There is consensus that Uganda is suffering a leadership crisis in NRM and opposition parties, causing Uganda to go silent political issues and to decline economically, socially and ecologically. That there wasn’t a public outcry over the mysterious death of a twenty four year old Member of Parliament and death of a pregnant woman at Mulago Hospital signifies a serious leadership deficit. The public is asking where opposition leaders are. This concern was expressed on Ngoma Radio program that ran on January 13, 2013 from 4 to 6 o’clock, London time. There is therefore a search for leadership to lay a foundation for a better Uganda for all citizens. But what constitutes a good leader?
It is recognized that a good leader should at least have discipline and trust; lead by example and ability to bring and keep people together to solve common problems and take care of the interests of all members of society.
Out of concern for the decadence that has engulfed Uganda, I have humbly offered my services to serve because I believe I have something to offer to solve the challenges we face as a nation. I have experience accumulated over many decades. And experience counts a great deal. Let me illustrate.
There are reports including on Ngoma Radio that NRM government plans to limit children per couple to three. The argument is that land is limited and there is no room for more people. There is something fundamentally wrong with this approach. Here are some thoughts. Details of my work are posted at www.kashambuzi.com
1. UK which has the same geographic size as Uganda has twice the population size of over 60 million.
2. Netherlands which has one of the highest population densities in the world is cultivating less land than before because productivity is very high.
3. Uganda needs to increase agricultural productivity and reduce extensive agriculture of clearing more land for crop cultivation and ranches. Also Ugandans should be trained for work outside agriculture so there is less pressure on the land.
4. Uganda statements are contradictory. On the one hand NRM preaches that Uganda has surplus arable land and is encouraging a liberal immigration policy to bring in more people from outside. East African economic integration and political federation will allow more people to move into Uganda. It doesn’t make sense to restrict Uganda families to three children when we are encouraging others to come into Uganda especially from neighboring countries of DRC, Burundi and Rwanda.
Yoweri Museveni who has a medieval mentality of lords, knights and serfs the latter to remain un-empowered in order to labor for the lords and knights has been able to implement that ideology by adhering rigidly to the elements in structural adjustment program (SAP) that focused on economic theories of market forces and trickle down mechanism even after SAP was abandoned in 2009. Structural adjustment had three principal components that have hurt the future of Uganda youth – export of food, poor education focusing on primary education and labor flexibility. The youth can still recover its robbed future. It needs to understand how it was robbed in the first place. In this article, we shall focus on food and nutrition insecurity since 1987. As they say, life begins with breakfast.
Food and nutrition security: Until NRM government came to power in 1986, parents, governments and religious-based organizations paid attention to the value of food and nutrition security.
During the colonial administration, malnutrition largely through lack of sufficient protein intake was addressed through the development of fisheries including fish ponds to provide affordable source of protein. The government also set up nutrition facilities such as Mwanamugimu at Mulago Hospital to treat malnourished people especially children and train women in how to prepare balanced meals and serve them in a safe environment that included safe drinking water and good general hygiene such as washing hands before cooking and eating.
Military forces are created principally to protect the nation against external invasion. But they can and do step in when a government abuses human rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens. History is full of noble examples of military intervention against an oppressive regime. At times the military stays neutral when people resist the regime.
During the French and Russian Revolutions of 1789 and 1917, many in the military actually joined public protest and assisted in removing these oppressive regimes. During the brutal Stalin collectivization program, some members of the Red Army refused to participate against their own people. During the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974, the Imperial Guard stayed neutral in support of the people indirectly that had suffered so much. In the Philippines the defense minister and deputy army commander and their supporters joined the demonstrating masses and prevented Marcos from stealing the election. Marcos was defeated and driven into exile and democracy was saved.
History shows that religious leaders step forward as representatives of voiceless people when political, economic and social conditions become hard. Parish priests who live and work among the people understand their suffering very well. The priests of Uganda are no exception. During the Christmas sermons in 2011, religious leaders throughout the nation spoke out against the suffering of the majority of their flocks. They pledged to speak out in the following years until human conditions improved. The public welcomed this resolution and is waiting to hear their voices that haven’t been loud enough thus far.
During medieval Europe, there was much suffering of serfs or peasants. Priests led in the struggle to liberate them. Priest John Ball together with peasant Wat Tyler led the English peasant revolt in 1381. The authorities were forced to cancel the poll tax.
During the colonization of Latin America, there was too much suffering of indigenous people. Priest de Las Casas stepped forward and protested on their behalf. During the French Revolution parish priest Abe Sieyes wrote and spoke on behalf of the Third Estate that represented the commoners who had been exploited and blocked in their efforts to progress for a long time. In Russia priest Gapon led the suffering urban population in St Petersburg into a protest demanding improvements in their condition.
Death of women: By and large, 2012 is a year many Ugandans would wish to erase from their memories. It ended on a very sad note with a 24 year old Member of Parliament losing her life in mysterious circumstances and a pregnant woman dying in child birth at Mulago Hospital because she didn’t bribe the medical staff. The international community was shocked at these tragedies that have dented NRM government image nationally, regionally and internationally.
UDU has begun using its networks to make sure that these departed two women did not die in vain. We call on others at home and abroad to protest so that these shameful deaths are not repeated. We call particularly on women and parliamentarians around the world to take action and ensure justice is served. Those responsible must be held accountable. In Uganda none is above the law.
Museveni thought Ugandans would never discover his motive of tutsifying Uganda which he would use to create a Tutsi Empire. He blocked avenues of opposition by becoming Chairman of NRM, President of Uganda; Head of Uganda government; Chairman of the National Economic Council; Chairman of the Military Council and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. He appointed Tutsi to key and strategic positions in the government (foreign affairs and finance ministries in particular) and security forces especially the military. In his first government, he appointed the late Fred Rwigyema a Tutsi refugee as deputy commander of the army and minister of state for defense. Paul Kagame another Tutsi refugee was made deputy director of intelligence and counterintelligence with vast powers. Other key appointments were based on loyalty than competence allowing Museveni to dominate the national, regional and international stage as Uganda spokesperson and only Ugandan with a vision for Uganda development. He has treated the opposition as nothing but a gang of saboteurs and liars.
There is a struggle between Ugandans in favor of feudalism and those in favor of federalism.
Feudalism is an economic and social system of lords or kings, knights (soldiers) and serfs (peasants). It dominated European medieval period but has occurred in other societies like pre-colonial Rwanda. The center of feudalism was the king who was also a warrior supported by knights. The king centralized power in his court and owned the land which he used to compensate knights for military service. The grant of land to knights was called ‘feud’ or ‘fief’ hence feudalism.
Feudalism was marked by hierarchy of rank (lords, knights and serfs). “In fact, feudal society was marked by a vast gulf between the very few, very rich, great landholders and the mass of the poor who worked for the profit of the nobility” (Robert Stewart 2002).
Federalism (which is federo in Luganda) simply means sharing power between central and provincial or local governments, giving the latter constitutional authority to plan their development according to their endowments, history and culture.
In Uganda the group led by Yoweri Museveni is trying to solidify feudalism with Museveni as the lord with full power to dish out land to his top ranking soldiers in return for military support reminiscent of medieval Europe.
This is what a good leader does. When things go well, he/she shares credit with his/her team. When things go wrong the leader takes full responsibility.
In Museveni’s Uganda things are done differently. When Uganda was described as star performer in structural adjustment program; when Uganda was congratulated for confronting HIV & AIDS boldly and when Uganda was praised for its efforts to bring about peace and stability in the Great Lakes region, President Museveni took all the credit. He attended all the Summits at the United Nations in New York and G8. He spoke with confidence that Uganda would end poverty and suffering and would become an industrialized nation within fifteen years. And nothing would stop Museveni in these endeavors.
When things turned sour, Museveni has blamed everyone but himself. He is known for blaming Ugandans as lazy and drunkards, blaming Ugandans as empty tins, idiots and bankrupt. He has blamed opposition groups for sabotaging NRM worthy efforts, civil servants for incompetence and corruption although he is the one who appoints and promotes them. He has blamed development partners for donating insufficient funds and foreign experts for giving wrong advice. He has blamed slowdown in economic growth on external factors including weak developed country markets and “Acts of God” beyond NRM control. His New Year message is a repeat of what Museveni does when things have gone wrong.
Some Ugandans still doubt my sincerity that I didn’t join Uganda politics for personal gain in glory or wealth. I joined politics because I was and still am disturbed by what is happening to a country that with patriotic and capable leadership should be among the first world countries and not drifting to the fourth world. Uganda, however, you describe it is decaying. It is a failed state under military dictatorship concerned about keeping citizens silent and exploited at gun point disguised as maintaining national peace and security. What about peace and security for individual citizens? What about job security, food and nutrition security, health and education security and ecological security to mention just a few? I went to school to gain knowledge and skills with which to help others help themselves and I expect others to do the same. When leaders fail to do so or create conditions for citizens to help one another, then something has to be done about it, beginning with pointing out what is wrong and the cause of it without fear or favor. We have to call a spade a spade if we are going to recover our sanity and humanity as Ugandans.