Instructive lessons from Lee Kwan Yew for Uganda

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Instructive lessons from Lee Kwan Yew for Uganda
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Edward Balidawa

Recently in an online forum, I wrote about authoritarianism and autocracy that has resulted in positive transformation in the Latin American country of El Salvador.

In that discourse, I tried to point out that contrary to the known views, autocracy and authoritarianism are not necessarily bad or retrogressive.

As Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and El Salvador have shown, if those leaders whose actions are viewed as autocratic do put their country above everything else, autocracy and authoritarianism can give far inspiring and transformational results.

Certainly, this is a discussion that needs more attention to address the way that authoritarianism and autocracy is normally viewed particularly by those with Western World tilted mind views.

The Africans have for a long time been deceived or even delusion that it is only by embracing the Western-style so-called democracy that a country can be transformed!

We here in Uganda just like many other African countries fell victim to this deceitful proposition of the Western world.

Before 1996, we had our Movement System that seemed to have worked well for us given our previous political circumstances and our national ethnical diversities.

In the Movement System that we had before the imposition of the Western pressure on us into going multiparty, those who were chosen to serve in the National Assembly, Cabinet or Government offices were chosen largely on merit and not on political populism.

Under the Movement System, both the politicians and civil servants were held accountable for their actions by those who put them in those positions.

But just as we were moving to tackle the key issues of government services delivery and the fight against poverty, it is when the Western imperialists using their Uganda domesticated cohorts started twisting our arms to make us agitated for, accept and swallow the poison of political multipartism for which as a country we weren't properly prepared.

We have moved on with this imposed political dispensation for now full 28 years. We are preparing to go in for another cycle of 5 years in 2026.

What we see in the country right now is a failure of the Western-imposed political dispensation to solve our problems as a country. We still have rampant impoverishment around the country, there continues to be a fractured nation where mistrust, disgruntlement and disunity is taking root.

Most disturbing is that even after 38 years of the liberation that was undertaken through a lot of human sacrifices with the hope of bringing about fundamental changes such as social-economic transformation in our country, we continue to have challenges in achieving that objective and aspiration.

That is the reason why references to countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and El Salvador do make sense. The paths that were taken by the leaders of those countries in being able to achieve the undisputed transformation in their respective countries must become instructive to us all.

Therefore, reading and learning about these referenced countries ought not only to serve the purpose of gaining knowledge and information but for that knowledge to serve as a catalyst and a clarion call for us here too to examine our pathways to the desired aspirations for our country.

As leaders have aptly demonstrated, authoritarianism and autocracy if accompanied by real love for the country and the application of well-meaning policies can yield positive transformational results which contradict the hollow deceitful so-called democratic policies.

It would certainly be insane for anyone to think that any country can fight corruption, abuse of office, impunity, lawlessness and nepotism through democratic discussions where the majority win the day. What if those practising and directly benefiting from corruption and illicit practices are the majority in the discourse, how will the outcome of such a discussion help to eliminate the scourge of those vices? Not everything has to be determined on the principle of who wins with the majority.

Many times, the leader must weigh what is in the best interest of the country and thus take the necessary steps to implement what saves the country. If such a decision is considered autocratic so be it as long as the results will eventually vindicate the leader.

As we have seen for the case of El Salvador, President Nayib Bukele has been already vindicated just like Lee Kwan Yu and Mohammed Mahtir of Malaysia.

I do believe that even in Uganda, if President Yoweri Museveni took similar steps, later he would certainly be vindicated positively and celebrated by many generations to come.

Edward Baliddawa. Former Member of Parliament

Contact: 0772502121

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