Lungu’s misguided adoption of Museveni’s “Besigye-Hichilema” theory

Filed under: Politics,Special Comments |
President Edgar Lungu with his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni at State House

President Edgar Lungu with his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni at State House

By Anonymous Doctoral Candidate

Almost two years ago, many independent minded observers of Zambia were dismissive of Mr. Lungu as presidential material. Two years since, that assessment has not changed. Mr. Lungu has broken and arguably worsened his standing as a rookie president. Dismissive of genuine criticisms and honest critique, Mr. Lungu has serially abused —and misused—levers of the state. He has used the “state”law enforcement” machinery to silence, jail, harass, bully and frustrate his political opponents under the guise of maintaining state security or in his wildly ironic assertion—“to sacrifice democracy for peace”. The judiciary is mostly at his beckon, to do his will. This is the Museveni theory of governance. It is a theory whose attributes align with Mr. Museveni’s hypothesis, ideology and logic of nurturing political power. In other words, for Uganda’s aging autocrat, to acquire and perpetuate power and the presidency, one must through state apparatus intimidate jail, harass, and co-opt opponents. If need be, dispose them off. Mr. Museveni has perfected this political template over more than a generation of his reign. The template is a construct his opponent—Dr Besigye—and many patriotic Ugandans wished it never existed given that country’s violent and turbulent history. Sadly, Museveni’s thirty years plus of brutal politics, shameful intrigue and unconscionable corruptocracy is apparently the governance curricula and theory which Mr. Lungu look seeks to build upon as he steers Zambia frighteningly towards the cliff of social, economic and human rights peril.

The concern for Uganda ‘s posterity is not just evident and growing among Ugandans only. Foreign powers—some of who helped nurture Museveni’s image as among “new and promising breed of African leaders”—have began to re-assess their earlier hasty and reckless characterization of Mr. Museveni and his brood of leaders. Samantha Power, the US Permanent Representative to the UN—in reference to Mr. Museveni’s reneging on good governance—told the Security Council on March 21, 2016, that “ President [Yoweri] Museveni’s actions contravene the rule of law and jeopardize Uganda’s democratic progress, threatening Uganda’s future stability and prosperity” and, arguably, regional stability. This is the profile of the misleader Mr. Lungu is embracing.

Mr. Museveni deals with his opponents with ruthless abandon. Once, as Besigye secured temporary freedom from Museveni’s jail systems, Mr. Museveni’s security goons began whipping Besigye’s cheering fans who were happy to see their man. The video of this incident made rounds on social media, and revolted human rights activists and every human being worth a conscience. A local journalist claimed that Ugandans had been lashed like “stray cattle to keep them in check.” (YouTube video Mr. Hichilema—a cattle keeper himself—would find this characterization of the event easy to understand but certainly bitter to swallow. But this is the tyranny that Mr. Lungu is seeking to emulate.

In misusing and abusing law enforcement, Mr. Museveni has an easy accessory in his inspector General of police, General Kale Kayihura. Like Mr. Museveni, General Kayihura is Uganda’s long-disserving partisan, and unprofessional military man-turned-inspector general of police. He has publicly stated that he takes orders from Mr. Museveni—rather than from Uganda’s [presidential-term limitless] Constitution. Mr. Kayihura has applauded and defended the police officers’ actions saying—to quote Maria Burnett of Human Rights Watch—“beating people with sticks was better than using bullets and teargas, which has earned Uganda a bad reputation.” If this is not a “bad reputation,” already, what, then, are the contours of a bad reputation? Such callous and clearly criminal inclinations coming from Mr. Museveni’s top cop is heart-rending. We saw this parallel of abuse of police powers when in Zambia, Mr. Lungu’s “law enforcement” demeaned and flushed GBM out of the Copperbelt. This template of Museveni’s malgovernance could very easily find permanent use and residence in Mr. Lungu’s Zambia. But accountability in politics is as worse as accountability in economic management.

Already, the World Bank recently withheld new lending to Uganda worth about $1.5 billion, citing accountably issues—which are the World Bank Group’s code for corruption. Other lenders could follow suit, as they should. Museveni’s parasitic government—like many of Africa’s autocratic regimes—is riddled with party thugs and cronies including undeserving relatives without merit for the positions they hold. Mr. Museveni’s son—(a graduate of the prestigious Sandhurst military academy) commands the so-called Special Forces Group, with the “Presidential Guard Brigade” tasked to keep Mr. Museveni alive. The Special Forces Group also provides security at Uganda’s oil installations—assets which are largely a treasure for the first family’s own wealth. A number of highly placed Ugandan army and intelligence services personnel —and indeed substantial representation of untouchable “regime cadres” are Museveni’s relatives—with easy access to the coffers and privileges of the state. Mr. Museveni has strategically “pigeon-holed” relatives in various government ministries to maintain, sustain, and protect regime interests and to entrench corruptocracy. Uganda as a would-be state of good governance principles, ethics and the rule of law has altogether disappeared. Museveni is Uganda and Uganda is Museveni. This is the political orgy of a “strongman” supplanting necessary strong democratic institutions. It is a misleader Mr. Lungu reveres as a seemingly father figure, and whose theories Mr. Lungu wants to build upon for ta “taking care” of his political opponents and for shepherding Zambia.

Museveni like Mugabe is a nasty, foul-mouthed aging dictator purposely on an odyssey to seemingly drag his country to its grave in the now seemingly unconscious way Mr. Lungu has embarked for Zambia. Every so-called regional leader who has found a nest or gathered figments of political branches for a nest in Museveni’s twisted malgovernance universe has ensured ruin—or is nurturing seeds of future political upheaval—for their countries. Empirical evidence abounds: Salva Kiir—another worthless numskull of South Sudan—has his country in social, political and economic comatose, partly due to Mr. Museveni’s machinations. Joseph Kabila—another of Museveni’s putrid understudy, has recently postponed November elections—effectively postponing democracy and fermenting violent certainties in DRC. Uhuru Kenyatta—Museveni’s neighbor to the east is in a deep swamp of corruption—no doubt having internalized Museveni’s politics of patronage. He was silent when his deputy William Ruto interfered in Uganda’s politics by openly campaigning for Museveni in the February 2016 elections in which Museveni succeeded himself through means that multiple independent observers validate as deeply flawed and autocratic. Mr. Paul Kagame—the genocide politically-milking incumbent leader of Rwanda was once Uganda’s /Museveni’s former director of military intelligence before getting ideas about “liberating” Rwanda and potentially triggering genocide. He has all but crashed Rwanda’s free press under the guise of “preventing genocide”. Rwanda’s democracy is Museveni’s type-democracy in which there is only one bull in the kraal because “the people want me”—the howling Western powers be damned. The tapestry of Museveni’s malgovernance has spawned frankensteins of every governance genre with no credible maps for political transitions. In fact, from Mr. Museveni to Mr. Kagame, the atmosphere to nurture successors is so forbidding and suffocating that should—God forbid (or God permit?), these troubling political creatures suddenly drop out of the sky, their countries could very predictably unravel. What you see as “Vice-Presidents” are fixtures of decorum to project a myth of transition. One only has to examine closely these specimens of so-called vice-presidents to understand that they are no more than individuals who either should have retired, be playing with their grandkids or in a normal democracy, could as well be in prison for their collaborative murder of democracy and development in their countries.

Once again, one of these templates and scenarios contributes to—and is an outcome of—Museveni’s malgovernance theory for which Mr. Lungu seems an eager student. Bad governance could become Mr. Lungu’s legacy, and high-pitched breath sounds of Zambia’s dying democracy.
We “patriotic” Africans must also blame ourselves. For we fail to notice clueless idiot strongmen masquerading as “leaders” and discover too late our frankensteins. A few of us put stock in tribe and fail to internalize deep love for our countries that goes beyond genuflecting before thugs. We need to nurture a deep love for posterity that fiercely resists an evolution of a tyranny. Moreover, “our law enforcement” apparatus is eternally unwilling and unable to resist taking orders from strongmen or their specimen. Their—and our collective—obedience should be to broadly legitimated state constitutions. For this reason, serious patriotic Zambians are deluding themselves if they regard Mr. Lungu’s emerging undemocratic tendencies as transient forms of passing phases of half-baked copycat antics from Museveni’s tyrannical manual. Mr. Museveni’s brand of dictatorship—and that of other tyrants worldwide—promotes the dictatorship of the few. Their dictatorships are not—and these malcontents of our societies never hatched it as—an all-inclusive democratic initiatives for steering their people towards a happier society or more prosperous future. It is about self-perpetuation as can be seen in their contempt of the International Criminal Court (ICC)—a flawed legal arrangement, but nevertheless a preliminary refuge for the victims in search of justice because our own judiciary is frequently a joke. In railing against the ICC, Museveni et al miss a larger point. The ICC did not pre-target the Musevenis of this world during its creation. The ICC exists for potential victims of injustice. It just happens that some of the Musevenis of this world are in Africa. Period.

But that aside, Mr. Museveni and Mr. Mugabe is a passing old order of guerrilla leaders who failed in competitive politics and found refuge in the comfort of political violence as an entry route to—maintaining and sustaining—the presidency. The hubris of strongman Museveni-type adventures sow and impose a monotheist vision of so-called “democracy” on easily gullible recruits lacking their own ideologies, logic and political legitimacy in their own countries. Mr. Museveni belongs to a class of “political pedophiles” eager to find clueless childish leaders searching for political relevance. Mr. Museveni is a tinpot dictator seeking to nurture dictatorship when in fact the construct of dictatorship is quickly fossilizing. Mr. Museveni is what is wrong with Africa. Mr. Lungu is now throwing open his arms around a paradigm that is wrong with Africa for a construct that was once right about Zambia.

Mr. Museveni is expanding his audience and influence and found an unguided and misguided laser in Mr. Lungu. They are now on an equal broadband of intolerance, recklessness, thuggery and a circumscribed view and narrative of good governance—their “good governance.” Relentlessly amateurish, unaware and uninterested in good governance policies, and niceties of serious policy making, Mr. Lungu is the flawless counterpoint to his more reflective political opponent—HH—whose preternatural deliberate nature is a magnet to many fair-minded Zambians thinking about what could-have been a just and hopeful social and economic order and future. In internalizing Museveni’s scorched-earth theory of dismantling political opponents such as Dr. Besigye (“Uganda’s Hichilema”) at all costs with all means, Mr. Lungu has adulterated Zambia’s prior serene democratic order with Mr. Museveni’s tyranny. In the recent past, Uganda would have instead learned from Zambia’s widely acclaimed brand of democracy. What a bucket of spit that Zambia should now be Uganda’s student to unlearn democracy. In the parlance of Mr. Lungu’s party—the PF–, this is truly “Dununa Reverse. “ We all must weep.


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Start: 2019-07-01 End: 2019-07-31