Until we receive copies of the MOU we shall continue to ask questions because this is a public, not a private, issue. It is also an issue that goes beyond the interests of Buganda. As they say when Buganda sneezes, Uganda catches a cold.
The MOU apparently signed by the Kabaka of Buganda and the President of Uganda has raised many questions largely because little is known about the process involved in its negotiation and signing.
We understand that negotiations regarding the return of Buganda kingdom began between Museveni and Mutebi during the guerrilla war when the two met in London and again somewhere in Uganda and continued thereafter until about five years ago when everything came to a halt because of fundamental disagreements.
But these discussions regarding public assets have remained shrouded in secrecy. There are stages in the negotiations when things have to be kept secret. But when secrecy becomes a permanent feature or the public is given information that is hard to swallow then suspicions begin to emerge as they have regarding the MOU. This exercise has lacked transparency and participation as well as accountability, the three elements that mark good governance.
History is written to provide lessons about what to build on and what to avoid completely. By and large those who ignore their subjects and rule by divine right of king’s have by and large paid a heavy price. Or when they escape like Louis XIV they lay the ground for the destruction of their successors like Louis XVI and his wife who were guillotined. Czar Nicholas II was executed with his entire family. Charles I was beheaded after he lost the civil war while James II was forced out of England during the Glorious Revolution.
On the other hand, enlightened leaders managed to stay in power longer by introducing social reforms such as education and healthcare that improved the quality of life of their subjects. The Tudors of England including Henry XIII and Queen Elizabeth I ruled by divine right but were smart enough to push their ideas through parliament.
The second category of leaders that exit in unfortunate circumstances includes dictators who stay in power long after their welcome has expired. Porfirio Diaz was forced out of Mexico after over thirty years of dictatorship. Haille Selasie of Ethiopia who had been treated as the father of Africa was humiliated when soldiers drove him out of his Palace in a beetle Volkswagen, never to be seen again. Ferdinand Marcos who thought he could not be removed from power because he had strong external allies was chased out of the Philippines when he stole the election results and the people refused him another term.
Mobutu was advised to depart and settle anywhere in the world of his choice. Power was so sweet that he turned down advice from everybody. Eventually he was chased away from a tropical forest and died in a desert in North Africa. The last Shah of Iran ended up the same.
Those kings and leaders who think are different from those mentioned above you have not read the lessons of history properly. Those who rely on outside support are particularly vulnerable because what matters are not friends but interests. Leaders that are seen to jeopardize the interests of their sponsors will be got rid of with or without warning. Those who think they don’t need to be advised by commoners you have a problem and you need to recast your philosophy. Times have changed or are changing very fast. And if you are not careful and you continue to ignore the people or their representatives you risk being shunted out with humiliation.
The MOU which has turned out to be an agreement between Museveni and Mutebi is a classic case of two leaders who have decided to act alone in secrecy for quite some time and ignore their subjects. If they fail to present the agreement to the Uganda Parliament and the Buganda Lukiiko for ratification, taking into account the comments of the public, they risk heavy criticism or worse.
Ugandans with support of friends and well wishers should craft a strategy for defeating NRM that suits local conditions. We should not emulate Egyptians, Tunisians, Philippinos, Ethiopians and Iranians etc if circumstances in Uganda are different. However, we should draw lessons from their struggles. One lesson is very clear: they all overcame fear and sectarianism. Egyptian Muslims joined hands with Christians, for example. Similarly, Ugandans must overcome fear, selfishness and parochialism. We should be guided by modesty and truth, not lies and deception. We should put Uganda and the future of our children first so that they can live happier and fuller lives than we have because that is what development or modernization is supposed to be. We should use our comparative advantages because every Ugandan has something to offer in this post-2011 elections liberation struggle that has just begun. Furthermore, we should be pragmatic and not idealistic.
Let me begin with this statement to clear the air hopefully once and for all. The purpose of my many years of research and writing especially about Uganda is not to undermine NRM’s efforts – as some have suggested – but to draw lessons about what has gone right and wrong so that appropriate adjustments can be made. Before I started publishing I had communicated my concerns regularly since 1986 with senior government officials in the cabinet, public service and public sector. So they knew my thinking but chose to ignore it. I have focused on President Museveni – not as a person – but as a policy maker who has dominated and served as spokesperson on Uganda’s political economy affairs (I have also commented on statements by the First Lady – not as a person – but as a public official. Ugandans should understand that when you become a public servant, you should expect that what you say and write will be commented upon, hopefully constructively. So when you get comments that make you uncomfortable don’t complain or use surrogates to do it for you which they don’t even do well. When the heat becomes unbearable, the best thing to do is to step down).
Patriotic Ugandans and friends have cause to worry about the future of Uganda which is being shaped by current developments. As we know the past impacts the present and the present influences the future. What makes a country grow and develop are its people underpinned by an enabling environment including education, health and nutrition care, infrastructure, institutions, good governance and the political will and commitment of leaders.
The first decade of Uganda’s independence witnessed commendable progress in these areas. In its 1993 report covering the 1963-70 period, the World Bank observed that “Uganda’s social indicators were comparable to, if not better than, most countries in Africa. The country’s health service had developed into one of Africa’s best. Uganda pioneered many low-cost health and nutrition programs. There was a highly organized network of vaccination centers and immunization program reached 70 percent of the population. Although school enrolment was still low, Uganda’s education system had developed a reputation for very high quality”. Uganda had also made substantial progress in infrastructure particularly road construction and institutions in research, extension services and cooperatives.
Radio Munansi English program Sunday February 10, 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 this interactive conversation.
Since Amin time, population growth has been blamed for Uganda’s problems including environmental degradation in rural and urban areas. There is a rumor that NRM government is about to introduce to parliament a bill limiting family size to three children. This is a blatant violation of human right of couples to decide how many children they wish to have when to have them and how to space them. What the government can do is to facilitate and create conditions to enable Ugandans take informed decisions but not to force them especially by some leaders who have more than three children. It doesn’t make sense to force Ugandans to limit their family size when the government wants to eliminate Uganda borders so that other people from East Africa and beyond come is as they like. These are contradictions and one wonders what the overall goal is as far as Uganda population is concerned. Many countries are protecting their borders to eliminate or limit immigrants but in Uganda and Rwanda they want to abolish national borders. Uganda isn’t going to solve other people’s problems to its detriment. Uganda hasn’t benefited from the East African community in terms of trade, labor and population mobility as we discussed yesterday.
As we assess Uganda’s progress over the last fifty years of independence, we need to draw a distinction between processes and real outcomes. Often governments have recorded processes as outcomes thereby giving themselves underserved credit. Let me clarify with a few illustrations beginning with gender which is a cross-cutting issue.
We all know that Uganda girls and women face serious challenges. In order to address them, NRM government set up a ministry of gender and has until the recent cabinet reshuffle appointed a woman as minister in charge of gender affairs. The creation of the ministry of gender should not be recorded as an outcome but as part of a process towards addressing gender challenges. In order to get to real outcomes we need to ask to what extent has the ministry helped to reduce maternal mortality and domestic violence; empower women through education and gainful employment to take independent decisions that affect the quality of their lives. That way you can measure real outcomes.
Museveni and I have disagreed on many issues in Uganda’s political economy discourse. However, we agree fully that to solve a problem we must get to the root cause (Y. K. Museveni 1989). I also agree with the late Samson Kisekka that education and mass media play crucial roles in public debates to take informed decisions (Samson Kisekka undated).
To solve Great Lakes problems in which Uganda is located we must accept that inter-ethnic conflicts are still alive and well. We also have to recognize that Batutsi from time immemorial have conflicted with other groups in Eastern DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. However, addressing the problem is difficult because any mention of Batutsi wrongdoing leads to automatic accusations of inciting genocide against them by those who want the status quo that has favored them since 1994 be not disturbed.
Since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda Batutsi are seen as victims and others as genocidaires (genocidaire is a French word which means those who commit genocide). Genocide means committing any of the following actions with intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group:
1. Killing members of the group;
I developed an inquisitive, listening and retention mind at an early age. People discussed all sorts of sensitive things in my presence thinking I was too young to understand. When I travelled by bus passengers talked freely and I obtained useful information. And I grew up in an atmosphere characterized by church gatherings that enabled me to hear incredible stories about human relations. My home village is strategically located and enabled me to gather information from Ankole, Rwanda, Burundi and Belgian Congo (now DRC). These stories mostly about brutal exploitation of the weak by the strong disturbed me – to say the least. As I grew up I witnessed some of these brutalities that continued under indirect colonial rule. Then I went to school and what we were taught (hunger, African laziness and too many children that cannot be fed properly) did not match most of what was happening on the ground at least in my home area. At times it was difficult for me to answer some questions or engage in discussions full of distortions. In some discussions I simply kept quiet or spoke in disagreement based on what I had heard. I decided early in my life that I would gather this information and share it at the right time. Thus, the information I am sharing with the public represents many years of accumulation from primary and secondary sources, checking and revising it as new information becomes available.
It is now recognized that to bring about justice or fairness in Uganda will require inclusiveness, full participation, solidarity and compassion. In other words it means involvement of all sections of society: religious and traditional leaders, political and civil society leaders, security forces, youth, students and women. Religious leaders in Uganda have a special responsibility to end injustice because they interact directly or through networks with the population and appreciate its suffering better than most observers and are therefore in a position to recommend appropriate and location specific short and long term action-oriented solutions. The Christmas sermons in 2011 were very powerful in this regard. You need to build on that solid foundation in 2012. To facilitate your work and remove some possible obstacles in relations between religion and politics let us review in a historical perspective the work of religious leaders and theologians to end injustice.