Celebrating the Life and Achievements of Reverend/Canon Samwiri Kashambuzi

Thank you for being with us today – January 7, 2015.

We are here not to mourn the passing but to celebrate the life and achievements of Reverend/Canon Samwiri Kashambuzi.

He was not only my father but also my friend.

He was a highly principled and disciplined person, a family man, very intelligent with a sharp memory.

He cared for all people particularly those in need and vulnerable members of society.

Although he was a Protestant he respected other faiths.

He believed in freedom, equality and justice for all the people. He saw education as the means of attaining them. That is why he gave top priority to education.

Wherever he served, he built schools or expanded what was already there.

This is his legacy.

May his soul rest in eternal peace

Eric Kashambuzi

Intra versus inter-ethnic conflicts in Uganda politics

For quite some time, I have studied conflicts as a major deterrent in political, economic and social development focusing on Rwanda and Uganda.

Contrary to popular belief, my research has led me to conclude that the principle problem is basically within (intra) than between (inter) ethnic groups. This conclusion has led some people to consider me a highly controversial student of political economy, more divisive than uniting people and therefore unfit for public responsibility (recently FADDU that had contacted me to collaborate with them and I concurred changed its mind and dropped the idea).

We therefore need to understand this intra-ethnic dimension in Uganda politics to be able to make appropriate recommendations to break the current impasse. In the second part I will show that I am basically a uniter but you can’t unite people without articulating what has divided them. That is our challenge.

In Rwanda there has been a tendency to describe conflicts there as arising from inter-ethnic rivalry between Hutu and Tutsi. Closer and unbiased examination gives different results since independence in 1962.

The social revolution of 1959 excluded Tutsi from Rwanda politics until 1994. The Hutu from the north and south of the country formed the government between 1962 and 1994. Until 1973 the president, Gregorie Kayibanda, came from the southern region and favored Hutu from that region. The Hutu in the northern region complained that they were politically marginalized. In 1973 Juvenal Habyarimana from the northern region staged a successful military coup and became president. He in turn favored Hutu from his region.

A closer study of events since 1994 indicates that inter-ethnic conflict between Hutu and Tutsi might be less significant than intra-Tutsi conflict. We need more studies before a definitive conclusion can be drawn.

Writing a true story about Uganda politics since independence requires courage, risk and sacrifice because of its sensitivity. Uganda political conflicts since 1962 have been falsely reported as inter-ethnic between Bantu people in the southern region and Nilotic people in the northern region. They have also falsely been presented as inter-faith. Civic education is about truth telling. Thus, the true story about political conflict is intra-ethnic among members of one ethnic group whose people live in northern and southern parts of Uganda.

Until 1971 the politics of Uganda was dominated by UPC. After the election of Grace Ibingira as secretary-general of UPC at the 1964 Gulu delegates conference defeating Kakonge by two votes the struggle for power was between Ibingira a Nilotic (Tutsi/Hima) from Ankole and Obote a Nilotic from Lango. Until Ibingira was arrested and detained in 1966 UPC was divided into two camps. For example, the popular view was that in Buganda Lumu was pro-Ibingira while Binaisa was pro-Obote. In Ankole Kahigiriza was pro-Ibingira while Bananuka was pro-Obote. In Kigezi Bikangaga was pro-Ibingira while Lwamafwa was pro-Obote.

Following the detention of Ibingira in 1966 the struggle for political power was between Onama and Amin on the one side and Obote on the other side. The three men – non-Bantu – came from the northern region although not from the same ethnic group.

During the struggle to oust Amin from power the struggle was between Museveni a Nilotic (Tutsi/Muhororo) from Ankole and Obote a Nilotic from Lango. The guerrilla war mainly in the Luwero Triangle was led by Obote and his largely Nilotic commanders from the north against Museveni and his largely Nilotic (Tutsi) commanders from the south. The overthrow of Obote in 1985 was staged by the Okellos. The coup in 1986 against the Okellos was staged by Museveni a Nilotic.

The devastating war in the northern and Eastern regions was largely between Joseph Kony a Nilotic from the north and Museveni a Nilotic from the south.

If you look at the current leaders of the major political parties they are all Nilotic: Museveni (NRM), Muntu (FDC), Mao (DP) and Otunnu (UPC). This is a fact.

You can see that since independence we have not had inter-ethnic problems between Bantu and Nilotic peoples or inter-faith conflicts between Protestants and Catholics. It is purely an intra-ethnic problem.

At the risk of offending some people, I have deliberately presented this analysis as a guide as we prepare for 2016 elections. We must be pragmatic and include the missing elements in the political equation.

As a corrective measure, I have strenuously advocated since 2011 that the post-NRM government must be an all inclusive transitional one led by a presidential team to give a sense of shared responsibility at the highest political level in the land. There is complaint which is getting louder that presidents have come from two regions. During the transitional period every region must be represented at the presidential level. Then during the national convention debate Ugandans should decide how they want to be governed at the central, regional and local levels.

People who have criticized me as sectarian or worse when I express these views are those who want to maintain the status quo because it has disproportionately benefited them. Maintaining the status quo is simply unsustainable.

Let me say a few words about my role as a uniter and not a divider of people and those in doubt can check the record.

To be appointed a prefect reflected quality as a uniter of students. I was appointed a prefect at Butobere School (O Level) and at Ntare School (A Level). At Butobere I was also appointed a Scouts Troop Leader to unite the students in this extra curriculum activity.

While at Butobere School, I was elected president of Rujumbura students association at a time when the association was experiencing serious ethnic rivalries shortly after independence.

At the University of California, Berkeley campus, I was elected president of the African Students Association when members were divided over the Vietnam War.

At UNDP in Lusaka, Zambia I was elected chairperson of UN Staff Association when there were problems between internationally recruited and locally recruited staff.

In Lusaka I was a cofounder of Uganda Unity Group (UUG) of members from all regions of Uganda and we were admitted at the Moshi conference of 1979.

At UNDP in New York, I was a cofounder of Amicale to smoothen relations of African staff members from different regions.

Clearly this is not the profile of a divider of people. In carrying out my uniting responsibilities I have always – without favor or fear – pointed out the real cause of the problem. And this is exactly what I am trying to do as we struggle to unseat a failed NRM government through non-violent resistance in the first instance.

To sum up, we need a balance in the politics of Uganda and leadership that understands the root cause of the problem and how to fix it and then unite the people of Uganda on a sustained basis. Sweeping problems under the carpet for short-term gains isn’t a solution in the long-term. The intra-ethnic politics we have had since independence is unacceptable and has to be addressed without further delay in the interest of all the people of Uganda, not just a few.

Many proposals about post-NRM government

With pressure mounting against Museveni regime, groups are coming up with scenarios about a successor government. Here are some of them for consideration.

1. Regarding leadership: there are those who argue that any leader is better than Museveni. But this group seems to have forgotten or conveniently neglected that we have gone through this without improving the political, economic and social conditions. When a group of Ugandans didn’t like Obote, they said anybody was better than him. We got Amin. A larger group said anybody was better than Amin. In quick succession we got Lule, then Binaisa and ultimately Obote. A group of Ugandans swore to unseat Obote and argued that anybody was better than Obote. We got Okello and within six months a section of Uganda didn’t like him and we got Museveni. Now many are saying anybody is better than Museveni. Given this history what makes this group insist anybody is better than Museveni? To look for a better alternative we need to establish a profile of the next leader (I prefer a presidential team rather than one leader who concentrates power and becomes a dictator) first and then embark on a search.

2. There are those led by Niringiye and implicitly supported by Sejusa and others in the wings arguing that there is no NRM as such. It is Museveni and once Museveni is gone, Ugandans can pick anybody to lead. However, if NRM does not exist, then why is Amama Mbabazi arguing that he is still the Secretary General of NRM? NRM has just concluded its convention in preparation for 2016 elections. How do we describe those who participated in the convention beyond Museveni and his family? This school of thought is probably made up of a group of people in the NRM scattered at home and abroad bent on continuing to govern Uganda and are quietly without trace of record working together to continue with the 50 year master plan.

3. There are Ugandans especially with a military record insisting that military force is the only viable alternative to unseat the NRM government because Uganda is not ready for People Power as we witnessed in the Philippines against Marcos regime; in Iran against the Shah regime; in Tunisia against Ali regime and most recently in Burkina Faso against Compaore. They feel that for Uganda an exception should be made to overthrow the government by military means and form a transitional government led by a current soldier or one with military background. They have ruled out the alternative scenario of soldiers joining hands with civilian population to change the regime by non-violent methods.

4. There are Ugandans who are arguing that we should not waste valuable time discussing a program of action for post-NRM regime. Instead we should focus on changing the regime first and then begin discussion about the next government. The group also insists that it should take on board anybody without bothering to investigate their history and character because for them what is common is regime change. But history has shown unambiguously that when groups with opposed views come together for the sole purpose of removing the regime, once that task is accomplished, the different groups turn against one another to form the next government and a civil war is the result. We have seen that in the French, Mexican, Russian and Ethiopian Revolutions to mention a few. Closer to home we witnessed this in Uganda following the formation of the post-Amin regime in 1979. When Ugandans from home and in the Diaspora met in The Hague in November 2013, it was decided that plans for regime change must be discussed together with plans for governing the country the morning after the regime is removed by non-violent methods. The Hague Process for Peace, Security and Development in Uganda has presented the roadmap to regime change and what to do the morning after. It has been widely circulated.

All of us have ambitions and elements of individualism and selfishness but when we carry them too far ahead of the nation and community we risk destroying the country and her people. Uganda has been like that since independence. Winner-take-all and concentration of power in the hands of one leader since 1966 have proven disastrous. If we don’t change course we shall continue to sink deeper into darkness politically, economically and socially. We should recast short-term goals and the urge to revenge because this path is unsustainable. We must instead embrace tolerance, equitable sharing, reconciliation and liberty with justice.

All Ugandans have a duty to participate in this debate. If you sit on the fence waiting to jump into the winning camp you may end up at the bottom of the pyramid – if you are lucky. Chances are you may end up in exile or worse if you remain passive especially the youth.

Why Uganda is endemically divided and unstable

In my posting of December 31, 2014, I called on Ugandans at home and abroad to exercise tolerance, compromise, sharing and reconciliation. A divided society like Uganda can’t achieve this goal, however much we talk about it. We have to change our mind set and act responsibly.

Since colonial days Uganda has been divided between the rich and the poor; masters and servants; military and civilian populations; growth poles and labor reserves. This dichotomy and the associated inequality has remained basically the same to this day in 2015.

In 1959/60 Baganda who constituted 16 percent of the total population had 46 percent of the total students at Makerere. Bateso, Banyankole and Basoga who constituted 8 percent, 8 percent and 8 percent of the total population respectively had 6 percent, 6 percent and 6 percent students at Makerere University respectively. Kigezi district got senior one in 1957, five years before independence!

In 1961 Baganda constituted 47 percent in higher civil service while Bateso, Banyankole and Basoga constituted 2 percent, 4 percent and 4 percent respectively.

In 1967, 75,000 Baganda were employed in private industry and 34,000 in public sector. The respective figures for Easterners were 34,000 and 25,000; for westerners the respective figures were 32,000 and 22,000. For Northerners the respective numbers were 9,000 and 11,000 (V.A. Olurunsola 1972)..

At the economic level Buganda and to a certain extent Busoga were designated growth poles. Export or cash crops mostly cotton and coffee and later sugar and tea and the associated industries and services were concentrated in this area with all the benefits.

Clearly Buganda was overrepresented in the economy, education and labor market.

The northern and eastern regions dominated the security forces (military, police and prisons). For example in 1961, 15 percent of the police force came from Teso, 16 percent from Acholi and 5 percent were Lugbara(V.A. Olurunsola 1972). Clearly the eastern and northern regions were overrepresented in the security forces.

The western region and West Nile were overrepresented in the supply of cheap and unskilled labor as they were designated labor reserves for Buganda and Busoga. That is why education was slow in coming.

Sadly, the situation has remained the same. Buganda still leads in education, economy and labor market. For example, over 80 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) is generated in Kampala and its vicinity with a total population of less than two million while the rest of the country with 32 million people generates a mere 20 percent of GNI.

Whereas the strength of the security forces has shifted from the northern region to the western region since NRM came to power in 1986, the Nilotic dominance has remained the same because Batutsi (Bahororo and Bahima) are also Nilotic like their cousins in the north – a fact that many people don’t understand.

This situation is unsustainable in the long-term, explaining why Uganda is endemically unstable and insecure. Unless it is corrected, Uganda will remain unstable, insecure, underdeveloped and unequal and engulfed in conflict.

To overcome this impasse we must accept that all Ugandans are born free and equal in rights and dignity. They will not rest until they feel everyone is given space to utilize the God-given potential.

I have resolved to continue with civic education so that Ugandans and our developed partners understand why Uganda with all its endowments is unable to lift millions of its citizens out of poverty which has led to endemic instability and conflict.

Happy New Year

We can make Uganda a better place in 2015

As 2014 draws to a close and 2015 unfolds, let us all Ugandans – the young and the old and those in between, at home and abroad – take a moment to reflect on what happened this year and the likely impact in the new year. The year 2014 produced mixed results, benefitting some and disadvantaging others. It also generated hope. In the interest of time and space, I will focus on developments that hold promise for a better 2015 and beyond.

The Hague conference that took place in November 2013 brought together Ugandans from home and in the Diaspora, from all the four regions, all the major religions, all demographics and many professions. The conference agenda was structured in such a manner that it allowed open and interactive debate about the future of Uganda in 2014 and beyond.

Recalling Uganda’s experience of conflict and wars since 1966, there was a general consensus that wars should be ruled out as a means of regime change. Additionally, empirical evidence was presented that war begets war and makes matters worse and more dictatorial regimes have been removed by non-violent methods than through the barrel of the gun.

Participants at the conference decided that a roadmap and methods of non-violent resistance against the failed NRM regime be drawn up and shared as widely as possible to offer Ugandans a choice that is location specific rather than resorting to demonstrations that have not produced the desired results so far. The task was completed in June, 2014 and the roadmap is now available on the internet including at www.udugandans.org.

It is worth recognizing that throughout his two-year stay in Europe David Sejusa preached that war was the only strategy to remove the failed NRM regime, a strategy that was vigorously opposed by those who favor peaceful means. Sejusa took everyone by surprise when he renounced, shortly upon return to Uganda, the use of violence to unseat the NRM government. Hopefully others who shared his approach to regime change will drop that strategy and join with those calling for non-violent resistance that is gathering momentum.

The second promising development that dominated the debate in 2014 is the call to embrace the political economy of inclusion and renounce the politics and economics of exclusion and the attendant concentration of power and wealth in fewer hands at the expense of the majority that spreads and deepens poverty and vulnerability and breeds inequality and conflict; undermines tolerance, compromise and reconciliation.

The politics of inclusion has also been given more prominence than ever before in the deliberations at the United Nations in New York. The post-2015 development agenda to 2030 has included a goal on peaceful and inclusive societies embracing the rule of law, good governance and human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.

To accomplish this goal, Ugandans at home and abroad are actively engaged in discussions about setting up an all inclusive transitional government led by a presidential team to give a sense of regional balance at the highest political level in the land. There is unhappiness that the presidency has been concentrated in two regions at the expense of the other two.

Besides managing the daily affairs of state under a special charter to avoid the complexities of applying the 1962, 1967 or 1995 constitutions, the transitional government will conduct a comprehensive population census largely for development purposes, organize a national convention so that Ugandans from all walks of life debate and decide how they want to be governed, followed by organizing free and fair multiparty elections.

Thus, in 2015 every effort should be made to spread the debate about the transitional government to all communities in Uganda and abroad so that no one is left behind. The debate should be constructive to help forge a common path on the way forward.

The third development that gathered momentum in 2014 and should be expanded in 2015 is the use of social media. This facility has brought together Ugandans in all corners of the globe in a cost effective manner to debate national and international developments affecting Uganda. Not only are we able to interact regularly but are doing so in real time that has helped to provide solutions and avoid unhappy outcomes in many instances.

In 2015 Ugandans will be engaged in preparations for elections in 2016. All parties involved should recast how campaigns have been conducted in the past and devise means to do better. Campaigns based on force, intimidation and money to buy voters may produce short-term benefits for the winners but deepen resistance among the losers with serious adverse consequences that will spare no one in the future. Ipso facto, such campaigns should be avoided.

Happy New Year to you all

Reflections on Sejusa and Niringiye mysterious missions

The mission of United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) which was established in July 2011 at the Los Angeles conference and its action program approved at the Boston conference in October 2011 is inclusiveness in Uganda efforts to unseat the failed NRM government by non-violent methods. We chose a non-violent strategy for three main reasons:

1. Change of regimes by violent means in Uganda has failed to produce the desired results in terms of peace, stability and human security (freedom from fear, freedom from want and freedom to live in dignity);

2. Violence begets violence as has been demonstrated in Uganda and makes matters worse. This conclusion is in line with John Horgan (2014) observation that “… violence even in a just cause often causes more problems than it solves, leading to greater injustice and suffering. Hence the best way to oppose an unjust regime … is through nonviolent action. Nonviolent movements are also more likely than violent ones to garner internal and international support and to lead to democratic and non-militarized regimes”;

3. There is sufficient empirical evidence that “… nonviolent struggles are steadily increasing in numbers whereas violent movements are decreasing [because Africa and the entire international community have discouraged them as a means of changing unjust regimes witness the cases of Mali, Central African Republic and Burkina Faso where the military was prevented from forming a government], and in recent decades nonviolent movements have outnumbered violent ones. Moreover, nonviolence is about twice as likely to be successful as violence” (John Horgan 2014).

Accordingly, against this backdrop UDU called upon Ugandans including especially those in the security forces and closer to NRM strategic institutions like the presidency to join hands with the civilian population as was done for example in The Philippines in 1986 to remove by nonviolent means the dictatorial regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

Thus, when David Sejusa and Zac Niringiye announced they had joined Uganda political dissenters against the regime they were warmly welcome. The articles written by Sejusa against the regime and the interviews on BBC and VOA and the demonstration undertaken by Niringiye and subsequent brief detention gave prima facie evidence that they were serious about regime change.

However, what raised suspicions is that Sejusa did not say anything new neither did he give names of who had directly or indirectly contributed to the suffering of Ugandans. An invitation to have him on Radio Munansi was not accepted. Efforts to talk with him on the telephone were equally unsuccessful. As a last resort I wrote an article raising issues that remained unanswered. The article was published in the New York-based Black Star News.

Upon receipt of the article The London Evening Post contacted Sejusa for his reaction before it was published. His unsatisfactory response was published and is available for easy reference. Subsequently we were advised to contact Amii Omara-Otunnu then chair of Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) on matters related to the organization. Otunnu shared Sejusa views about the use of violence to unseat the NRM regime under the leadership of Sejusa whom he presented as a game changer. The FUF strategy of regime change by violent means posed a problem for UDU that is non-violent in the first instance. However, in a subsequent conversation, Amii and I agreed to work together on areas that did not involve violence such as issuing a joint communiqué about the anti-gay legislation. We didn’t issue the communiqué apparently because Amii did not get clearance.

There was also a disturbing story that heightened suspicion. Apparently, Sejusa had asked some members of his group to contact Joseph Kony and his terrorist group to mount a joint invasion of Uganda and unseat the NRM government. Whispering spread that Sejusa was possibly on duty to dismantle the opposition in the Diaspora that was getting stronger and worrying the NRM regime.

Because of these developments we tried to ascertain that Sejusa was truly in exile and had severed relations with Museveni government. Sejusa declined to provide information that he had applied for and was granted asylum status and who was supporting him in the Diaspora. He also refused to answer questions relating to the allegation that he had received on his Swiss bank account $1 million from Museveni.

Relations between him and other Ugandans in the Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) deteriorated apparently on strategy issues and six months after FUF inauguration in London the organization disintegrated as announced by Sejusa himself. Subsequently, Sejusa was deserted en masse, remaining with two friends.

Sejusa’s abrupt return home has given rise to many interpretations. Some are reasoning that his mission failed; others it was completed successfully and yet others he was broke and winter was too much for him forcing his return to Uganda.

However, his arrival at Entebbe airport in the middle of the night might signal that the authorities didn’t want him to talk. Or his return could signal a political calculation by NRM that it is tolerant of political dissent and is therefore democratic and respectful of individual freedoms and rights, all intended for the consumption of the international community as 2016 elections approach and Museveni may be under some pressure not to seek re-election in 2016.

A few days upon arrival in Uganda Sejusa renounced violence against the regime. This could mean that if he had entered into a deal with some Ugandans in the Diaspora to unseat Museveni government by force he was sending a signal that he had netted them and they should abandon the project or face the consequences.

The case of Zac Niringiye is equally intriguing. There are rumors subject to confirmation that Zac is still doing business with the NRM regime. That he still travels on a diplomatic pass port may confirm the connection. Another observation that raises suspicion is that while on mission abroad Zac resists to be interviewed or photographed. And his exact mission has been difficult to understand except that he is against Musevenism which he has declined to elaborate.

At The Hague conference of November 2013 participants from Uganda and in the Diaspora agreed to block the 2016 elections through nonviolent actions. To that effect it was agreed that a road map be prepared together with methods to conduct non-violent resistance. However, upon return to Uganda instead of embarking on blocking elections Zac began to mobilize for electoral reforms in preparation for the 2016 elections contrary to The Hague decision.

To cap it all, the emerging consensus is that Sejusa and Niringiye are helping the NRM to address the mounting challenges against the regime at home and abroad. The mobilization for electoral reform is seen as an attempt to divert the attention of the opposition from preparing for the 2016 elections. Sejusa and Niringiye missions abroad are seen as efforts to dismantle the opposition that is exerting influence thanks in part to social media and diplomatic networking.

Sejusa and Niringiye disappointed many and devalued themselves

Whether he succeeded or failed in his two-year secret mission in the Diaspora, Sejusa will never be the same in the minds of many people. He gave hope especially to those like Ugandans to the Rescue (UTR) under the command of Duncan Kafero that want to change NRM regime by violent means. He made it clear that military violence was the only language Museveni understands. Some members of UTR welcomed him as their man although they cautioned him about his statement that he would be the next president of Uganda, a position reserved for Kafero. It is possible subject to confirmation that UTR and Sejusa may have entered into a compact to fight together.

There are others who vouched to support Sejusa and even die for him because they saw him as the only game changer through violence and the undisputed Uganda’s next head of state and government. They were sure of getting good jobs in his government. Some had already been appointed ministers as we heard. Sejusa’s abrupt return to Uganda, renunciation of the use of violence and warm welcome by Museveni government conveyed very disturbing messages to those who had rallied behind him especially those who apparently had been instructed to contact Joseph Kony for a possible agreement to work together to unseat NRM regime through violence. There is much fear and bitterness.

Zac Niringiye who initially appeared to be anti-NRM regime – especially after what is now considered a fake demonstration and brief detention to hoodwink the people of Uganda and friends and well-wishers abroad – and a non-violent crusader has disappointed many people at home and abroad. Zac has remained silent on this point of fake demonstration and imprisonment.

For some of us the first disappointment came at The Hague Conference of Ugandans at home and in the Diaspora that took place in November 2013. He declined to make a statement as planned. He exhibited disinterest in the three day proceedings by for instance conducting side discussions. Instead of summarizing the debate as we were later told Zac chose to talk about Musevenism as the root cause of the problem in Uganda. He recommended that Musevenism must be rejected and ejected. He then disappeared before a discussion took place on this new concept. Subsequent requests for a detailed definition of the concept were not entertained.

At The Hague conference there was a unanimous decision that we should work hard through non-violent resistance to prevent the 2016 elections taking place. He was together with two other members directed to champion this cause using a roadmap and methods that were completed in June and circulated to The Hague members in early July, 2014. Zac immediately turned his back on this decision and instead began a mobilization exercise on electoral reforms necessary for the 2016 elections.

He visited Europe and USA twice soon after The Hague conference but his mission was never disclosed at least to some of us. He avoided being interviewed and photographed and would not disclose the balance of his schedule. We later learned from a separate source that Zac was an activist and not a member of the opposition. Is he an activist within the NRM? Suspicions skyrocketed and we tried to find out. His travelling on a diplomatic passport sent signals that we were probably dealing with a wrong man. When Sejusa was invited to the conference on electoral reforms and none from USA that had received him twice, some Ugandans began to draw some conclusions that he should be avoided.

To repeat what has remained unclear is his mission. As a former assistant bishop, does he want to play a political role of becoming head of state of Uganda as Archbishop Makarios, a Greek Orthodox clergyman did by becoming the first president of Cyprus in 1959 or Bishop Abel Muzorewa who became president of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia to block the guerrilla fighters from overthrowing the independence that was unilaterally declared by Ian Smith in 1965? Does he want to play the role of Cardinal Jaime Sin of the Philippines who mobilized Filipinos and ousted Ferdinand Marcos from power in 1986 and sought no office in the new government or of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa who fought apartheid and sought no office in the next government?

What is clear is that Zac and Sejusa share the same sentiment that it is Musevenism or Museveni and his family alone that has crippled the nation and must be removed. But if they are serious how come Museveni – a man who is known for not compromising or losing a fight unless under extreme pressure as in the case of the anti-gay bill – has tolerated these two men? That is a question that remains to be answered. You are all invited to play your part.

Happy New Year to you all

Proposals for Uganda’s post-NRM transitional government

The politics of exclusion and winner-take-all (zero sum-game) has not worked well in Uganda since independence in 1962 and in many other developing countries. Political exclusion has constrained access to economic resources and social services by those in the opposition leading to inequalities and consequent conflicts.

This matter of political exclusion has been taken up at the United Nations negotiations for the post-2015 development agenda. Goal 16 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It will form an integral part of the development agenda from 2016 to 2030.

In Uganda there is general consensus that the politics of exclusion should be replaced by an appropriate arrangement in the post-NRM period. The current model also has concentrated power in the presidency and at the center at the expense of regions which has come under severe scrutiny because it has undermined the principles of separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government and the associated checks and balances and federalism respectively. During consultations for the 1995 constitution, the majority of Ugandans called for a federal system of government but was excluded from the constitution.

The idea of an all inclusive transitional government as a replacement of the politics of exclusion was discussed by Ugandans at the July 2011 Los Angeles conference that created United Democratic Ugandans (UDU). Mubiru Musoke was elected chairperson to cover principally constitutional matters. Eric Kashambuzi was elected Secretary-General with mandate that included diplomatic networking and civic education and matters related to transitional government and proportional representation. The transitional government that has the following proposed characteristics and functions has enjoyed considerable support among Ugandans at home and abroad.

1. The transitional government should be inclusive of all stakeholders including NRM so that no one is left behind;

2. It should be led by a presidential team so that each region is represented. Currently some regions are complaining that they have been excluded from the highest office in the land. Members of the team should be selected on the basis of agreed upon criteria which must include impeccable character, sufficient knowledge and experience to understand the intricacies of domestic and international politics and economics. They must not participate in the next elections as they would have the advantage of incumbency over other candidates. (Following the death of Stalin of the Soviet Union, a three-person team was appointed to run the affairs of state at that difficult moment and subsequently replaced by Khruschev, a non-member of the team). The chair of the team should rotate among the members;

3. During the transitional period whose duration should be based on the tasks to be undertaken should not make major changes in the civil service (civil service which is apolitical serves every government in power).

4. Besides the day-to-day management of state affairs, the transitional government should strengthen the capacity of institutions. To avoid sectarianism which has plagued the civil service, a team of public service commissioners should be appointed with each region represented. Furthermore, security forces should be managed by the chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff instead of one military official;

5. It should conduct a comprehensive population census to know exactly who we are and how many not only for political but more significantly for development purposes;

6. It should organize a national convention of all stakeholders to debate and make recommendations about how Ugandans want to be governed.

7. The transitional government should then organize free and fair multi-party elections.

8. To avoid protracted debate over which constitution – 1962, 1967 or 1995 – to use, the government should be governed by a charter.

We call upon all Ugandans at home and in the Diaspora to comment on these proposals – in line with the principles of transparency, participation, ownership and accountability.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all

Eric Kashambuzi

December 25, 2014

The World and international community are changing very fast

Here are the latest developments:

1. Military governments through military coups or guerrilla wars are over, witness developments in Mali, Central African Republic and Burkina Faso;

2. Winner-take-all or zero sum game is out of fashion. The mood is for inclusive and peaceful societies in political, economic and social engagement;

3. Concentration of power in the hands of one person in a centralized system of government is out of fashion. Devolution of power to lower levels, separation of powers and checks and balances or collective leadership are on the ascendancy;

4. Freedom and equality in rights and dignity, good governance (transparency, participation and accountability), rule of law and respect for human rights are receiving more attention than ever before.

Implications for Uganda

Since independence Uganda has experienced ‘strong man’ leadership and bad governance, leading to instability, insecurity, inequality, poverty and its offshoots of hunger, disease, illiteracy and environmental degradation. Uganda is characterized as a failed state subject to internal and external shocks. This sad situation needs to be stopped and reversed through the following steps.

1. The people of Uganda regardless of profession must combine efforts and embark on non-violent resistance to unseat the NRM regime. The Hague Process for Peace, Security and Development may serve as a basis;*

2. Set up an all inclusive transitional government led by a presidential team under the “Transitional Charter” to avoid complications from the 1995 constitution, witness the conflicts between the “Moshi Spirit” and the 1967 Constitution following the overthrow of the Amin regime.

*Uganda Peace Conference London, 28-29, 2014

Background

The first ever conference of Ugandans at home and in the Diaspora met, in their individual capacity, at The Hague, The Netherlands on November 28-30, 2013. There was a balanced representation regionally (all four regions were represented); demographically (youth, gender, middle and senior Ugandans), faiths (Protestants, Catholics and Muslims) and professionally (military, journalism, legal, diplomacy, political and business administration, entrepreneurs, economists and accountants etc).

Justification for the conference

By all accounts, Uganda is a failed state under a repressive regime led by one person who controls security forces, public and private sectors, the economy and politics, domestic and external affairs. Civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights have been grossly violated. There is no rule of law and separation of powers or checks and balances among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. Good governance in terms of government transparency, people participation in decisions that affect their lives and government accountability are virtually non-existent. One man is head of state and government; commander-in-chief of the armed forces and chairman of the ruling NRM party. Consequently he controls all levers of power in Uganda. Sectarianism, cronyism, corruption, skewed income distribution that favor the rich and invasion of and interference in internal affairs of neighbors define Uganda character today.

Overall when value expectations in terms of goods, services and conditions of life to which people believe they are entitled have fallen far below expectations and/or when men and women realize that their worth and capabilities can no longer be exploited, or can their aspirations be denied as in Uganda, they rebel (Robert Gurr (1971 and Robert Taber (1972).

Uganda has thus become extremely vulnerable to internal and external shocks. The internal shocks include high levels of poverty and vulnerability, unemployment especially of youth including university graduates, food and nutrition insecurity in a country that is food self-sufficient and generates surplus and poor health. Uganda’s external shocks include reliance on a few exports in raw form whose volume and prices fluctuate randomly and dependence on unpredictable foreign aid, making planning very difficult. The environment has also been severely damaged largely by human activity including de-vegetation to grow food and export crops, livestock, harvest timber and overfishing. De-vegetation has accelerated biodiversity loss, soil erosion and fertility loss, adverse hydrological and thermal changes that have been accompanied by severe, frequent and long droughts and floods. According to recent reports, 80 percent of Uganda will turn into a desert within a hundred years if corrective measures are not taken without delay.

Decisions of The Hague conference

After three days of intensive presentations and debate, it was concluded that a regime change by non-violent means in the first instance was necessary. The conference opted for non-violent struggle over armed resistance for the following reasons:

1. Empirical evidence shows that most of the authoritarian regimes have been removed by non-violent means. 323 case studies on violent and non-violent resistance were studied from 1900 to 2006. “In addition to their growing frequency, the success rates of nonviolent campaigns have increased. … although they persist, the success rates of violent insurgencies have declined”(Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan 2011). Furthermore, “A study conducted of some five dozen transitions to democratic rule concluded that in over 70 percent of cases, authoritarian regimes fell not because of armed resistance but because of boycotts, strikes, fasts and other methods of protest pioneered by the Indian thinker [Mahatma Gandhi]”(Ramachandra Guha 2013). Some two hundred specific methods of nonviolence have been identified. They are classified under three categories (1) protest and persuasion; (2) non-cooperation; and (3) intervention. Non-violent struggle is conducted by psychological, social, economic and political means (Gene Sharp 2012). Non-violence campaigns generally fail when only one or two methods are employed. It also fails when mobilization is limited to a small group or a small area. Thus, people power has a chance of success when accompanied by new policies and methods of operation.

2. Violent struggle is in decline. In The Philippines, East Timor (Timor Leste) and Iran, for instance, armed struggle did not work and was abandoned in favor of non-violent resistance. Armed resistance has been abandoned as the principle method in Palestine and Basque Separatists (ETA) in Spain. In Palestine, liberation groups “… have all de facto adopted non-violence as their principle method of choice in recent months – albeit to different degrees in terms of formal endorsement and irrevocability”(Michael Broning 2011). Non-violent resistance successes in Tunisia and Egypt have reduced further the necessity of armed struggle, unless perhaps in cases of self-defense.

3. In Uganda attempted or regime changes by armed resistance since 1966 have brought more suffering than peace, security and prosperity. Non-violent resistance methods should therefore be adopted. Besides, there doesn’t appear to be support for another armed resistance after the catastrophes in the Luwelo Triangle, Northern and Eastern Uganda.

Post-NRM peace and security must be guaranteed

Conference participants examined various cases of civil wars that have occurred following regime change. It was noted that when various groups with different and often opposed perspectives come together to get rid of a common enemy, once that enemy is gone there is nothing that binds the groups together and they drift into bloody civil wars as they compete to occupy the vacant political space. Examples of this abound including after the French Revolution (1789); the Mexican Revolution (1910), the Russian Revolution (1917); the Ethiopian Revolution (1974) and change of Amin regime in Uganda (1979).

Against this backdrop, it was resolved that steps must be taken in advance to agree on shared values and a common purpose before the NRM regime falls. It was also agreed that we should institute a transitional government; a presidential team with each region represented (collective leadership was introduced following the death of Stalin in Russia, the death of Tito in former Yugoslavia and in Uganda during the military commission). The public service commission that appoints, promotes and transfers public servants should also be run by a team with each region represented to avoid sectarianism. Security forces must also be run by a team instead of one army commander and generals from one ethnic group or one region.

The transitional team should strengthen institutions and reconstruct capacities, conduct a population census, organize a national conference on how Ugandans should be governed and ultimately organize free and fair multi-party elections underpinned by a truly independent electoral commission.

Roadmap or action plan for regime change by non-violent strategies

1. As mentioned already, the conference should define our shared values and a common purpose (including support for tolerance of faith, diversity, gender, national unity, choice of methods of governance, rule of law etc) as a basis for our work;

2. The conference should agree on guiding principles (participation in individual capacity; professionalism; ready to sacrifice such as time; impeccable character content, consultation process – one person chairperson, vice chairperson etc be discontinued because as one of us observed recently we are all leaders etc);

3. The roadmap should employ a wide range of methods appropriate to various parts of Uganda and should avoid one or two methods of resistance because such an approach often fails especially when mobilization is limited to a section of the population or of the country. Therefore we must launch a multi-faceted (war of the flea tactics that attack all parts of the dog at the same time and reduces its capacity to defend itself) methods that cover the whole country simultaneously making it difficult for NRM to respond successfully.

4. The conference should agree on a formula and profiles to appoint really qualified and motivated champions at least two for each method: one based at home and another in the Diaspora;

5. The conference should examine and possibly adopt with modifications as necessary, the Filipino “People Power” model based on a combination of church (led by the head of the Catholic Church in Manila), civilian population, security forces (defense minister and deputy army commander) and development partners (the USA government helped).

6. In the civilian area we should tap into the youth especially the unemployed university graduates (it worked well in Tunisia and Egypt through social networks), women organizations (successful revolutions especially in France and Russia were led by women); labor unions and civil society organizations and faith-based leaders etc.

7. The conference should have a simple but clear message (regime change to benefit everyone, Ugandans to decide how they want to be governed, population census to obtain demographic data to help develop appropriate development plan for education, healthcare services, poverty eradication, energy distribution and infrastructure such as roads and industries and allocation on central government resources to regions;

8. Dissemination of the information through radio, internet, newspapers. We shall need resources for all these activities. Setting up a short wave radio station should be explored.

9. For each method of resistance we shall need at least a representative each at home and in the diaspora. The choices must be based on expertise and proven experience. It doesn’t make sense for say a chemist to want to mobilize resources. We must be transparent and accountable. We shall need an overall body that can collectively take decisions as appropriate;

10. The conference should agree on the periodicity in reporting and by what means.

Consultations leading to the London Peace Conference

Extensive consultations were conducted in writing and speaking among The Hague participants and other Ugandans through face book, tweeter, Ugandans at Heart Forum, UDU website and The London Evening Post as well as through Radio Munansi. The pros and cons of non-violent and armed struggle were discussed at length. There is consensus that armed conflicts have destabilized the country. Peaceful means to resolve political differences in an inclusive manner are receiving more support than armed struggle.

Based on overwhelming support for non-violent struggle over armed conflict, the organizers of the London conference asked Eric Kashambuzi to consult further and write a report for the conference which was undertaken through individualized consultations. A group meeting was also organized and read reports from the meetings in Kampala, working closely with Dr. Henry Gombya, coordinator of the conference.

The conversation with Paul Mutawi resulted in preparing a note underscoring the importance of non-violent mobilization in regime change and prevention of subsequent political instability and possible civil war. The note was discussed widely and adopted as a basis for preparing the paper for the London conference.

An extensive conversation took place with Moses Byamugisha who was the focal point for the Kampala group. The discussions included a brief on youth mobilization activities. Kyeswa Ssebweze introduced through discussions in Kampala a very useful concept that we are all leaders, meaning that everyone must have a mobilization role according to ones comparative advantage.

Bishop Zac Niringiye visited Europe and the United States. While in New York he briefed Ugandans on his discussions in Europe, developments at home and stressed the importance of connecting the dots among the various groups so they agree on common messaging and coordination of effort for maximum impact. In short, The Hague process primary role is facilitation of various non-violent groups to act in a coordinated manner.

The report was then prepared and circulated in draft form to members who attended The conference for comments to be incorporated into the final document. Constructive comments were received from Molly Mugisha, Samson Mande and Moses Atocon. The zero was very well received.

Three major suggestions came out namely preparing location specific action plans for specific groups at national, regional and local levels like trade unions and civil society organizations; resource mobilization for specific purposes and civic education as had been agreed upon at the Hague conference.

To facilitate preparation of action plans, the methods of nonviolent action have been appended to this report.

A website will be created to facilitate continued discussion on implementation of action plans and a meeting to be held in a year’s time.

Done in London June 28-29, 2014

** The methods for non-violent resistance will be distributed shortly.

Uganda Citizen’s compact on free and fair elections

I have read the 13 page document adopted at the National Consultation on Free and Fair Elections. The consultation took place in Kampala on 24-26 November 2014. The mobilization work covered Toro, Bukedi, Teso, Kigezi, Busoga, Sebei, Ankole, Bugisu, Buganda, Karamoja, Bunyoro, Acholi and West Nile for the conference. Here are my preliminary comments on the compact:

1. What criteria were used in this selection of areas that were visited? It would be helpful in the interest of transparency to have the names of the people that were involved in the mobilization exercise; who selected them; who funded their work and how long it took to complete the task.

2. The notion of “birth” is included in the compact. What does it relate to – to the parents’ birth; to the place of birth or status of birth? This needs to be explained clearly so that there are no ambiguities.

3. The compact also contains the phrase “other status”. What does it mean?

4. Under the paragraph beginning with “Having considered” mention is made of organizations that participated in the formulation of proposals. At the end of that paragraph it is mentioned “and other concerned Ugandans”. It would be helpful in the interest of transparency to have these organizations and other concerned Ugandans mentioned in full. Were Ugandans in the Diaspora represented? If so who were they, which organizations did they represent and who chose them.

5. Who is going to undertake all that detailed work under the New Electoral Commission?

6. How do we determine an “eligible Ugandan?” One with a new identity card, a birth certificate, a naturalized one, anyone with a Uganda passport, or anyone born in Uganda regardless of the nationality of the parents etc?

7. Under II (ii) there is mention of “with full participation of stakeholders particularly political parties, civil society organizations and ‘the public’”. How shall we distinguish ‘the public’ from political parties and civil society organizations?

8. Under II (viii) there is mention of “Membership in UPDF High Command should not be personal to holder”. This needs to be explained to be understood unambiguously.

9. Paragraph IV talks inter alia about removing campaign finance irregularities. This problem could be resolved largely by agreeing on standardizing campaign finance for candidates at various levels. For instance let all vetted presidential candidates be given the same amount of money from public resources. What causes malpractices is the drive to have more money than the other candidate and buy more voters than the opponent. This matter of standardizing campaign finance at least at the presidential and parliamentary levels should be given serious consideration to minimize corrupting the electoral process.

10. Under VII (iii) there is mention of “demarcation of constituencies”. This should be done in such a manner that each constituency has the same number of voters. This is not the case right now. Some constituencies have fewer voters than others. This could be deliberate so that instead of having two constituencies in an area dominated by the opposition you have one. On the other hand in areas dominated by the ruling party you could have two constituencies whose voters are the same as one constituency dominated by the opposition party. By having same number of voters in every constituency the problem will be resolved.

11. Under XV (i) there is mention of representation of interest groups. We should consider the inclusion of representatives of Ugandans in the Diaspora because while residing outside they play an important role in Uganda’s political economy. They have invested in Uganda and pay taxes including on their properties. They should therefore be represented in parliament and cabinet.

12. The reason given for removing workers from special interest groups because their interests can be represented by all MPs sounds discriminatory. Other special interests can equally be represented by all elected MPs. This section needs to be recast.

13. Paragraph XVIII: Implementation of the compact is very troubling because of what it omits and the constraints against it. Who will present a copy of the compact to parliament and who will follow-up with parliament as it debates electoral reforms? And who will appoint them if they haven’t been appointed or elected already? Who are the members of the Eminent Persons Group of Conveners and the convening Civil Society Organizations? Were they elected at the conference? If not how are they going to be elected? Will Ugandans in the Diaspora be included since they are very active in Uganda politics and have a right to participate as Uganda citizens? There is mention of the Coordinating Team. Who are the members and were they elected at the conference? Are Ugandans in the Diaspora members on that team? In the preparations for the conference Ugandans in the Diaspora were consulted. For Example Bishop Zac Niringiye visited Europe and USA twice after The Hague Conference of November 2013 and we indicated interest in full participation. There might be a need to circulate the draft mechanism of implementation to ensure nothing is left out. This will also be in line with the principles of transparency, participation and accountability. Certainly Ugandans in the Diaspora would like to make a contribution to this very impart exercise. All citizens including those in the Diaspora should participate in the popularization of this compact. There will need to be a coordinating committee between Ugandans at home and abroad to harmonize their message so as to avoid contradictions or duplication and focal points will be an advantage. It appears the compact was mostly designed by and for Ugandans at home.

14. Three major points were omitted. (i) The electoral reform should consider proportional representation because the winner-take-all or zero-sum game such as in forming the cabinet is exclusive. Since the compact talks of inclusivity in all aspects: political, economic and social, a proportional representation must be an integral part of the reform process. (ii) An independent vetting commission to clear presidential and parliamentary candidates based on established criteria by the independent electoral commission should be established. (iii) Standardizing campaign finance needs to be undertaken to create a level playing field at least at the presidential and parliamentary levels. This will likely eliminate buying voters.

There are two virtually insurmountable constraints to the implementation of the compact:

1. The President and NRM in general are not interested in the compact. So how will it be cleared and implemented by Parliament? Was this possibility taken into account? If yes what Plan B is available?

2. Assuming that the next elections will take place in early 2016, there simply won’t be enough time to complete all the processes called for by the compact even if NRM were agreeable.

The inescapable, if sad, conclusion is that this is an effort that won’t produce the desired results under the prevailing political circumstances and time limitations.

Eric Kashambuzi

December 1, 2014

erickashambuzi@yahoo.com. www.kashambuzi.com