By Yash Tandon
KAMPALA – I’ve written a book entitled Common People Uganda as a political activist. I am not a politician. There is a big difference between the two the focus main message of the book.
It makes a distinction between the person of our president and the system, suggest to our president to return to the vision and strategy of “Sowing the Mustard Seed” and relates to some thoughts on how Uganda might move forward
The Person and the System
It is fully understandable that our people should identify the person of our President with the System. Why? Because that is the reality they see and experience.
We have to place Uganda, and Africa, within the larger geopolitical context. This is a big subject. Simply put, the global system is dominated at the economic level (what I call “the base”) by global corporations that own and control global capital, including our financial and economic resources in Uganda. At the political level (what I call “the superstructure”), Uganda is INDIRECTLY controlled by the Empire (presently, Euro-American-Japanese Empire), and DIRECTLY, at the national level by our government as – essentially – an agent of global capital.
“The superstructure” includes the Parliament and the Judiciary which serve the “ruling classes”. In our situation, the global capitalists are STILL the ruling class. Our government is simply a “SUBSIDIARY” to the global capitalists. The government enforces Structural Adjustment Policies (SAP) and austerity measures on our people dictated by the IMF, the World Bank, and the WTO. These are Imperial Capital’s institutions of global economic governance. In other words, Uganda, in the words of Kwame Nkrumah, is still a “neo-colony” of the Empire. We are not yet fully independent. We are still in the middle of our liberation struggle.
Need to return to strategy of “Sowing the Mustard Seed”
One of the most informative and extraordinary stories of how Museveni won the guerrilla war is narrated in this book. On the very important issue of leadership, he says:
I feel I should reiterate my position on leadership. This is that unless one’s purpose in seeking it is to steal public funds, especially in an underdeveloped country like Uganda, is an endless sacrifice. … In addition, there is the ever present danger of unprincipled divisions within society caused by an incomplete social metamorphosis…. I am not a professional politician. For me, political leadership is a kind of national service.
… I must, for the time being, accept the sacrifice as a service to my country. … I feel it is important for the people of Uganda to learn about the history of our struggle to liberate our country from dictatorship and to transform it into a democratic, modern industrialised nation.
As nationals and patriots, we must encourage our President to go back to the “seeds” that he planted. He should nourish the seeds so that we have a fully grown tree yielding fruits to the common people of our country.
Some thoughts on how we as a nation might move forward
In the Epilogue of “Common People’s Uganda” I have dealt with this issue at great length. I have read the Jjuuko and Tindifa Report, A People’s Dialogue: Political Settlements in Uganda, and The Quest for a National Conference.
I am excited about their proposal. There is only one thing I’ve added. A document, I argue, does not implement itself. It has to be driven by a group of motivated people who understand its objectives and principles. The first step, then, is the formation of a Steering Committee that would apply the principle of inclusion in initiating the Conference and setting its agenda. The question is: how is this Committee formed? Who elects or nominates its members? My advice is: Do not try to answer these questions. You’ll be trapped in a vicious circle. I suggest a ‘sufficiently like-minded’ people who share the principles set out in the Report for a political dialogue, and above all, people who are nationalists and patriots. Our younger generation must have a place in the committee.
Let me conclude
I suggest that our President – whom I know well and whom I admired as a charismatic leader – might consider, like Julius Nyerere, to become a teacher – a “Mwalimu”. He must guide our next generation of leaders to liberate our nation from the clutches of neo-colonial imperialism. And we will be with him.
Together we can.