WAVA GOES POLITICAL, TELLS M7: GOOD LEADERS OWN UP AND DON’T RULE FOR LIFE

By Mulengera Reporters

In a 138-page book, Independent Uganda: Reflections and Recollections, veteran business mogul Gordon Balaba Kasibante Wavamunno has given his views on all the governments Uganda has had since independence.

Wava, as he is commonly known, was a youth representative at the 1962 Kololo Hill Independence celebration, having traveled all the way from Rugaaga, Isingiro, his birthplace. He has since been in business for all the years Uganda has been independent.

Having given Amin, Obote and other past Presidents their share of criticism, Wava turns his wrath on YK Museveni, a man whose ascendance to power through NRA rebellion which he risked financing in the early 1980s.

In his controversial book, Wava makes it clear that the Museveni we have today is totally different from the one he knew years ago.

He gives his views on many of the Museveni era policies including education, economy, foreign investments, job creation, governance, and anti-corruption. He also makes very stinging criticism of the way the oil & petroleum resources have been managed thus far. He concludes that Ugandans are not going to benefit from the oil.

In fact, Wava who scolds the President for referring to the resource as “my oil” which he suggests is an indication that the oil has already “been mortgaged” to the Chinese and other foreigners under the guise of funding numerous mega infrastructure projects costing over $15bn.

Wava also points out that the oil discovery does not make Museveni special in any way. Instead, he credits the British Chief Geologist, EJ Wayland, whom he says was the one who discovered and confirmed the existence of commercially extractable oil in the Albertine Graben region as early as the 1920s.

He thinks that the powerfully connected NRM actors whom he calls oligarchs have already accepted gratuities: trips to casinos in Las Vegas, fancy cars, mansions on the Riviera etc., to betray poor Ugandans-especially in the oil-rich Bunyoro/Buliisa regions. He vehemently likens them to our forefathers who accepted “brightly colored beads and bottles of liquor” centuries ago to acquiesce to the slave trade by slave traders whose greed for material accumulation he equates to that of oil companies targeting contemporary Uganda. He also says that commercial plantation farmers like Madhvani and Metha super-exploit Ugandan workers by overworking and underpaying them.

Turning onto the decentralized local governance model which affects the most people at the lower level, the Local Council 1 (LC1) system, Wava asserts that the system has failed. He claims that in the absence of remuneration, it has bred corruption whereby officials solicit for bribes even for would-be free services. It has stunted Uganda’s economic development. Therefore, Wava calls on Museveni to own up to this failure, apologize and even re-enact graduated tax which in the past adequately funded the pre-1986 local government structures to operate and deliver services to the people.

He condemns the creation of new districts which hemorrhages scarce resources instead of bringing services nearer to the people as Museveni used to explain to justify the balkanization of the country. He says that the creation of many districts has also been used by the NRM regime to drive an ethnic wedge between communities that lived harmoniously in the past. Furthermore, he says the LC system is shunned by decent people, thus allowing “the riff raffs to elect themselves to offices.” He thinks time has come for Ugandans to overlook Museveni’s views and have a sober discussion to find a more suitable replacement for Museveni’s failed model of local governance.

Upon reflection on elections in Museveni’s Uganda, Wava concludes that they are mere rituals to satisfy donors and multinational lenders like the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to show that he is compliant with international best governance practices. Elections are simply mere coronations meant to justify Museveni’s perpetual stay in power.

Wava then proceeds to discuss political succession in Uganda, which he says has been mismanaged since independence, culminating in turmoil and political instability. Condemning the removal of term limits in 2005, Wava says that having ruled Uganda for almost 30 years at that time, Museveni ought to have left the chair (which his best pal, former President Binaisa, described as sweet) many years ago. He counsels: “To avoid being splashed with all the mud, rulers should stay for a reasonably short time and above all choose people around them very carefully.”

Wava, who has closely interacted with all of Uganda’s post-independence governments by virtue of the conspicuous business roles he has played, says that one of the common features of leaders who overstay in power do so by virtue of unleashing gun violence on political foes then by the ballot in a free and fair election. Wava wants leaders like Museveni to know that they “owe it to their country to make sure that their departure is not followed by bloodshed and martyrdom.”

Of Museveni whom he idolized for decades, Wava asks rhetorically, “Is 30 years not enough to realize that the LC system has failed? Is it difficult to realize that the multitude of districts that have been created are not viable? Is it difficult to find out that services are not being delivered?”

Wava advises Museveni to emulate President Nyerere about whom he said on page 96 of his book, “[He] apologized to Tanzanians in 1985 when he realized that Ujamaa had failed. He then left the stage and enjoyed his elevation to elder statesman until his death. He remains one of the most highly regarded and respected leaders Africa has had.” Bowing out earlier would have been the only way Museveni could have left an enduring legacy then.

An abridged version of the original article published in July 2019 by Mulengera Reporters (Editor)