Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"Museveni goes from big bully to artful dodger" - Daniel Kalinaki .

"What we have witnessed in this election is the transformation of Museveni from the soldier who bullies and batters his opponents to the politician who buys and bribes out his rivals" - Daniel Kalinak

MY VIEW: Museveni goes from big bully to artful dodger

By Daniel Kalinaki | Daily Monitor Thursday, February 17 2011

If President Museveni wins tomorrow’s election he will not just etch his name in the longevity books but will also have completed the second most tactical shift in strategy since he dropped his Communist-Marxist ideology for Capitalism/Free Market theory.

What we have witnessed in this election is the transformation of Museveni from the soldier who bullies and batters his opponents to the politician who buys and bribes out his rivals.

So in many ways we have made progress from the 2001 and 2006 elections where violence and intimidation were the key tools used to mobilise fear and support but then also gone back to the days of the Obote II government where political opportunism thrived.

President Museveni came into this election at his weakest, with runaway corruption endemic in his inner circle, a culture of impunity that has allowed services to fall apart, and a general incompetence in government that has led many citizens to try and survive inspite of government, rather than thrive because of it.

President Museveni has spent most of his campaign time hiding from the failures of his government in a mastery of the political game of “pass-the-buck”.

Is it bad roads? Blame the weather or the donors who impose conditions on the money they give or lend us to build them.

Is it poor education under the UPE and USE systems? Blame the absentee teachers (many of whom are too busy running side businesses because they are poorly paid).

Is it lack of medicines in government hospitals? Blame it on the doctors who steal the drugs and sell them in their private clinics to make a living.

At a meeting with Commonwealth Observers this week Andrew Mwenda described how Mr Museveni had, during a rally in Masaka, reduced the failures of the NAADS farmer extension programme into the responsibility of the programme coordinator in the district.

There was no mention of the agriculture minister perhaps because that could then raise the question of who appoints them and what it says about their own leadership and management skills.

The Old Man has pulled another rabbit from the hat by turning himself into a victim. Many voters, especially in the villages, believe ‘Mzee’ means well and wants the best for them but is constantly let down by technocrats and bureaucrats. That strategy has been supplemented by a massive spending spree, which we do not have to revisit here.

However, that is a one-shot strategy. If Museveni is re-elected tomorrow and intends to run again in 2016, he cannot expect to return to voters in 2015 and hope that he will sell them the same cock-and-bull story of being let down by his people.

It means that Museveni, if he is re-elected, will have to run an efficient and effective government in which politicians, including the President, take individual responsibility for government actions rather than hide behind the cover of collective responsibility or pass the buck to technocrats.

Unfortunately, that is something the President has failed to do in his 25 years in power and one that he is unlikely to do in the fading days of his political career.

Corrupt governments are incapable of being efficient in their allocation of resources, or being transparent and accountable in their actions because they thrive in dysfunction.

Since it will be harder to beat up opponents or pass the buck in future elections, it just might be that the next President will be one who pays the highest bribe per vote. In which case we have not seen the last of NRM.

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