Gen Sejusa and disaster of nationhood

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By Moses Khisa

In a tweet a while in Might, Gen David Sejusa alluded to State constructing as one of many greatest failures of the present political institution in Uganda. I’m paraphrasing considerably, so these usually are not Gen Sejusa’s precise phrases.

Only for the document, Gen Sejusa served on the highest ranges of the Ugandan State and was among the many main core of commanders that helped Mr Yoweri Museveni to enter State Home by the pressure of firearms.

Regardless of his many flaws and failings, he’s a human being, Gen Sejusa is an excellent Ugandan of his technology. He has a high quality grasp of statecraft and a dispassionate understanding of the contours of recent authorities. So it was a outstanding second of introspection from somebody who served on the centre of Uganda’s State-building challenge and one with a high quality conceptual, theoretical and historic grasp trendy statecraft.

I instructed Gen Sejusa that in my opinion, nation-building has been NRM’s greatest failure, larger than State-building. To make certain, State-building and nation-building are coterminous. They feed into every and co-vary. It’s a frequent function for weak states to undergo crises of nationwide id.

There’s a tendency to conflate their conceptual boundaries and empirically collapse the 2. However they’re distinct albeit related. After we discuss of a State, we consult with the institutional and bureaucratic equipment for managing public affairs. The vary of businesses, our bodies, organisations and departments vested with coercive energy and non-coercive authority represent the entity we name a State.

In contrast, a nation is a sociocultural composition, a group of individuals with a shared ethos, values, historical past and heritage. In trendy occasions, it’s normal apply to have a centralised entity, the State, with energy and authority to handle the affairs of a group united by a standard id as a folks, inhabiting a territorially delimited bodily house. Each nations and States are human creations.

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They’re merchandise of forces and processes involving people and teams of individuals. Nations and states usually are not pristine or pure artefacts, fairly they emerge from historic struggles and concrete contestations over sources, safety, commerce, concepts, and many others. Nations and States are engineered and imagined; they’re produced and reproduced by lengthy and sophisticated processes.

Let me put aside this considerably abstruse conceptual excurse and return to the crux of Basic Sejusa’s comment on Twitter, made within the context of Uganda’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and particularly the conduct of safety personnel. When the NRM by its navy muscle captured energy in 1986, the first and most crucial activity was to rebuild the State and attain a purposeful system of managing public affairs. The counterpart activity was to unify and heal a folks traumatised by struggle and years of insecurity.

Traditionally, the nucleus of State constructing has all the time been navy organisation and the centralisation of using pressure. That is the tried and examined route that the NRM/A pursued. This course of requires painstaking cultivation of methods and mechanisms for amassing public income used to ascertain the infrastructure for social growth by training, healthcare, roads and different vital public items and providers.

Carrying out these duties requires a public system primarily based on advantage, probity and competence. Success on the State-building entrance helps in setting up a nationwide id primarily based on a shared nationwide imagery, cultivating a way of frequent belonging by shared collective items and providers equivalent to colleges and hospitals. The coercive and tender energy of the State performs an important position in weaving collectively in any other case disparate social teams that will not naturally have a lot in frequent.

In sum, that is the twin-task, of nation and State constructing, that Gen Sejusa and the federal government he helped deliver to energy have been up in opposition to in 1986. What’s the report card in the present day? In some respects, barring the despicable conduct of parts in safety businesses, Uganda’s coercive state capability is modestly good. The capability to evaluate and acquire public income is at greatest common. Provision of vital public items and providers is poor.

Our nationwide id is appalling. We’re a socially fragile nation. There are latent ethnic and spiritual tensions that might explode anytime. The rule of Mr Museveni is deeply nepotistic and thrives on rampant corruption. Advantage and competence usually are not the first concerns for appointment to necessary public places of work.
To his credit score, Gen Sejusa has been among the many few with the braveness to talk out in opposition to a few of these ills though many will fault him for flip-flopping.

Mr Khisa is assistant professor at North Carolina State College (USA).
moses.khisa@gmail.com

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