The segment of the speech made by President Yoweri Museveni during this January’s 31st Liberation Day in Masindi, which has generated controversy and heated banter, is when he refers to himself as, “…not a servant….” From a casual look, the reasons appear rather obvious; a deeper assessment however, may paint a different picture.
Colonial Administration created, what up to now, is referred to as the Civil Service. People who are doing work for the Government, are referred to as: [Public] Servants. But these are not the usual run-of-the-mill cringing and obsequious characters, who pander to every whim of their master. They are career “technocrats”, a people who are selected for their particular jobs because of the perceived educational, professional or mechanical ability to perform the tasks they are assigned.
Not so politicians, the category of performers to which Museveni belongs. These ones do not go through any process of quality selection; rather they pass through talking to the citizens directly in a crowd appeal, through a process called “campaigning”. Thus, the two sets of workers are diametrically different in their roles.
The politicians are normally referred to as “policy makers”- crafting the general direction that a socio-political issue is supposed to take; as opposed to the public servants, called, “administrators” – who put into action and practice the decisions that the policies have adopted.
In reference to the politicians, the 1995 Constitution, in Chapter Seven, Article 98(2) puts the role of the President of Uganda (which Museveni is), thus: “The President shall take precedence over all persons in Uganda….” In what appears contradictory, as the person swears the oath of office, he/she is expected to abide by the Fourth Schedule in the Constitution which says in part, “… defend the Constitution and observe the laws of Uganda and that I shall promote the welfare of the people of Uganda.”
The issue about “promoting the welfare” of people might be misconstrued to mean that one is at the beck and call of the people.The drafters of the constitution were not very clear as to what this meant. It thus behoves on the politicians in Parliament to ament this to reflect and unequivocally clear, either the “predominance” of the president, or how the person is to “promote” the people.
If this is not done then,Museveni’s Masindi “Not a Servant” speech, will continue to cause differences of perception. The confusion arises because of Museveni’s public utterances in the past, in press interviews, which the people tend to refer to in assessing his role in the affairs of the country.
For instance, in 1993 in an interview with Africa Report’s Margaret A. Novicki, he said in part, “…I have no sympathy for those who resist democracy. Power belongs to the people, not to an individual. Why should you want power for yourself? Who are you? You are a servant of the people. If the people don’t want you, then you go, and do other things and they elect whom they want….” In this instance, Museveni appears to cross roles from a public servant to a politician.
And so in Masindi, he is saying according to one report: “I am not an employee. I hear some people saying that I am their servant. I am not a servant of anybody. I am a freedom fighter; and that is why I do what I do. I didn’t do it because I am your servant. I am just a freedom fighter. I am fighting for myself; for my beliefs; that’s how I come in. If anybody thinks you gave me a job he is just deceiving [yourself]. I am just a freedom fighter who you thought could help you [,] also.”
There is a reported interview with Museveni by then-CNN’s Jeff Koinange where again Museveni makes a mention of his work. However, it has become convoluted because the social media and the apparent dis-informers have made the references less reliable.
Social media’s Chimp Reports, quotes a Kim Aine who can easily be seen as, either one of those who pander to dis-information, or one who gives one side of the story intent on finding out those with a different view. Thus Facebook view of the Chimp Reports cannot be adjudged to be credible, making it to give the NRM a reason to accuse people, Aine refers to, as merely being in the Opposition.
People have got on to this act with a lot of fervour on either side of the debate. Those who refer to Museveni’s 1986 in-coming speech of, “This is not a mere change of the guards; this is a fundamental change…” have come in conflict with those who now see that, it seems a mere change of the guards from the previous governments of Dr. Apollo Milton Obote and “Life President” Field Marshall Dr. Idi Amin Dada.
With that in mind, arguments are offered to a whole range of the failure to address socio-economic factors. Thus, disagreements will cite the particular instances of corruption, lack of unemployment and the collapse in morality, among other things, in the last 31 years of NRM’s singular rule.