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Rubongoya, Joshua B.: Regime Hegemony In Museveni's Uganda: Pax Musevenica.

Rubongoya, Joshua B. Regime Hegemony In Museveni's Uganda: Pax Musevenica. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. 283 pp.

Joshua B Rubongoya's background as a journalist, reporter, editor and news anchor on Uganda TV and radio probably explains the highly readable and extremely fascinating nature of this solidly academic work. He earned his MA and Ph.D from University of Denver and later taught at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia. He specializes in the study of democratization in Africa.

According to the blurb, Pax Musevenica is the first book-length study of politics in Uganda since President Yoweri Museveni took power in 1986. Rubongoya embarked on this work during his sabbatical from Roanoke College in 1998 doing research in Uganda.

The author examines the ways in which a new regime authenticates its right to govern after a violent authoritarian state makes a constitutional power transition impossible. He analyzes the strategies used by Museveni and the National Resistance Movement (NMR) to reconstruct the state and reestablish legitimate authority. His research and analyses reveal serious mistakes (in policy) which undercut political legitimacy and blocked the transition to liberal democracy.

"Uganda provides a laboratory of inordinate magnitude for a discourse on the intricacies concerning power, its use and misuse. It is a country with multiple ethnicities and traditional political systems. The Ugandan State has died, been buried, and resurrected. And the people's search for the ultimate cure for the African political virus is unending. This not only makes for a multifarious political narrative but it also a process with insightful lessons for the continent". Having stated this ambitious goal in the Foreword, Rubongoya proceeds to make good on his promise.

"This study is about Africa's most disturbing political deficit, namely, the failure to restore legitimate authority, in the post-colonial state .... After two-and-a-half decades of political turmoil in Uganda, change was fundamentally rooted in the possibility and urgency of restoring legitimate authority and reconstructing a collapsed state. Shortly after 1986, Uganda embarked on what many felt was the best change for reversing the politics of the past and entering a new political era. This book tells the story of what has happened since".

Rubongoya continues in his Introduction "While the NMR was initially able to legitimate and consolidate its power by exploiting its character and history as an internal, social liberation movement and by expending the political capital flowing from Museveni's charisma and war hero persona, The National Resistance Army/Movement (NRA/M) did not extend legitimacy to the state itself. Uganda's experience under Pax Musevenica (i.e. the 20 years of NMR rule) has not produced revolutionary change, it is instead reminiscent of the hegemonic regimes of the preceding governments. Over time, Museveni has acquired the status of an imperial president and some government structures have taken on a modus vivendi of a police state."

Rubongoya's book is extremely well researched and analytical. He has consulted an impressive range of published and unpublished sources, especially seminar papers and post-graduate theses of Ugandan students of Makerere University.

In an extremely useful and commendable exercise, the author has very sensibly summarized the Museveni era from January 1986 to August 2006, through a Time Lime of Key Historical Events (pp. 201-229). Among many other events, foreign investment was essential for revival of the badly damaged economy.

Under Museveni, new foreign investors and entrepreneurs, and former Ugandan Asian industrialists (Madhvani and Mehta groups of companies) as well as a host of former Ugandan Asian entrepreneurs returned, with or without local governmental assistance or World Bank loans and grants.

Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), which had ties to Uganda since the 1950s, also revived its massive, multi- sector presence and became a major partner in the construction of the US$550 million hydroelectric plant at Bujagali on the River Nile in 2002.

This book has the facts that enable a serious student of the Museveni years to reach his or her conclusions.

This thorough and thoroughly well written book should be essential reading not only for scholars of post-colonial Africa but also for foreign investors, decision-makers among donor countries, NGOs and national and international aid agencies.

Nizar A. Motani

Atlanta, Georgia
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Author:Motani, Nizar A.
Publication:Journal of Third World Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 22, 2011
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