Uganda is one of the stars of African development. President Yoweri Museveni
tells us how Uganda is now seen as one of Africa's most stable nations, a
remarkable achievement given its situation in 1986. However, your opponents claim
that this stability has been bought at the expense of democratic rights. Is this
This stability has been achieved through the hard work and sweat of the National
Resistance Movement government, the national army and the population. Do not
forget that two decades of misrule had resulted in the breakdown of every aspect
of our life as a nation and as individuals: peace, security, the economy,
democracy, moral values - all had been destroyed. These are not things that one
can restore with a magic wand.
We have achieved stability by working together with the people, step by step. We
have rebuilt the economy, step by step, by instituting policies that we knew
would reactivate healthy economic activity.
As far as democracy is concerned, let me first of all tell you that we fought a
bitter war for years to restore the democratic rights of the people of Uganda.
However, we realised a long time ago that we needed to restore democracy in a
fundamental way, not just superficially. In other words, we are not interested in
simply appearing to be a democratic society. Our main interest is to ensure that
democracy is embedded in the life and culture of the people of Uganda so
fundamentally that it can never again be tampered with.
In order to achieve this, we are restoring the democratic rights of the people
step by step to ensure that the people understand what these rights mean and
that, for democracy to start functioning in any degree, it is crucial to have
stability. Stability has not replaced democracy, but stability is the foundation
on which we have been able to restore democracy, the economy and the normal
political life of our country.
When do you plan to introduce party politics?
When the people of Uganda want me to. One of the most important things we have
achieved is to restore the vote to the people of Uganda. The people are thus free
to reject or adopt any political system of their choice through a free and fair
How do you plan to boost regional ties, for example with Ethiopia and
We are already doing this through closer political ties and co-operation on major
issues that affect our region and the whole of Africa. The main channel through
which we are co-operating is the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development
(IGAD), of which Uganda, Eritrea and Ethiopia are active members. IGAD has
recently been revitalised to expand its areas of activity, which will now include
development of infrastructure, food security and environmental
We are co-operating very closely on political issues, such as conflicts in our
region, on security issues as well as economic issues such as desertification,
locust control and how to improve telecommunications and transport in the region.
We have also been trying to see how we can boost inter-state trade and commerce
in the region and how we can give each other mutual support. And even more
significantly, IGAD is being used as a framework under which bilateral relations
between our respective countries are being developed and
Do you support the restoration of the East African
East African co-operation and integration is one of the top priorities of our
programme. We have already covered good distance because the three countries of
East Africa have agreed on this co-operation not only politically but also in
practical terms. We have already set up a secretariat for this purpose and signed
an agreement on mechanisms for strengthening co-operation. Presently, officials
of the three countries are working closely towards arrangements on immigration,
air transport, road transport, standardisation and other fields specified in the
Fortunately, the governments and peoples of the three countries are now fully
committed to co-operation and I see no major obstacles to the implementation of
the programme. I personally am fully committed to East African co-operation
because I am convinced that it is the only way we can forge ahead in development.
Not only do we want and need to co-operate; we have no choice but to do
Is there anything to suggest that a restored EAC will be any more successful
than the original community?
Yes. First of all, the people and leadership of the region have seen the negative
impact on our lives of the past break-up of the EAC. There have been real
difficulties in the movement of people, goods and capital. Secondly, the people
of the three countries have all along defied the break-up by co-operating among
themselves, albeit with harassment from governments, in trade, commerce and
labour. The spirit of co-operation has never left the people of East Africa, who
have been yearning to live as one people. Therefore, with the full backing of the
three governments, there can be no going back.
You have introduced measures to curb corruption among government officials. Is
corruption still a major problem?
Yes, corruption is still a problem and our resolve to fight it and root it out is
as strong as ever. However, it has been our experience that we cannot fight
corruption without having strong corruption-detecting agencies. We therefore
place a great deal of emphasis on the CID, the Inspector-General of Government
and the Auditor-General to ensure that we can nail corruption and severely punish
the culprits so that it becomes as clear as day that engaging in corruption is a
very risky undertaking. It is not good enough to merely preach against corruption
and to suspect individuals of corruption. We intend to ensure that we have
adequate capacity to catch the culprits.
We have also steadily worked to narrow the areas where corruption can breed. The
most important blow we have dealt to corruption is by privatising public
enterprises. We shall continue using policy measures to narrow the fields of
operation of the thieves until we make their activities impossible.
The World Bank and IMF in early 1994 selected Uganda, along with Ghana, as the
two African states whose economies had improved most in recent years. What lies
behind Uganda's economic success?
The main ingredient is that the present
leadership has spent years working closely with the people so that all along we
have been conversant with their problems and the difficulties they face in trying
to develop themselves. This has enabled us to design and implement policies that
address the development bottlenecks in our country. The policies have been
successful because, since they are designed to address the people's problems,
they are easily embraced and internalised. Since we knew very clearly what ailed
the economy in the past, we were able to set up sensible and practical economic
policies to revive the economy and keep it healthy.
Uganda enjoys a good relationship with donor organisations. Will this
I expect this relationship to continue and I am sure that it will. The policies
which we are implementing are sensible policies that have been working to
revitalise our economy, therefore donor organisations can see that the money that
they give or loan to Uganda is put to good use. We are also very open about how
we spend donor money; the donors are free to see for themselves that donor money
is not diverted to things other than what the government has earmarked the funds
Finally, where do you see Uganda at the turn of the century?
The main objective of what we are doing in Uganda is to turn our country into a
modern one. We are convinced that modernisation is the only answer to the
problems that we face, and it is only through modernisation that Uganda can
become a viable state in the 21st century. This process has already started and,
if we maintain the speed at which we are moving, as we intend to do, Uganda will
have a vibrant modern economy and an educated society by the turn of the
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©Kensington Publications 1996