The Correct Line?: Uganda Under Museveni, which came out earlier this month, looks at Uganda’s politics under the current president, Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the country since 1986.
While the hook’s author, Olive Kobusingye, has every right to share her perspectives on Uganda’s politics, nothing she reveals is new. Her book draws mainly from information that is already widely available from past media accounts. Moreover, as an individual, one would argue that she is least qualified to write on the issues she deals with given that she was neither a central player nor an eye witness to many of the events that she writes about. Also, one has to assume a certain level of bias given that she is a sibling to Kiiza Besigye, Museveni’s main political opponent.
That said, Kobusingye’s book successfully pulls together a disparate collection of events into a convincing indictment of Museveni’s record. Therein, lies its strength.
The book contains 19 chapters or essays, each looking at different aspects of Museveni’s politics. We learn about ‘safe’ houses where government critics are tortured, endemic corruption in government institutions, institutional failures in the army, attacks on the independence of the judiciary, rampant vote rigging and so on.
By analyzing Museveni’s record against his claim to being a freedom fighter, Kobusingye manages to do something that no writer has done before. She cleverly juxtaposes President Museveni’s past claims (taken mostly from speeches and writings, many dating back to the 1980-2000 period), against his government’s poor record on human rights, corruption, democracy and freedom. And by doing so, she has dared to provide a version of Uganda’s history under Museveni that is unlikely to sit well with the current dominant narrative of the country being a picture of stability and prosperity.
The picture that emerges is one of a leader who has gone back on nearly everything he once claimed to stand for. Past comrades who dare to question the direction in which the country is moving are persecuted. Dan Mugarura, a soldier in the Uganda Army who fell out with the government, explains the situation thus:
“Illegal arrests, safe houses, persecution of legitimate political opposition, leaders grabbing property they did not lawfully acquire, open theft of public resources, stolen elections – these have become routine. That is why Museveni does not want any of us who fought in the bush war to leave the army. He knows that we know what the plan was – we were there. We took serious risks, so he cannot claim that we are marginalized on account of not having sacrificed for the country.”
Ultimately, Kobusingye’s book opens up the possibility that others, following in her footsteps, may start to meticulously document the ongoing abuses in Uganda in order to later bring those responsible to account.
Click here to buyThe Correct Line?: Uganda Under Museveni from Amazon.com