I have listened repeatedly on various media platforms, a grand claim by Mr. Odrek Rwabwogo, one of National Resistance Movement’s (NRM’s) contestants to Central Executive Committee (CEC) for the position of Vice Chairman Western Region.
He argues that, the problem with governance in Uganda, and particularly within the NRM, is that leaders don’t understand ideology.
On one instance, he specifically states that leaders come out of universities and partake of national leadership without being schooled in NRM ideology.
Mr. Rwabwogo’s claim points to logic that, all challenges we face in this country emanate from ideological undernourishment. That indeed is his solemn opinion and like all of us, he has full rights to his views.
Although he pushes this opinion with some measure of humility, I find the claim generalistic, sweeping, and dismissive of efforts that NRM leaders and supporters at every level have, since the 1970’s, invested to explain to, train and retool citizenry in foundational ideals and principles of the NRM.
This claim also diminishes and objectifies millions of NRM supporters who have over the years continued to vote the NRM massively because of its ability to articulate its ideology and program of action with clarity.
The NRM Chairman, H.E President Yoweri Museveni is the grandmaster ideologue of NRM. He has been and remains the most articulate, simple and audible voice of NRM’s ideological evangelism.
He has written extensively on the subject, spoken clearly and broadly on the subject, trained and retooled leaders both in Uganda and the rest of Africa.
For about four decades, the NRM has simplified the concept of its ideology as ‘the sum total of both the diagnosis of societal problems and the prescription for their cure’.
After protracted discussions and many years of scrutiny, NRM agreed on two targets as anchors of its ideology, i.e. Prosperity and Security.
This was a clear prescription after an accurate diagnosis of Uganda’s disease, and through NRM actions, Uganda has been largely vaccinated from the element of insecurity.
The second target of prosperity remains mostly work in progress. Prosperity is the singular most important goal of NRM ideology.
It is embedded and other elements like democracy, nationalism, socio-economic transformation, non-sectarianism, security of person and property and pan Africanism are aimed at achieving prosperity for all Ugandans.
Prosperity means that each of our individual families has sufficient income to live a good life, the family members are educated, healthy and optimistic about their future.
Looking at a catalogue of Uganda’s human development reports, indicators, targets and other datasets, Uganda is on a clear pathway to prosperity.
Admittedly, more needs to be done and I understand the impatience, cynicism and criticism related to pace and speed at which NRM is delivering on prosperity.
For example it is clear that sustained economic growth of over 6 percent per annum-one of the highest in the world- is important but insufficient for Uganda’s total prosperity. NRM leaders must lead debate on what kind of growth we want to achieve as a country in the coming years.
We now largely have ruthless growth (unequal economic growth that provides prosperity to a few); we clearly have jobless growth (an economy expanding but creating less and less jobs for thousands of graduates, with attendant mismatch of skills).
We also see rootless growth (economic growth that is largely devoid of context and circumstances of different communities. What works for Amudat district may not work for Rukungiri district).
We mostly have voiceless growth (growth that is less participatory but mostly technocratic and driven at Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development with veneer elaborate budget consultative documents and policies that rarely deliver on citizenry voice).
The foregoing are very much tactical challenges. The strategic element of ideology and ideological clarity was resolved under the leadership of NRM Chairman H.E Yoweri K. Museveni. Tactical issues deal with implementation under operational institutions of Government.
I would have been fascinated if our prospective leaders in NRM were demonstrating resolute and principled willingness to debate transformative tactical issues like how to build a knowledge economy; what kind of reforms we need in the education and social sectors to build agile human resources and person bytes necessary to shape and re-imagine the future.
Is NRM ready to concretely discuss healthcare reforms necessary to expand life expectancy from the current 59 years to 85 years in the next 25 years? Are we ready to discuss restructuring of government to make it more effective?
Is broad based government still a relevant concept – or should the focus be on competitiveness of Ugandans wherever they come from? Should we still be districting and redistricting and thus creating permanent recurrent costs that pry off resources from productive sectors of the economy?
These are some of the issues we should be discussing and not fuzzy revisionism of ideology and singular claims on projects like the Youth Livelihood program and Youth Venture Capital scheme that are yet to be evaluated.
We must honestly debate and act on these issues within a delivery mechanism and framework that embeds human rights, integrity, gender equality, dignity for citizenry, and the planet.
We have to be bold and discuss practical challenges that inspire hard work and getting things done “for God and my country” not “for me”.
The campaign we need is not to teach ideology per se – but to deliver the ideology.
I wish Mr. Rwabwogo the best, but to appear to recreate or tweak NRM ideology with brazen talk of how issues and generation has evolved is pure subterfuge, diversionary and pretentious.
The generations of yesterday, today and the future aspire and deservedly so, to a life of total security, dignity and prosperity – and the NRM ideology has never deviated from that.
Leadership is diagnostic and about tackling difficult problems. We must put citizenry, country and our political organization first.
Morrison Rwakakamba, NRM Card holding Member, Nyamubogore Village, Nyeibingo Parish, Kebisoni Sub County, Rukungiri District.