Museveni had an interview with Bill Berkeley. Berkeley’s report was published in the Atlantic Monthly magazine (USA) of September 1994. Museveni stated at the start of the interview that “I have never blamed the whites [Museveni considers himself white] for colonizing Africa; I have never blamed these whites for taking slaves. If you are stupid, you should be taken a slave”. This statement reveals a lot about the character of Museveni and why he has (mis)treated Ugandans with no remorse.
Slave trade was a ruthless enterprise that had no respect for human lives whatsoever. Slave trade involved foreigners who facilitated local slave catchers with guns that were used in slave trade wars. When slavery was suppressed for various reasons, slave trade was replaced by colonialism that continued foreign ruthless exploitation of Africans using local agents. Museveni is trying to cover up his being used by foreigners as an agent in the western neo-colonization project led by Britain and the atrocities that have occurred amounting to Ugandans being treated as slaves witness their low wages and awful working conditions.
Slave trade and colonialism (and now neo-colonialism) did not take place and succeed because Africans are stupid. There was and still is African resistance against powerful forces. Makobore of Rujumbura would probably have failed to defeat his neighbors if he did not get the support of Arab slave traders who supplied him better European weapons than spears and arrows used by his neighbors. Kabarega would probably have prevailed if he did not face British mercenary forces with better weapons. Museveni is therefore very wrong to argue that enslaved people (politically, militarily, economically and socially) including Ugandans are stupid and it is their fault they are treated like slaves.
Museveni used that language because by 1994 there was ample evidence that his guerrilla war was funded, directed and commanded by foreigners. The return to Rwanda in 1994 of Tutsi refugees who had played a prominent role in Uganda’s guerrilla war and NRM government and visible presence of western advisers such as William Pike, Lynda Chalker and Paul Collier have left no doubt about who has been in charge of Uganda. With his image and dignity wounded, Museveni therefore used the general remark that stupid people (including Ugandans) should be enslaved supposedly for tolerating foreign domination and ruthless exploitation. Museveni’s outbursts, body language, priorities, threats and policies leave no doubt that he does not care about Ugandans. He treats them as stupid, primitive and bankrupt people (that is the language Museveni uses) who should be exploited like slaves.
The good news is that Ugandans have become enlightened and dialectical and are producing indisputable evidence that he is a ruthless agent in the employ of white people particularly Britain and that is why he does not blame them for enslaving ‘stupid’ Uganda people using him as their agent. There are indications that Museveni like many other Batutsi and Bashororo people continue to consider that they are white and superior people who have a right to enslave ‘stupid’ black cultivators. John Reader (1997) recorded that the hamitic myth – the notion that pastoralists have a separate origin from and are superior to cultivators has persisted to this day. It was reinforced by colonial regimes and has gathered strength in subtle ways under neo-colonial regimes in Rwanda and Uganda led by Britain. That is why Tony Blair former Britain’s prime minister a few weeks ago defended his warm and cordial relation with Paul Kagame even after allegations that Rwandan troops had committed genocide against Hutu people in DRC. And that is why Museveni does not tolerate any mention that he is foreign, was picked, groomed, installed and is being sustained as president of Uganda by foreigners led by Britain with Lynda Chalker as the main agent. Here are a few illustrations.
First, during the guerrilla war in the Luwero Triangle a Muhima young man was imprisoned and tortured in a very cold cave half naked for asking Museveni who these guys in their midst were that spoke a strange language. Museveni acted swiftly to send a message to others that he did not want such questions asked because that was sectarianism. If you recall, soon after becoming president he enacted through rubber stamp legislative body anti-sectarian law to stop any mention of sectarian actions which Museveni was committing like appointing foreigners as deputy minister of defense and deputy chief of intelligence and counter intelligence respectively. Therefore many Ugandans either do not know that Uganda is run by foreigners or they know but cannot say anything for fear of prosecution and punishment.
Second, three top UPC officials were arrested and charged with sedition stemming from the manifesto in which it was alleged that Museveni’s government was dominated by ‘foreigners’ specifically Banyarwanda (Tutsi), people of Rwandan origin. “Many top officials in Museveni’s NRA were, in fact, Rwandan refugees, who had settled in Uganda … others were Ugandans of Rwandan descent”. UPC supporters were ordered arrested by Museveni because they are criminals when they raised doubts about Museveni’s ethnicity (Atlantic Monthly September 1994). The issue of Museveni’s ethnicity has resurfaced. Until Museveni clears the air satisfactorily, this matter will haunt him and damage his legacy.
Third, there is credible evidence that Museveni was handpicked to lead Uganda and wage wars in the great lakes region (P. Phillips 2006) with strong Britain support. It has been reported that Museveni took power in Uganda in 1986 “with hefty aid from the British Privy Council’s London-Rhodesia Company (Lonrho) of Tiny Rowland, Nigeria’s British agent [wealthy] Mashood Abiola, and various refugee aid operations… Propaganda and publicity was supplied free of charge by British Broadcasting Corporation [BBC], whose ‘correspondent’ William Pike, now editor of the Uganda government newspaper New Vision, accompanied Museveni in the bush through most of his 1981-86 campaign of violence to seize power” (EIR September 26, 1997).
Well placed sources know very well, “it is London that installed Museveni in power and [it is] London which runs Uganda today” (EIR August 8, 1997). Museveni has been guided or instructed by Lynda Chalker who placed British many experts in Uganda. British Ambassadors in Uganda have also provided Museveni additional regular guidance. And William Pike is believed to report to Lynda Chalker (EIR November 1994, June 1995, May 1997).
In order to create space for British experts, Museveni urged experienced Ugandans in exile to stay there and those at home to join them. In an interview with Augustine Oyowe Museveni was asked “Uganda has a shortage of skilled labor despite the fact that it has many very able professionals living abroad. What measures have you put in place to entice them back?” Museveni responded “We do not mind very much if they stay away abroad. They earn and send money to their families. It is one form of advantage to the country. We are training new people all the time in the university and technical schools. So we do not feel their absence”. Museveni forgot or deliberately skipped to mention that the acute skills gap created by Uganda experienced professionals who fled the country during the period of political instability was being filled by foreign experts (mostly young and very expensive but largely ignorant of Uganda’s history and culture) as elaborated later by the deputy minister of finance in an interview with Oyowe (The Courier September-October 1993).
Fourth, because Museveni lacks popularity in Uganda he has applied three strategies to hang onto power: he initially stated he would not stay too long as president, in the meantime he built a repressive machinery to impose him on the people, and since 1996 elections he has used bribery, intimidation of voters and rigging of votes etc.
Bill Berkeley reported that the twinkle in Museveni‘s eye during the interview “masks toughness, arrogance and even ruthlessness. He has not stayed on top of Uganda by being soft”(Atlantic Monthly September 1994). And where is the source of his ruthlessness? “It is London that has given Museveni full license to strip Uganda to feed his military machine… It is the companies of the British Commonwealth, led by the Commonwealth Corporation, which follow behind the armies, taking the property titles on the wealth seized by Museveni’s warlords (EIR August 1997). The high defense expenditure as a percentage of total national recurrent budget (out turn) for example rose from 34.5 percent in 1989/90 to 43.5 percent in 1990/91 (Uganda Human Development Report 1996) confirms the use of force even in areas not at war. Museveni also with tacit support of Britain rejected and has since frustrated multi-party politics. It is reported that Lynda Chalker said that “You need a dictator like Museveni to push these policies [brutal policies of globalization and structural adjustment of the IMF, democracy must be defeated] to push these types of policies” (EIR September 19, 1997). Britain’s Labor Party government exempted Museveni from introducing multiparty politics when other African governments were being forced to do so as a condition for continued foreign aid (Journal of Democracy April 1998). It is surprising that the donor community in Uganda is silent when there is evidence of intimidation, massive bribery and preparation to use military as the election date of February 18, 2011 approaches. Where are the election observers who should monitor the whole process?
Fifth, Museveni’s lack of respect for Ugandans is reflected in his actions. Early in his presidency he reported that he was not interested in staying in power for long because he wanted to focus on Pan-African issues. In 1994, he repeated that he would be leaving the presidency to tend to his cows. In an interview with Bill Berkeley referred to above Museveni reported that he would step down after five more years [in 2000] because “My cows are crying for me” (Atlantic Monthly September 1994).
Some people, Ugandans and others, think that Museveni is still hanging on – despite his unpopularity at home and increasingly abroad because of his failed economic policy and rampant corruption – because his western sponsors still need him for their geopolitical goals in the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region. It is believed that he is being pushed by western powers especially Britain to conclude the East African economic integration and political federation or the Tutsi Empire. The realization of these two instruments would strengthen the hand of Anglo-Saxons in their struggle against France and other emerging powers such as China and India. Therefore he is not doing so for Ugandans and that is why Museveni should be defeated so that he does not push us into harm’s way. This is the only golden opportunity we have got fellow Ugandans!
Sixth, Museveni’s disrespect for Uganda peasants (the focus is now on Kampala City) can be deduced from his policies. In 1989 Museveni appealed to peasants to produce maize and other crops in large quantities for sale as part of his efforts to transform peasant subsistence to commercial agriculture. Throughout the countryside farmers responded but the government did not put in place the mechanism for collecting the crop and paying the farmers. The bumper harvest rotted away and peasants suffered heavy losses especially those that had hired labor. I visited one area in Luwero and saw another harvest of vegetables such as pepper, tomatoes and cabbages that were rotting in the field because none had come to buy the stuff which government had promised would be bought at market prices.
As if the 1989 harvest scandal was not enough, poor peasants were once again called upon to grow – this time – cotton in large quantities. The peasants once again responded in a big way. However, at the same time, the government put a squeeze on credit in the economy to control inflation (Uganda Confidential May 1-14, 1993) as required by the IMF. The peasants were not paid and the harvest went to waste. If these mistakes had been committed in the security forces sector heads would have rolled. Not so when the people affected are the ‘stupid’ peasants.
Museveni has been arguing during the campaign that he should be re-elected on the basis of his performance record. Clearly, Museveni’s record has been one of ruthlessness, corruption, sectarianism, inequalities in favor of the rich few families connected to the first family and the impoverishment of the rest as witnessed by the spreading diseases of poverty, deteriorating infrastructure, institutions and the environment in rural and urban areas.
If – in view of Museveni’s poor development performance record (he abandoned the failed 22 year structural adjustment program in 2009), ruthlessness and foreign dominance as sketched above – Ugandans re-elect him for another five year term, then there may be an element of truth in Museveni’s statement that “If you [Ugandans] are stupid, you should be taken a slave” and exploited because for all intents and purposes Museveni has treated Ugandans like slaves except that he has not yet sold us in an open market.
UAH forumist in New York