Dear President Museveni, this isn’t the first or the last time I touch base with you through this media. Today I’ll go straight to the point. You were recently quoted as saying that “Africa shouldn’t allow those novices to disturb our peace.” You are dead right. Also, we’d not allow killjoys and dictators that’ve been in power for a long time to keep on hijacking our peace. We need to be fair to ourselves and others on this matter. Who needs strong personal armies that rulers and political warlords use like their private estates?
You said that those taking power are novices. Are you serious? What were you when you took power? Did you have any experience of running even a village? Was Milton Obote a doyen when he brought independence to Uganda? What about Julius Nyerere, your mentor and creator not to mention the iconic Patrice Lumumba who yanked power from Belgians in Congo among many young Turks of the 60s who liberated Africa?
You remarked: “what is happening now is going to take us back because civilian leaders fail to build strong armies.” Really? Does Africa really need strong armies that corrupt and are used by dictatorial rulers to hush and lord it over the people? Do you think that that is a viable solution?
Let me differ with you. Africa needs democracy and justice that revolves around strong institutions. Africa needs accountability for everybody including rulers, their families, friends, and other eaters. Africa needs adept and creative leaders who lead but not rule. It needs servant leaders who will serve the people but not themselves and their families.
Mr. President, do you know that those ‘strong armies’ that strongmen use to rob Africa are the biggest problem since they protect and preserve corrupt regimes? Africa needs people-centered armies that protect the people but not rulers only. Do you know the expensive economic cost of keeping do-nothing armies whose job is to intimidate and terrorise citizens whenever they become fed up with corrupt and inept rulers? Do you know that the biggest problem for Africa now is its long-time rulers who have run out of ideas and remain in power illegally?
Strong armies will make matters worse by becoming stronger than their makers and taking power from them. Strong armies will lord it over politicians and citizens. Strong armies are not the solution but rather, strong democratic institutions. Consider western countries. Their successes lie in their strong democratic institutions but not their armies. Africa needs strong governments that build strong economies that support citizens.
There are many solutions to Africa’s current political and economic problems than strong armies. The armies Africa needs are educated people, people with jobs, people with hope and people with good leadership and strong democratic institutions such as strong parliaments and judiciaries.
By Nkwazi Mhango
Mhango is a lifetime member of the Writers' Alliance of Newfoundland and Labrador (WANL), an expert in Terrorism and author of over 20 books among which are Africa Reunite or Perish, 'Is It Global War on Terrorism' or Global War over Terra Africana? How Africa Developed Europe and contributed many chapters in scholarly works.