I recently had an online debate with Mrs. Nina Mbabazi Rukikaire, who also happens to be the NRM secretary General’s daughter, where she said that her political life has been influenced by both the NRM 10 point Program and the UPC’s Common Man’s Charter(CMC). I asked her to explain this and she came up with a lot of emotional explanations which had nothing to do practically with the two documents in question. So. I felt I should alert other Ugandans who may fall into the same trap and let them know that the two documents were just political propaganda than anything else. Propaganda simply means the systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause. It doesn’t have to be lies. Actually, the best propaganda is indeed true, but it is up to us to question its applicability in a situation such as Uganda.
Propagandists employ tactics that dehumanize those who support the opposing viewpoint through suggestion or false accusations. They influence public perception by disseminating negative and false information. For instance, Obote’s CMC wrongly portrayed most of the existing systems in the 1962 constitution as ‘inapplicable’ in Uganda. The document was more, for instance, against issues such as: kings, hereditary leadership, federalism or anything of that sort. For me, this kind of stereotyping by Obote and his CMS was not something that would have a lasting foundation in Uganda. Stereotyping is normally used by propagandists to arouse prejudices by labeling the object of the propaganda campaign as something the target audience fears, hates, or finds undesirable, and this is what late Obote and UPC were doing. This is what NRM is tactically doing now by starting a debate on cultural institutions in the country by presenting documents such as the traditional leaders Bill that are meant to humiliate cultural leaders and eventually lead to the abolishion of kingdoms. This means that even if that bill had not gone through, president Museveni’s propaganda against Kabakaship or traditional institutions had already been germinated, and it will not go away as long as he is in power.
I also noticed that Mrs.Nina Rukikairwe, herself, is feeding on old UPC propaganda through old guards such as Mathew Rukiikaire, as if UPC had all the out understanding of Uganda’s problems. The fact is that neither CMC nor the NRM documents were a ‘bible’ of truth on what direction the country is supposed to take. Uganda needs a new leaf from both these parties that seem to be identical twins in one way or ther other.For instance, Andrew Mwenda recently told us, while on capital fm, that Rwakasisi and Museveni used to work together and have been great friends for a long time.Rwakasisi, on other hand, was Obote’s right hand man throughout his leadership. Andrew Mwenda himself is a great admirer of Obote and UPC but also ‘loves’ Museveni in his own way.Nowonder UPC ‘old guards’ are now dominating Museveni’s cabinet than even the NRM historicals.
Propaganda can absolutely promulgate a democratic doctrine? The difference between political doctrine and propaganda is more like the one between Catholicism and Orthodoxy. In most cases, doctrines have been tested elsewhere unlike propaganda. Doctrine is more like regular food on a menu but propaganda is more like a ‘food special’. For instance, ‘Cultural diversity’ is a political propaganda term stolen from theorists of anthropology in the 1970’s. It is effective only to the degree that cultures are not diverse but simply have different appearances and rituals for the same values. It is something that became popular in American during President Johnson’s administration as he made attempts to change parts of American values and encourage more integration.
Nonetheless;Let us also try to find distinctions between the Common Man’s Charter (CMC) and Museveni’s 10 point programme. I’m not a Museveni sympathiser but sometimes I’m forced to defend his paper policies when someone starts ‘sugar-coating’ Obote’s failures or when one starts confusing others by saying that they were influenced by the two documents. Ok, let us see what we know so far about these two political propaganda documents:
Obote’s first administration started off as market-oriented and pluralistic. Then in 1966 Obote changed for the worse as we all know by now. The Common Man Charter(CMC) was a step influenced by what was happening in Tanzania at the time. So basically Obote moved to the left in 1969 and the CMC was adopted by UPC at their delegates conference in the same year.Nyerere had a hand in most of Obote’s changes in Uganda from the 1960s till when his death.
On the other hand, Yoweri Museveni started on the left ideologically. In the 1970s he was virtually a Marxist-Leninist. People like Robert Mugabe were radicalised by armed struggle. Yoweri Museveni was de-radicalised by armed struggle. Robert Mugabe became more and more of a socialist in the heat of the liberation war. Yoweri Museveni became less and less of a socialist in the tensions of armed struggle against the Obote regime.
The CMC buried Obote 1 because it was a threat to both the British and USA interests in the region. The British had about 80 companies in Uganda that faced the threat of nationalisation. On May 1, 1970 President Obote announced that the state would take over foreign enterprises in the famous Nakivubo Pronouncements.So the British through the Isrealis hatched a plan from South Sudan to get rid of socialist Obote. The USA also looked at the relationship Obote had with Nyerere as a threat to their capitalist interests in the region.
On the other hand, the 10 point programme had the blessing of most of the international community. Austria is where the 10 point programme was galvanised from and the movement held a lot of meetings there in 1985. That’s why the International Institute for Peace (IIP) president, Erwin Lanc, Austria’s former internal and foreign affairs minister and his wife, Christianne, were invited to attend the 15th Heroes Day celebrations at Ssembwe-Nyimbwa, Luweero.
The CMC was bound to fail from the beginning because, according to prof Ali Mazrui, the state had entered the market place of enterprise and pushed away the real entrepreneurs. It felt the role of government was to actively control and own business. They felt an equitable and just environment can only be created by government owning and interfering with business. The Government then simply rewarded supporters and chased away political opponents. A bedrock of nepotism and corruption and mismanagement was born. The companies were run down.
In addition, the CMC was introduced to make everyone relatively with money into their pockets to curb down on ‘kondoism’ or thuggery which was going at the time. Instead it just increased ‘kondoism’ as the rich kept being scared of the people. So it was a total failure. Let us also remember that Obote’s CMC was not pure socialism as that of Nyerere. So it was a bit of a confusing document with intentions which only UPC can expain.
On the other hand, the 10 point programme had the support of the masses in Uganda mainly in the south of the country. Museveni’s point No.5 for an independent, integrated and self-sustaining economy, for which he is still fighting for, was and is a better attractive option for Ugandans than the so called CMC.Museveni has now supplemented this with the recently announced 5 year economic plan.
In addition, despite the fact that Museveni has not done much to get Ugandans out of poverty, his 10 point programme is even still popular among the opposition. For instance, DP former president, Sebana Kizito, was on record saying that DP will take up NRM’s 10-point programme and polish it in preparation for the 2011 general elections.Im actually wondering if Norbert Mao is running his campaigns and manifesto basing mostly on NRM’s 10 point program. May be that is why some people are suspecting him of being an NRM ‘mole’ in DP.
As far as I know, if president Museveni had genuinely implemented his 10 point program, then Uganda would have been on a totally different level. He just used the document as propaganda to make Obote unpopular in 1980s and subsequently help himself to an easy way to power. Museveni’s propaganda was sold to both Ugandans and the international community and it worked. There was nothing really serious in it. Time will come when somebody else will also come up with better propaganda than Museveni , and the population will be inspired to throw NRM out for good.
Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba