Why Does President Museveni Tell Lies? [opinion]

President Museveni’s appearance on the Capital Gang radio talk-show last weekend yielded a motley of ‘recycled’ falsehoods, disingenuous statements, needless lies, and disguised inexactitudes.

Let me highlight only five of these.

Falsehood Number 1: That Uganda’s economy has grown 25 times since 1986! Figures about national economies across the world, including Uganda’s, are readily available on the websites of the World Bank, the American Central Intelligence Agency and other international organisations.

That a whole head of state gives wrong figures on something as basic as Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product is quite revealing. Is this canard stated deliberately to impress our unsuspecting public?

During the 28th anniversary celebrations for the NRM government on January 26, 2014, the president informed the nation that our economy had grown from a paltry $1.5bn in 1986 to an impressive $24 billion in 2014.

This, assuming it’s accurate (which it’s not), translates into 16-fold expansion in Uganda’s national wealth. But it appears that the president is not satisfied with a hugely overstated assertion that the economy has expanded 16 times he now says it has actually grown 25 times!

For the record, Uganda’s economy was $4 billion in 1986. It’s now estimated at $22 billion (or $25 after the so-called rebasing). If it had grown 25 times, it would be standing at a remarkable $100, meaning that with our population of about 35 million, the average wealth for each Ugandan would be close to $3,000. This would place us in the lower middle-income category.

Falsehood Number 2: the NRM was started in the 1960s! The supposed forerunner organization to the NRM, the Front for National Salvation (Fronasa) was founded in 1972 to fight Idi Amin. But little is known about Fronasa until 1978. Had Amin not committed suicide by engaging in irrational aentures and invading Tanzanian territory, thus handing a lifeline to Tanzania-based exiles, we may never have heard of Fronasa again!

For the record, the NRM was formed on June 8, 1981 through a merger of Yoweri Museveni’s guerrilla outfit, the Popular Resistance Army (PRA), and Professor Yusufu Lule’s Uganda Freedom Fighters (UFF). Also, for the record, in the 1960s Museveni was a student at Ntare School and later Dar es Salam University.

Falsehood Number 3: ‘I am in power because five million Ugandans don’t want me to leave!’ If so many Ugandans want Your Excellency to stay and continue offering visionary leadership, why engage the services of a heavily-militarized and highly-partisan police force, the army and other security agencies? In 2011, Kampala was like a military garrison: heavily armed police and military men were all over the place.

If the majority of Ugandans genuinely approve of your leadership, why carry around money in sacks and depend on an unlevelled ground for electoral victory? As a popular leader, why don’t you accede to electoral reforms such that your opponents have a fair shot at your job?

Falsehood number 4: It is the people of Ruhaama who forced Janet Museveni into cabinet! Apparently, against the president’s wish, the unfazed people of Ruhaama insisted on overwhelmingly voting the First Lady into parliament. This inevitably compelled the president to appoint his wife to the cabinet docket of ‘Karamoja Affairs.’

The president wants to employ a sleight of hand here and suggest that whoever is voted into Parliament with very high percentages automatically gets appointed to the cabinet!

For the record, when the First Lady was being appointed Minister for Karamoja, it was not a full ministry. Her predecessor had been a minister of state.

Falsehood Number 5: ‘I am biologically old but ideologically young!’ Theoretically, one can be old in age yet quite dynamic, enterprising and transformational. Practically, it’s a hard sell to say that President Museveni, officially 70, is only biologically old.

For a president who is hostage to mafias in his government, a president who resignedly laments about bureaucrats frustrating foreign investors, something he was talking about 20 years ago, and a president who presides over one of the most corrupt governments in the world, there is little to suggest that he is not old all through!

On October 13, 2008, the New Vision newspaper quoted the president chiding his chief political nemesis, Dr Kizza Besigye, to steer clear of lies because it’s sacrilegious for anyone who aspires to lead a country to engage in telling lies. He said: “Besigye stood for presidency and he should not tell lies because the president is second to God and a president should not tell lies.” You are on the money, Mr President. Be sincere and stick to the truth because you are referred to as the ‘Fountain of Honour!’

The author is a PhD candidate in Political Science at Northwestern University, EvanstonChicago-USA.

Source : The Observer

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