KAMPALA: Strictly speaking, independence in Africa in general and Uganda in particular should mean a new experience of enhancement of local cultural and physical belonging, sovereignty, democracy, production, and protection and conservation of traditional ecological knowledge through indigenous languages.
People should feel proud that they are meaningfully and effectively participating in their own development, transformation and progress, and can resist penetration through invasion of their cultures and ways of life. If all this this is not happening, then there is no independence for the local people. The local people, instead, experience all sorts vices imposed on them by factors beyond their control such as political manipulations, disempowerment, land grabbing by people belonging to extraneous ethnicities, domination, dependency, foreign farming systems, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), foreign knowledge systems, foreign governance systems, militarism, foreign diseases or climate change and foreign economic models that aim to proliferate and entrench the culture of money, among others. The culture of money is so pervasive and formidable that it comes in contact with traditional cultures, it crushes them.
There is no doubt that 37 years of National Resistance Army/Movement (NRA/M) governance in Uganda has meant many more processes that a critical analyst can venture to highlight and analyse generate new knowledge. I have mentioned some of these before, but just like God keeps on reminding us of what to do in order to inherit his divine kingdom, let me mention them, for the purposes of this article. They are de-democratization, de-humanization, depoliticization, de-socialization, de-radicalization, de-intellectualization, de-moralization, political ethnicization, ethnic politicization, deculturalization, disintegration, denationalization, de-citizenization, militarization of society and public services, deinstitutionalization, denaturization, environmental destruction, re-enslavement, human population displacements, commercialization of leadership and governance, politicization of everything conceivable, corruption of everything conceivable, and distortion of the future.
These are themes that serious researchers can embark on to enrich and extend our knowledge of our country and ourselves. Research on these themes would provide information and knowledge to make our country more open and our society a knowledge society whose development, transformation and progress will be adequately knowledge based in the sociocultural, socio-economic, socio-ecological and socio-political dimensions. So far so bad.
One social issue that NRA/M has failed to conquer and has instead enhanced is corruption. During the celebrations marking President Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s/NRA-M’s 37 years in power, which were held in Kakumiro District, Bunyoro, on 26 January 2023 under the theme “Our resolute efforts to transform Uganda is a promise we shall fulfil”, the Promised, like he has done severally in the past, declared that he would stump corruption out of the country.
He forgot that he has contradicted himself severally on the vice of corruption, sometimes protecting the corrupt and even discouraging the Inspector General of Government (IGG) from employing the Life Style Audit approach, which Singapore successfully used to combat and conquer corruption. Dismissing the Life Style Audit strategy of the IGG’ the President reasoned that it would discourage the looters of government money from investing in the country, and instead take their loot out of the country. Disguisedly, or by implication he he was telling the big looters to go on with their illicit trade, although he knew they were harming the country and the people.
I was enthused by the President’s castigation of the corrupt in the local District Authorities, especially the members the Public Service Commissions, whom he castigated for “selling Local Government jobs.and using sex to lure potential employees into immoral sex for jobs. He warned District Internal Security and Police’s CID to help stump out corruption or face his wrath. He said, “I have heard of girls being exploited sexually as bribes for jobs. Get evidence, please, devoted members of the Public and we expunge and roast those pigs”. There is all indication that President Tibuhaburwa Museveni will make corruption a petty topic as long as he remains President.
He will promise heaven on earth in stumping it out. However, increasingly many Ugandans are convinced that corruption is integral to NRA/M and its government. People in the Districts say authorities there are compelled to employ workers sent to them by men or women of power, even when the people they send do not have the required experience and qualifications for the jobs available for filling. This is of course corruption from the Centre. It is centralization of corruption and then decentralizing it to the districts.
What is worrying citizens is that because of this practice, many workers so employed tend to belong to one ethnic group, and instead of speaking the official language (English) in the offices, they speak a language, which sounds like Runyankole but is not quite it. Some people say it is Kinyarwanda. This means the local governments have been penetrated and captured by people of one ethnicity. It is not easy to see how the President is going to combat corruption in employment in local authorities by people who belong to the same ethnicity like him. Many people so employed will spend time acting in the positions they have unfairly acquired. In those capacities they do no real work but to try and make up their deficiencies by pursuing further studies, so that when they acquire new academic qualifications, not necessarily skills, they are confirmed in the positions they held without qualifications.
Ethnicization of employment in Uganda has gone on as long as President Tibuhaburwa Museveni has been in power. When in the early 1990s government carried out retrenchment, ostensibly to remove dead wood and downsize the workforce, This has been followed over the years by re-expansion of the workforce by filling the positions once occupied by the dead wood, creating many others and ethnicizing them. In many government institutions and departments at the centre, English has become less spoken than the language now proliferating in some of the local authorities.
Many institutions established by government over the years have people of the same ethnicity as heads appointed by the President. Although some carry names like people of other ethnicities, this is concealment of the truth. It may be difficult not to characterize appointment of people of one ethnicity to public offices of government or its authorities as corruption. The same process is happening in the Private sector under political influence.
Therefore, corruption has not only been centralized and decentralized from the centre, but it has also been ethnicized from the centre. It is parasitizing the whole ethico-moral fiber of the country with the NRA/M government as its epicenter. Therefore, to get rid of corruption should not be a lingual matter. It should involve.de-movementization of politics and life in Uganda. It is a myth to go on believing that the Movement can combat and win a war on corruption when corruption begins with it and ends with it.
This can no loner be concealed by words of the President. The President knows more than anyone else why corruption has permeated Ugandan society and what benefits it has brought to a few. Turning all power and energy to the lower levels of governance, while leaving the top unscathed, is ultimately not effective in conquering corruption that is simultaneously centralized, decentralized and ethnicized, The bull must be taken by its horns. This is the wisdom of an old man of 73 years – open and honest wisdom with no strings attached.
For God and My Country