Museveni, the African poverty merchant – writes Odaka

(Last Updated On: 26 October 2023)

Kampala I Keen observers must have realized something isn’t usual about President Museveni lately, a thing the country should not take lightly since Museveni’s better 37 years in power have been to fuse his life with that of the country. Eno Yandiba Tamu Egenda!

From unusual statements of apologies to the Acholi to forgive him for all the mistakes he and his government have made against the people of the region, to begin using a walking stick – then to chest-thumping on how is he an expert in organizing election, etc., speaks volumes about what could be going on in the head of Tibuhaburwa.

But what is most interesting to me- coming from NEED is the statement he made in Olilim.

In Olilim, Museveni tried to distance himself from the charge that for the last 37 years of his Presidency, he has only been enriching himself, close family, and friends while actively and supportively making the rest of Ugandans poor. His effort is now trying to absolve himself from the accusations as part of his aspirations to enter heaven.

This is a case Museveni has long lost in the courts of public opinion. There is overwhelming evidence that he has objectified and weaponized poverty against the majority of Ugandans, militarized the politics, and politicized the military just to ensure he personalizes the economy to the benefit of himself and the Kaguta family.

Alongside impoverishment, violence and corruption (grand looting) are the other weapons whose application Museveni determines according to need, time, and interest.

Below are the 10 most used instruments by Museveni to keep Ugandans poor.

Extractive Economic and Political System: In the book, “WHY NATIONS FAIL” by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, some nations remain poverty-stricken while others live in abundance purely because of economic and political institutions deliberately put in place by the leadership of the day.

Theories that some countries are poor because of their location, lazy citizens, or their poor saving and investment cultures are false. It’s the leaders who choose to put in place either inclusive or extractive economic institutions depending on how they want their people to be.

Inclusive institutions encourage citizens to participate in economic activities because they know their efforts will bring wealth.

On the other hand, extractive institutions receive income from one group in society (normally ordinary citizens) for the benefit of another group (ruling class).

Also read: Open letter to Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba on Kakwenza by Odaka Asuman 

This squarely fits into the Museveni political and economic systems of the day. URA, KCCA, Parliament, public administration cost, expensive schools, hospitals, etc. (Andrew Mwenda once called P.A.Y.E to mean Pay as Museveni Enjoys)

De-Ugandanising economic assets: When Museveni arrived from the bushes of Luwero, Ugandans had assets they collectively knew were theirs. Some were doing business for the government, and others were purely for national pride.

To make sure Ugandans become poor, the majority of these collectively owned assets were personalized by Museveni or his family members in the guise of privatization, some destroyed and the majority others given to non-Ugandans.

Today, nearly all commercial banks in Uganda are foreign-owned because Museveni destroyed all those owned by Ugandans as a way of uprooting them from that lucrative sector.

All manufacturing sectors which Museveni found booming were either looted to death by the cronies of Museveni or given to foreigners.

Today, Museveni is personally pushing Gordon Wavamuno out of the business of number plates in favor of a “foreign” business company. This is so because he wants Gordon Wavamuno poor.

Commercializing essential social services: Social services are essential in peoples’ economic empowerment. In developing countries, education has derived demand, i.e., people study not because of the intrinsic value of education but because of the material benefits they hope to get with their educational qualifications.

In Nelson Madiba Mandela’s words, “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine, that a child of a farm worker can become the president of a great nation.”

On the front of health, it’s generally known that “a healthy nation is a wealthy nation”. Therefore, to make people permanently poor, you simply make education inaccessible and destroy the health sector as Museveni has done, and the people will be poor forever.

Sectarianism, tribalism and nepotism: No leader in Ugandan history has relied on family rule like Museveni.

Today, all known relatives of Museveni have government jobs appointed directly by Museveni to the exclusion of competent Ugandans and many times disregarding merit. He has ensured that government resources and national cakes got only his family and a few cronies.

Despotic centrally organized governance system: In 1993/4, there was a consultative constitution making process. People across board gave their views on the system of governance they wanted. They preferred a system that would give them relative power to decide as their development priorities.

Being obsessed with power, Museveni realized this would render his patronage system lame and, in some cases the economic empowerment of the local people using the proceeds from their locality. Museveni rejected preferring the unitary colonial system which gave him power over just anything and everything, including power over who accesses resources and who perpetually remains poor.

Land grabbing: World over, land is known as the biggest factor of production. The current land grabbing in Uganda can’t be an accident or a mere grid of the grabbers but a properly orchestrated scheme to impoverish the people. The people grabbing the land are highly connected, especially to the first family.

Also read: How Lacor hospital has saved a 14yo victim of Apaa land conflict 

They started by grabbing all public land in the country, de-gazetted game parks and reserves, and then eventually started displacing the local people.

Today, the issue of Balalo is the next thing to spark off a war in northern Uganda. It has already created bad blood between President Museveni and Chief Justice Owiny Dolo, Paramount Chief Onen Acana, and Gen. Salim Saleh against Acholi cultural institutions, among others.

Corruption and plunder: The word Corruption and Plunder doesn’t capture what is happening in Museveni’s government today. The thieves who are related to Museveni have no limit to what they now steal. They no longer steal/grab in billions but in trillions.

The Inspectorate of Government reports that an amount way above shs11 trillion is stolen every year, although other organizations put it to shs20 trillion. The whole grand plan is simply to help some people cross to the much cherished “middle class” as the rest of the country is growing poor yet this corruption targets the sector of mass benefit

Violence and political domination: Museveni is Frank Fanonist. All his political philosophy is guided by violence, domination, conquest, decimation, occupation, and destructionist. The after-effect of his violence is that people become poor because some of the properties not destroyed by war are then looted or grabbed. The recovery plan/funds are normally put in place but only for Museveni’s government agents to steal as the rest remain poor.

Unequal opportunities and selective justice to all communities: Constitutionally, Museveni is an imperial president, a monarchy in mind and operation. When you look at our Constitution, Museveni appoints over 1,300 office bearers directly. The rest he influences.

This way, he can choose or influence who gets what or holds which office. Statehouse scholarships are one of the examples where Museveni’s government practised unequal opportunities. Because the gate passes of all opportunities are given from the State House and by Museveni personally.

In Major (Rtd) John Kazoora’s Book, “Betrayed by My Leader”, he narrates how he confronted Museveni over giving State House scholarships to only students from his home area of Rwakitura.

Fraudulent political NNRM system Politics is about the distribution of resources, but Museveni is not pro-universal happiness. According to Museveni and those who believe in NRM, its multi-ideology is laughable indeed.

They talk about Pan-African yet Museveni has been an Anglo-American instrument in Bulkanising Sudan, creating chaos in Eastern DRC, an environment the looters of African resources need. Museveni, as an instrument of foreign powers, has overthrown many African governments on behalf of imperialists. This political fraud deceit has left Ugandans very exploited and poverty-stricken.

In conclusion, therefore, Mr. Museveni is the merchant of Poverty. For the last 37 years, he has been in power, and there is nothing anybody can point to. To describe is the shabbiest of success.

The biggest success of his government has been the growth of corruption and plunder.

In the field of governance, his government has kidnapped, abducted, imprisoned, and sometimes killed opponents.

In the social services sector, the Museveni government, for the last 37 years could not even maintain what the “less educated Iddi Amin and Obote” left behind. Where he (Museveni) has built roads, they are very narrow, poor quality and short lifespan.

On the side of independence, Uganda is more dependent on foreigners than ever before. Everything is in a state of free fall, unfortunately, including Museveni.

Note: At the beginning of this weekend, we shall be serializing how Museveni impoverished each of the regions that make Uganda. We shall do one after the other.

The writer, Odaka Asuman, is the Secretary General of the National Economic Empowerment Dialogue (NEED) Email:, Tel. +256753195384

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