News and Views
Museveni explains NRM ideology
Since the beginning of the 9th Parliament, I have been meeting Members of Parliament (MPs) in small batches discussing ideology. Ideology is very crucial for a liberation movement or, indeed, for any political group that wants to manage society.
Eclectism is not a safe anchor for a political movement. Ideology is a compass that can guide a political organisation through a myriad of converging or diametrically opposed issues. How are you going to correctly relate with religious groups, traditional groups, business groups, peasants, landed classes, landless peasants in such a manner that Uganda becomes a modern country?
How are you going to correctly handle the issue of external relations in such a manner that Uganda benefits without becoming a tool of external parasitic interests?
If you are not careful and if you do not have a political compass, you are going to get lost. The NRM has traversed the long road from 1965, when we formed the first student group out of the youth of the Democratic Party (DP) and the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), up to today. We have been guided by four principles: Nationalism, Pan-Africanism, the unavoidability of socio-economic transformation of our society, indeed the society of the whole of Africa, if black people are to survive as a free people; and democratic governance which we fought for, from the very beginning.
In our last retreat, I touched on these issues but I did not develop them because I concentrated on the history of the economic performance of the colonial, neo-colonial and NRM-run Uganda in the last 50 years.
I had to do this because you remember the charlatans and the myopic analysts were predicting “doom” and “collapse” of the economy taking advantage of the consequences of the mistakes committed by elements of the 6th Parliament, which I always condemn, but the rest of the political class is always quiet about. Those mistakes made by elements of the 6th Parliament were responsible for our lagging behind in developing electricity.
Fake and shallow environmentalists, on the other hand, as well as sectarianism and sabotage, orchestrated by the Okello Okello group with impunity, were responsible for the shortfall in sugar production as compared to demand for sugar. It is the three groups, elements of the 6th Parliament, the pseudo-environmentalists and the sectarian saboteurs of the Okello Okello group that were responsible for the challenges that came to the fore at the beginning of last year. Indirectly responsible are also the NRM majority who sit silently in Parliament and allow these traitors to sabotage the future of the country. Also responsible are the press that amplify these falsehoods. Electricity shortages, however, had started in 2005.
To refresh your minds, you remember, I produced Bank of Uganda figures and figures from other government departments which showed that while electricity production was 60MW in 1986, it is now 568MW, while sugar production was zero tonnes, it is now about 380,000 metric tonnes, etc. Yet there was a shortage and high prices.
Why? Was it for negative reasons necessitating declaring a crisis in the economy or was it for positive reasons necessitating everybody rising up and seizing these opportunities with more production in agriculture and industry and, therefore, creating more employment? Half a year has now gone by but the catastrophe and collapse the charlatans were predicting have not come about. Instead, inflation is coming down from 30.8% at the highest in October 2011 to now 27% by the end of December.
In the last retreat I, therefore, spent much of the time exposing the lies of the charlatans in relationship to the medium and short-term performance of the economy and by pointing out that the challenges that were confronting us had been caused by the treachery of elements of the political class who act with impunity; without being punished.
I pointed out to you that the economies in Europe are performing poorly for different reasons. The economies of Europe have, for the last 500 years, been thriving at the expense of the rest of the world; taking slaves from Africa to provide free labour, looting raw materials, using Africa and Asia as captive markets and relying on un-equal trade even after formal colonialism ended (during the neo-colonialism stage).
I hope many of you have read Dr. Rodney’s book entitled: How Europe underdeveloped Africa. All this ended in dual phenomena. People in Europe, North America and Japan living an opulent life in houses built with cement and iron-bars (mitayimbwa), driving cars, while people in Africa, Asia and Latin America stayed in straw or grass-thatched huts and walked on foot.
This meant that the raw-materials of the whole world were being used to only provide good life for the people of Europe, which is populated by a small group of the population of the world.
Hence, the raw materials were always cheap such as steel, cement, oil and copper. The challenge for Europe is now that hundreds of millions of Chinese, Indians, Brazilians and even Africans are now beginning to live a good life and, therefore, the demand for the raw-materials have gone up. The price of a tonne of steel used to be $200. It is now $900. You have seen steel firms from India flocking here.
There is one near Iganga, there is one near Namagunga. I did not know that these steel companies had established themselves there. What is luring them? They are lured by high steel prices. These high prices for raw materials were the first shock to the economies of the West.
Then, they had additional problems of internal mismanagement with bad loans for housing for which the Governments tried to provide rescue. I think this also affects demand. During Christmas time, I watched one of the TV channels that excitedly proclaimed that during the last Christmas, the number of teddy bears (toys) bought from shops had gone up in the US.
This was put out as big news. It means demand for non-essentials had previously gone down seriously. These are the problems for the economies of Europe and the West.
In the NRM vision, which I presented to the NRM in 2003 here, in Kyankwanzi, I, however, pointed out that the high prices for raw-materials are cyclic. They go up when demand is high but come down when demand falls, there is over-production of that raw-material or scientific innovations bring new technologies to the market. Indeed, only yesterday I was talking to a high-level Chinese minister who, again, confirmed this observation in relation to petroleum.
His view is that in 20 years’ time, demand for petroleum will fall because new “energy mix” of cleaner energy sources will have come to the fore.
These will be: hydro, nuclear, wind and solar. He pointed out that the energy from the sun that the earth gets is 50 times greater than all the electricity produced in the whole world from all sources of energy. When producing a unit of electricity from solar becomes comparable to nuclear energy or hydro-electricity that will be good news for the world and bad news for the countries producing electricity from oil and coal.
As of now, the cost for a unit of electricity from hydro is 1.5 American cents, the cost per unit of nuclear energy is between 2.1 and 4.8 American cents (depending on the size of the reactor), the cost of producing a unit of electricity from wind is 12.4 American cents and the cost of producing a unit of solar energy is 36.2 American cents.
Dr. Kwesiga, our scientist, has indeed, told me that we should concentrate on solar energy because we have so much of it in Africa. Traditionally, we used solar energy to dry things as you know — to dry millet, cassava, grass, clothes, tanning skins, etc. It is not a new idea. What is new is its more efficient use and storage.
‘Sectarianism has no place in NRM’
The problems for the economy of Uganda are, as already stated, mistakes caused by the political class elements of the 6th Parliament and pseudo-environmentalists. There is also the problem of corruption by public officials who embezzle government funds or take bribes from the private sector.
Amateurish politicians are also fuelling a variant of corruption of bribing the public by buying beer for them and petty gifts during elections. This is on top of the inherited bottlenecks from colonialism and the collapse of the enclave economy in Amin’s time. The NRM is fixing both problems if it is not disturbed by the mistakes of some of the elements of the political class.
Otherwise, Uganda’s economy is robust and growing very fast. By finishing Bujagali, the economy will, for the first time, since 2005, have enough electricity. You will see how the economy will roar. If the economy has, on the average, been growing at 6.5% per annum for the last 20 years with the bottleneck of lack of electricity, how much more will it grow after this bottleneck has been solved?
I would like, therefore, using this occasion, to go back to the issue of ideology, which I did not fully deal with last time. The first principle is nationalism. Prior to the emergence of NRM, all the political parties in Uganda were not nationalist; they were sectarian on account of religion and tribes.
UPC was a party for Protestants, DP a party for Catholics, and Kabaka Yekka (KY) was a party for Baganda Protestants. These were bankrupt platforms. From the Gospel according to St. Luke 10:25-37, Jesus was asked by one of the people that he was talking to:
“Who is my neighbour?” Jesus answered him as follows: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers.
They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.
The next day he took out two denarii(c) and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Similarly, the NRM should ask each Ugandan: “Who is your socio-economic friend?” On whom is my socio-economic prosperity dependent? Is my socio-economic prosperity dependent on members of my tribe, members of my religion or on whom? I have used my personal example to illustrate this point before. I am a milk producer and also a producer of bananas and beef.
Many of the Banyankore do not buy my milk, bananas or beef except, probably, those in towns of Mbarara and Bushenyi. Otherwise, many of the Banyankore also produce similar products — milk, beef and bananas.
Who, then, are my socio-economic friends? The ones that buy what I produce. It is, mainly, the non-Banyankore Ugandans of Kampala and other towns, the South Sudanese, the other East Africans and, now, citizens of countries beyond Africa (such as the Middle East and India).
If you take one district of the former Ankole Kingdom, Kiruhuura, 542,340 litres of milk is sold out of this district per day. When you came to visit me in Rwakitura in July 2011, I told you that that trading centre near my place, Rushere, sells 204,000 litres per day to cooling centres which transmit milk to Kampala mainly. Most of this milk has to go to Kampala as its destination. Who are the greatest socio-economic friends of Kiruhuura? Obviously the people of Kampala.
This inter-communal dependency is not a new phenomenon. During the colonial times, I would take cattle for sale to the monthly cattle auction market (ekikomera) at Ntungamo with my father, Mzee Kaguta.
Those cattle had three buyers: Walusimbi from Kampala, (Walusimbi Mpanga), Bukenya (Bukyenya as the Banyankore called him) and a white man called Shear who used to supply meat to the Kilembe mines workers. One of our cows, Mpuuga ya Siina, once tossed Shear, the Muzungu; it refused to be sold and Mzee Kaguta gave it a praise name, “ekikubyo”, that went as follows: “Kyakyarikuringana rutongana omwanya gwanyinayo” ‘the cow that knocks people down and in the process redeems its historical position in the herd by surviving to produce more cows’.
Before colonialism, there was trade between the East African Coast and all parts of Uganda, Congo. There was also trade within Uganda in bark-cloth from Kooki and Bukoba, hoes from Bunyoro, etc. Textiles and guns were coming from the coast in exchange for ivory.
Therefore, our stand of nationalism is not based on mere rhetoric or emotionalism. It is based on the legitimate and core interests of the people, of each individual as long as he is a producer or consumer. Therefore, those who push sectarianism are enemies of the core interests of the people. They are charlatans, opportunists and enemies of the people.
From the Gospel of St. Matthew: 4:4 Jesus said: “Man shall not live by bread alone.” It is not only materialist interests that will guide us. The sectarianists ignore the similarities or linkages among the people of Africa in terms of language, culture, etc.
You notice whenever I am conducting public rallies in many parts of Uganda, the wananchi address me in their dialects without interpretation.
This is the case with Rukiga, Runyoro, Rutooro, Luruuli, Luganda, Lunyala, Lusoga, Lugweere, Runyarwanda and, to some extent Lunyole, Lusamia, Lukonjo, Rwamba and Lugisu. Why is this so? It is because these dialects are similar to Runyankore. To these, add the dialects of Tanzania and Congo of Ruhaya, Ruhema, Runyambooga, etc.
I have told you many times of the linkages between Luo and the Bantu dialects; the Bantu dialects and Lugbara; the Bantu dialects and Ateso, Karimojong, etc. A cow in Ateso is “akiteng” you notice the closeness with “ente” the Bantu word for cow.
In Luo the word for cow is dyang. In Runyankore the word endyanga means a bag made out of animal skins. The Lugbara word for syphilis is: “oya”. In Runyankore, the word for syphilis is ebihooya. In Runyoro-Rutooro, ebihooya means sores or wounds.
The word lubaala in Acholi means anthem. The word mubala in Luganda means clan anthem. The word for daughter in Luo is nyara. You know what that word means in some of the Bantu dialects. All the clans in this part of Africa are exogamous, they marry outside the clan, never within the same clan, etc.
Therefore, when we talk about the oneness of the African people, it is a talk founded on historical, cultural and linguistic facts in addition to the complementarities in the economy.
Another advantage out of integration is diversified talent. The wider the population catchment area the broader the talent base. That is why a country like the US actually grabs scientists from all over the world.
The German scientists led by Von Braunn are the ones that developed the rockets for the US after they were captured following the defeat of Germany in the Second World War.
The Jewish Scientist from Germany by the names of Julius Robert Oppenheimer is the one that developed the atomic bomb for the US. A Ugandan scientist, son of one of my schoolmates, Dr. Aribariho, is the one sending American satellites into space now. It is ideologically bankrupt not to welcome talent or people that want to belong to your country. You are denying yourself talent. Similarly, banishing sectarianism in a country is a source of strength. You pull the talent of the whole catchment area of the population.
That is how, for instance, the NRM was able to build the UPDF, an army that has brought honour and security not only to Uganda but to many parts of the region. We could never have built such an army on the basis of sectarian principles.
Having seen that nationalism is superior to sectarianism and more beneficial for the people, we need to advance to the second principle: Pan-Africanism is nationalism, on a bigger scale. Under nationalism, we saw how economic inter-dependence among our communities and between individuals is the basis of socio-economic prosperity. We also saw the historical linkages among the peoples of Uganda. We also saw the efficiency nationalism brings into the organs of state such as in the army, in scientific discoveries, etc. These advantages will be more amplified when it comes to Pan-Africanism.
You will have bigger markets, you will unite more people of Africa who share the same similarities and linkages, you will capture more talents from a wider catchment, etc. Pan-Africanism will, additionally, bring in two new factors: rationalising the African borders and guaranteeing our strategic security by building our defence capacity on land, at sea, in the air and in space.
By 1900, the whole of Africa had been colonised except for Ethiopia and Liberia. Africa had gone through terrible times for the previous 400 years; slave trade and the agonies of colonisation. The colonisation of Africa was caused by the weakness of the traditional African societies which had a lot of strength in the areas of culture and language, but had one great weakness in the area of integration and governance.
Africa cannot afford continued marginalisation
The level of integration was very low; some of the societies were still operating at clan levels and those that had integrated clans had managed to build small kingdoms, the exaggerated titles of the Kings notwithstanding.
It was no accident that it was only Ethiopia, with a land area of about one million square kilometres after the secession of Eritrea, that defeated colonialism. This is about five times the size of present day Uganda.
This generation of Ugandans must solve the problem of integration because the clans and the small kingdoms of pre-colonial Africa were swallowed up one by one by colonialism. They were ‘swallowable’. They could not resist the more organised societies.
Some people try to use the excuse of technological superiority to explain why traditional Africa succumbed to colonialism. I never accept this line of argument. China and Japan were lagging behind the West by the time the Europeans arrived in that area from the sea in terms of technology never mind that it was China that invented gun-powder in the year AD 850.
The Chinese were only using gun-powder for amusement in the form of fireworks instead of using it for killing people as the Europeans did.
Nevertheless, the Europeans could not conquer China, not for lack of trying. It was just too big to be swallowed. In the years 1839-1842 the British attacked the Chinese twice to force them to buy opium. These were known as the opium wars.
However, within a hundred years from that time, by 1949, China, under the communists, had risen up, never to be dominated again. Indeed, in 1950, China inflicted a big blow to the US and other Western Armies when it intervened in the Korean War. This was in spite of the young Communists Government which had only taken power in 1949.
That is how North Korea was preserved. Otherwise, the US and Western armies had gone up to the Yalu River on the border with China.
It is the same story with Japan. Here, in our own continent, it was only Ethiopia that defeated a European power (Italy) and was never colonised. It was briefly occupied by Italy in 1935 to 1945 when Italy was defeated as part of the Second World War. Therefore, size matters.
It is not the only factor but it matters. More territorial integration, of course, cures many problems, of the coast and the hinterland, divided rivers, divided lakes, etc. There are only two land-locked countries in South America, 15 in Europe, 12 in Asia and 15 in Africa. On the strategic security side, Africa cannot afford continued marginalisation or future re-colonisation.
Our Lord’s Prayer says: “Thou shall not lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil”. It is not good to tempt the greedy by being weak. This was the mistake of the chiefs in the pre-colonial Africa; it should not be the mistake of the modern generation not to remove irrational fragmentation of the African resources (lakes, rivers, coast Vs interior, mountains, etc). Africa must have the capacity to insure itself against future re-colonisation.
In order to do this, we must be able to defend ourselves on land, at sea, in the air and in space. Uganda alone, even, when we become a first world country with a GDP per capita of 20,000 or so American dollars, cannot easily have a stand-alone space programme.
We cannot have a navy because we have no sea. Even for a very developed Uganda, we would have serious strategic gaps in our security. That is why the issue of the East African Federation comes in handy. The capacity of a first world Uganda is still limited.
A first world East Africa would be a global power, able to guarantee the future of the black people. It is very myopic for black people to continue with the present balkanisation of Africa.
Africa regained her freedom on account of three factors: the Communist Revolutions of Russia (1917) and China 1949 which created two very powerful countries that were opposed to colonialism; the inter-imperialist wars of 1914- 1918 and 1939-45 that weakened the imperialist countries to our advantage; and, of course, the resistance of the colonised and semi-colonised peoples of Africa, Asia (India, China, Indonesia, Indo-China, Korea and the Middle East (Egypt, the Arabian Peninsula etc).
Since the collapse of colonialism, Chinaand India have become super powers. Nobody can think of re-colonising China or India.
Cheap popularity is a disgrace to political leadership
It is Africa that has not used her freedom after the1950s to immunise herself against future re-colonisation.
Many of the people that were colonised perished; the Red Indians, the Aztecs, the Incas, the Carribes, the Maoris, the Aborigines of Australia. Africans survived colonialism because of their strong genes. They do not easily die.
Professor Jared Diamond, in his book: Guns, Germs and Steel: A Short History of Everybody for the last 13,000 years (1998) has pointed out that Africans have survived because of the previous inoculations on account of the zoonotic diseases that affect both humans and animals.
By keeping domestic animals, that have diseases that can also affect humans, our people got inoculated against many of the diseases.
That is how we were able to survive the European diseases unlike the Red Indians and survive all the other privations of slavery and colonialism.Africa cannot risk a repeat of this in the future.
It is amazing to see the Africans who tend to be mesmerised by the strength of others (worshipping Americans, recently Chinese) and yet they do not want to build up their own strength.
The failure to use the obvious linkages and similarities among the black people is inexcusable.
The NRM should continue to take the lead on this issue as it has done in the past.
Hence, the importance of the young cadres and everybody grasping this.
The third principle is socio-economic transformation resulting into the formation of a middle class society with a skilled working class.
It is this principle that I dealt with last time. However, in order to recapitulate, in brief, you remember we pointed out then that the stimuli for socio-economic transformation are the following:
- Peace and stability, at least in some parts of the country;
- Correct macro-economic policies (control inflation, etc);
- Modernising services;
- Modernising agriculture;
- Developing the human resource;
- Modernising infrastructure (roads, electricity, the railways, piped water, information communication technology (ICT), etc;
- The social infrastructure needed is schools as well as health units; and markets that are big enough to absorb our products.
We discussed these stimuli exhaustively last time. I will not delve into them this time.
The final principle is democracy. Democracy makes leaders accountable to the people. The leaders in a democracy need to do two things: do what the people want that is rationally correct and relevant; but also they need to educate the people as to how they can improve their lives.
Banyankore used to drink milk without boiling it. It was popular for them to do that. I could, however, not accept to join the populism of drinking un-boiled milk because it was popular with the people.
I would have been their enemy if I had done that. The NRM broadened representation by creating political posts that do not exist anywhere else, for example, the parliamentary seats for women, the youth, PWDs, workers and the UPDF.
It is now your duty to look at the roles I have mentioned above, to represent people’s legitimate views and educate the people about modernisation.
I have done both as I demonstrated to you when you visited my home area. I am, therefore, telling you what I am sure of.
Cheap popularity and opportunism are a disgrace to political leadership, alien to the NRM and will ruin the people.
In conclusion, the four core principles of the NRM are: Nationalism; pan-Africanism; socio-economic transformation and democracy.
In the past, we highlighted national independence as one of the core principles. In this essay, however, I am subsuming it under nationalism and pan-Africanism. I thank you. It is now my pleasure to open the retreat.