Non-violent resistance has worked where armed struggle failed

More than 70 percent of fallen authoritarian regimes have been by non-violent means. In those situations where violence has succeeded it is largely because of outside help. Some opposition groups that had started by military means withdrew and adopted non-violent struggle and won. Let’s see how Iran did it by non-violent means that are being encouraged for Uganda, instead of reckless and costly military adventurism.

“The 1979 Iranian Revolution [Islamic Revolution] ousted an unpopular monarchy and led to installation of an Islamic republic following an intense period of mass mobilization and collective civil disobedience. Earlier attempts to depose Shah Reza Pahlavi’s regime through assassinations and guerrilla warfare were unable to achieve what mass-based protests, strikes, stay-aways, and noncooperation achieved in less than one year. Whereas the Shah’s security apparatus infiltrated and decimated main guerrilla groups in the 1970s, the civil resistance that began in earnest in late 1977 exerted significant pressure on the monarchy and became impossible to contain or suppress. The sustained pressure exerted by Iranian workers, students, professionals, clerics, and other segments of Iranian society, even in the midst of harsh regime repression, divided the regime from its most important pillars of support. The popular uprising neutralized the Shah’s security apparatus. On February 11, 1979, when the Iranian Armed Forces Joint Staff declared that the Iranian military would ‘remain neutral’ in disputes between the Shah’s regime and the nation, the final page had been turned on the monarchy”(Chenoweth and Stephan 2011).

Three lessons emerge from this quotation:

1. That armed struggle failed in Iran;

2. Mass mobilization by non-violent means did the job within one year following many years of guerrilla failure;

3. The armed forces decided to stay neutral as the Shah’s regime face the will of the people.

Against this backdrop, Ugandans from home and the diaspora met at The Hague, The Netherlands, in November 2013 and debated for three days what methods should be applied to oust the failed repressive regime. It was decided that we should use non-violent means because civil resistance has worked even where violent strategy had failed.

This weekend a road map for mass mobilization to oust NRM regime by civil resistance will be crafted in London using the draft that has been circulated to members that attended the meeting in The Netherlands. We have already obtained very useful inputs.

A skype facility will be provided for those that for various reasons may not be able to participate in person. We shall keep the public advised of the developments as they unfold.

Eric Kashambuzi

Baganda have also contributed to the current challenges

As a researcher and civic educator to all Ugandans I have a responsibility to contribute to the debate among Baganda that tends to emphasis external factors for their suffering.

There is a time when one of our colleagues at the organization where I worked was experiencing serious problems but blaming others for his mistakes. We got concerned and we felt that someone should tell him. It was decided that the closest to him should be the one to tell him the truth.

When you examine the record shortly before independence and since then, you realize that Baganda also made errors that must be recognized and corrected.

I listen to the Luganda program of radio munansi. What you hear for most of the time is that Baganda are suffering because of others, previously Northerners but since Museveni came to power blame has increasingly shifted to westerners especially Banyankole who must pay for the suffering they have caused to Baganda including chasing them away from Buganda soil. This is scary.

Banyankole in particular must be having sleepless nights wondering what will happen should NRM be overthrown by Baganda military forces commanded by Duncan Kafero with Banyarwanda mercenaries as he admitted last Sunday on radio munansi. This is not a secret. Every time there is a problem Baganda want either to go their way or chase non-Baganda out of Buganda. If they stay in Buganda they must be under the Kabaka of Buganda. This is still the chorus today. On three occasions, Baganda have acted.

1. In December 1960 Buganda declared independence but had no means of implementing the decision.

2. When campaign for the post of president heated up and Baganda felt they may not get it, they threatened to chase the central government out of Buganda. In 1963 the Uganda constitution was amended to create the post of president. As the bill was being debated in parliament … “Busoga District Council passed a resolution that their Kyabazinga … should be made the president. … Not to be undone, the Lukiiko passed a resolution that the Kabaka should be made the president, failing which the Uganda government should remove itself from Buganda soil”(Samwiri Karugire 1988).

3. The loss of the lost counties to Bunyoro and other developments upset Baganda and decided to act. In May 1966 the Lukiiko influenced by three radical Ssaza chiefs passed a hurriedly drafted resolution calling on the central government to leave Buganda soil by the end of that month (T. V. Sathyamurthy 1986).

4. The chorus regarding non-Baganda leaving Buganda soil has picked up momentum including on Radio Munansi that has been taken over by extremists and secessionists. Non-Ugandans living in Buganda are listening and hearing the warning. They need to figure out in time what to do to avoid a catastrophe because this is serious business.

When Uganda National Congress (UNC) was formed in the early 1950s it had a national character and had branches outside Buganda. As the struggle for independence heated up some senior Baganda officials of UNC turned parochial, forcing the party to split. At the same time non-Baganda in LEGCO formed a party Uganda Peoples Union (UPU) for the sole purpose of opposing Buganda separatist tendency. UNC branches outside Buganda joined with UPU and formed UPC.

Baganda have insisted to this day that they must stay on top of everyone in Uganda, with the Kabaka above all of us or they will secede. To create a pretext, they are insisting they were a state before independence when we know the 1900 Uganda Agreement which remained in force until independence designated Buganda a province on par with other provinces. They are restoring Buganda traditional ideology in preparedness for a new state of Buganda. As part of this new direction, some have changed their mind about a federal system of government and now demand secession which as I have advised could be a double-edged sword because it is people who demand self-determination. The various communities of Buganda given the circumstances under which Buganda was carved into a kingdom could decide to link up with other groups or go separate ways.

DP lost its political advantages over UPC because Buganda could not tolerate a Muganda commoner and Catholic becoming head of Uganda above a Protestant Kabaka. Obote a northern commoner but Protestant was invited by Baganda to become prime minister instead of Kiwanuka.

While the Kabaka was happy with what Buganda got at the Lancaster Conference before independence Michael Kintu, then Katikiro and the Kabaka Yekka were not happy because the constitution failed to make the Kabaka above everyone in Uganda.

“When the Baganda delegates returned from the constitutional conference and reported their achievements to the Lukiiko, they were strongly criticized by members of the Kabaka Yekka Movement of having failed to secure acceptance and acknowledgement of the superiority of the Kabaka of Buganda over all Ugandans from other members of the delegations at the conference, who were representing the various tribes in Uganda. They particularly wanted the new constitution to spell out clearly that the Kabaka was above the Prime Minister of Uganda”. The Movement issued a statement to the effect that:

“As from March, 1962, the seat of Uganda Prime Minister will be in Buganda at Entebbe, and the National Assembly of Uganda will also be in Buganda in Kampala. We of the Kabaka Yekka cannot hesitate to state that if Uganda is ever to be a prosperous and peaceful country the Prime Minister must always be subordinate to the Kabaka and other hereditary rulers as shown by Kabaka Yekka in the picture opposite”(Onyango Odongo 1993).

From this quotation, it appears that non-Baganda delegates wanted to move the seat of the central government outside Buganda, prompting Kabaka Yekka to act as it did. As they say, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

The issue of the “lost counties” was perhaps unnecessarily complicated by Buganda. Obote had suggested that after independence he would bring Buganda and Bunyoro together to find a mutually acceptable solution but Buganda under the leadership of Michael Kintu totally refused engagement (T. V. Sathyamurthy 1986). By the time they realized they could lose the counties it was too late to do anything about it.

As Baganda wanted, the Kabaka became president in 1963 but quickly ran into problems including conflict of interest as Kabaka of Buganda and President of Uganda, resulting in the sad political and constitutional tragedies of 1966 and 1967.

With these few illustrations, the point being made here is that Baganda in a way have – perhaps without realizing it – contributed to the challenges they face. By contributing to the instability in the country to make it difficult for the central government to govern, Baganda opened the door for Amin to shoot to power. External efforts to prevent him from assuming power failed because of the massive support he received in Buganda especially in the capital City of Kampala.

Against advice from wise Ugandans, Buganda invited Museveni to launch a guerrilla war in Buganda that left an estimated half of the population in the Luwero Triangle dead and more damage has been done since then but blame continues to be directed at Obote and Acholi people for atrocities. For the current suffering, Baganda have directed attacks at westerners especially Banyankole in part because they welcomed Obote in Bushenyi when he returned from exile and Museveni has used them to rob Buganda although with Mengo collaboration, witness the MOU which has turned out to be a binding Agreement between Mengo Administration and the central government. Baganda are generally silent about the role Mengo is playing in robbing its people especially the Bakopi.

Concerned citizens are now advising against mercenaries being hired by a group in Buganda as confessed last Sunday on Radio Munansi. Mercenaries may help to get rid of unpopular leader and get their pay but they do more harm in the end. We know what Amin mercenaries did and we are witnessing what mercenaries under Museveni are doing. We really don’t want another set of mercenaries. Baganda should hear our voices and act accordingly and should things go wrong they should not blame anyone else.

As I have been saying Uganda has suffered more than enough. Let us take stock of the root causes of our suffering in order to offer a solution. This will require political will, boldness, risks and sacrifice. I am fully aware that some Ugandans don’t like controversial or confrontational debates but this happens everywhere provided it is done constructively and in a civil manner. Letting sleeping dogs lie as some have suggested could be dangerous should they wake up and realize we messed them up and demand their pound of flesh. When the sleeping dogs woke up in France, Mexico, Russia, Ethiopia and Iran, there were revolutions that swept ancient regimes out of power. Since 1986 sleeping dogs have also woken up in The Philippines, Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya. More could be on the way to waking up including in Uganda. That is why it is important that to avoid bloodshed, we should form a transitional government of all Ugandans under a presidential team to govern Uganda and prepare the ground for subsequent multi-party elections.

I am writing these stories fully aware of what could be waiting for me. However, with Almighty’s guidance, I sincerely call on Baganda to take a hard look at the challenges being faced from internal and external factors and adjust appropriately. Trying to secede, using mercenaries, or asking non-Ugandans to leave Buganda soil will only complicate matters for Baganda and indeed for other Ugandans. That using mercenaries in order for Buganda to secede has been denied doesn’t mean much. Many things were denied before only later to be confirmed when the job is done. I urge all of you to read what I write with an open mind because I mean well for all the people of Uganda.

This note has been prepared as part of civic education.

Eric Kashambuzi

Why the next Muganda president may not solve Baganda problems.

There are some Baganda who are reasoning that they have suffered more than any other group in Uganda since independence. To end this suffering the next president of Uganda must be a Muganda. But those in favor of this idea must bear in mind that a president per se may not do much. Baganda should take a broader view and look at Baganda that have played a role in Uganda since 1962 including presidents, vice presidents, prime ministers and those that have served in senior positions like the police and the army. When you do this check you are going to realize that it takes more than mere numbers and status to produce the desired results. This honest analysis may help to rethink the strategy. Let us see what the record holds for Baganda.

Baganda have had:

1. Four presidents namely Mutesa II; Lule; Binaisa and Muwanga (he served as the real head of state when he was chairman of the military commission);

2. Four vice presidents namely Muwanga; Kisekka; Bukenya and Ssekandi;

3. Three prime ministers namely Kisekka; Kintu Musoke, Apolo Nsibambi;

4. Two second and third deputy prime ministers namely Paul Ssemogerere and Abu Mayanja;

5. One vice chairman of the ruling NRM party Moses Kigongo;

6. One inspector general of police Katumba Wamala;

7. One army commander Katumba Wamala;

8. Many ministers in key and strategic ministries namely foreign affairs, internal affairs, finance, attorney general, security, education, local government etc.

No other region has had such senior representation in the central government since independence. Buganda and more specifically Kampala has remained the economic, social and cultural hub of Uganda. Currently some 80 percent of Uganda’s Gross National Income (GNI) is generated in Kampala and surrounding areas.

Conclusion: it is not the accumulation of these things that matters. It is the spirit and dedication to serving the people and making sure that the benefits trickle down to the rest of the population. Getting the next Muganda as president could possibly make matters worse as he/she tries to appease Ugandans from other region in order to keep the position, making Baganda suffer even more.

Solution: Uganda needs a dedicated person who will be bold and take tough decisions including solving the land grab problem; tightening the flow of migrants into Uganda; giving priority to Ugandans in employment; providing quality, relevant education to enable Ugandans to compete at home and abroad; healthcare that prevents and cures diseases; food and nutrition security that will build immunity and improve performance and increase productivity including school feeding program that improve school attendance and performance especially of girls.

We shall need a leader that will launch a conditional cash transfer to poor households as is being done in Brazil, India, Tanzania, Nigeria etc to get people out of poverty. Security insurance would also be necessary. We shall need a leader that will negotiate a good deal for Ugandans in the East African community; not the current one that has opened Uganda borders to an influx of non-Ugandans because of the unregulated travel arrangements within the community members. In part because of this Uganda has more men than women, indicating that we are getting more men than women coming into Uganda; Uganda will need a leader that will give identity cards to Ugandans not foreigners. We shall need a leader that will not rely on mercenaries to survive. I could go on but for now this is enough to chew on.

In looking for the next leader that could be a Muganda or someone else let us first look at what needs to be done and then pick the leader that fits this profile.

Eric Kashambuzi

Duncan Kafero missed a golden opportunity to convince Ugandans

Uganda is at a critical juncture in its history since independence in 1962. To save it requires the quality of leadership exhibited by leaders that include Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Konrad Adenauer, Franklin D. Roosevelt, General Park, Narasimha Rao, Deng Xiaoping and Nelson Mandela.

I listened to Dr. Kafero on both the English and Luganda programs of radio munansi. While it is understandable that assessments of his performance will differ depending upon what each one of us was looking for, I think that he missed a golden opportunity to convince Ugandans that he was the man to lead Uganda after NRM has exited with all the problems that will be inherited. He should have articulated his policy and strategy views on all areas of human endeavor, if only in a condensed manner. His presentation and response to questions left a lot to be desired. I got the impression that either he didn’t want to answer or he didn’t know. I stand ready to hear from those who think my assessment isn’t fair. Below are some of my concerns.

1. Having appeared on the radio so soon after President Museveni delivered his state of the nation address and the budget, Kafero should have commented on the two addresses pointing out areas where more needs to be done. Uganda’s economy, society, environment and relations with neighbors are not functioning well. Kafero should have identified areas that would need priority attention during the 36 months he declared he would serve in office, if he got there.

2. Having appeared on the radio so soon after the English program anchor had been axed in unexplained circumstances and former listeners are demanding an answer, Kafero should have taken responsibility as leader of Ugandans to the Resque (UTR) and its affiliate radio munansi and explained why a decision was taken without consulting the individual concerned or informing him of the reasons for his ouster. This decision has left the radio station overwhelmingly in the hands of Baganda giving it a regional, rather than a national dimension. This decision has cast a shadow on Kafero’s approach to making decisions or his representatives.

3. While empirical evidence shows unambiguously that more than 70 percent of authoritarian regimes in the world have been removed from power by non-violent means, Kafero did not explain why he has taken an exception to this trend. He just made a statement that NRM regime will be removed by the gun. Uganda has used guns many times since 1966 to solve political problems but the outcomes have remained unsatisfactory. What makes Kafero think that this time the situation will be different during and after the war? The catastrophes of Luwero Triangle, Northern and Eastern Uganda are still fresh in our minds.

4. Kafero didn’t give a convincing answer in my view about the possibility of M23 members in his army. He admitted that there are ‘foreign mercenaries’ in his army that he referred to as Banyarwanda instead of Tutsi. If Kafero has Bahutu and Batutsi mercenaries he should clarify that point. He wasn’t also able to answer what he would do should he attack Uganda and the government calls on support from friends in Africa and beyond? In other words would he have the capacity to handle that combined force? African Union has agreed that a sitting government has a right to call for help when attacked by military means. The UN prefers settling disputes by peaceful means in the first instance and when that fails can apply other means in self-defense.

5. Kafero was particularly disturbed and lost control when he used the two words “total rubbish” three times when a reference was made that there might have been contacts between him and Sejusa directly or indirectly on forging a working relationship. What we know is that senior members of UTR warmly welcomed Sejusa when he arrived in Europe as though he was already a member of UTR. When Sejusa announced a few weeks later that he was working to become the next president, a member of UTR complained rather strongly that Sejusa spoke too soon. Shortly afterwards, Sejusa changed his position and it is believed he stated he would accept the posts of the minister for defense and commander of Uganda armed forces, implying he had accepted Kafero as the leader. That there have been contacts between FUF and UTR could be deduced from the fact that a senior member of UTR attended the meeting in London that created the FUF of which Sejusa is the sole founder. It would be surprising that such a thing could have happened without the knowledge of Kafero before or after the meeting.

6. Except his clear position against Buganda secession, Kafero’s grasp of national issues left doubts in the minds of many as read from the media. He avoided or was unable to answer a direct question about threats to westerners especially Banyankole including their expulsion from Buganda soil should he become the next leader. Calls have been made regularly on radio munansi that non-Baganda in particular Banyankole should go back to where they came from. This matter needs to be resolved or it will be difficult for those threatened to associate themselves with what Kafero is trying to achieve. Acholi people have also been mentioned as a group that would be targeted. Kafero needs to make a strong statement on these developments. The former anchor of the English program was trying to call for a solution to this problem and was axed possibly because of his insistence that these threats needed to be resolved once and for all.

7. On the 1995 constitution Kafero contradicted himself. He first said he would delete the sections that were unpopular without specifying them and later declared he would scrap the entire constitution. First of all it’s not Kafero who should do that. It is the people of Uganda through their representatives and direct consultations. One wonders whether he would even be able to do all that in three years, or failure to complete the task would compel him to seek an extension as Museveni did when his four year term ended in 1990 and he is still in power in 2014 and still counting.

8. Kafero avoided the burning issue of land grabbing. He said it was a big challenge but he would do what he can. Land grabbing is a political issue that can only be resolved by political means in a transparent and participatory manner. He should have made a strong statement along that line. I expected him to say something about the proposed New Landlord Tenant Bill and the Land Commission Bill. I don’t remember him addressing these issues, especially as they relate to Buganda following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which in practice has turned out to be a binding Agreement.

9. The other burning issue that Kafero avoided was unemployment especially of youth including university graduates. He said that that was a long term challenge that he would leave to political parties presumably after he has left office, implying that he would do nothing within three years in office.

10. The gender issue came up the second time and possibly by the same individual who was not satisfied with the answer given when Kafero appeared on radio munansi. Like before he didn’t give an answer to indicate he was aware of the magnitude of the challenges women face.

11. Kafero appreciated the good question about the challenge of environmental degradation in Uganda including flooding and slums but he did not specify what he would do as I listened to him.

12. Basically Kafero was not able to answer these and other questions put to him because UTR has given the impression that its priority is to defeat NRM first and prepare a development plan after capturing power which I think is a big mistake. His technical team if he has any should be developing a plan or should have one already. UDU was formed in July 2011. By October 2011 it had adopted a comprehensive National Recovery Plan that has been used as a basis for civic education. Thus, Ugandans know what we plan to do should we be honored with an opportunity to serve the people of Uganda.

13. On working with other military groups Kafero said he was trying to bring them under his wing, implying as junior partners. This is exactly what happened in Los Angeles in 2011 when UDU was formed. UTR participants wanted UTR to be the umbrella organization and when the suggestion was not endorsed, UTR decided to go its own way.

14. Unless I missed it, one would have expected to hear Kafero’s views about a transitional government that would bring all Ugandans together under a presidential team. This discussion has been in the news for a while and is gaining momentum. To avoid the possibility of instability and even a civil war, it makes sense to establish a collective participation in government after NRM has exited.

Let me end on a different note regarding Baganda. Some are not happy with what I have been writing and saying. I want those concerned to know that I care deeply about all the people of Uganda in present and future generations, seeing myself more as a statesman than a politician. I have maintained that we can’t solve our problems unless we identify the root causes from within and without. I feel very strongly that secession through self-determination of the people isn’t the answer.

Uganda has all the natural and human resources needed to make it as a whole a first world country and society. What we are missing is quality leadership – leadership that believes in equality of opportunity, justice for all, rule of law, respect for diversity, human rights and fundamental freedom and allowing people to decide how they want to be governed. So let’s identify that quality of leadership which is available and can be assessed by its contributions to the current debates.

My views should be analyzed within – not taken out of – the context I present them – in this connection the secession of Buganda which I don’t favor and have provided evidence to discourage it. I also wish to underscore that I come from a background that believes in truth, justice and dignity for all and cares especially for the voiceless and powerless members of society, sometimes leading to conflicts with those who want to stay on top at the expense of others ad infinitum.

Eric Kashambuzi

By its very nature politics is divisive

Politics is about getting power and keeping it. To do that those who don’t have power are prevented from getting it. So you have those with power and those without it struggling with each other.

In Uganda the Tutsi-dominated National Resistance Movement (NRM) has had power since 1986 and wants to keep it forever by keeping others out. Similarly in Rwanda, the Tutsi-dominated Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) has had power since 1994 and wants to keep it forever. That is why these two countries have become vulnerable to political shocks because there is a very tiny minority of Tutsi trying to dominate the majority by using all sorts of methods including dubbing their opponents sectarian or genocidaire to keep them silent.

Tutsi have devised a sophisticated method of using others and money for their ultimate and possibly permanent benefit in Uganda and Rwanda. Without wishing to offend anyone, let me say this: To capture power in Uganda, Museveni carefully mobilized Baganda support by offering them some carrots. He made Lule (RIP) chairman of NRM. Baganda assumed that with power in NRM hands Lule would become president and Museveni vice president. Sadly, Lule passed on a year before power was captured. Museveni then became acting president and would not allow an election to have another Muganda in the chair until NRM captured power and he became president by default or through the backdoor if you will.

Museveni knew Baganda were upset, so he gave them another carrot. He named them at different times to high profile positions including vice Chairman of NRM, Speaker of Parliament and cabinet posts including Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Local Government and Attorney General etc. At one time two Baganda, a Catholic and a Muslim, were made second and third Deputy Prime Ministers respectively. However, they had no authority because that went to Ministers of State who were mostly Tutsi. The posts of Vice President and Prime Minister have also been dominated by Baganda as well as the strategic position of chairman of the Land Board since Tutsi are determined to acquire land at the expense of indigenous owners throughout Uganda.

With Tutsi fairly entrenched, the number of Baganda in key positions has declined precipitously. They only have a vice president with undefined functions.

In Rwanda while Tutsi were still weak before and after capturing power in 1994, they fronted Hutu as Chairman of RPF, President of Rwanda, Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs etc. Like Museveni before him, as soon as Kagame was secure in Rwanda, he removed all of them: some went to jail, others fled into exile and one of them was gunned down in Nairobi, Kenya.

Because Museveni is getting worried that NRM could lose power because of mounting opposition at home and in the diaspora, he has come up with a scheme to keep Tutsi in power. It is rumored, subject to confirmation, that Ugandans to the Resque (UTR) has Museveni hand in it. Duncan Kafero who admitted yesterday that he is Tutsified, is the ceremonial head. He also confessed that there are Tutsi in his military wing of UTR. Knowing how Tutsi behave in military matters, the majority of commanders could be Tutsi that operate secretly. Kafero also admitted for the first time that UTR has structures but are not for public consumption and will therefore continue to operate secretly.

It is also rumored subject to confirmation that David Sejusa is in London, not as a refugee, but working for NRM to break the back of opposition in the diaspora. He has neither denied it nor the $1 million alleged to have been transferred to his bank account in Switzerland by Museveni. There is another rumor that Sejusa, Kafero and State House are working together to suppress the opposition. That a senior member of UTR attended the Sejusa conference in London in December 2013 that created FUF indicates a connection. I appeal to interested Ugandans to investigate these rumors and report back their findings.

To mobilize Ugandans, Kafero set up Radio Munansi. A reasonably good team for the English program was hired to attract Ugandans. A Luganda program specifically for Baganda was also set up. I was hired on the English program together with two colleagues who eventually left. I stayed on – I was dismissed and then brought back – worked around the clock to mobilize listeners around the world.

When Kafero and Tutsi behind him realized that I was becoming popular – some commentators tried to break my back and force me out using acidic language and it didn’t work – they abruptly, without explanation, kicked me out the second time in three and half years. Those who did not like my messages and rising profile are naturally happy and have said so.

Kafero who had refused to appear on the program – probably fearing that I might ask him questions that would make him uncomfortable – suddenly showed up yesterday, a week after my ouster. Unfortunately without adequate preparation which was clear in his presentation and especially when answering questions, Kafero did not perform well at all. As questions piled up Kafero couldn’t take it, lost his temper and referred to some of my statements made earlier as “total rubbish”. He said that three times.

Comments flying around from all corners following Kafero’s presentation have one thing in common: Kafero did not rise to the occasion and chances of becoming the next president were severely damaged. Those who had hoped Baganda had finally picked a candidate with a national appeal were definitely disappointed. It is not too late to look somewhere else. Kafero could be a good man but he is possibly in a wrong place and likely being used as a cover for Tutsi that are working hard to retain power in Uganda and Rwanda.

I am requesting Ugandans especially Baganda to take another look: there are potentially good leaders out there. They don’t necessarily have to come from one’s region. All that is needed is to look for a Ugandan that has articulated a message to create a national space for justice, dignity, tolerance, prosperity and equality of opportunity for all Ugandans in present and future generations. Those aspiring leaders who keep silent supposedly in the interest of neutrality are either not sincere or have no clear ideas as Kafero demonstrated yesterday about what they would do once in power.

As the struggle rages on to snatch power from NRM, politics will sadly remain divisive along many lines including ideological, regional, religious and ethnic. We need to learn to live with this reality provided we develop shared values and a common purpose for the entire country around which politics will be practiced while respecting one another as human beings born free and equal in dignity and rights. Not least, Ugandans should stop the habit of being used for the comfort of others.

Eric Kashambuzi

Why reading history is important for Uganda

When you read widely you are likely to stumble on useful information applicable to a contemporary situation like in Uganda regarding land grabbing.

One of Museveni’s principal goals was to find land for his ethnic nomadic people in the Great Lakes Region. He came up with the idea that Uganda had plenty of empty arable land (there is no piece of land that is unoccupied by animal and human populations) which was well watered and needed to be populated by people who did not or were deprived of their land (Museveni has claimed that his people were dispossessed of their land but does not say who did it). So word went around in the Great Lakes Region that Uganda had plenty of empty land. Mobility to Uganda has been facilitated by a liberal immigration policy that has been pursued by the NRM government since 1986. Associations like Banyakigezi were created in large part to assist in identifying land for purchase. And it is also rumored subject to confirmation that a trust fund was created to make money available for those in need of purchasing land.

The 1995 Uganda constitution allows free mobility and settlement (of Uganda citizens) in any part of Uganda. However, following in particular the East African provision of visas to travel anywhere in the region, many Tutsi have moved from Burundi, Rwanda, DRC and Tanzania and are settling in Uganda in large numbers and dispossessing indigenous people of their ancestral land. The proposed new Landlord and Peasant Bill, resulting from the Agreement between Mengo administration and central government, is designed to formalize permanent settlement of these non-Uganda land grabbers. History indicates that if this matter is not resolved quickly and land returned to rightful owners it could lead to serious trouble – possibly armed conflict – at some stage in the future.

This bill should be opposed by Ugandans as everyone will be affected in the end. This is one of the issues that the English program was advocating when we were unceremoniously axed from Radio Munansi two weeks ago. Although Radio Munansi is basically Baganda-based who have suffered extensive land grabbing by outsiders, the proposed Land Bill has not been discussed and one begins to wonder whose side the radio is on.

This is part of civic education

Eric Kashambuzi

Why history lessons are important

A few listeners who are vocal on Radio Munansi are protesting reference to history because it is producing what they don’t want to hear. I must add that the silent majority who communicate privately are happy with the programs and have urged us to continue. The purpose of studying history is to draw lessons that help present leaders to govern better by avoiding past mistakes.

For example, it is stated that Kabaka Mwanga acted too late to control his converted subjects who had come under the influence of missionaries and disrespected the king. What lesson can we draw from this in present circumstances? If we let Museveni and NRM continue to do what they are doing especially dispossessing Ugandans of their land and giving it to foreigners, it may be too late when we decide to act. We need to do it now by vigorously opposing the new landlord tenant bill and the associated national land commission bill. Complaining is necessary but not sufficient. We must act.

The second lesson to learn is from the collapse of communism. It had been hoped that the states that broke off would stay intact. This is not what happened at least in two cases. Yugoslavia disintegrated into warring factions that became independent but problems are still there. Czechoslovakia split into two states of Czech Republic and Slovakia. This means that it is not territories that secede. It is people that do. They may choose to secede collectively or separately. If they choose the latter they move with their territories. The people in Buyaga and Bugangaizi were given three options: to choose independence; stay with Buganda; rejoin Bunyoro. They chose to rejoin Bunyoro and carried the territories with them. Baganda that are more vocal about Buganda secession need to realize that reality that it is not the territory or even leaders that choose but the people. In this connection, it is important to recognize that the Declaration on the Right of Self-determination adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1960 borrowed the language of the UN Charter which talks about the people, not countries or leaders. A paragraph in the preamble of the Self-determination declaration states:“Recognizing that the peoples of the world ardently desire the end of colonialism in all its manifestations”.

In Uganda, the manifestations of colonialism still exist, namely the territories that were incorporated into another region after they had been colonized by Britain (eventually Hong Kong went back to China).

We also need to realize that Uganda has conditions similar to former Yugoslavia and Ethiopia where territories were slammed together by some force or convenience of administration, making it difficult to refer to these entities as nations (there is no one nation in former Kigezi and Ankole. Buganda isn’t one nation because it has two ancestries (bana ba Kintu and bana ba Kimera) and people in Buganda speak their indigenous languages, Luganda is an adopted language by many living in Buganda: it is not their indigenous language).

Yugoslavia disintegrated in part for failure to compromise while Ethiopia has survived because of a federal system it adopted that has allowed Ethiopians in different regions to manage many of their affairs.

Another lesson that we should continue to stress is that marriages of convenience or appeasement policies (as is practiced particularly in Buganda) have short-term benefits. The UPC/KY and Moshi conference marriages should not be repeated because intricate issues were swept under the carpet hoping they would stay there. Sadly they didn’t. We should therefore be bold and discuss our differences and agree on shared values and a common purpose before NRM collapses. It is therefore unwise to accept the proposal that we should discuss our differences after NRM has exited.

To avoid the possibility of a political turmoil or even a civil war, it has been suggested that:

1. We should have a transitional government with all Ugandans participating including NRM.

2. To avoid one person dictatorship we should have a presidential team with every region represented.

3. To avoid jobs going disproportionately to those who are well connected, we should have a team managing the public service commission with every region represented instead of one person as chairperson.

4. The security forces should not be dominated by one region or one ethnic group. We must agree on a formula to balance appointments and promotions in the military, police and intelligence taking every region into consideration.

These innovations if adopted and implemented will likely minimize conflict that could even explode into a civil war as some groups are threatening publicly to punish others when the time comes.

Eric Kashambuzi

Ethiopia expanded through annexation, conquest and subjugation

Ethiopia’s expansion brought together people that were culturally, racially, linguistically and historically different from the conquering Abyssinians of Amhara and Tigriya. Menelik “converted what had been sovereign independent states to the hegemony of one over the rest”. Haile Selassie consolidated into a unitary empire that was divided into standardized provinces.

The Abyssinians were Christians of semitic and Cushitic race that entered Ethiopia from Arabia. The conquered and colonized people were Cushitic and Nilotic stock. At the time of annexation and colonization they were at different levels of development (Mekuria Bulcha 1988).

The relations between Abyssinians and the rest exhibited colonial characteristics including economic exploitation. The colonization took place during the scramble for Africa. The inhabitants of the conquered territories were subjected to characteristic treatment: They were sold as slaves and exploited as serfs. They had no political, religious, economic or social rights. Officially they were referred to as dependents. Inequality in political status, economic participation, educational opportunities and human rights defined the relations between the conquerors and the conquered.

Abyssinia was not colonized by Europeans in part because several European countries including Great Britain, France and Italy had interest and avoided conflict over the area thus leaving it alone that enabled Abyssinia to conquer neighboring territories using massive modern weaponry and foreign experts that were denied to the conquered people including in Oromia, Sidama and Ogaden. Instead of colonizing Ethiopia through physical occupation Europeans chose a neo-colonial system of trade with Abyssinia following the defeat of Italy by Ethiopia at Adowa in 1896.

The conquest was violent and resulted in depopulation of many parts. The conquered people were enslaved, impoverished and dispossessed of their lands and livestock.

Economic exploitation and impoverishment triggered resistance. Resistance occurs through collective or individual actions against the presence of an alien political power. The aim of resistance is to liberate the territory and people from foreign occupation, domination and exploitation. The conquered people resented subjugation from the beginning. Resistance was sometimes open and violent, but was mostly hidden and silent.

The subjugation of Oromoland or Oromia and her people started with annexation of Wollo in 1899. The Oromo fiercely resisted and it took a decade to impose Ethiopian foreign rule using imported modern weapons. Oromo people were driven to resistance because they never derived any benefits as Ethiopia’s subjects (Mekuria Bulcha 1988).

The socio-economic system that was imposed on Oromo and other conquered territories was feudal, authoritarian and hierarchical. Political power, social prestige and privilege were inherited or bestowed, not earned on merit. To keep the spirit of resistance alive, Oromo people stressed in their daily lives ‘great resurrection followed by departure of the oppressor’.

In northern Oromo the first revolt took place in 1928 due in large part to excessive taxation and corruption. Other revolts followed in 1935-36. The Western Oromo confederation formed in 1936 was not recognized by the Imperial regime. When Haile Sellasie was restored to the throne by the British, the Oromo people resisted his control over them but did not succeed. People revolted in mid-1960s including the Macha-Tulama Association and the Bale Peasants. The Bale Peasant rebellion was the first and lasted from 1963 to 1970. Despite setbacks, the spirit remained alive.

Uprisings took place in other colonized parts besides Oromia. They occurred in Sidama and Walatiya and were most acute in the Ogaden. Conflicts also took place within Abyssinian society itself due to inter-and intra-class differences that produced social conflicts. Menelik moved the capital of the empire to Addis Ababa in the annexed Oromo territory from Tigray, reducing Tigray to a peripheral status that upset the nobility. Unable to fight Menelik, they accepted his superiority and, in turn, were left independent. With subsequent Haile Sellasie’s centralization policy, the independence of Tigray came to an end. Peasant poverty due to poor agricultural production, feudal exploitation, drought, locusts, epidemics and civil war after the 1974 revolution created conditions for a rebellion.

Eritrea is occupied by Christians and Muslims. The highlands of Eritrea and Tigray formed the center of the ancient kingdom of Aksum and the cradle of Abyssinian culture. The Italians conquered Eritrea while Menelik was conquering territories in the south. The colonization of Eritrea was completed in 1889 and recognized by Menelik in the Ucciali treaty.

Italian rule ended with World War I when Italian forces were defeated by combined British and Ethiopian forces. Eritrea became a British protectorate. In 1952, it was federated to Ethiopia by UN General Assembly resolution. Eritrea was given autonomous status with a parliament and a government responsible for domestic affairs. The federation lasted ten years in part because of incompatibility between relatively democratic institutions and political practices in Eritrea and the autocratic feudal government in Addis Ababa. Haile Selassie violated articles of the UN Federal Act and intervened in internal affairs of Eritrea. The prime minister resigned in protest. In 1962 Eritrea was annexed to Ethiopia as an ordinary province (Mekuria Bulcha 1988). This act initiated a resistance that would last some thirty years to liberate Eritrea from Ethiopian colonization.

Resistance in many parts of the empire made worse by external factors such as the oil crisis and severe drought led to the 1974 revolution and civil war. After the defeat of Mengistu government, Meles became prime minister. In order to keep the country together, his government designed a federal system of government that has allowed devolution of powers so that the people can decide how they want to be governed.

A lesson for Uganda

Uganda that is going through a critical period and is vulnerable to internal and external shocks needs to learn from the federal arrangements in Ethiopia that have kept the country together except Eritrea. The decentralized system in Uganda including creation of economically unviable districts has not worked to the satisfaction of the people. The post NRM regime should organize a national conference by a transitional government run by a presidential team so that the people of Uganda decide how they want to be governed. Maintaining a centralized system may lead to unhappy outcomes. It’s time leaders listened to the voices of the people.

Eric Kashambuzi

Federalism doesn’t hopefully mean a return to pre-colonial status quo

There is resurgence in connection with a return to the past as some Ugandans mainly from the central region are advocating. What we are doing in civic education is that when an issue is discussed, Ugandans should have all the information in order to make informed decisions. Most of these issues are raised by Baganda participants on Radio Munansi, hence our responses are focused mostly on Buganda. Ugandans and others that have information on other regions or societies should make it available.

Ugandans have been complaining about centralization of power in the hands of one national leader which is abused in many instances. Those who oppose excessive central government authority want a return to the good old days before colonization. But when you look at Buganda you see that power was concentrated in the Kabaka as the quote below shows.

“He [Kabaka Mutesa] had power of life and death over his people and maintained his authority by severe and brutal punishments, such as the destruction of houses and property, the selling of his subjects into slavery, mutilations, burning offenders alive or hacking them to pieces (Richards, 1960:45)

“Sometimes innocent people were caught and used as sacrifices”(Arthur Tuden and Plotnicov 1970). That is why I have been suggesting that we study our history and pick those practices with modification if necessary that will make the future of Uganda a better place for all. What is quoted above doesn’t represent the kind of society we want to emulate. Those who are advocating pre-colonial ‘superior’ ideology and policy to be restored intact in the 21st century need to think again.

Eric Kashambuzi

Use lessons of history to make life better for all Ugandans

As I have argued orally and in writing patriotic and peace loving Ugandans should oppose the still few separatist and extremist Ugandans from the central region who are arguing for Buganda secession or a federal system based on pre-colonial ‘superior’ ideology and policy as presented yesterday by one commentator on Luganda program of Radio Munansi.

The two sources about the greatness and wealth of the central region indicate that we need to move cautiously on the return to pre-colonial days ideology and policy. Here is what we have come across.

“The Ganda constituted a warring, authoritarian, achieving, and competitive society. These traits and the patterns of behavior which they engendered formed an interdependent, complex whole. They were a predatory society. War brought them additional territory, slaves, women, power, and individual rise in position. Through prowess in war, individuals could achieve a rapid advance in status. War became a standard norm of external relations. Not until the latter half of the nineteenth century did external trade develop. Sir Apolo Kagwa, a prime minister in the early twentieth century said that ‘This custom of robbing the surrounding nations brought wealth to the Baganda, but it also meant the loss of their ability to trade. These expeditions had to be made quite regularly about every six months, and sometimes resulted in considerable loss of life and no particular gain”(Kenneth S. Carlston 1968).

Another source states “Nineteenth-century Buganda was, as modern historians have pointed out, a highly acquisitive society. Wealth came from war. Raids against neighboring peoples – no less than sixty such expeditions took place in the reign of Mutesa I (1854-83) – produced slaves, cattle and ivory. The women slaves served to swell the retinue of the Kabaka and his chiefs, cattle could be used to reward and feast the rank and file, and men slaves and ivory were sold to Zanzibari merchants who had reached Buganda by 1840s, bringing with them cotton cloth and other luxuries and – most significant of imports – guns”(Robin Hallett 1970).

This information is provided as part of civic education especially the youth of Uganda.

Eric Kashambuzi