As I wrote in the other day’s paper, the careerist attitudes that have flooded into the Party, caused problems for leaders (mainly financial) and disoriented voters (expecting meaningless bribes from the leaders). To remind the reader, careerism means going into leadership as a job (murimu, omurimo, aswam-atesot, tic-luo, azi-lugbara) rather than going into leadership as a mission.
We the freedom fighters joined, initially, the struggle and subsequently politics, not as a career, but, as a Mission with specific aims. Aim one ─ to oppose politics based on sectarianism of religion and tribe. Aim two, to oppose the marginalization of the women, the youth (waiting for the age of 21 to vote instead of voting at the age of 18, for instance) and the disabled. We characterize these two aims as patriotism (uzalendo, mwoyo gwa Uganda). Aim three, Pan-Africanism (the economic and political integration of Africa), leading to the Political Federation of East Africa and the Common Market of Africa.
This is to create a bigger market for our farmers, manufacturers, etc. and guarantee our strategic security vis a vis the potential imperialists and hegomonists in the World. Aim four, socio-economic transformation. Aim five, disciplined democracy. Aim six, building a disciplined, patriotic Army with a Pan-Africanist orientation. Without these, I cannot be in politics.
In fact I have been in the struggle for a long time because I believe that all these six, including the Political Federation of East Africa, will be realized. Otherwise, there would be no reason to waste my time and energy with politics. I have my job, career, as a farmer and it is very rewarding and also satisfying.
Flooding into the Movement of careerist attitudes and the poor work by the Secretariat over the years, created dishonesty ─ using any means to get into that “job” of political leadership as a “career”. Dishonesty meant bribing and cheating. On account of bribing and cheating, many that were aggrieved opposed the use of the Electoral College to select flag bearers. Why?
This was because the delegates would be “bribed” into supporting the flag-bearers that the electors of the delegates would not have supported. The fewer, the easier to bribe. The demand, therefore, became “no delegation of power but direct democracy” like in the ancient Greek cities. This village-based direct democracy, ancient Greece style, actually worked well when we had just come from the bush because supporters could line behind candidates. There would be no argument. It would be self evident and uncontestable.
Along the way, however, the idea of secret ballot came on board. The candidate should not know who voted for him/her and who did not. This, therefore, meant a massive General Elections being called a Party Primaries. This means alot of work and alot of money ─ organize a secret ballots election in 60,000 villages for eight positions: Constituency MP, Woman MP, District Chairperson, Sub-County Councillor to the district, Sub-County Chairman, etc., etc. In this last Party Primaries, the Party spent a total of Ug. Shs. 30 billions. The National Electoral Commission spends Ug. Shs. 560 billion on 28,010 polling stations, not 60,000 like the NRM does.
This would still be manageable if there were two elements: honesty by the Contestants and Party Election officials and thorough preparations by the candidates themselves. Honesty on the part of the contestants and the Party election officials must be clear enough to the reader. I am sure there is no need for elaboration.
On the issue of the candidates preparing enough, the crucial element is having a reliable and alert polling agent at the village polling station. When the opposition rigged the by-election in Bushenyi, I brought a solution to the NRM. Let the candidates select candidate agents they personally trust ─ two of them per polling station. One should observe how the voting is going on. The other should record the names of everybody that comes to vote that day: “Museveni, Mukasa, Mugisha, etc”.
At the end of the polling, at 1700 hours, you will have recorded that, for instance, 300 village voters voted on that day, name by name. These are villagers that are known to everybody. Even the village members that are staying away from the village that may come back from the towns to vote in the villages are known. Museveni of Rwakitura, who stays in Kampala, is known.
Soon after polling, the ballot boxes are opened in the presence of everybody, votes are counted, results are announced, recorded and every candidate agent signs. The elections are finished. The rest is adding up ─ famously called “tallying”. If these candidate agents are honest ─ the two of them ─ nothing will go wrong whatever the other weaknesses ─ dishonesty, inefficiency, etc., of the candidates and election Party officials.
If the candidate agents are chased by Police or hired hooligans, then the results of that polling station should be canceled and repeated. The Secretary-General, working with the Electoral Commission of the NRM should ensure this. It seems, however, many candidates did not also have reliable agents at the village polling stations. Some could be bribed by opponents, etc.
It is this mixture of inadequate funding for such a massive exercise; dishonesty caused by the careerism (jobism rather than mission); and the inadequate preparation by the candidates to ensure, through reliable polling agents who record the voters by name and observe the counting and declaration of results, that their votes are guarded; that is responsible for the present post primaries arguments among our contestants.
Given all his, my advice to the NRM Electoral Commission has been as follows: listen to the illustrated complaints carefully and, where the situation is clear, cancel the results. Where it is not clear because of some missing steps, then, counsel the stakeholders by pointing out, in detail, where the gaps are. The Administrative Secretaries of the Party at the district would have helped in this if politicians had not pushed for their Political Assistants that have no objectivity and, therefore, no value.
I hope that when our political leaders and cadres read this short analysis, they will be able to see that there is need for collective effort by all of us to remove the original causes of this distraction from the long, mission ─ oriented journey of the NRM. The original causes are careerism which breeds dishonesty and the inadequate preparations by all concerned. When, for instance, we talk of reliable polling agents by candidates, immediately the talk of money comes in.
How will these agents be paid? That is part of the problem. If there are people who are concerned about their area (district, constituency, sub-county, etc.), why should they not volunteer for free for just two days in five years to support the candidate they want to be Member of Parliament for their area, or Chairman of a district or the Chairman of a Sub-county or Councillor to the district?
How about me who endangered my life for a total of 13 years for free to fight for the freedom of the country? How about my colleagues who did the same? Were we fools? In the Book of Mathew Chap: 23:23; it says: “They left undone what they ought to have done and did that they ought not to have done and there is no truth in them”
This is a wrong spirit and logic. It must be expunged. As a flag bearer of the NRM, I expect, at least, 4 Volunteers to guard my votes against the cheating by whoever might think of doing so. The most important are these two at the polling station.
One will be to record the names of people who come to vote and the other one to observe the voting process. Should these volunteers be paid or should they give voluntary service as a contribution to our cause? They could even bring their packed lunch.
This may mean the need for four observers so that when the two pull aside to eat their lunch, the other two remain on duty. Is it really too much to have some of our supporters give voluntary service to our cause two times (a day each time) in five years? NRM members reflect on this.
Besides, the NRM members should massively fundraise for the Party so that the Party has adequate money for its activities. It is not correct to make no financial contribution and you only complain when there are difficulties. The NRM account number is 1100039293 (Shs. Account) and 1100069362 (Dollar Account) in the Housing Finance Bank.
As to the long-term solution to the malpractices that were witnessed in the NRM Primaries, there are three possible remedies. Remedy one is to keep the present system. It can work with honesty and more alertness by the candidates and their agents although it is very expensive for the Party. Remedy two is to go back to the electoral colleges. This can only work if honesty is upheld by everybody and bribing is banished.
The third remedy is to go back to lining behind candidates. This would remove the secrecy but it would be transparent. The fourth remedy is to go computerized with finger-prints digitally read by a computerized digital reader like the one we are acquiring for the National Electoral Commission.
Therefore, NRM members and leaders, should know that these problems are temporary and are solvable. Be strict with honesty and alertness. These problems will disappear.
Otherwise, in future, we will have to rely on the honesty of the computerised finger-print reader.
Yoweri K. Museveni Gen. (rtd)