Museveni on Patriotism: Drinking Water or Wine?

Published on 30th March 2009

I wish to add my voice to those that have responded to the President’s countrywide tours in which he has been preaching patriotism to the teachers. The secondary school teachers are already patriotic enough that they don’t merit any patriotism lectures.

Museveni; President of Uganda Photo:Courtesy
Since 1997 or thereabout, there has been a ban on the recruitment of secondary school teachers. This is despite the government’s introduction of Universal Secondary Education (USE) of course for expediency. It is my firm belief that USE was and is still a vote winning scheme. This is not to say that it is a bad policy. I think it is a good policy that was not properly thought out.If introduced at the right time for right reasons, USE would be an engine for societal transformation.

The Ugandan teachers fall into the category of the working poor; they are the wretched of the earth to borrow Franz Fanon’s phrase. Most secondary school teachers who work in private schools work for as little as 150,000 shillings. But also, there are those in government aided schools and have never been on the payroll. I wonder why we have teachers in government-aided schools that for quite long cannot access the payroll yet state funds are pilfered by unscrupulous politicians and civil servants day in day out. 

One wonders then why the President who lives in glamour and has a high propensity to profligate spending should spend extra taxpayers’ money preaching patriotism to these innocent yet unfortunate patriotic Ugandans. I am sure if teachers were not patriotic most of them would have run away to Iraq or elsewhere.

I also wonder whether the President is the most qualified to preach patriotism. In my view, the President is only patriotic in words and not in action. That is but ostentation. That explains why he abhors those who talk about sectarianism. Consolidation of national unity and elimination of all forms of sectarianism was ironically the third point on the ten point programme. The practice however, has shown that the president detests talk about sectarianism and not the practice of the same. I shudder at the level at which sectarianism has been perfected during President Museveni’s tenure and I believe it is inimical to patriotism.

Patriotism is not confined to saying you love your country. You should not only love your country but you should be seen in action. To be the best teacher of patriotism, you should be a firm believer in patriotism and you should not do the antithesis of patriotism.

The government should equip our health centres with drugs and pay our medical practitioners handsomely so that we cease witnessing the doctors migrating to look for greener pastures. The government should improve the standards of our schools and remunerate teachers well for like the former Russian President Nikita Krushchev said; incentives are what get people working harder.

We should see an end to harassment of political opponents; criticism should not be regarded as sabotage and opposition as treason. There should be more efforts to ensure that thousands of graduates churned out by our universities get jobs on the basis of merit and not nepotism.

The president needs to revisit the NRM Ten Point Programme and stop tinkering with our sacrosanct provisions in the constitution to perpetuate himself in power. There are so many flaws in our society that our president should concentrate on rectifying. In fact on 21st March, when the Ekimezza programme of Radio One debated patriotism, one participant in the audience asked why waste people’s time discussing such a subject. That was a pointer to me that the president has wasted taxpayers' money preaching patriotism.

Patriotism lectures in my opinion are intended to conscript teachers into the recruitment drive for the NRM which is unfortunate because teachers are not supposed to be involved in partisan politics. No wonder, it has been reported before that the NRM intends to recruit even children into the party.

At the end of the day there will be no difference between patriotism lectures and Mchaka Mchaka which many political pundits say were meant to indoctrinate and brainwash the masses by hoodwinking them that the ugly past is solely attributable to political parties. Mr. President, please don’t preach water and drink wine at the same time.

Vincent Nuwagaba

The author is a human rights activist.

This article has been read 2,448 times