OP-ED: Money In Politics In Uganda As Environmental Pollution


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By Oweyegha-Afunaduula

This topic has three interlinked elements: Money, politics and Environmental pollution. The assumption is that money has become a pollutant in our environment, in the field of politics.

To accept that money has polluted politics and that both money and politics are integral to our environment, we must have a broader view of the environment, beyond the physical meaning – or the ecological biological perspective of environment.

Environmental Polution- Courtesy Photo

Most people don’t know the environment beyond the physical. When you talk of environment, they immediately think of animals, plants, forests, swamps, soil, mountains, natural resources, the air.

Indeed all policies, laws and regulations, and even institutionalization of the environment, are conceived within this conceptualization of environment. And when environmental pollution has been considered it has not been considered beyond the physical environment.

Accordingly, Wikipedia has defined pollution as “the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause change”. The change is usually seen as negative. Wikipedia, in its view, sees pollution in solid, liquid and gas form, but also observes that it could also be in form of energy (radioactive, heat, sound, light).

It is also true that pollution of the physical environment by foreign substances and energies such as those released by meteorites, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. So we have air, light, litter, noise, plastic, soil, radioactive, thermal, and water pollution, as only pollution in the physical dimension of the environment.

In this article I want us to have a holistic view of the environment. We should see the environment as “everything” and organized in four interlinked dimensions, themselves multidimensional. The dimensions of the environment are: the physical or ecological-biological dimension, the socio-economic dimension, the socio-cultural dimension and the temporal (or) dimension.

As I said these dimensions are interlinked or interconnected and, therefore, interdependent. All ecological systems (ecosystems) have these dimensions and are interlinked by these dimensions.

The ecological dimension includes all those things mentioned above, but if conceived in terms of the universe, it includes, ourselves, the different clouds planets, the oceans, the seas, the rivers and the lakes, and everything in them.

We cannot talk of pollution of the planets except the planet, which is our home – Planet Earth; we can talk of pollution of the clouds, the lakes, the oceans, the seas, and the rivers as much as we talk of pollution of soil, forests and swamps.

The temporal dimension is composed of time, naturally on a 24 hour scale. This is polluted when we abuse it. Different organisms reproduce themselves and live on different timescales, but techno arrogance is polluting it with timescales only suitable for things produced in the laboratory.

The socio-economic dimension is where we organize our society and ourselves in social and economic terms. Our families and communities, as well as economic Institutions and economies, including illicit economies, are located in this dimension. You can place institutions such as Banks, World Bank, IMF and cooperative unions in this dimension.

The socio-cultural dimension is where our social and cultural institutions are located. But any entity that performs a social it cultural function can be put in this dimension. Even religious institution, schools, and Universities can be put and do belong to this dimension.

Our socio politics and it’s Presidency, Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, belong here. But Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community based Organizations (CBOs) also belong here. So do political parties.

I must point out that all these dimensions are mutually inclusive, not mutually exclusive. Each has an aspect of the other, and they interact dynamically.

Now why I say money in politics is a pollutant of our environment.

Since NRM came to power in 1986, money is not just seen as a medium of exchange. It is now used by the party in power to influence everything and everyone outside accepted norms of behavior and action.

It is money being used to buy political support and to enhance the dominance of the ruling party and the President over every sphere of life without necessarily adding value to quality of life. Accordingly money is being used to conquer citizens and disable them in terns of working for themselves and thinking for themselves.

A dangerous mindset has been sown and continues to be sown that all money begins and ends with the President who can give and withdraw it from individuals and entities according to how he feels individuals are useful to his politics. Indeed at one time he told voters in Busia that they should come to him and his party, where money is.

Money has been used by power and those connected to power to destroy lakes, rivers, and the soil with chemicals dangerous to life. Money has also been used to destroy forests and swamps, to grab land and displace people and communities forcing them to live at the margins of nature. This has moved some people to say that the Apartheid in Uganda is worse than the one that existed in South Africa.

Virtually all dimensions of the environment have been polluted by money. Everything has been reorganized using money, and especially the national budget, to push the absolute majority in debilitating poverty while a few access and enjoy the wealth of the country.

There is Virtually no programme hatched to combat poverty since 1986, from barter trade to Emyooga, has worked or been effective against poverty. They have all collapsed even before they showed any positive impact. In their wake even more poverty has been manufactured.

The reason could be that a the programmes have targeted individuals, or small groups of people, rather than whole communities, and most money intended for development has ended up being embezzled by those who have got it, but most has been embezzled by government officials.

Money as a culture has proved to be a most dangerous contaminant being used by President Tibuhaburwa Museveni to disconnect indigenous cultures from resources, which they have conserved for millennia, and to destroy them and render them unviable in the 21st Century.

Unlike the Caucasians who used the gun to conquer and destroy the cultures of the Maoris of New Zealand, the Aborigines of Australia and Red Indians of the Americas, President Museveni is using money to bury our indigenous cultures.

He has blindfolded us with so-called cultural institutions which have no power to protect anything of our cultures, especially land, which is the foundation of all cultures. Without power over land, our cultures cannot conserve any of our resources. How can they observe what they do not own anymore? Moreover it is not possible to conserve traditional natural resources in a foreign culture; in this case the culture of money.

Money is now a political weapon with which to destroy the indigenous cultures of Uganda. If the process goes on unimpeded, we shall have deculturized people worth for being slaves in our own country. If Environmental pollution is taking place by use of money, cultural pollution is also taking place by money to disconnect cultures from the land.

For God and My Country.

The Writer Is a Ugandan Scientist and Environmentalist

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