People in the Great Lakes region want peace through free and fair multi-party elections and government of majority rule that promotes liberty and justice for all but have been governed by military leaders from minority groups who can’t win in free and fair elections. When asked, people from different ethnic groups will tell you they have no difficulties living together. It is their political leaders that create divisions along ethnic lines to mobilize support.
After assassination of the president of Burundi in 1993 Hutus attacked Tutsis. One Tutsi who had escaped unharmed was interviewed and he said “The people who killed my family were Hutu from Frodebu (Hutu Party]. … We used to have no problems with them. But when they had the news from Radio Kigali, they said Tutsi must be massacred. We peasants don’t know why the putschists killed Ndadaye. But we are paying for what they did. They provoked the revenge of the Hutu on the Tutsi”(Africa Report Jan/Feb. 1994). I have travelled in the Lakes region and talked to many people and they all want peace. They don’t care who governs provided it is done properly through free and fair elections and the elected government takes good care of all citizens equitably.
We shall continue to write and to speak until the skeptics and surrogates are converted. A former colleague of mine advised that when you tell the truth, you will always win – sometimes at a price. He didn’t elaborate on the latter part. I have read widely, travelled widely and seen a lot. I don’t like what is happening in Uganda and won’t let it continue in order to be a popular guy on the block. Some have advised me that I am throwing away political capital by going negative against Museveni, his ethnic group and his regime. What I am doing is not for me: it is for the people of Uganda in present and future generations. If I got a public office it would be used to advance the cause of the people of Uganda – all Ugandans.
Before proceeding, let me say a word about Batutsi people and me. Normally I don’t use people’s names without permission but since I am going to say positive things I think it is safe to do so. I have already mentioned the names of Batutsi people who helped me as I was growing up. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Batutsi have treated Bairu well since the two groups interacted from around 1800. Bairu were deprived of their wealth including pasture land and converted into food cultivators to feed their Batutsi/Bahororo masters and to provide free labor before and during colonial rule.
My father, Reverend/Canon Samwiri Kashambuzi, as first born male and Anglican minister has had responsibilities for uniting people and resolving disputes in a mutually satisfactory manner. We have a relatively large extended family with members belonging to different faiths largely Protestants and Catholics. Although a Protestant and minister, his faith and profession did not influence how he treated members of the family that belong to another faith even during difficult religious times. The first lesson I learned from my father is that religion should not divide people. As a result religion has not influenced the way I treat people socially and professionally.
When I returned from exile in 1980, I started business in my home area of Rujumbura in southwest Uganda partly in acknowledgement of community support as I grew up and to help the development of the area. Since father was going to be the overall manager (we call him Chairman) in my absence at work far away from home, I discussed with him about selection of managers. He advised that we should pick the best regardless of their religion or ethnicity. Consequently, we picked a Catholic and a Mukiga to construct my family and first house in Rukungiri town although we had qualified people in our family. My father felt they lacked experience for the type of building we had in mind.
We want to thank the international community including African Union and the United Nations as well as some governments for the efforts to end the invasion of DRC by M23. While this effort is appreciated, it must be recognized that it won’t by itself bring about lasting peace and security for all unless the root cause of the conflict which is Nilotic Tutsi domination of Bantu people is recognized and solved so that the two ethnic groups live together in peace and security.
Batutsi have deceptively presented themselves to the world since the 1994 Rwanda genocide as victims in a hostile environment and must defend themselves by eliminating ‘enemies’ and occupying more territory under the pretext of correcting the wrongs of a colonial system of borders that robbed them of land, not realizing or ignoring that they too took land from somewhere else such as 5 thousand square kilometers that Rwanda and Burundi gained from then Tanganyika in 1923.
In my attempt to identify the root cause of the problem, I have touched on sensitive areas previously regarded as taboo that have made some people uncomfortable and forced them to hit back hard without supporting evidence.
In Uganda as elsewhere leaders must be loved, not feared. Security forces in Uganda must be loved, not feared. When Ugandans are afraid of something they should run to police stations or army barracks for protection, not run away. Employers must be loved, not feared by their employees. Leaders in administration and police and military must protect the people, not scare and/or hurt them. They must cultivate a culture of peace and love, not of intimidation, torture and murder.
Conditions must be created where all people irrespective of their professions live and work together in peace and security. A maid should love, not fear her boss. A gardener should love, not fear his employer. The rule of law must work, not the rule of the gun and torture houses. The people of Uganda are tired of living in constant fear at home and abroad. Ugandans are afraid of one another even relatives because you don’t know what murder weapon the other is carrying. The people of Uganda are tired of being insulted by NRM surrogates or those scared of the wrong things they have done and are being discovered who use fake names. The people of Uganda are tired of mercenaries that torture and murder Ugandans and disappear with impunity when they can’t do it anymore. Nobody can tolerate living under these conditions indefinitely. If NRM is unable or unwilling to protect its citizens then someone else should do it.
When NRM came to power in 1986, it formed a national unity cabinet with seasoned ministers including the prime minister, ministers of finance and planning and economic development and internal and foreign affairs. It also retained some experienced permanent secretaries. It launched a popular, well-formulated and balanced ten point program. The statements by the president were relevant, giving the impression that he knew what the challenges were and how to address them. Many Ugandans were impressed and supported the program. As expected, the first year was difficult as the government tried to cope with the economic and political crisis.
In 1987, the government abruptly abandoned the ten point program and embraced the extreme version (shock therapy) of stabilization and structural adjustment program (SAP), the very program it vehemently opposed during Obote II regime in 1981-85. The minister of finance and governor of the central bank were replaced as well as senior officials. The minister of finance who was an economist was replaced by a medical doctor in charge of a complex SAP program, implying that loyalty triumphed over competence. The ministries of finance and planning were merged into one ministry and staff in planning replaced that in finance in the new combined ministry of finance, planning and economic development. This was a major change.