‘I am glad I objected and followed my instinct and replied Charles Rwomushana’ – Odrek Rwabwogo
City businessman, politician and lawyer Odrek Rwabwogo has revealed that he is glad to have replied Charles Rwomushana’s submissive about him. Here is his explanation regarding his objection to reply Rwomushana;
Dear friends on this forum,
A number of people called me to say there wasn’t any need to reply Mr. Charles Rwomushana’s rant in the first place but I am glad I objected and followed my instinct and replied him anyway.
This is because I have now seen the various responses and many of them confirm to me that we need to continue the engagement and teaching since our demographics have fundamentally changed as a nation and so has been the lowering of learning, debate and public discourse standards, unfortunately.
There are about three key areas I would like to respond to that were raised here and in another forum. However, the trouble with social media is that many times you don’t know who you are speaking to, how old they are, their interest in a discussion and whether they have the time required to internalize something and make use of it or they simply want to abuse and walk away.
But since in Buganda we say “Embulila tefa yoona” (not all preaching goes to waste. It may save a soul), let me try and answer some of the things raised here:
1) Why is it that Rwabwogo is the only one teaching ideology yet there are better people to do it and they are not funded?
Answer: Ideology is simply the “world view” or outlook of an Organization on key issues and how it defines its role in the world and with its followers. It includes such things as values, norms and what it takes as important in its life.
The people who shaped the Movement thinking and practice as an organization, weren’t the most educated or rich or had any special abilities. They were common people like you and me led by some committed individuals and simply wanted a better country than they had found. No one chose those individuals; only perhaps circumstances did. Each and every one had “Omwooga” or talent and they put it to good use in the service of the organization, irrespective of their position or status in life. It is this rich tradition that I keenly follow. No one asked me to teach, nobody approved my teaching and nobody supports my research, writing, training and mentorship. When I set out on my own in May of 2015, it was largely out of frustration that an organization which had been built on so much good will, had lost its shine and veered off the road in many respects. Knowing that to go back to the roots of a thing leads to its healing process, we did and continue to speak plainly and teach these foundations to both the young and old when opportunity provides.
In the Movement, many of us know commitment and conviction has been replaced by both money and position and, to those who might not read the signs of how organizations are born, raised and die, today’s raw power, not so much the skill and heart to serve, has become our ultimate focus. I didn’t know how to bring some change in this situation if I didn’t go through an electoral process inside our party. Therefore, there is no specialness in either me or what I do. I welcome all those willing and able to commit time and resources to help. All of us can do it if we remove our eyes from the party chairman and president and strive to do our best wherever God has placed us. A party is not built by an individual. Individuals play a vital role as leaders but they cannot replace the role of a people United for a cause larger than them as individual citizens.
The history of the Movement serves us well in this respect. As an example, in September of 1983, both Wakyaato and Ngoma sub counties in today’s Nakaseke district, raised 21,000 heads of cattle for the Resistance. It is this contribution that lasted six months of no purchase of food in the bush that helped the attack on Masindi barracks on January 20, 1984. If peasants could do this, how about the educated elite with some means?
This brings me to the question of Budgets and funding. Let me state it here very clearly that we aren’t funded to teach by the party or the President. Nothing has he given us to go and teach ideology.
The President instead made a contribution in November 2015 to start a call center. But as you know this was for elections and since our party only seems to work during election time, there hasn’t been a mantianence palm for this effort. Since February 2016, several friends, Movement supporters and my own business at Luzira through our small charity arm, The Tomosi foundation, have kept us going. My background believes in ‘Tithing’ part of our earnings into public work by offering one’s time and whatever amount of resources we have. In one of the faiths in Uganda, we know this as Zakat. We also produce brand artifacts (shirts, books, DVDs etc) that we sell for small amounts of money to keep us on the road.
I am deeply indebted to those who come to our aid regularly in finances and materials because they show us their maturity and commitment to the cause of the Movement beyond fighting for positions in government and party. One of those I thank very much is the New Vision newspaper that allowed us a full page every Monday to put some of the guiding thoughts to the public. That page in advertising revenue terms is equivalent to UGX9m per week. In value, this is over UGX468m in a year! I saw someone on the forum calling it useless because “ideology is just in newspapers”.
Well, the Baganda again say “Nezikokolima Gali Maggi” (there is a always a beginning of a thing, however small).
I would like to throw more light on this issue of budgets for work of the party. To budget for something, among other sources, one must assume you are taking a thing to the market for sale to earn before you spend. I truly believe that part of the NRM problem has been budgets that don’t show or even care where funds come from. The funds of the party come from the President of the country and chairman but no one asks where the President gets this money from. What happens when he is no longer in that position and it is occupied by the opposition? Should the party cease to function normally and go into delinquency? Shouldn’t that existential threat worry those who are members of the Movement? Shouldn’t it make us stop and think and stop the bickering and support every effort to do independent work?
Every time I have had chance to attend political meetings in Entebbe state House or other places, I have been deeply embarrassed at the kind of financial demands made to the President by the leaders of groups and his remarkable willingness to pay for each of those meetings in transport and other expenses. It always leaves me wondering what will happen if this President or any future one is unable to do this. Will he or she or their party keep the support of such groups? The point at which the use of money in politics starts is the very point the gravesite (Entaana) of CONVICTION is dug to bury an organization. Conviction build commitment and this is why faith groups continue to grow even when they may not have much resources. Money should be for only those necessary and vital aspects of an organization not the sole reason people join the party.
Therefore, while I would love to listen to those who claim every activity must have a budget and therefore, anybody working out of conviction must have the President’s ear and support, I am disturbed at the lack of soul searching and the honest confrontation of the stark reality we face. This Reality is that even when the party used more money and had a lot of Infrastructure along with a strong candidature to win the 2016 elections, the opposition gained 1.5m more votes against the Movement’s 400,000 votes. Shouldn’t this say something to all of us about this rush to start every conversation with a budget instead of a plan and conviction?
The demand for money as a starting point also makes the party solely dependent on the leadership and not the people who elect these leaders.
I want you the reader for once to imagine a hypothetical scenario where the party president opposes something which the members deeply know is a solution to a long standing problem.
How will the members mobilize on their own to convince the leadership that this is good and should be adopted, if all members do is supplication and requests for financial support from the leadership?
These are matters to reflect over if we really love the Movement and want to save it for the future.
2) What is the difference between First Family and the Ruling class and why is Rwabwogo running away from the first family tag?
Every word has a story and we should choose carefully what we use. I am one who doesn’t like to use terms I am not conversant with. I am deeply embarrassed by this term in Ugandan politics for two reasons:
- a) This was a term used by the English colonial settlers in the US state of Virginia starting around the year 1642. These settlers grew rich on selling slaves and tobacco. The the first settlers were also called second sons for inheriting titles from the English gentry. How on earth should the leaders of a country assume derogatory titles of this nature whose history they know nothing about?
- b) The characterization of ‘first family’ assumes there is a “middle” and “last family” of a people who are citizens in your nation! Why would you want to classify your own citizens in such a manner?
The worst part of these titles is that they have a long term effect on the conscience of leaders as many pretenders use them simply to embellish their leaders and sing praises for them. Many of us on this forum are old enough to remember Obote had songs composed about him, such as “Nyamurunga” (a beautiful rare bird) in Bushenyi just as Mobutu was called Seseko Wazabanga (the lion) or Haile Selaise in Ethiopia was taken as a demigod!
How can anyone one want their leaders put on a pedestal in this manner and then turn around and complain that the leaders aren’t listening to the people. Well, it is the people who make their leaders undemocratic by elevating them beyond servants and turning them into providers of everything from wives, rain to medicine, health etc!
The ruling class emerges from a class struggle. Classes emerge from what each one of us does for for a living. If you sell a good/commodity/ service that good/commodity must have capital and Labour as elements of its ingredients. The struggle between those who own capital and those who labor to produce goods, changes the normative behaviors and ideas of both groups. A better informed worker, for example becomes outspoken in demanding for better wages and working conditions while the owner of capital knows he/she can keep it mobile (shift to new industries or countries if he/she don’t get what they want). The tension and outcome of this struggle produces an agreement (constitutions, laws, institutions etc) on HOW and WHO governs the people. Since these classes weren’t fully formed by the time of our independence in 1962, the replacement was the military and a small civil service educated by the British. You still see the effects of the absence of this class struggle in Uganda. For example the civil servants at the Ministries are considered higher than elected leaders in terms of dispensing public resources, policy formulation and execution. Even when you have such stratospheric unemployment for the youth in our country, many of the civil servants are “permanent and pensionable” caring for nothing in the world as the nation heads for trouble with youth unprepared for the world fraught with danger.
Class struggle today is what is forcing out liberal parties in Europe (France and Hollande, America for Trump, Italy against Renzo, Britain against Europe etc) and returning anti-Semitism and extremist groups in power.
This is because the middle class is shrinking on account of globalization as the rich become richer and the poor becomes poorer. We also are witnessing this rise of inequality in Uganda.
I really don’t have much time for this class struggle explanation here. I will explain later or those who don’t know how classes emerge, should invest in reading or perhaps attend our sessions when we teach.
3) Rwabwogo’s candidature wasn’t about his capability. It was Kyaligonza’s use of ‘family rule’ that he was stopped from serving the NRM.
Answer: When you reinforce the perception that people should be judged by where they marry from, their sex or age, the areas they come from, you are no better than the British who wouldn’t allow a somehow capable leader in Benedicto Kiwanuka who won pre- independence elections in 1961, to govern simply because he was Roman Catholic and they needed to install an Anglican Prime Minister. That decision left Uganda with Milton Obote in a KY marriage and history, perhaps, would have been different had the British done the right thing. For me, I have learnt in life that I would rather be right than loved. If Kyaligonza, Otafiire and many of the founding leaders of the Movement who opposed me on such a frivolous issue as who I am married to, and these are leaders that we used to respect in the 1990s now they are turning revisionists and they use religion, tribe, family as a basis for their remaining in the party or even the sole fact that they “fought” and thus shouldn’t be touched, then all of us should be concerned and find a solution. Their actions are akin to those of a father who preaches monogamy to his children by day and go marry other women and produce more children in secret. That father will be found out with time. I think we as members of a party have a responsibility to oppose this kind of behavior rather than rationalise, justify and condone it. This is because the net effect of this kind of behavior is to chase away good people from the party.
And for someone to say “now Rwabwogo is teaching ideology and NOT Kyaligonza who should and therefore Rwabwogo is more influential” is pretty absurd. In more than 13 years of the leadership of this gentleman in western Uganda, he has held not a single session or spoke at any training or been in radio to teach or supported any efforts by young people or farmer groups struggling to understand the role of the party they elected. In fact in many places when I was running, people would wonder what this position is about and whether it wasn’t a new contrivance by me because “we have never heard about it or seen the current holder”.
So Rwabwogo now should go silent since “thinking” also should be handed over to Kyaligonza? Right?
If you make a case to keep such leaders, be careful what you are doing to the future of the Movement. If you are an honest Supporter of the NRM and you wish it well, you need to think again. These leaders will go with the party and we will be left standing in the rain.
I hope these answers genuinely help.
If anyone needs a group training session, our Ideology and mentorship coordinator is Mr. Matthew Bagonza on 0759005000 and Ms. Jane Ebuk.
They also have some materials for sale to support this work and the coordinator for this is Mr. Ibra Sebbata.
God bless you all