Understanding Bahororo might help solve Uganda’s political problem

I am a strong believer in understanding the root cause of a problem before attempting a solution. I am also a strong believer in using peaceful means including diplomacy to solve disputes.

These two beliefs have forced me to take risks and write and speak about Bahororo who are the rulers of Uganda since 1986. Articles on Bahororo – their origin, connection with Batutsi of Rwanda and their rise to power in Uganda are posted on www.kashambuzi.com.

Questions have continued to be raised about Bahororo ancestry, their connection with Nilotic people, Batutsi, Bahima and Banyamulenge.

For easy reference let me summarize what I have written about Bahororo mindful that in trying to simplify a complex story, I may skip some useful information. If unsatisfied with the story below, do not hesitate to contact me if necessary privately at erickashambuzi@yahoo.com

Bahororo are Batutsi from Rwanda who founded a short-lived Mpororo kingdom (hence the name Bahororo that is people of Mpororo kingdom) in present-day northern Rwanda and southwest Uganda mostly in present-day Ntungamo and parts of present-day Kabale district.

The kingdom was established around 1650 in areas already settled by Bantu people. It disintegrated around 1750 or earlier because of internal disputes.

How should we unseat the NRM regime?

On November 25, 2011, I wrote an article on the corrosive impact of corruption on Uganda’s economy and society. I observed that corruption and NRM are inextricably interlinked that you cannot eliminate one without eliminating the other.

I concluded that both must go, using peaceful means in the first instance and resorting to war only as a last resort in self-defense.

A few people have contacted me privately to express opposition to my approach insisting that fire must be fought with fire. This group believes that a militarized NRM must be faced by a militarized response in the first instance.

Because so far I have not been convinced to support war, I wish to elaborate on my arguments in favor of peaceful means in the first instance.

My simple argument is that we should use water (peaceful means) to extinguish fire because there is ample evidence that it works, witness Eastern Europe in 1989 against communist dictators. If that fails then we have every justification to resort to war to end the suffering of Ugandans. And our friends and well wishers will understand that and extend a helping hand as appropriate. Why do I insist on peaceful means?

Corruption has stunted Uganda’s economy and society

A child who does not eat enough in quantity and quality does not grow at a normal rate including acquisition of immunity against diseases and will likely die prematurely or will be disabled in many ways.

A woman who does not eat enough will likely produce an underweight child with permanent physical and mental disabilities including brain underdevelopment which occurs in the first three years of human life from conception and will likely die at a young age or fail to learn.

Similarly an economy and society that does not get enough investments in economic and social infrastructure and institutions does not grow at a high and sustained rate and people suffer from poverty, illiteracy and disease leading to low productivity and premature death.

In Uganda since NRM came to power in 1986, investments in infrastructure and institutions such as roads, energy, agriculture, education, healthcare, housing, research and extension services have been very inadequate. Endemic corruption has been a major factor siphoning off funds and stunting economic and social development. Thus, corruption has been a silent disabler and killer. Corruption has reached an emergency level that it needs to be addressed without further delay.

Leaders’ performance depends on their intentions

In the last two articles I have contrasted General Museveni’s performance with South Korea’s General Park and Vietnam military leadership. South Korea and Vietnam have done well under their military leaders whereas Uganda has done very poorly under the military leadership of General Museveni.

I have concluded that it is leadership – not resource endowments, external factors or “Acts of God” – that makes the difference in development. In this message, I will go a step further to show with reference to General Park and General Museveni that it is leaders’ intentions or what they plan to achieve that define their performance and determine outcomes.

I am making this contribution so that Ugandans and our friends understand why Museveni despite his rhetoric to modernize Uganda, has produced opposite outcomes which he is not attempting to correct because they fit into his intentions.

Uganda is not progressing but regressing. Uganda is a failed state wherever you turn and is drifting towards a fourth world status.

How else do you explain the reemergence of diseases that had long disappeared? How else do you explain rising maternal mortality and insanity due to food insecurity and stress and how else do you explain rapid economic growth reaching 10 percent in the mid-1990s coexisting with two-thirds of Ugandans trapped in absolute poverty, etc?

Leadership change and rapid socioeconomic development in Vietnam

On November 18, 2011 I published an article titled “It is leadership that counts” in the development process. I contrasted performance of two dictators: General Park of South Korea and General Museveni of Uganda.

General Park developed the economy and society pulling them out of poverty to prosperity and laying the foundation for sustained development.

By contrast, General Museveni has sunk his country and society into deeper poverty even when Uganda was relatively better endowed in 1986 when Museveni came to power than South Korea when Park came to power in 1961.

Based on this presentation I have concluded that Uganda will continue to sink into poverty unless Museveni and NRM leadership is removed and the sooner the better.

Those who are currently benefitting from NRM do not seem to realize that these are temporary gains – especially by those paid in intelligence services at home and abroad to hunt down their compatriots – which they will lose if they fail to allow leadership changes that may save them or their children in the days ahead.

It is leadership that counts

In search for solutions to Uganda’s daunting development challenges, I have studied, read and consulted widely in time and space to draw some lessons. I have examined the role of politics and economics, the role of ideologies (capitalism and socialism), the role of democratic and authoritarian leaders and the role of civilian and military leaders etc in the development process.

In economics we were taught that a country’s development would depend on the abundance of the factors of production – abundant labor, abundant fertile land and abundant capital in the form of roads, railways, harbors, machines, telephones and computers etc. Countries that were well endowed would do better than those that were less endowed.

On this basis alone, Uganda being more endowed than Kenya, Ugandans would be ahead of Kenyans in economic growth, transformation and social development. We know this is not the case, at least in terms of life expectancy and trade benefits within East Africa.

North Korea took more natural resources and industries than South Korea at the time of partition but see where South Korea is compared to North in levels of economic growth, transformation and standard of living.

What makes resistance succeed and lessons for Uganda

For resistance to succeed there has to be a national mission or rallying cry supported by the opposition. Here are a few examples.

1. The mission of the Cuban revolution was to free Cubans from exploitation, poverty and repression. The mission had popular support because most Cubans were exploited through poor pay and appalling living conditions including those who worked on tobacco and sugar cane farms. The mission resonated with peasants who joined the war or provided support in other ways. Many more were inspired to join the struggle after they witnessed the savage reprisal meted out by the Batista regime. Charismatic leadership and strict discipline of guerrillas were also crucial.

2. The mission of the Vietnam War guerrillas was to give land, rice and clothes to the people in South Vietnam who were very poor. The peasants rallied behind the Viet Cong guerrillas in large numbers because they supported the mission. Many more joined later because they resented forced resettlement in “strategic hamlets” which they felt denied them their liberty. Whole communities were involved in supporting the guerrillas.

Uganda’s democracy won’t be won at gun point

The year 2011 will go down as a defining moment in Uganda’s political economy history. Those who have followed political debates since before independence in 1962 will agree that this year has been exceptional in this regard. The services provided particularly by radio munansi and Ugandans at Heart Forum that have facilitated exchange of information and debate are highly commendable. They facilitated the birth of United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) – an umbrella organization that has brought together parties and organizations opposed to the NRM system to coordinate their activities and speak with one voice.

Uganda has entered the age of Enlightenment based on the concept of reason, not swallowing orders from the military dictator lock, stock and barrel. The debates on oil and Mabira forest are some examples of this Age of Enlightenment. And there is no turning back.

The people of Uganda are thus demanding to start from a clean slate. They want to develop their future path and occupy the driver’s seat with external helping hand as appropriate. The preparation of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) by Ugandans is a concrete example of what we mean.

“We need to guard against ethnic polarization” – Nuwagaba

Vincent Nuwagaba has written a useful article on the above subject. It is an article written in simple language, yet substantive – by someone with sufficient knowledge and experience in Uganda’s political economy. The timing of its publication could not have been better – coming so soon after the London conference.

It is true that some westerners have criticized Museveni regime constantly. And I am one of them. The idea really is not to make him uncomfortable but to draw mistakes of his government to his attention so that corrective actions are taken. I believe that is how he has received our messages.

I was forced to write an article about how Bairu of Rukungiri district got impoverished to demonstrate that western Uganda has some of the poorest people in Uganda. Some are committing suicide because they cannot raise tax money. Many are selling land to make ends meet and have ended up landless.

Subsequently a journalist from Canada visited Rukungiri district and wrote an article that was more disturbing in the depth of poverty, dispossession and marginalization than I had written. Yet many Ugandans continue to believe that all westerners are filthy rich. This is entirely wrong.

Ugandans need patience, honesty, optimism and constructive engagement

The massive rigging of 2011 elections has forced many Ugandans to conclude that NRM won’t be unseated through the ballot box. They have decided to put elections on hold until the playing field has been leveled after NRM is gone. To unseat NRM other means have to be applied. Consequently, Ugandans in the opposition are trying to find a common ground on the purpose and how to implement it.

Given Uganda’s history of divide and rule, north-south divide, master-servant relations, differences in religion, economic and political injustice, different cultures and personal ambitions, it is taking longer to establish a common platform and methods of engagement.

Thus we still have people in our midst who believe that without them in the lead nothing will get done. When they do not lead, they do what it takes to frustrate the efforts of others.

We still have in our midst some who believe that they were born to rule and others to labor for them. When those believed to be servants rise to leadership positions they are frustrated by those who think that God ordained them divine leaders, only answerable to Him.