By K. David Mafabi
Some of our political class and elite have lately taken to the senseless repetition of the refrain “Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, etc - are coming to Uganda”! What they mean is that they hope and pray that there will be a kind of “Arab Spring” or popular uprising or insurrection - to overthrow the Government of Uganda.
There are two major and fundamental problems with this reckless and wild dream. First, this group exhibits total and blissful ignorance of what some would call the Uganda “problematique”, the Ugandan national specifics. Let us put it this way. A doctor has a patient in front of him or her. The patient has a high temperature. Is the patient suffering from malaria? Or typhoid? Or indeed, COVID-19? In other words, is the diagnosis of the illness accurate? And, if the diagnosis is accurate, what treatment is prescribed? If the malady is malaria, what treatment destroys the plasmodia that give us malaria? Is it palliatives - which help keep the temperature down? Prayers? Or anti-malarial drugs?
Our political class and elite live in utter disregard of our existence as an enclave economy on the periphery of global capitalism - which has been in the ascendency for the last 600 years. To expect this group to exert themselves to study this reality in its sheer complexity and all its ramifications is to hope for the impossible. This group subsists in utter oblivion of the long inevitable historical processes and exigencies of the evolution and consolidation of a national statehood … They live in “supreme abstraction” of the totality of our reality. Their discussions of “governance”, “democracy”, etc - are curtailed by unmitigated ideological bankruptcy.
The upshot of all this, unfortunately, is that these pretenders to the leadership of wananchi cannot look beyond knee jerk and instant coffee type of “solutions” to our “problematique” … Ask them, what is the problem of Uganda? Their quick answer is, “Yoweri Museveni”! Ask them, what is the solution? Their quick answer is, “Get rid of Museveni and enter State House”! This is how they get themselves locked into looking for “men and women of goodwill” - to deal with our extremely complex structural and trans-regime challenges. At their best, they erroneously hope that “good intentions” are sufficient in themselves to generate societal transformation!
But, let us go to the second problem with the wild dream of our friends - to recreate the “Arab Spring” in Uganda, without clear comprehension of what that phenomenon actually was … To comprehend that phenomenon, we must ask ourselves a number of critical questions. For instance, is the decolonization of North Africa and the Middle East actually complete? If it isn’t, is that what we so badly need here? Isn’t it that what we are fighting for here - complete decolonization? What, therefore, is the content of the “Arab Spring” which our political class and elite wish to see recreated here?
It is important for our people to remember that the states of North Africa and the Middle East sit astride the bulk of global oil sources. They were created by the West in the aftermath of World War I - to serve first and foremost, the interests of the then imperial powers.
It is important to remember that all the main NATO states that bombed Leader Muammar Gaddafi out of power - the US, UK, France, Italy - have all had armed occupying forces on the ground in Libya in the last 100 years. Nobody remembers - certainly not our political class and elite - that up to a third of the population of Libya was wiped out by the Italian colonial occupation … Nobody remembers the great resistance of the Libyan people under Omar Mukhtar - who the Italians hanged … Nobody remembers why the 1969 Gadaffi-led coup against King Idris was popular … why, decades later, it was the Benghazi groups which had to be fronted in the build-up to remove Gadaffi … History has come full circle … The imperial powers, in a different form and shape - are back in charge. Foreign spawned crisis and armed conflict define Libya today. Our pretenders to the leadership of the people believe, incredibly, that that is what we need here!
It is even possible that the pretenders do not know about Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt and the Free Officers Movement - who, after the overthrow of King Farouk in 1952, became the embodiment of the regeneration and self-assertion of the peoples of that entire region. Needless to say, this could not go unchecked as for example the invasion of Egypt by Israel, France and the UK - in the aftermath of the Nasserite nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956. When the tripartite invasion collapsed, Pan Arabism became the dominant ideology in the region, and Nasser its flag bearer. This, however, did not stop the exponential growth of Western influence - particularly after the death of Nasser in 1970. An intifada (we shall return to this another time) brought down President Hosni Mubarak. The electoral process which was ushered in by the intifada, in turn, brought the Muslim Brotherhood into the management of the Egyptian state - which development could not be tolerated by the forces that rule the world market. The rest, as they say, is history. Very recently, the leader of a major world power decided to speak for Egypt - declaring that Egypt “might bomb” the Great Renaissance Dam of Ethiopia! Do our quislings know what they really want?
Need we go on? The pretenders speak about Saddam Hussein of Iraq - who was ushered into Government in a bloody coup (1963) with the support of Western intelligence services. Four decades later (2005), a Western coalition was to invade Iraq in the search for “weapons of mass destruction”. No such weapons were found - none to date. President Hussein was hanged and decapitated (literally) … Iraq continues to bleed …
In the meantime here at home, a plethora of respectable religious, cultural and other leaders, have roundly condemned the security forces for “excessive use of force” in quelling the riots spawned by the quislings …! We have waited, in vain, for these leaders to condemn the pretenders for “playing war games” involving the lives of wananchi! This is the height of folly - because it encourages the pretenders to subsist in their futile but expensive “war games”. Those who beat the drums of war - and do not go to war themselves - are at it again! Fortunately for Uganda and Mother Africa, batusanze tulaba!
K. David Mafabi
Senior Presidential Advisor/Special Duties