Slavery is an institution or a practice in which people own other people directly or indirectly. Ownership has an element of belonging. You belong to me and therefore I own you because, for example, I protect you or, in some cases, because I employ you. In return, the owned person submits to or accepts to be dominated by the owner and works hard as a slave.
A slave is a helpless victim to or of some dominating influence. A slave is also a contemptible person. Contempt is an act or mental attitude of despising another person and a contemptible person is an individual who deserves to be despised. To despise means to regard some one as inferior or worthless.
When someone from one ethnic group brags that he is worth 1000 people from another ethnic group, he is saying that members of the latter ethnic group are inferior or worthless. The inferior people become helpless victims in the process – hence slaves.
Slavery is an old institution with roots in pre-historic times (before writing was invented). Slavery reached its peak in Greece and the Roman Empire and declined during the middle Ages. The colonization of the New World (North and South America) resulted in a resurgence of slavery and slave trade.
The NRM government came to power in 1986 and inherited an economy that was in shambles. Uganda had an external debt of $1.2 billion, massive inflation that rose to 250 percent in 1987 and a GDP that was declining at 5.5 percent while money in circulation had increased by 90 percent. Uganda needed immediately $160 million for emergency relief and rehabilitation programs and $4 billion for rebuilding the shattered economy. The treasury was empty and the tax base almost non-existent. International support was therefore not only absolutely necessary but also needed very urgently. At the same time the government faced a very delicate security situation that needed top priority attention.
For eighteen months, NRM government avoided dealing with World Bank and IMF because it had criticized them for the harsh conditions they imposed on Uganda during Obote II regime. The government tried to bypass them and deal directly with bilateral donors to no avail. The British government representative who sounded the views of other major donors advised the government to enter into an agreement with the IMF first before donors could assist.
The purpose of this story is to know from those familiar with Uganda’s economic policy whether there are parallels with the situation in Argentina between 1990 and 2003. Like Argentina, NRM government adopted and implemented religiously the Washington Consensus conditionality with strong IMF backing from 1987 to 2009 when the Consensus was abandoned. This would help to have an idea about Uganda government’s plans to deal with the IMF following the launching in September 2009 of a new development plan along Keynesian model of state active intervention in the economy.
Countries like Argentina, Ghana and Uganda that followed the Washington Consensus conditionality religiously with strong external backing performed remarkably well initially. They were graded as ‘star pupils’ or ‘success stories’ to be emulated by others and their leaders were garlanded for their boldness and consistency through thick and thin. In the end they failed. As Uganda and Ghana cases have been covered already in my book titled Uganda’s Development Agenda in the 21st Century (2008) this story will focus on Argentina beginning with the government of Carlos Menem who was elected president at the end of 1989 and ending with the government of Nestor Kirchener who was elected president in 2003 and his initial thoughts on Argentina’s economic policies and external support.
Why this essay and why now?
Some readers of my blog www.kashambuzi.com and my two books titled (1) Uganda’s Development Agenda in the 21st Century and Related Regional Issues, and (2) Rethinking Africa’s Development Model, in which I wrote about ethnic rivalries in the Great Lakes region, have asked me to condense the scattered information into one very brief and user-friendly essay for easy reference and wider readership. Many commentators feel that there has been an overemphasis on events of the 1994 Rwanda genocide in which moderate Hutus and Tutsis were murdered but ignored war crimes against Hutus that took place inside Rwanda and in eastern DRC during and after the genocide and subsequent human rights abuses. There is also a strong feeling that ethnic relations should be studied in a comprehensive, historical, impartial and regional context to be able to draw informed conclusions and make appropriate recommendations. For example, the 1972 genocide in Burundi in which Hutus were murdered by Tutsis which may have encouraged the 1994 genocide in Rwanda was totally ignored by the international community including then Organization of African Unity (OAU).
The National Resistance Movement Organization (NRM) has already declared that it will win 2011 presidential and parliamentary elections not only convincingly but also with a larger majority than in 2006 because it has delivered. While hosting the Commonwealth Conference, election to the United Nations Security Council for two years, discovering oil, ending the war in northern and eastern Uganda and winning approval to hold the 2010 AU Summit in Uganda are noble deliverables, their value should be assessed in the context of meeting conditions for economic and social development for all Ugandans as called for in Chapter IX of the United Nations Charter. Chapter IX states in part that higher standards of living, full employment, conditions of economic and social progress and development are among the principal goals of the United Nations of which Uganda is a member.
On reading NRM’s economic and social criticism of Obote II government one gets the impression that the drafters were fully aware of Chapter IX. It is therefore important to remind ourselves of what the criticism was and the extent to which NRM government has implemented corrective measures to deliver the desired economic and social results since it came to power in 1986. We shall examine the criticism contained in vol. I no. 3 of October/November 1981 and vol. II no. 5 of December 1984 which were published by the NRM secretariat in 1990 in a book titled “Mission to Freedom”.
To retrogress means going backward to earlier and worse conditions. The Great Lakes region of Africa is not only in distress politically, economically, socially, culturally and ecologically but it is also drifting toward European middle Ages conditions of poor housing, poor clothing and poor feeding etc. Unfortunately comprehending this sad situation has been severely constrained by those who equate ‘stability’ with military dictatorship and ‘Big Brother’ tactics and ‘prosperity for all’ with GDP and per capita growth rates and low inflation. Those like me who cherish peace, security, dignity, freedom and development for all may find this article disturbing. To prevent is always better and cheaper than to cure. That is why this article has been written. It seeks to expose what is happening in the region so that citizens and their friends in the international community can take pre-emptive measures.
Three European ideas
To understand what is going on in the region requires an understanding of the meaning and application of three ideas which originated in Europe (1) feudalism and its three principle elements of protection, tribute and prayer; (2) specialization or comparative advantage and exchange, and (3) race.
To retrogress means going backward to earlier and worse conditions. The Great Lakes region of Africa is not only in distress politically, economically, socially, culturally and ecologically but it is also drifting toward European middle Ages conditions of poor housing, poor clothing and poor feeding etc. Unfortunately comprehending this sad situation has been severely constrained by those who equate ‘stability’ with military dictatorship and ‘Big Brother’ tactics and ‘prosperity for all’ with GDP and per capita growth rates and low inflation. Those like me who cherish peace, security, dignity and development for all may find this article disturbing. To prevent is always better and cheaper than to cure. That is why this article has been written. It seeks to expose what is happening with reference to medieval Europe experience so that citizens of the region and their friends in the international community can take pre-emptive measures.
Three European ideas
To understand what is going on in the region requires an understanding of the meaning and application of three ideas which originated in Europe – (1) feudalism and its three principle elements of protection, tribute and prayer; (2) specialization or comparative advantage and (3) race.
Uganda won’t industrialize during our lifetime
Before Uganda became a British protectorate, the communities in the area had attained an economic structure of balanced agriculture, manufacturing and trade in local and regional markets. Industrious people had utilized their comparative advantage to improve their standard of living by eating balanced diets and accumulating capital through sale of surplus products. Travelers in east and central Africa marveled at the level of economic development. If the British had asked Ugandans whether to specialize in agriculture or manufacturing, they probably would have opted for industries because of the range of products and the level of industrial sophistication that had been attained.
Because Britain was looking for tropical raw materials like cotton for her domestic industries, food for her exploding population and markets for her surplus manufactured products, Ugandans were not asked about their preference. Thus, at the start of the 20th century, British authorities decided that Uganda would become a producer of raw materials and food by African and non-African farmers and a market for British manufactured products. However, in 1922 British policy was changed and Uganda’s small holder farmers would become sole producers of agricultural produce except tea and sugar. From 1923 the government actively encouraged and organized peasant production, suffocating indigenous manufacturing enterprises out of existence.
On December 2 and 3, 2009, Rachel Maddow of television Channel 29 (MSNBC, USA) reported the background to the anti-homosexuality bill currently being debated in Uganda parliament and religious, legislative and executive branch individuals behind the bill. The photographs of four individuals from Uganda on the show were particularly disturbing to say the least. Those wishing to learn more can obtain the report at Rachel@msnbc.com. More information can also be obtained from The Family (2008) by Jeff Sharlet.
Public opinion about Uganda – which has been eroding very rapidly because of the invasion and looting of DRC resources, rampant corruption and economic mismanagement, killing unarmed rioters in the nation’s capital and demonstrations in USA against the president during his visit there in September 2009 – has plummeted following the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC.
For some five hundred years, the Great Lakes region has been marked by the triumph of war over peace. Notwithstanding the global surge of democracy around the world since the 1990s, the region remains mired in war. Western imposed regular elections as a condition for approving donations are conducted at gun point in the presence of international observers and foreign missions stationed in the region. Thus, the barrel of the gun has continued to triumph over the forces of democracy. Military dictatorship has become the order of the day. The war that raged in northern and eastern Uganda, the massacre of Bahutu people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the ongoing human tragedy in eastern DRC have been ignored by the international community or given lip service at best.
The international community has equated the absence of riots and destruction of property (because of suppression of human rights) with economic and political peace, security and stability. The riots and loss of life in Uganda’s capital city and the demonstrations against the president during his visit to the United States in September 2009 went largely unnoticed by the international media which was quick to condemn riots and loss of lives and property in Guinea.