He is clearly a man who represents our past, not our future. If we focused on the late 1980s to late 1990s, there are many of his reforms in every aspect of our institutional and policy life that reflect him in bright light. There is little since then we can adduce as evidence of his accomplishments.

He has been transformative enough to preside over a government that has produced the very social forces that now seek his downfall. I do not know whether (given his excellent command of political economy) he appreciates this perspective. The opposition needs to appeal to those who have benefited from Museveni’s rule (UPE and USE graduates, the middleclass, the private sector, teachers, etc) more than those who have lost (illiterate peasants) to secure victory.

amwenda@independent.com

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

WHEN MUSEVENI AND THE KABAKA COLLIDE.

The killing of three Baganda youths by President Yoweri Museveni’s security detail at Kasumbi tombs is shocking but not surprising. There is a quiet battle between Museveni and Mengo. The president knows that Mengo is becoming a major pillar of resistance to his authority. Although this is a correct reading of the situation, it is actually happening spontaneously i.e. without a strategy or plan by Mengo.

Therefore, when Mengo asked him not to go to Kasubi until they okay his trip, Museveni interpreted it as some grand plan to determine his actions. Besides, during the Kayunga saga, he had ordered the Kabaka not to visit a part of his kingdom. To allow Mengo determine whether or when he can visit a part of Uganda would be surrendering vital strategic initiative – however symbolic it was.

Most critically, when some Baganda youths sought to block him from accessing the tombs, they were inadvertently daring him to cross the Rubicon. Museveni understands the stakes in such a game; he could not afford to retreat. He had to demonstrate to Mengo and its real, imagined and potential allies that he is president and commander in chief. A forceful entry accompanied by terror and deaths was therefore necessary.

To understand why Museveni tends to use an unusually high level of violence against opponents – both violent and pacific – it is vital to first appreciate his view of violence. From his student days in Dar Es Salam, Museveni has viewed violence as an instrument of power. You only have to read his bachelor’s thesis to get what I am saying.

Indeed, Museveni’s approach to security is akin to what in colonial parlance was called “gunboat diplomacy.” Here, the colonial power would, through a massive demonstration of force like matching an army through the capital of an African chief, create such shock and awe that the “natives” would back down from any imagined resistance. 

That is why it was necessary for the media to publish pictures of the security operative pointing a pistol at a terrified, unarmed and defenceless crowd of women. The dead bodies, the injured and the terrified women at gunpoint are all images Museveni needs to send a signal to Mengo. They give whoever is (or may be) planning to challenge him a hint of the evil he is willing to visit upon them should they dare.

In many ways, Museveni learnt from Milton Obote’s experience in 1966. Obote avoided any demonstration of force against Mengo. This encouraged Mengo to pass a motion of secession in the Lukiiko, call upon Baganda veterans of World War 2 to turn up to defend the Kabaka, throw barricades on major roads and overrun police stations across Buganda. Rather than lead, Obote was reacting to Mengo’s moves. When he finally decided to act, the situation had grown too grave to avoid a bloody confrontation.

Museveni is therefore taking pre-emptive action to forestall any possibility of Mengo growing confident enough to imagine it can challenge him. Of course he has to weight the costs and benefits of such an undertaking. On balance, at least in his scheme of things, pre-emptive violence is less costly than a full bloodied battle like that of 1966.

Indeed, it is the perception among many Ugandans inside and outside the NRM that Museveni is ruthless enough to kill anyone who challenges him that has helped him consolidate power. When Kizza Besigye challenged him in 2000 and 2005, Museveni unleashed unprecedented terror on him: 24 hour surveillance, jail and trial for rape and treason in the high court, for terrorism in the military court martial etc. 

These tactics were not meant for Besigye; Museveni knew his opponent to be made of steel. They were directed at those in NRM who desired to challenge him by showing the costs of such an undertaking. Therefore, the killings at Kasubi Tombs, although possibly accidental, fit into Museveni’s grand strategy against the opposition. 

At Kasubi, Museveni was sending signals to the opposition of what he can do as we begin presidential election campaigns. He has always organised private gangs or security operatives to disrupt opposition rallies and kill or harm their supporters in every election. 

Every Independence Day or NRM day, there are massive demonstrations of military might at Kololo Airstrip. You see a large assembly of tanks, APCs, Buffaloes, artillery pieces – everything. It looks like the military parades in the Red Square in Moscow during the Soviet era that is still done in North Korea. In such cases, the aim is to scare real or potential adversaries before they dream of challenging him.

Mengo has emerged, quite inadvertently, as the major pillar of opposition to Museveni. Yet partly because it does not seek to be, partly because it does not know how to go about it, partly because it has descent leaders that do not seek to violet the constitution and partly because it is afraid of the consequences of such an undertaking, Mengo is holding back from taking a leadership role its circumstances have bestowed upon it. This way, the forces of opposition in Uganda are deflated.

Yet Museveni’s pre-emptive strategy also bears seeds of its own limitations. Without the overt and covert support of Mengo, he would neither have succeeded in his guerrilla war nor been able to rig and “win” three elections. Although he legitimately claims credit for restoring the kingdom, Museveni ignores the critical role Mengo played in securing Baganda support for his rebellion to succeed. 

Museveni is also underestimating the emotive appeal the kingdom has among its subjects. His aides keep saying that “Baganda peasants” are behind him. But does Museveni believe that in the race for the hearts of Baganda peasants he can beat their own Kabaka even if His Majesty did not contest at all? I hope he doesn’t. 

Without Baganda support, neither Western Uganda alone nor his rigging machinery can pull off a victory for him except a pyrrhic one i.e. at a very high cost. Therefore, in locking horns with Mengo, Museveni may finally be laying down the foundation of his eventual downfall. Next week: how can the opposition benefit from this conflict. 


IS CORRUPTION CREATIVE RESISTANCE.



In his book, Weapons of the Weak, James Scott argues that studies of peasant resistance focus a lot on large scale revolts. “For the historical and archival records were richest at precisely those moments when the peasantry pose a threat to the state,” Scott writes, “the historiography of class struggle has been distorted in a state-centric direction.” Why?

According to Scott, the events that claim attention are those to which the state and the ruling classes accord most attention in their archives. “For example a small rebellion claims attention all out of proportion to its impact on class relations,” Scott writes.

So what are the everyday forms through which peasants resist those who seek to extract from them labour, food, taxes, rents and interest? Scott says peasants resist through foot-dragging, false compliance, dissimulation, slander, feigned ignorance, pilfering, arson, sabotage etc. Scott calls these “weapons of the weak.”

Scott argues that this focus on mass peasant uprisings against the state is misleading because the circumstances which favour large scale peasant uprisings are rare and when they do appear, the revolts are always crushed unceremoniously.

“The small rebellion may have symbolic importance for its violence and for its revolutionary aims,” Scott argues, “but for most subordinate classes historically, such episodes were of less moment than the quiet, unremitting guerrilla warfare that took place ‘day in day out’ in peasant lives.”

Scott’s point is that peasants are scattered across the countryside and therefore face more imposing obstacles in the way of organisation and mobilisation making it difficult for them to effect collective action like, say industrial workers. In this sense, “everyday forms” of resistance become particularly important.

Why do peasants choose these forms of resistance? First, these forms of resistance require little or no co-ordination or planning; second, they often represent a form of individual self help; third, they typically avoid any direct confrontation with authority or elite norms.

Scott’s point is that to understand these commonplace forms of resistance is to understand what much of the peasantry does “in between revolts” to defend its interests as best as it can.

I think this lesson can also be applied to corruption in most of Africa. All too often, we complain that everyone who holds a slice of state power uses it to plunder the public treasury for private gain. But could some of Africa’s thieves in politics and the civil service be using corruption to actually resist the regimes they serve?

In her powerful book, In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz, Michela Wrong shows that the billions in dollars Mobutu is alleged to have stolen from Congo actually did not exist.

According to Michela, for Mobutu money was not an end but a means to an end; the end being power. Therefore, his loot was not aimed at building a private fortune but rather to pay for the loyalty of those who helped him stay in power.

But as Wrong weaves her story, she shows how overtime, the predator became the prey. If Mobutu wanted $100m and sent an aide to pick it from the central bank, the aide would inform the governor that Mobutu asked for $150. The governor would withdraw $200m and retain $50m for himself. The aide would do the same.

Looking at it conventionally, Mobutu’s arbitrariness created opportunities for his aides to join him in looting Zaire (now DR Congo). But looking at it creatively, these aides could have been revenging against their boss in a malicious way: “If you are going to enrich yourself and family with this public money, we can do the same.”

However, Mobutu may not have withdrawn the $100m to buy a mansion in Spain. It could have been to pay off some troublesome politician to cross from the opposition. But even here, a similar logic would have applied. If the politician wanted $50m, the intermediary would claim that he asked for $100m.

Nothing brings this inversion of motive out more clearly than David Buss’s new book, Why Women Have Sex. Co-authored with Cindy Meston, the book reveals women’s motives to range from the mundane (“I was bored”) to the spiritual (“I wanted to get closer to God”), from the altruistic (“I wanted my man to feel good about himself”) to the vengeful (“I wanted to punish my husband for cheating on me”).

Writes Buss and Meston: “Some women have sex to feel powerful, others to debase themselves. Some want to impress their friends; others want to harm their enemies (“I wanted to break up my rival’s relationship by having sex with her boyfriend”). Some express romantic love (“I wanted to become one with another person”); others disturbing hate (“I wanted to give someone else a sexually transmitted disease.”).”

Just assume you are a corrupt president. You have appointed your wife to cabinet; your brother is a minister, your son commands the army, your uncle runs the central bank, your brother-in-law is in charge of the revenue service and you recently bought yourself a luxury jet and built a new presidential palace worth $200m.

What would your ministers think? Possibly they envy you. The minister of health may appropriate a huge chunk of his budget to buy a mansion in Los Angeles. This of course makes him richer. But the motivation could actually be that he is jealous of your lifestyle and has decided to become malicious well knowing that by indulging in such loot he is undermining the credibility of your regime.

I know a minister in Uganda who has told friends that “this is the time of okushahura (looting)” adding that if the president is enjoying the national cake, he has the right to join too. But behind the rush to loot also lays the desire to revenge against a powerful president whose subordinates feel he acts out of personal rather than national interest.

From Scott’s interpretation of peasant motivations for action to Buss and Meston’s findings on female sexual motivation, it is clear that there are always hidden agendas behind actions whose initial motivation seems obvious. A large part of corruption in Africa could be a form of resistance against our big men.

amwenda@independent.co.ug

Thursday, March 18, 2010

WHY SSEMPA SHOULD BE OPPOSED !

I was on a train at New York’s Grand Central Station on March 5 when a friend from my days at Stanford University entered. I was overjoyed yet embarrassed; one part of me wanted to hug her, the other to hide. She is a successful lawyer in New York married to a celebrated female journalist.

Given the proposed homosexual bill in Uganda, I was wondering how to explain myself to her; that my country would kill her and her partner if they visited me. I did not have much time to decide; she walked over to me with a big smile as soon as she saw me. I jumped from my seat and gave her a warm hug.

As expected, after exchanging pleasantries, she asked me what the “hell” was going on in Uganda. How do I explain the craziness of Martin Ssempa and his gay porn videos at public rallies; the deeply held prejudices against gays and the ignorance that informs the debate? Since I arrived in America, I have been confronted with persistent questions about Uganda’s kill-the-gays bill at media interviews and public lectures I give.

Most Ugandans possibly don’t understand that cultural prejudices can be used against any group arbitrarily. For example, sections of white society today still believe that black people are animals like donkeys; that inter racial sex is akin to bestiality. It was an act of considerable courage that Barack Obama’s mother married a black man in 1960; equally a difficult choice for her white parents to accept it.

In Dreams from my Father, Obama says white kids used to laugh at his mother for this choice. When his grandfather complained to their parents, they would answer: “Well, you ought to tell your daughter how to behave herself. White people here don’t marry niggers.” I have learnt from the prejudice against homosexuals in Uganda not to be hostile to racists because they are also victims of culture.

It is in this context that I have been trying to frame my answers to this vexing question. People here see David Bahati and Ssempa as Adolf Hitler; a man who stoked anti Semitic, anti gay and anti black hatred. I always find myself in the difficult position of explaining how good people genuinely convinced that they are trying to protect Ugandan (or Christian) culture from adulteration by the West can promote extreme injustice.

They are like the senator, the president, the congressman etc in America who for many years rejected inter racial marriage on grounds that “it is against our culture”; the male chauvinist in Togo still refusing his daughters to go to school in the name of tradition; the parent in Pakistan who marries off his 12-year-old daughter to a 50-year-old man in the name of culture; the religious cleric in Saudi Arabia who, in the name of religion, orders the stoning to death of a girl for premarital sex; the old woman in Kenya who mutilates the genitals of a young girl in the name of custom.

It seems most evil is not always promoted by evil people. A close reading of the crimes of Hitler and the Nazis shows that actually they were following an established European tradition. People of European descent had committed genocides against native populations in America and Africa. Religion (or culture) and science were always at hand to provide justification for mass slaughter.

Sven Lindquist’s book, Exterminate all the Brutes, is a refreshing and insightful account of the role of religion, tradition and science in promoting European genocides. Many Ugandans choose to bury their heads in the sand of cultural bigotry, Stone Age customs and archaic religious dogmas to persecute gays. Unfortunately, reality and science tell a different story; being gay is as normal as being a heterosexual.

Yet what is intriguing is the similarity of the basis of argument by either side in the gay debate in Uganda. The anti gay campaigners argue that homosexuality is an alien lifestyle to our country; that it is being promoted by people from the West using money. The pro gay campaigners here in the USA argue that the anti gay movement in Uganda is promoted and financed by right wing religious groups in America.

One side denies the domestic origins of homosexuality; the other, the local basis of hostility towards it. This is one way Africa is always denied initiative; events in our continent are seen as instigated from elsewhere as if we are a passive and idle people suffering from too much inertia; initiative in Africa is a sign of forces from outside.

Gays in Uganda – like everywhere else in the world – grow up only to realise that they are sexually attracted to people of the same sex. They do not need any money or propaganda from the West to have those feelings. Equally, anti homosexual feelings are born of ignorance and prejudice that is entirely local. Anti gay Ugandans do not need right wing money or propaganda to be hostile to homosexuality. If external influences play a role at all, it is insignificant and secondary.

Most debates everywhere tend to fall into this false and misleading pitfall; rather than debate the objective content of the argument, people focus on the subjective motivations of the participants. And it is not new; when King Philip of Macedon threatened to forcibly unite all Greek city states against Persia in 550 BC, Athens was polarised.

Demosthenes, the leading orator of antiquity argued vehemently against it; his rival Aeschines, argued in favour. Demosthenes was accused of being on the payroll of Persia; Aeschines of Macedon. Debate sunk into these accusations and counter accusations until Philip pounced. It happened to Nelson Mandela when he sought negotiations with apartheid; he was accused of having been bought off by whites.

Many enlightened Ugandans are afraid to openly challenge Ssempa’s bigotry and Nazi-like campaign against homosexuals for fear of being misunderstood as either being gay or having been bribed by rich gays in the West. Yet those who are unwilling to risk anything in the name of principle never get anything serious done for the cause of the advancement of mankind.

amwenda@independent.co.ug

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

HERE IS WHAT RWANDA NEEDS.

In The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama says he has always been troubled by the gap between the magnitude of America’s challenges and the smallness of its politics. This makes even more sense in Africa. Nothing demonstrates it better than presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire and those inside and outside Rwanda who support her.

Africa’s biggest post independence pitfall has been a failure of leadership. It is troubling to see how petty and short-sighted our leaders – both in government and in the opposition – are. What structural incentives propel mediocre people into leadership positions?

During the last election campaigns in the US, Obama’s pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Right, kicked off a storm with comments he had made years earlier on how America had committed mass murder when it nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki; how it supported state terrorism in Palestine and South Africa; how it was founded on racism and is still run on racism; etc. True? Yes, in many ways! But what were the issues at stake?

White America has deep seated fears of black people based on both prejudice and experience. For a black man to win the presidency, he needed to reassure white voters. Both tactically and strategically, Obama positioned himself as a centrist; a person who understood white fears and black aspirations. It is in balancing these two that he was able to bridge the racial divide and build the necessary political consensus to get elected.

Another leader, Nelson Mandela: in prison, he observed that white people were filled with fear that majority rule would lead to revenge for the injustices of apartheid. Mandela understood that blacks needed to reassure the minority whites that majority rule would not doom them. This was vital to create the necessary confidence among white South Africans to accept a democratic transition.

So now come to Rwanda: in 1994, the Tutsi confronted the possibility of their mass extermination. Although the genocide was organised through the state, it was executed by masses of ordinary citizens. Stressed by battles, bullets and mortars, Tutsi soldiers advanced, many losing their colleagues. Every village they captured, they found their mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins, wives, sons and daughters – everyone – killed.

It is one of the biggest miracles of the 20th century that there was no counter genocide in Rwanda in 1994. It is a statement of extraordinary organisational discipline, coherence and leadership that RPF contained the rage of its own members. On many occasions, the RPF military court martial had to order the public execution of Tutsi soldiers in front of Tutsi soldiers for killing innocent Hutu civilians.

If Paul Kagame and his commanders had been European or North American, there would have been a million books written about the extraordinary levels of restraint they exercised in the moment of great military and psychological stress. Military experts and universities would be debating how RPF avoided the collapse of command and control in circumstances where its combatants – finding their own kith and kin dead – were controlled from revenge killings on a mass scale.

The ignorance and prejudice that informs most debate on Rwanda is baffling. In Africa, we look for extraordinary people and achievements elsewhere even when they are staring us in our eyes. What Kagame and RPF did in restraining themselves and their followers in the face of genocide in 1994 is a feat without precedent in human history.

I do recognise that individual RPF soldiers could have committed human rights violations and were not punished. But decisions at the level of a president have to be weighed against many other considerations. To ignore the extraordinary levels of restraint RPF exhibited is to undermine one of the most important things that can help Rwanda’s reconstruction and democratisation. It is naïve to expect that such a war could have been fought faultlessly; war is not a tea party.

Today, the most dominant influence in control of Rwanda is Tutsi. Put yourself in their shoes: what would be their major fears and temptations? Many would think that control of power is the only insurance against genocide. Therefore, any opposition politician who is Hutu needs to recognise this fear and craft a message that seeks to reassure them that loss of power will not lead to mass extermination.

To ignore such a fear is absurd. If I were a Tutsi, I would interpret Ingabire’s statements as a veiled appeal to the Hutu for genocide. This would tempt me to cling to power at all costs; it is better for me and my kin to be exterminated defending ourselves than hand ourselves over for mass murder in the name of democracy.

Ingabire’s claims are even more ridiculous because there are hundreds of thousands of Hutu who actively participated in the genocide and have not been punished for it. They live happily in Rwanda; some sit in cabinet, others in parliament, government agencies – everywhere. The RPF realised long, long ago that punishment through criminal prosecution cannot solve Rwanda’s problems. Political reconciliation will; and that is what it has been doing.

Are there problems and weaknesses with this process including Gacaca courts? You bet! If they were not there, that would not be a human process. However, Rwanda needs to begin a conversation about the future, not a quarrel over the past. There are one million claims and counter claims Rwandans on either side of the political/ethnic divide make against each other: some true, some false; some legitimate, others out of context.

However, finger pointing and digging up the last grievance will not help the country to heal. For Ingabire’s information, there are thousands of Tutsi bitter with Kagame and RPF for not punishing those who killed their relatives. If the debate in that country focused on these claims and counter claims, Rwanda would be bogged down in endless rancour. There is no solution that will please everyone.

The lesson is simple but powerful; decisions required to reconstruct Rwanda cannot be a simple dichotomy of what is morally right or wrong. Rather, they demand making extremely difficult tradeoffs. RPF has made many; the major opposition parties whom the media never covers have done their bit. Rwanda needs politicians who can appreciate its complexity. Sadly, Ingabire falls far short of this.

amwenda@independent.co.ug

HERE IS WHAT RWANDA NEEDS>>

In The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama says he has always been troubled by the gap between the magnitude of America’s challenges and the smallness of its politics. This makes even more sense in Africa. Nothing demonstrates it better than presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire and those inside and outside Rwanda who support her.

Africa’s biggest post independence pitfall has been a failure of leadership. It is troubling to see how petty and short-sighted our leaders – both in government and in the opposition – are. What structural incentives propel mediocre people into leadership positions?

During the last election campaigns in the US, Obama’s pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Right, kicked off a storm with comments he had made years earlier on how America had committed mass murder when it nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki; how it supported state terrorism in Palestine and South Africa; how it was founded on racism and is still run on racism; etc. True? Yes, in many ways! But what were the issues at stake?

White America has deep seated fears of black people based on both prejudice and experience. For a black man to win the presidency, he needed to reassure white voters. Both tactically and strategically, Obama positioned himself as a centrist; a person who understood white fears and black aspirations. It is in balancing these two that he was able to bridge the racial divide and build the necessary political consensus to get elected.

Another leader, Nelson Mandela: in prison, he observed that white people were filled with fear that majority rule would lead to revenge for the injustices of apartheid. Mandela understood that blacks needed to reassure the minority whites that majority rule would not doom them. This was vital to create the necessary confidence among white South Africans to accept a democratic transition.

So now come to Rwanda: in 1994, the Tutsi confronted the possibility of their mass extermination. Although the genocide was organised through the state, it was executed by masses of ordinary citizens. Stressed by battles, bullets and mortars, Tutsi soldiers advanced, many losing their colleagues. Every village they captured, they found their mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins, wives, sons and daughters – everyone – killed.

It is one of the biggest miracles of the 20th century that there was no counter genocide in Rwanda in 1994. It is a statement of extraordinary organisational discipline, coherence and leadership that RPF contained the rage of its own members. On many occasions, the RPF military court martial had to order the public execution of Tutsi soldiers in front of Tutsi soldiers for killing innocent Hutu civilians.

If Paul Kagame and his commanders had been European or North American, there would have been a million books written about the extraordinary levels of restraint they exercised in the moment of great military and psychological stress. Military experts and universities would be debating how RPF avoided the collapse of command and control in circumstances where its combatants – finding their own kith and kin dead – were controlled from revenge killings on a mass scale.

The ignorance and prejudice that informs most debate on Rwanda is baffling. In Africa, we look for extraordinary people and achievements elsewhere even when they are staring us in our eyes. What Kagame and RPF did in restraining themselves and their followers in the face of genocide in 1994 is a feat without precedent in human history.

I do recognise that individual RPF soldiers could have committed human rights violations and were not punished. But decisions at the level of a president have to be weighed against many other considerations. To ignore the extraordinary levels of restraint RPF exhibited is to undermine one of the most important things that can help Rwanda’s reconstruction and democratisation. It is naïve to expect that such a war could have been fought faultlessly; war is not a tea party.

Today, the most dominant influence in control of Rwanda is Tutsi. Put yourself in their shoes: what would be their major fears and temptations? Many would think that control of power is the only insurance against genocide. Therefore, any opposition politician who is Hutu needs to recognise this fear and craft a message that seeks to reassure them that loss of power will not lead to mass extermination.

To ignore such a fear is absurd. If I were a Tutsi, I would interpret Ingabire’s statements as a veiled appeal to the Hutu for genocide. This would tempt me to cling to power at all costs; it is better for me and my kin to be exterminated defending ourselves than hand ourselves over for mass murder in the name of democracy.

Ingabire’s claims are even more ridiculous because there are hundreds of thousands of Hutu who actively participated in the genocide and have not been punished for it. They live happily in Rwanda; some sit in cabinet, others in parliament, government agencies – everywhere. The RPF realised long, long ago that punishment through criminal prosecution cannot solve Rwanda’s problems. Political reconciliation will; and that is what it has been doing.

Are there problems and weaknesses with this process including Gacaca courts? You bet! If they were not there, that would not be a human process. However, Rwanda needs to begin a conversation about the future, not a quarrel over the past. There are one million claims and counter claims Rwandans on either side of the political/ethnic divide make against each other: some true, some false; some legitimate, others out of context.

However, finger pointing and digging up the last grievance will not help the country to heal. For Ingabire’s information, there are thousands of Tutsi bitter with Kagame and RPF for not punishing those who killed their relatives. If the debate in that country focused on these claims and counter claims, Rwanda would be bogged down in endless rancour. There is no solution that will please everyone.

The lesson is simple but powerful; decisions required to reconstruct Rwanda cannot be a simple dichotomy of what is morally right or wrong. Rather, they demand making extremely difficult tradeoffs. RPF has made many; the major opposition parties whom the media never covers have done their bit. Rwanda needs politicians who can appreciate its complexity. Sadly, Ingabire falls far short of this.

amwenda@independent.co.ug

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Museveni's dance with the donors.

As Uganda heads towards the 2011 elections, we are seeing the creation of more districts. I had exaggerated in a 2003 article that in ten years, Uganda will have 100 districts. The NRM has beaten me again turning what I used as hyperbole into reality; in six years, we will have 104 districts.

Although the justification is “taking services closer to the people”, these new districts are ways through which the NRM takes care of its supporters and opponents. For every district created, many jobs are created both at the local and central government level.

Locally, you get the district chairman whose office has a secretary, a driver and a personal assistant (4 jobs). The chairman presides over a cabinet of six persons. The district also has a council of about 30 elected members who earn sitting and other allowances during the performance of their legislative functions.

According to the official structure, a district bureaucracy comprises: Office of the Chief Administration Officer (3 people), Department of Administration (24), Statutory Bodies (9), Finance Department (19), Education Department (10), Production and Marketing Department (16), District Agricultural Training and Information Centre (16), Works Department (19), Community Based Services Department (8), Natural Resources Department (18), Planning Unit (6), Internal Audit (6) and a Department of District Health Services (9). Total political and civil service jobs in a new district: 204.

There are also opportunities to hire teachers for primary schools and nurses, medical assistants and lab technicians for health centers. The district also comes with a budget; to buy books, to build or rehabilitate classrooms, feeder roads, bridges and health centers; to supply stationery, cars, fuel and cleaning services. These tenders and contracts are awarded by and to those who control local politics. Because it is Museveni/NRM that gives the new district, this bolsters their support among local elites who benefit from it.

Yet districts are not always created in pro NRM areas alone. Even regions dominated by the opposition like the north get a piece of the pie. It seems the legitimacy of new districts in Museveni strongholds depends on the NRM’s ability to project their creation as a national project, which explains their creation everywhere.

But these new districts serve another political purpose: Museveni wants to tighten his personal grip on power in Uganda. New districts subdivide big administrative units that can become strong and independent centers of power and even challenge the president. The new districts, small and non-viable, have no ability to survive on their own – hence the tendency to seek personal favors from the big man. For Museveni to rule for life, he needs a Uganda divided and subdivided into small and non-viable units he can easily control.

Another purpose served by many districts is to “decongest” the center. By throwing resources at local units, Museveni has succeeded in diverting elite attention from the center to the districts. This way, he and his allies can appropriate the public treasury in Kampala while allowing elites at the ethnic or clan level to do the same at the new district. This is a perfect bargain.

Museveni’s major triumph therefore has been to decentralise and democratise corruption. Through creating a plethora of institutions and multiple layers of local government largely enmeshed in NRM, his long arms offer patronage from the center to the village level. In return citizens reward him with loyalty.

Opposition is quashed by a combination of two things: firstly by simply refusing to fund projects and programs in their areas; secondly, through violence from the security services. As a result, one by one, we have witnessed opposition politicians cross over to the ruling party in order to get a road, bridge, school, dispensary or a power line to their area: Aggrey Awori, Steven Malinga, Omara Atubo, Ephraim Kamuntu, Philemon Mateke, Maria Mutagamba, the list goes on.

Corruption is not just an element of this system but is “the system”. Its most insidious form is patronage and nepotism which extends from the top levels of government and the ruling party right downwards as a reciprocal arrangement: politicians extend patronage through jobs and giving bribes to voters because they view the public not as citizens but as clients.

The public in return give them support because they realize that no one else but those already in power has the capacity to continue to offer them “something” – a project, a job, a clinic, a road etc. Therefore to stand in opposition to the NRM is to fall at the first hurdle: you cut yourself from the campaign financing and the circles of patronage that make it possible for public funds to reach your area. But you also suffer violence at the hands of the security services.

What is intriguing is that this system has always been partly financed by donors. Their apparent inability to either recognise what is happening, or, when they do, to do something about it should trouble every Ugandan. Donors are mostly western: they have a general belief in a couple of broad principles such as decentralisation of democracy and strengthening of institutions.

However, many donors know that the system in Uganda manipulates these principles to produce a highly personalised and corruption-ridden system of rule. How come that even in the face of this, they remain silent? The answer to this vexing question lies in how donors often structure their relations with governments especially ones that have initially been reform-oriented.

In Uganda’s case, donors were anxious to produce a success story in an otherwise distressful African continent. Museveni’s Uganda initially offered the promise of success. On the other hand, Museveni’s success at building this vast neo-patrimonial system was also predicated upon his ability to retain access to large and systematic foreign aid inflows to the treasury.

These factors led to the development of mutual dependence between donors and Museveni. Donors need Uganda to remain successful to show the fruits of their engagement; Museveni needs them for legitimacy and for money to service his patronage – until he gets oil. Mutual dependence has led to mutual vulnerability: If donors pulled out, their success story would collapse; without them, Museveni would find it difficult to finance his vast patronage. 

amwenda@independent.co.ug