Uganda Today: The escalating levels of corruption, political commercialisation and playing politics of patronage that have bedeviled Uganda in the last 37 years, can arguably, without prejudice be correlated to president Museveni’s unreliability
1986 Promised Fundamental Change
After taking oath of power, president Museveni promised fundamental change in politics of Uganda. He assertively pronounced that there “won’t be change in governance for some good time to come in future”.
Following his script, he had inwardly kept to his chest, he promised to lead the country for only three years and organise elections! As day follows night, the three years lapsed and the president was on the dais to inform country men that the country that he had picked from shambles, didn’t have a constitution, his predecessor Obote had abrogated the then functional 1962 constitution and Amin ruled by decrees. Indeed this was a glaring fact which could even be seen by a toddler.
So with ease, compared to a baby ensconced on its mother’s lap deservedly suckling the breast, the president advanced the priority of promulgating a constitution to usher in rule of law and doing away with impunity. Consequently, he set up a constituency assembly that took three years to formulate a constitution that he promulgated in 1995.
At this moment, president Museveni had bagged 10 years as president, but characteristic of his obscurantism, to prolong his stay in power, he was on the dais again, convincing citizens that although he had been at the mantle of the affairs of Uganda, he had never been directly elected, that he had taken power under the barrel of the gun. It was prudent for Ugandans to allow him offer himself to compete for presidency with any other Ugandans. He stressed that the constitution which was a binding document stipulated a two term limit for any sitting president. He duly competed with the late Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere who had been rigged out in the infamous 1980 December general elections that prompted Museveni who had miserably trailed in that election to go to the bush to wage a guellira war that culminated in him taking power in 1986.
Changing Goal Posts Took Centre Stage Since then
In 2001, general elections the clock had irreversibly ticked and that 10 years constitution term limits clause was looming large for only one ‘Ugandan’ Museveni come 2005.
He convinced a would be statesman Jaberi Biddandi Ssali, his erstwhile comrade right from the days of UFM, to promote his candidature for the last time as per the constitution in force. This term, commercialisation of politics set in pitting the president against his bush war doctor Kizza Besigye.
Museveni was declared the winner and agrieved Besigye took him to court that also upheld the country’s Museveni chosen Electoral Commission declaration that Museveni was the winner. Since then, court ordered Museveni government to constitute electoral reforms arguing that the current status quo favours the incumbent at the disadvantage of his competitors. Museveni refused to constitute the much needed reforms which among other requirements would deprive him of powers to choose an independent electoral commission.
Manipulatively, instead, in 2005, the president used the 7th parliament to remove the term limit cap that would bar him from legally standing in his charade organised elections.
Museveni unashamedly cracked a whip to fire all his influential ministers who were all out to use their offices to thwart his egocentric and self centered project of term limits cap. Jaberi Biddandi Ssali, late Eria Kategeya and Miria Matembe were dropped paving way for him to firmly apply “the end justifies the means” system.
Due to the numerical strength of his NRM party members in parliament coupled by his accessibility to budgeted for classified presidential expenditure, in 2017, the president went ahead to use the 10th parliament to remove the age limit cap that would again bar him from standing for the next general elections of 2021! The broken window theory is at play in Uganda’s spheres
The “Broken Window” Theory has successfully applied itself to Ugandan society:
The broken window theory states that visible signs of disorder and misbehavior in an environment encourages further disorder and misbehavior, leading to serious crimes.
Philippe Zambardo, a psychologist and a meeting scientist, conducted an experiment in 1969 that later became one of the most famous experiments in the studies of criminology, particularly in social science in general.
He left two cars with unlocked doors and missing number plates in two different areas; one in a poor neighborhood and the other in a rich neighborhood.
The passersby in the poor neighborhood started stealing and vandalizing the car within a few minutes and it was completely destroyed in three days.
It took longer for passersby in the rich area to start destroying the car, forcing Zambardo to intervene by breaking one of the car windows before people started breaking more windows and stealing the car parts altogether. It took the same time as in the poor neighborhood to turn the whole car into scrap within a few days.
In 1982, two other scholars followed the researcher Zambardo and his observations by conducting similar studies on buildings and other properties in different areas, talking about a theory called the “Broken Window Theory,” quoted in many studies and books of sociology.
Summarizing the theory;
That neglecting to address any problem in an environment, no matter how small it is, will negatively affect people’s attitudes and behavior towards that environment, leading to bigger and bigger problems.
The opposite is also true; addressing small problems quickly will lead to a better environment and better behavior.
What is interesting in these studies is that, the people who intentionally vandalized cars and buildings were not criminals; most of them were law-abiding citizens. Yet, the broken window sent a secret message saying “no one cares and probably there are no consequences for destroying what was already broken.”
This theory can be applied to many other areas of life. For example;
1. If someone leaves some rubbish in a public park and the rubbish is not removed in a reasonable time and no penalties are imposed on whoever threw it, it will result in other people doing the same in the park and elsewhere, turning parks into trash bins that visitors run out of, as is the case in some public parks today.
2. If a teacher allows a student to cheat in an exam, cheating becomes acceptable in other exams and among other students at all levels of education and at home.
3. If the corrupt officials are not properly punished, it encourages everyone in a society to be corrupt and by the time you discover, the whole society is rotten.
4. You are a businessman and you are cheating customers infront of your kids, then you are training future thieves and dishonest leaders.
So ignoring the small problems today will lead to much bigger problems in the future.
The broken window theory is a reminder that even small problems can have significant consequences. If we want to create a more peaceful and orderly society, we need to be proactive in addressing problems as soon as they arise.
So everyone should try to fix broken windows in our lives so that our children and the coming generations can have a better Future.