Museveni suffers a rare pushback in Nakaseke; weary residents tell him to carry his own cross
By Charles Kamya Ssentamu
A shabby attempt by President Museveni to transfer blame for poor infrastructure in a constituency to a member of parliament fell flat when residents told him in no uncertain terms they expected better of him as head of state.
Confronted by the poor state of roads in Nakaseke District during his recent “memorial trek” through the greater former “Luwero Triangle”, Museveni tried to pull a fast one by telling residents that they were suffering such deficits because they had elected Mr. Paulson Luttamaguzi Semakula – an opposition MP with whom he cannot work.
Such statements are a clear breach of the law since they amount to an admission that the head of state is abusing his power to deny sections of the population access to national resources. But Museveni since 1986 has been using that card to wash away glaring failures by his government to deliver social services, never mind that he has always controled a huge majority in parliament.
He conveniently targets such attacks at voters during public events in opposition constituencies.
The people of Nakaseke, where Luttamaguzi is the sole opposition MP, however would not take such nonsense quietly. In quick succession, they reminded Museveni that the problems of poor roads and other social services were neither new nor unique to Nakaseke South.
“This man was elected area MP only in 2016, is Museveni now saying that he was responsible for the poor roads in Nakaseke even before he became MP?” asked one resident. Another commentator reminded the president that even areas that have elected NRM MP’s for decades suffered similar problems.
“Muzei atubalemu amagezi. Kyagamba nab’e Luuka tebalina makubo na ddagala mu malwaliro kubanga balonda Luttamaguzi? (Museveni should not take us for fools. Is he suggesting that even in areas like Luuka District, which have been hoodwinked to vote NRM, are suffering poor roads because of Luttamaguzi?!” he wondered.
The people of Luuka District in Busoga have been badly hoodwinked in showing loyalty to Museveni’s party, yet the area suffers one of the highest rates of social failure – with makeshift classrooms and roads that are cut off by rains every rainy season. However those people too are completely fed up and, come 2021 are “prepared to teach Museveni and NRM a lesson!”
The pushback in Nakaseke is significant because it is one of the areas that bore the brunt of the five-year bush war whereby Museveni exploited the people to propel himself to power. They were for a time loyal, even patient with Museveni. Then they found him out. They discovered he was only good at using people, but not serving people!, as many that know him have repeatedly pointed out.
That patience wore thin, and they voted for Luttamaguzi. Museveni and his family’s land-grabbing gangs raid the area, yet the president insists on suppressing local expression. One of the ways he does this is by imposing incompetent leaders and political representatives on the people.
This is why, according to observers, Luttamaguzi has been a thorn in his flesh. He is incorruptible, and is exposing the injustices and failures of government in Nakaseke and this is a reason for Museveni to virulently hate him.
Clearly rattled by the stand of the people of Nakaseke, the president was forced to change the theme of his trek midway, from “patriotism” to “mobilization”. He claimed the exercise had given him a chance to “experience first-hand the mistakes his cadres were making,” then claimed he would address them.
Whatever the case, these events represent a potentially dangerous turn for Museveni who has often taken Ugandans for granted, and is bent on wiping out the opposition.
It will not be an easy ride for him however.