Idi Amin Dadas regime from 1971 to 1979 was mainly militaristic devoid of any manipulation but rather iron-handed. And any type of rebellion was crushed with military might without any indication that it was cunning or manipulative.
The second Obote regime from 1980-1985 was characterized by civil wars facilitated by mercenaries from various countries. And even if one may argue that there were elections manipulated to serve the regime then, use of mercenaries to fight an internal war indicated that there was no reliance on Machiavellian theories.
From 1986, the National Resistance Movement came into power with the ten point programme that later changed into a 15 point program. This has been abandoned altogether to a ‘many point program’ that is undefined and has no locus regarding the original program.
The National Resistance Movement in an attempt to uproot the old ideological dispensation of multiparty formed Resistance Councils (RCs) from grass root level (village) to the national legislative assembly National Resistance Council (NRC). Although this served as a decentralized framework at a glance, it was later used to retain the ‘statesman’ in charge of the state as it extended the regime in power.
The National Resistance Movement placed and still has a lot of reliance on the military, involving some senior officers in both administrative and political offices. We have ten military officers represented in the parliament and serving in ministerial positions among other administrative and political offices. Others are in key elective positions, and they control both military and civil forces (like the Inspector General of Police being a General and a Bush War commander). The status quo has stayed to date and all indication is that the military is used and will be used during Elections.
On use of mercenaries, it seems clear that the regime never relies on them just like Marchavelli suggested. Instead Uganda exports mercenaries like to Rwanda, Congo, Sudan, and currently Somalia- this is to create an impression of African statesman’ although it is mainly for public relations.
On the issue of Propaganda, the National Resistance Movement relied heavily on mass mobilization termed as ‘chaka mchaka’; on face value it was as if to demystify the ‘gun’ and attract patriotism and nationalism but later it turned out to be a tool of indoctrination as well as demonizing the past regimes. The NRM used it tool to uproot multi-party politics and by the time the country went back to multi party democracy- individual merit and movement political organization had cunningly and manipulatively taken root.
Similarly, the National Resistance Movement government has been supportive of religion only in so far as religion has supported it. This explains the advice given to the church by the president to keep their concentration on religious issues like baptism and leave the issue of politics to the politicians like him. He manipulatively offers favors when it is necessary to use religion to remain in power.
No other government in Uganda has succeeded at the use of pretence propaganda than the National Resistance movement government. Slogans like “ Plan for Modernization of Agriculture”, Prosperity For All, Poverty Eradication Action plan, Zero tolerance to corruption and many others are used as catch words to manipulate the electorate. However all these shift according to the needs of the electorate at various times to the whims of the statesman-leader.
The National Resistance Movement has been successful at the use of force to suppress internal dissent, political opposition and even attack other institutions like the judiciary if their existence is threatened. Parliament is summoned at will. Police and military forces are called to crush and suppress opposition leaders and during elections many are arrested to deny them the right to a proper democratic process.
The change of Article 105(2) of the constitution to facilitate the ‘Prince’ to have unlimited term in office shows that extent to which the National Resistance Movement has gone in making the law suit the needs of only one person affected by that close. The process of changing that clause was not only manipulated but it was also cunningly curved to the extent that it is a talk to this day.
In conclusion the NRM Has not only cunningly and ruthlessly steered the socio political reality in the recent history of Uganda, but it seems that the statesmanship in reality are not just ‘students’ of Machiavelli but rather the leadership fits in the ‘Prince’ the way Machiavelli saw it.