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Uganda #Census2024 Mess is not a Mistake—it’s Deliberate

Summary

In General Yoweri Museveni’s mind, it is better to be accused of being incompetent than reveal information that will make vote rigging, accountability to donors, and local government corruption difficult.

It works for us to keep estimating how many we are.

An orderly population census threatens many political and financial interests.

Main Argument

The junta led by General Yoweri Museveni has yet again failed to execute a public exercise.

Previous spectacular failures of similar weight include SIM Card registration, the National Identification Card, and the security camera procurement and installation projects.

Yet, the history of the sitting regime is not altogether a basket case of failures. When the regime chooses to be competent and effective, it delivers with formidable effectiveness.

Two examples will suffice:

For the past three years and counting, the NRA has waged a low-intensity, but effective dirty war against the political opposition. Regime sanctioned death squads have continuously abducted, tortured, maimed, disappeared, and killed hundreds (if not thousands) of FDC and NUP members, with a level of impunity that smirks of State complicity.

The systemic looting and plunder of public funds has been an abiding trait of the regime since inception, but the past decade has seen a spectacular surge in the brazenness and severity of the vice. This much is apparent from the ongoing heists at Parliament and State House through endless supplementary budget requests.

We have also seen legislative processes like the amendment of the Constitution to lift the presidential terms limit in 2005 and age cap lifted in 2017 executed with precision and the full weight of the State’s force.

Both violence and corruption are enterprises at which the establishment excels.

This is the lenses through which I have interpreted the staggering mess that has characterised the rollout of the population census.

Contrary to popular online outrage about the manner in which it has been bangled, I don’t think the junta is interested in an orderly process of establishing how many we are…and the attendant data on socioeconomic conditions.

No dictatorship wants such information in the public domain.

So it makes sense that they’d screw it up. It takes effort to mess up something that you have had ten years to plan and prepare for.

Better to be accused of being incompetent than reveal information through an orderly process that will clarify things like the voting population—with a little over a year to the next coronation of King Museveni (otherwise known as the 2026 general elections).

If Museveni wants to know how many we are, he can. That is a simple thing that can be established through a covert, countrywide operation led by ISO and CMI, over a period of weeks or months.

In any case, the ruling family isn’t interested in our well-being or livelihood. Such information can only be for planning on how or what else to steal from us.

Conclusion

Under the NRA, the Ugandan State has mastered the game of being present and effective when this is unnecessary (e.g., in violently stopping peaceful protests), while being absent and incompetent when it is most important (e.g., provision of basic social services).

Museveni loves and thrives in chaos—not in order or apparent organisation.

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Written by Karamagi Andrew (3)

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