Here are the principal highlights.
1. The mysterious death of a twenty four year old member of parliament has cast a thick shadow over the credibility of the government. Rightly or wrongly, the people of Uganda appear to have made up their mind thereby denting the image of Tutsi-led NRM government. The puzzle that MP Hussein Kyanjo was poisoned remains unsolved. The latest scare that the vice president had been poisoned and had to rush to hospital has left Ugandans wondering who is safe in Uganda and abroad. The allegation of poisoning Ugandans needs to be taken up in 2013.
2. Politically, NRM fared badly in 2012. A new government within NRM government was formed by Ssekikubo, Baryomunsi and Nawagaba. The fight for presidential succession by the first lady, prime minister and speaker of parliament raffled NRM feathers. To put a halt to it, the president announced a year after he had been fraudulently re-elected that he was seeking re-election in 2016. The potential for NRM implosion shouldn’t be underestimated. Meanwhile, Museveni is grooming his son Muhoozi to succeed him, witness rapid promotions including the one conferred on him by the late Gaddafi. To keep NRM together and his involvement as chairman of regional organizations, Museveni is spending less time on Uganda’s economic, social and environmental development.
There is no fun
Writing about Uganda and the Great Lakes region isn’t fun. You are either correcting distortions or reporting on wars, human rights violations, genocide and other crimes against humanity; land grabbing and stealing elections; corruption and sectarianism; people dying mysteriously or of negligence and others of starvation in a region that has the potential to produce surplus food over and above domestic needs. In many of the interviews I have been asked why I don’t report on good news. Frankly I would love to but there isn’t much good news to report and twisting things to please isn’t my cup of tea. I am writing these stories not to start trouble but to prevent one. In this article, I will focus on Tutsi land grab in Uganda and the implications for the landless.
Museveni’s hidden agenda
Yoweri Museveni came to power with a clear but hidden agenda from the majority of Ugandans. You have to study Museveni dialectically to find the truth which many of us haven’t done or those who know don’t want to say it for various reasons mostly selfish ones. He also came to power with a conviction that he could do whatever he wants with impunity as long as he has his AK 47 and full support of security forces and some western backers.
UDU has done exactly what it was mandated to do at the Boston conference: (1) conduct civic education; (2) strengthen diplomatic networks and (3) keep an eye on Uganda’s political economy. I have been privileged to serve as UDU Secretary General and spokesperson on the three mandates.
Civic education has been conducted through the media and Joe Magandazi and Dorothy Lubowa have been very active. Dennis Nyondo has served very well as publicity secretary. There are others who are compiling a list of capable Ugandans in preparation for creation of a transitional government to avoid a repeat of what happened after formation of a transitional government in Moshi in 1979. Their names will be withheld for now because of the sensitive nature of their work. We are grateful to Ugandans at Heart Forum for accepting our articles and comments. We are also grateful to Kamunye for translating some UDU articles into Luganda and distributing them for a wider leadership. We are also working very closely with the leadership of Uganda Federation Confederates. We want all Ugandans to know UDU thinking and what we shall do after NRM has exited. The idea of a transitional government of all stakeholders including NRM appears to be gathering support pretty fast. Uganda belongs to all Ugandans and every group must be represented. Inclusiveness and peaceful resolution of problems in a win –win atmosphere are principal elements of UDU’s philosophy.
I write these stories with a heavy heart and watery eyes. It is heart breaking that Tutsi who were admitted into Uganda on humanitarian grounds as refugees and on a temporary basis when they were chased out of Rwanda in the wake of the 1959 Social Revolution have turned their guns on us and colonized our country and turned us into serfs to labor for their comfort. Those Ugandans who refused have been killed, jailed or forced into exile. The mysterious death of a young MP has stirred emotions of many Ugandans at home and abroad. She shouldn’t die in vain. Her untimely passing should serve as a rallying cry for all Ugandans at home and abroad with a view to making far reaching political changes.
Museveni tricked Ugandans who were unhappy with Obote and Amin regimes promising them to regain what they had lost in the political and economic areas. Catholics were promised the presidency and Baganda were promised return of federo, Mailo land and forests but none has come to pass and it is more than twenty six years since the promises were made.
There are examples from time immemorial which demonstrate that when people can’t take it any more they draw a line beyond which they revolt regardless of consequences. The peasants in feudal Europe had been taught by priests that they should tolerate suffering on earth because their rewards were in heaven. But when the burden of food insecurity and taxation among others became unbearable, they revolted. Since Uganda is basically a rural country of peasants, let us look at some examples of peasant revolts in Europe and one example in Kenya. The examples in Europe are drawn from Historical Facts by Robert Stewart (2002).
The Britons revolted against the Roman rule. The most serious revolt came in A.D. 61. One of the British tribes in East Anglia revolted because it was angered by loss of land to Roman soldiers and heavy tribute imposed on them. Thirteen years earlier, they had revolted because they were deprived of their right to bear arms.
In A.D. 220 there were revolts against China’s Han dynasty. The oppression of peasants by landlords and bureaucracy led to a series of revolts that ended the dynasty and left China with no central government for 350 years.
In behavioral economics trust is an important concept. People feel good when dealing with people they trust and are trusted. “This feeling is related to the positive stimuli they get from trusting engagements. … People also tend to get high on punishing others, but they most enjoy punishing those who have betrayed them. They enjoy punishing individuals who have breached their trust or behaved unfairly. … This type of punishment [which is referred to] as reciprocal punishment, is payback for perceived behavior” (Morris Altman 2012).
In Uganda Museveni and his NRM government has broken many promises entered into with the people of Uganda during and after the guerrilla war of 1981-85. In 1985, a year before NRM captured power in 1986 Museveni published a ten point program that included introduction of democracy through free and fair elections and good governance; observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms; ending corruption and sectarianism; restoration of people’s sovereignty and ending suffering in Uganda through providing infrastructure and social institutions and services. Museveni further promised restoration of what was lost when Obote abolished the independence constitution including kingdoms, federalism and properties such as land. Asians were promised restoration of their properties. Because it is believed that DP was robbed of victory in the 1980 elections, promise or impression was made that upon ousting UPC and Obote II from power, DP would form the next government with a Catholic president. Not least, Museveni promised law and order, peace and individual security broadly defined including food and job security etc and good neighborly relations.
This article has been written by popular demand as part of end-of-year reports. All Ugandans want a united, peaceful and secure country that guarantees civil rights (equal protection and opportunity under the law) and civil liberties (freedom of speech, press, religion and due process of the law). Yet the majority doesn’t want to know what divides us. Those who have attempted to explain have suffered abuse and intimidation. And those seeking political support prefer to remain silent. One compatriot advised that we should let sleeping dogs lie but when they wake up they may get mad when they see the condition they are in.
NRM took a dramatic step and outlawed talking about our religious and ethnic differences that have divided Uganda since before colonial rule. Accordingly, the anti-sectarian law was promulgated by parliament. This restriction has become counterproductive in the face of increasing sectarianism under the NRM government that is disproportionately favoring Tutsi and “tutsified” Ugandans (non-Tutsi men who have married Tutsi women).
While proving that I am not against Tutsi people, I mentioned as illustrations names of Tutsi who helped me as I grew up in Rujumbura County of Rukungiri district in southwest Uganda. Someone who is familiar with the people who helped me felt that I had left out another group that equally provided strong support and urged that I correct the record before the end of this year.
When I was growing up, community cohesion was very strong. A child belonged to the entire village. When you made a mistake you were warned by a neighbor not to repeat it, or else the matter would be reported to the parents. When you were hungry, a neighbor gave you food and vice versa. Children that were going to school and walked long distances received assistance along the way. From grade five to grade eight I walked a distance of some 20 miles to and from school, bare foot except those few days when I stayed with relatives nearer the school or father allowed me to use his bicycle.
UDU: Civic education end-of-year report
When I officially joined Uganda politics, I made a statement regarding three principal areas.
First, I joined politics to acquire and use power. Some acquire power to enrich themselves, their families and their kith and kin as we have seen in Uganda. Some use it to improve the standard of living of their fellow men and women. I belong to the latter group. The deterioration of ecological and human condition especially of women and children in Uganda is so shocking that it compelled me to do something about it. I have realized as have many others that talking and writing is necessary but not sufficient. I have already written ten books and created a blog www.kashambuzi.com to share information with a wider readership. Ugandans are now sufficiently informed about the causes of their dehumanizing condition. Action is now needed but we can’t act without taking power from those that have caused the suffering.
Uganda is virtually a militarized and tutsified nation and is likely to remain so for a long time unless we act quickly. Any Uganda patriot must be concerned about what is happening to the Pearl of Africa. Uganda was designed to be a country by, for and of Ugandans and participate in the development of the world. Because Ugandans are afraid of the military and of being branded genocidaire if they complain about what Tutsi are doing to our country, they are unable to express their discomfort and discuss a way out. But some voices of dissent are beginning to be heard and are getting louder for all to hear. If Museveni is trying to find a place for his people we also have a right to stop him from doing it at the expense of the people of Uganda. And we shouldn’t feel guilty about it provided it is done peacefully and transparently.