The revolution and its children - Part II
KAMPALA - Former health minister Maj. Gen. Jim Muhwezi (seen here in this internet pix while still holding that office) returned to Uganda in the same way he'd left -- stealthily -- on Sunday night. One (seemingly credible) account suggests that he flew BA from Heathrow to Nairobi and then flew the last KQ flight into Entebbe on Sunday night, met his lawyers for several hours and presented himself for arrest on Monday morning.
At the time of writing, Muhwezi was still in Luzira prison from whence he says he is not in a hurry to apply for bail, that he is innocent, and that the real culprits in the embezzlement of part of a $4.3 million grant meant to immunise children will be revealed. Oh, he also draws comparisons between his predicament and that of Nelson Mandela who was jailed for 27 years for opposing apartheid ("Mandela is my hero, Muhwezi gushed, less than 27 hours after being remanded for theft, among other charges).
From his swagger on his way to court to his lake-side (jail) comments, Muhwezi has the confidence of a man with an ace up his sleeve. It is not clear whether Muhwezi intends to only clear his name in the matter or willing to bring down the roof at State House which has its fingerprints over the matter.
In my last post I expressed dismay (not as strongly as I could/should, but maybe old age is catching on) with the massive outpouring of support for the first two former ministers arrested, Mike Mukula and Alex Kamugisha, and of the former presidential aide, Alice Kaboyo.
It was shocking to note that people poured out to support the accused officials, not because they genuinely believe in their innocence, but out of indignation that the 'system' could turn against its own.
Muhwezi also condemned the raid at his house and questioned whether Museveni's government was doing the same things previous governments, which they fought, had done. In other words, the government is being measured, not for arresting and prosecuting former public officials, but for the high-handed manner of that arrest.
I suspect that corruption has become so endemic in our country that it has become a legitimate tool for the accumulation of wealth and power. The president is accused of stealing votes to retain power; ministers steal from their ministries as do the civil servants; policemen steal exhibits and demand for bribes from accused and accusers; NGO workers steal from their donors; MPs steal from the taxpayers, and so on. You can almost sense the public feeling that the ministers are the victims in this matter. There was almost no public uproar over the much-bigger Global Fund scandal because half the country appeared to have had its fingers in the cookie jar!
I was born before Museveni came to power -- but not that far off. In a way, I still see myself as part of the Museveni generation; those born and who've grown up under his rule. I remember, as a young primary school pupil, Museveni's speeches in the countryside, chalk and blackboard at the ready for demonstration, about the fundamental change he was bringing.
Twenty one years later, some argue that things are falling apart and that the centre, like Chinua Achebe proclaimed, can no longer hold. Others defend Museveni's record to the hilt. What about you, dear reader? Do you see the fundamental change? Are Museveni's failures blinding us to his achievements? Has his lengthy stay in office and his efforts to prolong that even further cost him whatever achievements he had to his name?
In other words, is the Muhwezi/Mukula/Kamugisha/Kaboyo case a sign of rot in the system, of the system's anti-corruption machinery finally coughing to life, or a smoke-and-mirror bluff that shows that the more things change, the more they stay the same?