Revolutionaries! Patriots! President Museveni loves to ascribe these titles to himself and those bush fighters that still hang around him. He also usually reminds us that revolutionaries do not retire.
A critical inquiry is thus necessary to establish who is a patriot and who is a revolutionary, and whether indeed revolutionaries do not retire.
I believe a patriot is one who loves his or her country so much and subordinates his or her personal interests to the ones of the wider society.
A revolutionary is one who seeks a radical and positive transformation of society. His mission is to break the shackles that enslave man and lift society from the abyss of tyranny to the pinnacle of freedom. Drawing from the strength of one's people, the revolutionary sets afoot a new independent society that is creative and fully in charge of its destiny.
Revolutionaries employ different methods to achieve the above ideals. Some use non-violent methods and others use different forms of violence. The obtaining conditions determine the methods employed. Dynamism rather than dogmatism informs revolutionary action.
Examples abound of men and women, across time and space that have sought to achieve revolutionary ideals. These include people like: Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther king, Rosa Parks, Vo Nguyen Giap, Simon Bolivar, Che Guevara and Castro, among very many others. Although the above-mentioned used different methods to attain their goals and had their own shortcomings, they were motivated by a selfless desire to emancipate their folks from the yoke of imperialism.
What therefore does President Museveni share in common with illustrious personalities like these?
True, he like Castro, waged a successful guerrilla war and captured power. However, not everyone that wages war is a revolutionary. President Museveni employs revolutionary rhetoric to achieve selfish reactionary objectives. He has built a neo-patrimonial system of governance that thrives on corruption, factionalism, intrigue, cronyism and opulence; vices that would cause stomach revulsions to any revolutionary or patriot!
Besides these vices, president Museveni is an unquestioning faithful lackey of imperialism. On September 6, 2003, before the Cancun WTO negotiations, he wrote a letter to African presidents and their respective ministers of trade asking them to shun Asian and Latin-American Third World countries and refrain from "reflexive solidarity with other developing countries," for the interests of these Third World countries and African interests were at variance.
This move aimed at undermining Third World unity faced by an imperialist affront from the North. Rosa Whitaker, the then assistant US Trade Secretary for Africa, had written a similar letter dated October 25, 2002 to sub-Saharan African trade ministers, pointing out the "convergence of African and American interests" and therefore urging them to "approach negotiations based on their own interests and not be party to developing country group positions"! This was a clear case of divide and rule policy on the part of US imperialism and Museveni playing the part of collaborator whose reward is to be showered with praises like "beacon of hope", the same way the British used to pay their collaborators like Semei Kakungulu with titles like 'Sir'!
Our President remains part of the coalition of the willing in the war against the people of Iraq. He even supported the idea that the International Criminal Court (ICC) should not try American military officers that have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity! We also remember that he, in 2002, wrote a letter to the equivalent of the British Colonial Secretary, Clare Short, seeking permission to increase his defence budget because of a looming attack from neighbouring Rwanda.
Walter Rodney said that any diagnosis of underdevelopment in Africa will reveal not just low per capita income and protein deficiencies but also the gentlemen who dance in African capitals when music is played in Paris, London and New York.
Therefore, Museveni belongs not to the league of revolutionaries like Nyerere and Mandela who graciously handed over power, but rather to the mercenary camp of the Mobutu mould that cling on to power with disastrous consequences for their countries.
In his song 'Zimbabwe', Bob Marley said: "soon we'll find out who is the real revolutionary coz I don't want my people to be tricked by mercenaries."
It is high time we rejected those who talk revolutionary but act reactionary.
The writer is ADC to FDC Party President