Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has been President of Uganda since 29 January 1986. Museveni came to Uganda as a child from Rwanda. He spent part of his early teenage life in the Byanyima family home in Mbarara town in western Uganda. Byanyima used to pay Museveni’s school fees or at least part of it, His origins are mysterious. Many versions of where he was born and his true nationality are claimed. Those who know him view the vague picture surrounding his origins as deliberately created.
Museveni was involved in the war that deposed Idi Amin Dada, ending his rule in 1979, and in the rebellion that subsequently led to the demise of the Milton Obote regime in 1985; however, parallels have been drawn between Museveni and his predecessors.
For instance, Museveni’s Public Order Management Bill is strikingly similar to the 1967 Public Order and Security Act, codified by the Obote regime, in that both bills “seek to gag dissenting views.” His statements are also reminiscent of Uganda’s dictatorial past: “Whoever tries to cause problems, we finish them. Besigye [an opposition leader] tried to disorganize Kampala and we gave him a little tear gas and he calmed down.He didn’t need a bullet, just a little gas.
Further, for someone who said, “The problem of Africa in general and Uganda in particular is not the people but leaders who want to overstay in power,” it is quite hypocritical of him to have abolished presidential term limits, culminating in his 27-year presidential tenure.
In the mid-to-late 1990s, Museveni was lauded by the West as part of a new generation of African leaders. His presidency has been marred, however, by invading and occupying Congo during the Second Congo War (the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo which has resulted in an estimated 5.4 million deaths since 1998) and other conflicts in the Great Lakes region.
Recent developments, including the abolition of presidential term limits before the 2006 elections, Museveni’s confirmation of the Public Order Management Bill — a bill which severely limits freedom of assembly — media censorship and the persecution of democratic opposition (i.e. general intimidation of voters by security forces; arresting opposition candidates; extrajudicial killings) have attracted concern from domestic and foreign commentators. Most recently, indicators of an alleged succession to the President’s son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, have increased tensions.
Allegations regarding significant corruption have also shaped criticism of the Museveni Regime. According to the U.S. State Department’s 2012 Human Rights Report on Uganda, “The World Bank’s most recent Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected corruption was a severe problem” and that “the country annually loses 768.9 billion shillings ($286 million) to corruption.” Understandably, Uganda was ranked 140th out of 176 nations on the Corruption Perceptions Index.
A specific scandal, which had significant international consequences and highlighted the presence of corruption in high-level government offices, was the embezzlement of $12.6 mil in donor funds from the Office of the Prime Minister in 2012. These funds were “earmarked as crucial support for rebuilding northern Uganda, ravaged by a 20-year war, and Karamoja, Uganda’s poorest region.”
This scandal prompted the E.U., The U.K., Germany, Denmark, Ireland and Norway to suspend aid. What may compound this problem – as it does in many developing nations (Resource Curse) – is an abundance of oil.
The Petroleum Bill – passed by Ugandan Parliament in 2012 – which was touted by the NRM as bringing transparency to the oil sector has, failed to please domestic and international political commentators and economists. For instance, Angelo Izama, a Ugandan energy analyst at the U.S.-based Open Society Foundation said the new law was tantamount to “handing over an ATM (cash) machine” to Museveni and his regime.
According to Global Witness, an international law NGO, Uganda now has “oil reserves that have the potential to double the government’s revenue within six to ten years, worth an estimated US$2.4bn per year.
Other contentious bills have been passed by parliament and confirmed by President Museveni during his tenure. For example, The Non Governmental Organizations (Amendment) Act, passed in 2006, has stifled the productivity of NGOs through erecting barriers to entry, activity, funding and assembly within the sector.
Burdensome and corrupt registration procedures (i.e. requiring recommendations from government officials; annual re-registration), unreasonable regulation of operations (i.e. requiring government notification prior to making contact with individuals in NGO’s area of interest), and the precondition that all foreign funds be passed through the Bank of Uganda, among others things, are severely limiting the output of the NGO sector.
Furthermore, the sector’s freedom of speech has been continually infringed upon through the use of intimidation, and the recent Public Order Management Bill (severely limiting freedom of assembly) will only add to the government’s stockpile of ammunition
Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
Robert Gabriel Mugabe was born near the Kutama Jesuit Mission in the Zvimba District northwest of Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia to a Malawian father Gabriel Matibili and a Shona mother Bona, both Roman Catholic. He was the third of six children. He had two older brothers, Michael (1919–1934) and Raphael. Both his older brothers died when he was young, leaving Robert and his younger brother, Donato (1926–2007), and two younger sisters – Sabina and Bridgette. His father, a carpenter, abandoned the Mugabe family in 1934 after Michael died, in search of work in Bulawayo.
Mugabe was raised as a Roman Catholic, studying in Marist Brothers and Jesuit schools, including the exclusive Kutama College, headed by an Irish priest, Father Jerome O’Hea, who took him under his wing. Through his youth, Mugabe was never socially popular nor physically active and spent most of his time with the priests or his mother when he was not reading in the school’s libraries. He was described as never playing with other children but enjoying his own company. According to his brother Donato his only friends were his books.
He qualified as a teacher, but left to study at Fort Hare in South Africa graduating in 1951, while meeting contemporaries such as Julius Nyerere, Herbert Chitepo, Robert Sobukweand Kenneth Kaunda. He then studied at Salisbury (1953), Gwelo (1954), and Tanzania (1955–1957). Originally graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Fort Hare in 1951, Mugabe subsequently earned six further degrees through distance learning including a Bachelor of Administration and Bachelor of Education from the University of South Africa and a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Laws, Master of Science, and Master of Laws, all from the University of London External Programme.The two Law degrees were earned while he was in prison, the Master of Science degree earned during his premiership of Zimbabwe.
After graduating, Mugabe lectured at Chalimbana Teacher Training College in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) from 1955–1958, thereafter he taught at Apowa Secondary School atTakoradi, in the Western region of Ghana after completing his local certification at Achimota School (1958–1960), where he met Sally Hayfron, whom he married in April 1961.During his stay in Ghana, he was influenced and inspired by Ghana’s then Prime Minister, Kwame Nkrumah. In addition, Mugabe and some of his Zimbabwe African National Unionparty cadres received instruction at the Kwame Nkrumah Ideological Institute, then at Winneba in southern Ghana
After a campaign marked by intimidation from all sides, mistrust from security forces and reports of full ballot boxes found on the road, the Shonamajority was decisive in electing Mugabe to head the first government as prime minister on 4 March 1980. ZANU won 57 out of 80 Common Roll seats in the new parliament, with the 20 white seats all going to the Rhodesian Front.
Mugabe, whose political support came from his Shona-speaking homeland in the north, attempted to build Zimbabwe on a basis of an uneasy coalition with his ZAPU rivals, whose support came from the Ndebele-speaking south, and with the white minority. Mugabe sought to incorporate ZAPU into his ZANU led government and ZAPU’s military wing into the army. ZAPU’s leader, Joshua Nkomo, was given a series of cabinet positions in Mugabe’s government. However, Mugabe was torn between this objective and pressures to meet the expectations of his own ZANU followers for a faster pace of social change.
In 1983, Mugabe fired Nkomo from his cabinet, triggering bitter fighting between ZAPU supporters in the Ndebele-speaking region of the country and the ruling ZANU. Mugabe accused the Ndebele tribe of plotting to overthrow him after sacking Nkomo. Between 1982 and 1985, the militarycrushed armed resistance from Ndebele groups in the provinces of Matabeleland and the Midlands, leaving Mugabe’s rule secure. Mugabe has been accused by the BBC’s Panorama programme of committing mass murder during this period of his rule, after the show investigated claims made by political activist Gary Jones that Mugabe had been instrumental in removing him and his family from his farmland. A peace accord was negotiated in 1987. ZAPU merged into the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) on 22 December 1988. Mugabe brought Nkomo into the government once again as a vice-president.
Mugabe planned to reorient the people of Matabeleland and Midlands, after he failed to win any seats there. Mugabe had been friends with Julius Nyerere, who had convinced him that the most effective way to progress post-colonial Africa was to embark on one-party politics. To him, democracy was a detraction that colonialists would use to destabilise newly independent countries.
In 1982, Mugabe pretended to discover old Russian trucks and weapons, held in ZAPU farms for disposal.The weapons were known to the government and were beyond use after having been used in the Angola war. He used this as an excuse to instigate a genocide in Matabeleland, resulting in over 20,000 deaths among the civilian population. The fact that there was no evidence for a planned ZAPU-led conflict was accepted by Zimbabwean courts, which acquitted Dumiso Dabengwa and General Lookout Masuku.Supporting the claim of prior-planning for crushing the people of Matabeleland and Midlands for standing in the way of his one-party state ambition is the fact that his North Korean army training agreement was signed in June 1980, long before any arms were allegedly found. Additionally, the 5th Brigade was never training in military tactics, such as defending a territory or mounting an offensive; they were training in civilian population military tactics. Mugabe himself noted that it was deployed to ‘reorient the people’not to fight any dissidents.
According to a report by the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe’s Fifth Brigade killed between 10,000 and 20,000 people. The report also notes that about 2000 of these people were killed within the first week of deployment.
In 1987, the position of Prime Minister was abolished and Mugabe assumed the new office of executive President of Zimbabwe gaining additional powers in the process. He was re-elected in 1990 and 1996, and in 2002 amid claims of widespread vote-rigging and intimidation. Mugabe’s term of office expired at the end of March 2008, but he was re-elected later in 2008 in another election marred by allegations of election fraud and intimidation.
Mugabe has been the Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe since Parliament passed the University of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill in November 1990
During the 1980s Mugabe’s policies were largely socialist in orientation. In 1980 and 1981 the Zimbabwean economy showed strong growth of the GDP with 10.6% and 12.5%. From 1982–1989 economic growth averaged just 2.7% (1980–1989 average 4.47%). The white minority government maintained (with economic sanctions) from 1966–1972 a 6.7% average growth rate and overall from 1966 till 1979 a 3.8% average growth rate.
Unsuccessful market reform attempts were started in the 1990s and the economy stagnated in this time. Since 2000, GDP has declined by roughly 40% in part due to land reform and hyperinflation.
According to a 1995 World Bank report, after independence, “Zimbabwe gave priority to human resource investments and support for smallholder agriculture,” and as a result, “smallholder agriculture expanded rapidly during the first half of the 1980s and social indicators improved quickly.” From 1980 to 1990 infant mortality decreased from 86 to 49 per 1000 live births, under five mortality was reduced from 128 to 58 per 1000 live births, and immunisation increased from 25% to 80% of the population. Also, “child malnutrition fell from 22% to 12% and life expectancy increased from 56 to 64. By 1990, Zimbabwe had a lower infant mortality rate, higher adult literacy and higher school enrolment rate than average for developing countries”.
In 1991, the government of Zimbabwe, short on hard currency and under international pressure, embarked on an austerity program. The World Bank’s 1995 report explained that such reforms were required because Zimbabwe was unable to absorb into its labour market the many graduates from its impressive education system and that it needed to attract additional foreign investments. The reforms, however, undermined the livelihoods of Zimbabwe’s poor majority; the report noted “large segments of the population, including most smallholder farmers and small scale enterprises, find themselves in a vulnerable position with limited capacity to respond to evolving market opportunities. This is due to their limited access to natural, technical and financial resources, to the contraction of many public services for smallholder agriculture, and to their still nascent links with larger scale enterprises.”
Moreover, these people were forced to live on marginal lands as Zimbabwe’s best lands were reserved for mainly white landlords growing cash crops for export, a sector of the economy favoured by the IMF’s plan. For the poor on the communal lands, “existing levels of production in these areas are now threatened by the environmental fragility of the natural resource base and the unsustainability of existing farming practices”. The International Monetary Fund later suspended aid, saying reforms were “not on track.”
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), life expectancy at birth for Zimbabwean men has since become 37 years and is 34 years for women, the lowest such figures for any nation. The World Bank’s 1995 report predicted this decline in life expectancy from its 1990 height of 64 years when, commenting on health care system cuts mandated by the IMF structural adjustment programme, it stated that “The decline in resources is creating strains and threatening the sustainability of health sector achievements”.
While Zimbabwe has suffered in many other measures under Mugabe, as a former school teacher he has been well known for his commitment to education.[As of 2008, Zimbabwe had a literacy rate of 90%, the highest in Africa. However, Catholic Archbishop of Zimbabwe Pius Ncube decried the educational situation in the country, saying, among other scathing indictments of Mugabe, “We had the best education in Africa and now our schools are closing”.Prior to its suspension in 2009, the Zimbabwe dollar had suffered from the second-highest hyperinflation rate of any currency in modern times.
Accusations of racism
A number of people have accused Mugabe of having a racist attitude towards white people. John Sentamu, a Uganda-born Archbishop of York in the United Kingdom, calls Mugabe “the worst kind of racist dictator,” for having “targeted the whites for their apparent riches”. Almost thirty years after ending white-minority rule in Zimbabwe, Mugabe accuses the United Kingdom and the United States of promoting white imperialism and regularly accuses opposition figures to his government of being allies of white imperialism.
The United Kingdom once condemned Mugabe’s authoritarian policies and alleged racist attitudes as being comparable to those of German Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. A response came during the state funeral for a Zimbabwean Cabinet minister in March 2003. Mugabe telling journalists “I am still the Hitler of the time.
This Hitler has only one objective, justice for his own people, sovereignty for his people, recognition of the independence of his people, and their right to their resources. If that is Hitler, then let me be a Hitler tenfold. Ten times, that is what we stand for
The 87-year-old despot has driven his southern African nation, prosperous for some at the time of its independence from Britain in 1980, to near-universal ruin. With thuggish violence and the customary spoils system for his family and military cronies, the superannuated revolutionary toyed with, and stifled, an earlier democratic spring. Both these two men, Museveni of Uganda and Mugabe of Zimbabwe have one thing in common. Both were born from foreign parents and they took power through pretence of freedom fighters, They are among the ten worst dictators in the world.