You cannot run Uganda like a pre-colonial village


The author, Alan Tacca.


By Alan Tacca


Considering the obstacles his opponents faced, Mr Museveni’s election ‘victory’ was expected. But governing the country was also expected to be his nightmare.

During the first lockdown last year, the government maintained for several weeks that Uganda had only a handful of Covid-19 infections and no death. Encircled by five countries that had hundreds of confirmed Covid-19 deaths, with very low levels of testing, and NRM/Museveni’s one-upmanship, only the gullible took Uganda’s ‘zero’ claim seriously.

Even today, various indicators suggest we may have reached several thousand true covid-19 deaths. True does not mean documented.


Basking in the bubble of propaganda-assisted corona management excellence before the elections, and making an exaggerated show of his observance of Covid-19 rules at campaign gatherings, President Museveni presented himself as the right candidate for pandemic times.

The other dimension of the campaign period; the beatings, detentions, killings and all manner of obstructions suffered by Opposition politicians, media workers and bystanders; this barbarism was justified as the result of ‘provocation’ by reckless Opposition politicians who broke Covid-19 rules.


Indeed, their recklessness made them unfit to lead Uganda. Thus sang Museveni’s camp, overtly supported by opportunists masquerading as prophets; mostly eccentric prosperity gospel mongers, appreciative that under Museveni they were free to fleece their flocks with the same impunity that senior NRM politicians and government officials fleeced taxpayers.


The coronavirus is an unsentimental exposer of truth.

Either alone, or in collaboration with God, the virus has made a statement; that the correct reason for re-electing a government is good governance.

When the virus came here in March 2020, spreading gently to give an aging, incompetent, corrupt and violent government enough time to correct its ways, the government actually displayed more horrors.


The virus was appalled that men who claimed to be in direct prophetic conversation with God ignored this abuse and advocated against political change.

The nightmare has now arrived. In all its ugly fumbling, including the obscene lockdown circus around identifying people vulnerable enough to qualify for Shs100,000 ($27) each, the NRM government’s performance is as third-rate as all intelligent people should have expected.


It is, therefore, sickening when the said men of God lament the lack of planning and the clumsiness in the government relief effort; and doubly sickening when they plead – as one ‘apostle’ was doing last Sunday – that because the government had lost the trust of the people, and people trusted their religious leaders, the government should use the religious leaders to reach the people.

First of all, some religious leaders are plain liars. Certainly, those who promise to make cripples walk and a prosperity miracle for everybody everyday cannot be trusted, except by the brainwashed.


With the tithes now down, and their faces hidden behind masks, I can see many of these church people going sectarian and abusing relief cash or food in other ways, just like the politicians.

Secondly, the State is not run like a pre-colonial village, where informality and simple good will could make things happen without strict accountability.


The NRM government must carry its cross. NRM wanted to be re-elected. NRM whipped people to be re-elected. People were killed for NRM to be re-elected. Many people believe NRM rigged the vote count to be re-elected. Now NRM has the mandate, and the duty to govern, starting with addressing a rack of challenges linked to Covid-19. Fortunately, NRM has its tools of barbarism. Bobi Wine, Amuriat et al have no mandate. They are watching. If church leaders are not hypocritical, they must do the same.


Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.


This article was published by the Monitor.