cc The Presidential Standards Task Force, the Ugandan government's web-based service for engaging with citizens, sent the following letter to human rights activist Vincent Nuwagaba. The letter, apparently signed by President Museveni, responds to comments Nuwagaba submitted to the website, covering issues from corruption to unemployment.
Dear Mr Nuwagaba
I have read your comments with dismay about the amount of venom in it. You clearly have a personal vendetta against me as an individual, as opposed to working for the good cause of Ugandans. I will address the points that you have raised in turn.
1. DISASSOCIATION FROM CORRUPT MINISTERS AND INEFFICIENCY:
I think I made it clear from the statement on the www.ugandapstf.org that the general population should attack individual ministers and government officials in cases where they think that the services delivered are not effective and or acceptable. This is the way forward in the modern politics, the reasoning behind it is because the population is the one on the receiving end and I can not be expected for example to monitor supply of medicine in hospitals or to go to the ministry of transport to personally inspect their accounts. What I expect is pressure groups and the media to work hand in hand in exposing these incompetent officials.
So it is not a question of saying that I have kept them around myself. Appointment of ministers is clear in the constitution that they must be MPs and much as I have campaigned for some of them, unfortunately I do not have an overriding authority over the constitution. Otherwise I know some good cadres I can appoint to these positions and they will perform. They are elected by their respective constituents and the parliament vets them first and clears them for appointment.
In this aspect I strongly advise you to start thinking of strategies where you can highlight weakness in specific ministries and then put the officials concerned to task of explaining the same. Do it in the public domain and let them offer explanations in public. MAKE SURE THAT SUCH CRITICISM OF INEFFICIENCY IS BACKED BY COGENT EVIDENCE AS OPPOSED TO WAFFLING ABOUT THINGS THAT CANNOT BE PROVED.
2. THAT I DO NOT CARE IF THE MPS SNOOZE IN PARLIAMENT AND THEN VOTE NRM PROGRAMMES:
Vincent under the doctrine of separation of powers, I cannot influence how the parliament conducts business. All I do is that I give the MPs proposals to be discussed in parliament, tell them the reasons why we need them to be passed. The rest is up to them. Indeed I know that they do not attend as required and indeed some sleep in parliament. So as long as I do not see NRM MPs opposing government proposals then unfortunately how they pass them is really out of my control.
That is why you see that some rebel MPs have the luxury to say whatever they want in parliament and they get away with it. I do not like some of their comments and attitude but I am contented when they vote in the positive. Their conduct can only be judged by the speaker and their respective constituents.
3. YOU ARE MISINFORMED ABOUT THE NUMBER OF GRADUATES THIS COUNTRY HAS:
Again my statement of fact is very clear i.e. ‘that we have more graduates and most of them are not employed’. I did not discuss the figures and I do not think that the figures mitigate the fact that graduates are not being employed swiftly.
4. MY VISION:
Vision is a personal mindset and unfortunately we do not share the same vision. As an educated man Vincent, I am sure you perfectly understand that some visions are not realised in a lifetime of the beholders and some visions are realised with difficulty. For example when I told some people that we could successfully attack Kabamba with 27 guns, some people said I was crazy. But indeed we were successful.
5. VOTING ON WHAT I HAVE DONE, NOT WHAT I HAVE PROMISED, THAT I SHOULD HAND OVER THE BATON TO SOMEONE ELSE:
Though I have not even declared my intention of candidature, I believe that the only promise to be made is to continuing to consolidate what we have achieved (‘by the majority of voters standards’) and improve it. I really do not think that the opposition which has failed to come up with one single simple proposal/policy in the last 20 years will have a lot to tell Ugandans today. In modern politics, it is all about policy and constructive criticism. I have not seen a single policy tabled by the opposition in parliament on how they think we should run our hospitals. All they do is talk talk talk. If they tabled their own bill and it gets rejected in parliament because of ‘unfairness’ then at least they can bring it to the public as a campaign tool and say look, Museveni is a bad man and his MPs are all corrupt because they have refused to accept our bill which would have cut costs in the health sector and improved the service delivery. And when it comes to voting the voters will vote based on such merit. But everyday you hear them saying Museveni this Museveni that. In turn if the bill is accepted and adopted or even a few elements accepted, then they can go and brag about to the voters. All they do is wait for the last minute to promise what is already there. I am sure they can prey on the illiterate Ugandans but people like you should be alert to such empty talks and propaganda. For the last 10-15 years, their campaign tool has been corruption, this is being addressed very intensely and we shall see results very soon.
6. THAT MY SON IS A PATRIOT AND HE SHOULD BE SALUTED:
I do not recall making a statement of the sort. What I know to have said, is that he serves in a position of sacrifice. He chose the army over other privileges/luxuries. I do not perceive being in the army as a privilege/luxury, though it is in the context of our politics, an act of patriotism, especially when you are the first son. On whether you can do what Muhozi is doing, I have no doubt whatsoever that should you show interest in joining the UPDF; your application will be considered with high priority.
7. THAT YOU HAVE BEEN HARASSED:
Please compile evidence on such harassment and present it to the police for due process. I am aware that some of my supporters take the law into their hands however it is naive, immature and sheer malice for you to think that I personally have a hand in your plight.
8. THAT I SHOULD BE READY TO ACCEPT DEFEAT:
I believe again you are letting your emotions impair your judgment. Accepting defeat before elections is not something expected of people who have ‘rich brain faculties’ to discuss and/or address.
9. I SHOULD FIRE ALL THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN EMPLOYED ON PATRONAGE BASIS:
Unfortunately the person of the president has the prerogative of appointing people that he feels can work with him. There are so many examples of the same in worldwide democracies. However, these people are subject to criticism in terms of their performance. This is what you must address.
10. THAT I HAVE TURNED UGANDA INTO A MONARCHY:
This point is not worth addressing.
11. THAT I AM HOUNDING YOU OUT OF YOUR COUNTRY:
Again this point is not worth addressing.
12. THAT PRESIDENT KAGAME IS BETTER THAN ME:
I am not sure in what regards and from where you draw your conclusions.
Mr Nuwagaba, I can understand your anger but like I have said in my statement, it would be more constructive if this venom of yours is diverted to criticising service levels especially in the ministry of health and education.
Leadership at a presidential level is much more complicated than you can ever comprehend. I strongly recommend that you make your position very clear. If you are a politician, then I suggest that you join or start a party where you can address these issues through dialogue. If you are a human rights activist then please advocate for better health services, better roads and better benefits for children of men and women of the UPDF etc. You do not have to attack me on a personal level as you did in order to help in the development of our nation.
You should compile evidence of non-performance civil servants and make sure that you hold them accountable. For example go to Mulago Hospital, check and take pictures of what time the doctors arrive for duty, what time they leave, the hygiene of the wards. Once you have this information then ask the minister of health to explain why these conditions exist.
Ask him what he intends to do about it, let him give you a time frame as to when he will implement these measures or when he will have results.
It is very hard to be a human rights activist and a politician at the same time. As a young man you much to choose your path quite carefully for the benefit of all Ugandans. Whether I stay in power or not, is for millions of other Ugandans to decide.
I do not expect you to reply to this letter and I wish you good luck.
Y. K. Museveni