Uganda’s post-independence political challenges

Radio Munansi English program February 17, 2013

This is Eric Kashambuzi communicating from New York.

Greetings fellow Ugandans at home and abroad, friends and well wishers and welcome to the program. We look forward to your active participation in this interactive session.

We have been requested to spend some time discussing Uganda’s political challenges since independence. There is hunger for knowledge as Ugandans get more engaged than ever before in affairs affecting their lives.

We study history to understand what happened in the past and what lessons we have learned and how we have applied them to make life better by discarding bad practices and building on good ones. There are those who think we should move on and not look backward because we may discover things that should not be disclosed to the public. However, many Ugandans are demanding to know the history of their country as far back as possible. For this program we shall examine the circumstances surrounding the birth of Uganda as an independent state and how those circumstances have shaped the last 50 years of independent Uganda.

Uganda’s birth as an independent nation took place in a very difficult environment and many important issues were rushed through or delayed as negotiators had to meet a deadline of October 9, 1962. In this session we shall consider the period immediately before independence and up to 1970. In the next session we shall discuss political developments from 1971 to the present.


Boosting agriculture to end poverty in Uganda

Press statement

On behalf of United Democratic Ugandans (UDU), I thank the United States Ambassador to Uganda H.E. Scott DeLisi for his statement on the role of agriculture in tackling the challenge of poverty in Uganda. The statement is timely and relevant because over 80 percent of Ugandans depend on agriculture for their livelihood and poverty is higher in rural than in urban areas where NRM government has concentrated its effort.

The rural areas in Uganda are dominated by peasants who have been the engine in the production of agricultural export commodities and food crops since the 1920s. It has been demonstrated globally that small holder farmers when facilitated are more productive, more efficient and more environmentally and socially friendly than large scale farmers.

The international community including the United Nations, G8 and the World Bank has agreed to support smallholder farmers in the efforts to increase global food productivity and total production. G8 has already allocated funds for supporting small holder farmers including in Uganda. UDU calls upon the Uganda government to create an enabling environment to boost small holder productivity including through high yielding seeds, organic and inorganic fertilizers and small scale irrigation schemes than replace them with large scale farmers as Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi suggested not too long ago. As agreed by NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), a development organ of African Union, Uganda should earmark at least 10 percent of national budget to the agriculture sector beginning in the 2013/2014 financial year.

NRM to displace peasants and grow GMOs

Museveni promised to correct wrongs previously committed in land ownership that had disadvantaged real owners especially peasants. He also promised he would balance production of food for domestic consumption and agricultural commodities for export. He promised to end suffering of Ugandans.

In practice NRM has done the opposite. More land has been taken from peasants. In 1989 Ugandans complained to the president on land grabbing by foreigners particularly Tutsi. In 1990 land grabbing was prohibited but there was no enforcement mechanism. And Ugandans have continued to lose land through fake willing seller and willing buyer concept; some land transactions are conducted at gun point.

People who borrowed using their land as collateral are failing to pay high and variable rates of interest and are losing their land. Expansion of municipality boundaries into rural land that converts peasants into tenants is causing a lot of problems as land owners are pushed off the land in the name of development.

Last year (2012) in his state of the Nation address the president stressed that the government was going to focus on developing the neglected some 70 percent of subsistence farmers. Soon after that Amama Mbabazi the prime minister announced that Uganda was introducing large scale farming to boost agricultural productivity because peasants had failed to do so.

Uganda is hungry for political change

Uganda is hungry for regime change even by progressive and well placed members in the NRM government and security forces. Some senior police officers have resigned, others fired for refusing to apply disproportionate force against peaceful demonstrators presenting to the government reasonable demands like ending corruption, sectarianism and cronyism so that national benefits are distributed equitably. Some army officers are complaining openly about injustices in the military. Some religious leaders are opposing the government in broad daylight.

Thankfully, the donor community is beginning to hear the voices of dissent and to act appropriately by issuing statements from their capitals or missions in Uganda, calling on the government to respond to the needs of the people. That some donors are demanding return of their stolen (donor) money is a sign that there is a wind of change in the donor community. It is estimated that over $30 billion has been donated (free money not loans to be repaid) to NRM government but there is virtually nothing to show for it. Add on $1 billion annually sent home by Ugandans in the diaspora, the revenue from exports, taxes and now oil and you have an idea of the magnitude of money that has been stolen by Museveni and his collaborators.

We can’t let Uganda land go to large-scale farmers

With no education and skills to get Ugandans out of agriculture where some 90 percent earn their livelihood, land is the only asset and source of livelihood. Land is therefore a national security issue that cannot be traded for anything else. The British understood this and left Uganda land alone. A law was passed to keep land in Ugandans hands except for a few leases. So when Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi announced upon return from a foreign mission that peasants were going to be displaced and their land go to large-scale farmers, Ugandans were shocked, wondering how the decision had come about and where they would go or how they would earn their livelihood. Since then land has taken on special attention in debates. We would like the prime minister to tell the nation where his idea of displacing peasants came from.

Meanwhile, some Ugandans have conducted investigations. It appears that NRM government wants to join other African countries that are selling or leasing land for long periods to large scale farmers mostly foreigners as there aren’t many indigenous Uganda large-scale farmers. “Land grabbing” in Africa is a new concept that has become an international phenomenon. The concept refers to “the purchase or lease of vast tracts of land by wealthier, food-insecure nations and private investors mostly from poor developing countries in order to produce food for export”. Uganda is already a major exporter of food grown by peasants, with little left for their families.

Challenges and opportunities of E.A. Cooperation

Radio Munansi English program February 9, 2013

This is Eric Kashambuzi communicating from New York

Greetings: fellow Ugandans at home and abroad, friends and well wishers. Welcome to the program. We look forward to your active participation because this is an interactive program.

During the last two weeks, we discussed Uganda’s population growth and birth control, migration and refugees and their impact on population growth and on politics, economy and social services as well as the environment, leading to conflicts with indigenous people.

Today we want to continue this debate within the context of the East African economic integration and political federation by examining the history, challenges and opportunities.

I have written extensively on this subject and the articles are posted at for easy reference. I will therefore make a brief presentation to guide the debate. Please call in and give us your views or correct me should you disagree with my presentation.

Ugandans have not had a chance to discuss this very important subject. What they have been told are the assumed benefits of larger population in terms of creating a bigger market for Uganda goods and services and a common passport that would facilitate mobility within the community.

Bantu and Nilotic conflict is cause of instability in Great Lakes region

The Great Lakes region (defined to include southwest Uganda, eastern DRC, Rwanda and Burundi) conflict will not be solved unless and until it has been understood as an ethnic conflict between Nilotic Tutsi and Bantu Hutu/Bairu people. Geopolitical conflict is taking advantage of ethnic conflict using the minority Tutsi to suppress majority Hutu/Bairu people who have been erroneously dubbed “bad guys” by biased western commentators.

Since the two ethnic groups (Bantu and Nilotic) met in the 15th century, Nilotic Tutsi (whose Nilotic Luo-speakers ancestors entered the Great Lakes region from Bahr el Ghazal in South Sudan, not Ethiopia)because of their militaristic character (cattle people always fight for scarce pasture and water points) and collaboration with foreigners beginning with Arab and Swahili slave traders and later Europeans, dominated, dispossessed, exploited and humiliated Bantu people (whom Tutsi dubbed Hutu and Bairu meaning slaves or servants) who were wealthy, healthy and peaceful with advanced civilization including Bachwezi civilization (Bachwezi were a Bantu aristocracy [B.A. Ogot 1999]).

Museveni hiding development failure in GNI and per capita figures

M7 should admit that his development policies haven’t worked in order to be able to make adjustments. But by refusing to admit he is continuing to make errors. He has now begun to come up with statistics about Gross National Income (GNI) and per capita income and increase in the manufacturing sector and energy production.

At the beginning of his presidency he came up with a comprehensive ten-point program whose end result was to end the suffering of the people of Uganda. He stressed ending, not reducing, poverty in Uganda. He stressed making schools work and produce quality and skilled workers. He would feed all Ugandans adequately. Diseases would be conquered and he would re-grow hair on balding Uganda hills. These were laudable goals.

But Museveni lost the way by embracing inappropriate neo-liberal policies of invisible hand of market forces, laissez faire policies, labor flexibility, austerity program and trickle down mechanism. He knew these policies had not worked in Chile and Ghana and he knew Tanzania was resisting them.

Immigrants and refugees in Uganda’s political economy

Radio Munansi English program February 3, 2013

This is Eric Kashambuzi communicating from New York.

Greetings: Fellow Ugandans at home and abroad, friends and well wishers. Welcome to the program. We look forward to your active participation.

In our discussion on population growth in Uganda, we observed that in preparing the 2010 State of population vital information on people entering and leaving Uganda was scarce and therefore not analyzed in terms of migrant and refugee contribution to Uganda’s population growth and impact on land, business, jobs, social services and environmental degradation etc. Migrants and refugees have been part of Uganda’s political economy since the early 1920s and the early 1960s respectively.

Let us begin with migration.

A combination of push factors in neighboring countries especially in Rwanda and Burundi and pull factors in Uganda led to huge labor migration into Uganda.

Birth Control has a long history

By popular demand we shall continue the discussion on birth control in Uganda that we began last Sunday, January 27. Let me begin by restating that having children: how many, when and how to space them is a human right which must be exercised voluntarily. Anything done otherwise is a violation of that right.

Throughout human history, couples have controlled their reproduction behavior for various reasons on a voluntary basis or through coercion. For example, ancient Greeks kept their families small through abortion or women taking drinks that brought on violent vomiting and subsequent miscarriages. Others exercised vigorously through repeated jumping that terminated unplanned or unwanted pregnancies.

On the other hand, ancient Romans preferred large families. Even so they exercised birth control as well especially by women who married early. The first recorded use of contraceptives occurred in ancient Egypt (Reader’s Digest. How Was It Done? 1995).

Even in Uganda some couples decided and still do on their own about how many children they wish to have, when and how to space them. For example, longer periods of breast feeding coupled with prohibition of sexual relations during this period delayed pregnancy.