Post-NRM regime will be a shared achievement.

Fellow Ugandans, we see there are people who are now beginning to claim that they are “game changers” when they joined the opposition not long ago, some of them having served the NRM regime in senior positions until recently and possibly responsible by commission, omission or delegation for crimes against humanity. On the other hand, there are those who have been in serious struggle immediately after the 2011 stolen elections.

UDU which was created in July 2011 has been working tirelessly to mobilize Ugandans at home and abroad for a peaceful change of regime in the first instance. We have written to all sectors of the population including the military and the police, gender, youth, civil society organization and religious leaders etc. urging them to join the opposition. Therefore those late comers who are now claiming that their success is within sight need to think again.

While we welcome everybody to join those struggling for regime change, we must avoid a situation where late comers may be tempted to claim victory the winner-take –all style. We should avoid what happened in Ethiopia immediately before the imperial regime collapsed in 1974.

For those who may not know, the revolution in Ethiopia was launched by ordinary people in urban and rural areas including women and youth particularly the poor, landless, unemployed and hungry. They were joined by taxi drivers protesting the rising price of oil that quadrupled in late 1973. They were then joined by students and later workers.

When the regime was about to fall as is about to happen in Uganda, the military stepped in and captured power and ignored those that had been struggling and preparing the country for a regime change. The civilians claimed the right to form the government because they were the ones who mobilized the population. When the army refused, a long civil war ensued, resulting in heavy casualties.

In Uganda, we should avoid what happened in Ethiopia and embrace the Filipino model of People Power, where civilians and military people that opposed the government of Ferdinand Marcos joined hands and removed it from power peacefully.

Additionally, to avoid post NRM political instability, or even a civil war as we discussed and agreed in The Hague we should reflect on Uganda’s chaotic history since independence and be creative. The institutions we inherited at independence haven’t served Uganda well. To do things better after NRM has exited, we should set up a transitional government with all Ugandans participating except criminals within and without NRM. Then the new government should be led by a presidential team of at least four people each drawn from the four regions of Uganda. We should also avoid getting people from the same group scattered in all parts of the country. Those who have jumped NRM ship and are now claiming to lead the opposition need to be scrutinized very carefully to establish whether they have genuinely left NRM or still working for it and want to weaken the opposition and maintain the status quo. Furthermore, joining hands with the devil to create a critical mass for regime change is the wrong way to go because once the regime is changed the wolves will turn against the sheep, witness post-Moshi in-fighting soon after the late Lule formed the government.

The transitional government besides running the day to day affairs of state should amend the constitution as appropriate or govern under a transitional charter. It should conduct a population census to give the latest demographic characteristics for registering voters, planning for poverty reduction, building institutions such as schools and clinics according to the population characteristics in different parts of the country. Then there should be a national convention to decide how Ugandans wish to be governed.

National institutions including the public service commission, security forces, and the relationship among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government should be reviewed to reestablish separation of powers and checks and balances and to make sure that one person in any institution does not accumulate power into his/her hands and dictate to others.

The transitional government should set up a truly independent electoral commission agreed to by all legitimate groups to prepare for free and fair multi-party elections at an appropriate time.

An independent vetting commission for presidential and parliamentary candidates should also be established to weed out those not qualified to contest elections. Profiles would be established for presidential and parliamentary candidates.

Winner take all politics, one person as president, one person as chair of public service commission and senior security officials from one group or a few regions should be abandoned and replaced by collective decision making apparatus as is practiced in Switzerland, a country whose federal institutions were built from the ground up. These proposed governance arrangements if implemented might have a better chance of creating peaceful and inclusive societies to avoid post-NRM crisis undermining economic development and social progress.

The Hague process that brought Ugandans together from home and in the diaspora and met for the first time in The Hague (The Netherlands) in November 2013 has already begun mobilizing Ugandans along these lines. The ideas of a transitional government, presidential team and national convention have already received strong support at home and abroad. Methods for peaceful regime change were distributed to The Hague process members after the London conference that took place at the end of June, 2014. They accompany an agreed upon roadmap for regime change and formation of a transitional government.

Those born after 1986 have not had the opportunity to be exposed to Uganda’s bloody history since independence. NRM government has minimized providing information about Uganda’s post-independent history because it has participated in some of the ugly events it would not want to be associated with. Those who ignore history are bound to repeat its ugly commissions and/or omissions. UDU and The Hague process will continue to conduct civic education including on Uganda’s history.

For those who want to know about Uganda’s history and what UDU has done including preparing a National Recovery Plan and diplomatic networking are advised to visit www.udugandans.org.

Not least, Uganda belongs to all the citizens who were born free and equal in rights and dignity and all are subject to the rule of law.

Eric Kashambuzi

Marriages of convenience don’t last and end up catastrophic

In an effort to beat The Hague process (the work being undertaken by Ugandans since we met in The Hague in November 2013 to stop 2016 elections, change the NRM regime by non-violent means and establish a transitional government to conduct a population census, organize a national conference so Ugandans decide how they want to be governed and ultimately organize multi-party elections), Sejusa has rushed into forming a coalition of so-called military groups that he will lead hoping to oust the NRM regime ahead of The Hague process.

History is full of examples of what goes wrong when coalitions are formed in a hurry to block or oust a competing group. Let us begin with Uganda.

1. Uganda Peoples’ Congress (UPC) entered into a rushed coalition of convenience with Kabaka Yekka (KY) when their ideologies were totally different for the sake of ousting the Democratic Party (DP) from power before independence (DP had formed the self-governing government). Within two years the marriage was in trouble and ended up catastrophic in 1966/1967 political and constitutional crisis.

2. The marriage of convenience between Obote and Ibingira to stop Kakonge from becoming a popular national figure ended up in a catastrophe with Ibingira and his colleagues in the cabinet arrested for plotting to overthrow the government.

3. The marriage of convenience between Lule and Museveni to oust Obote II government ended up not giving power to DP that had lost the 1980 elections that triggered the guerrilla war but made Museveni president through the back door leaving many people bitter to this day after five years of a bloody guerrilla war.

4. The marriage of convenience between Museveni and Okello ended up catastrophic because Museveni did not fulfill his part of the deal. As Robert Gersony (1997) reported after overthrowing the Obote regime in 1985 the “Acholi … had finally begun to enjoy some of the power and privileges of more senior rank, political and civil service appointments… They were deprived of all this by the NRA military victory. … They felt cheated by Museveni when he betrayed the Nairobi agreement. ‘We [Acholi] paved the way for the NRA by overthrowing Obote … and Museveni paid us back by betraying us’”. Sejusa who was with Museveni all along knows these tricks and will surely use them against those in the coalition when the time comes.

Let us look at other examples.

1. In a struggle for power a marriage of convenience was struck among Crassus the richest man in Rome and ambitious Pompey and Caesar Generals. Crassus was killed in battle leaving Pompey and Caesar to battle it out. There followed a year of civil war and Pompey was defeated.

2. In Ethiopian revolution of 1974 a marriage of convenience was forged among Andom, Bante, Atnafu and Mengistu. After the overthrow of the imperial regime the four military men turned on one another and Mengistu emerged as the winner having defeated and murdered the three members of the coalition.

3. The marriage of convenience between ZANU PF and ZAPU PF to oust the UDI (unilateral declaration of independence) government of Ian Smith resulted in a civil war soon after independence between the forces of Nkomo and Mugabe with catastrophic consequences in Matabeleland.

4. The marriage of convenience among Madero, Zaparta and Villa to oust President Diaz from power was followed by bloody struggle with Madero killed first, then Zaparta and finally Villa.

The examples above are presented to show that marriages of convenience to beat someone else at the finishing line or oust someone already in power have by and large ended up very badly.

Accordingly, I have two messages for Ugandans:

1. Those who are joining with Sejusa – the man who gathered thick dirt under NRM in which he was one of the principal decision makers in matters of peace and war and life and death – need to think again. The people of Luwero Triangle, Northern and Eastern Uganda especially need to be particularly concerned about the leadership of Sejusa. And for all Ugandans don’t forget that Sejusa was head of both ISO and ESO under whose leadership many Ugandans at home and abroad suffered torture and or death. We Ugandans can’t and must not forget so easily. There are also speculations subject to confirmation that Sejusa has surrounded himself with his ESO agents to form the Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) which remains a secret body and now a military coalition possibly with the same members. That is why there is no transparency in what Sejusa is doing.

2. There are also rumors subject to confirmation that Sejusa is actually working for Museveni to weaken opposition forces in the diaspora. That is why he is not a refuge but on a visa living comfortably in Europe. He has failed to comment on the alleged deposit on his Swiss bank account of $1 million by Museveni to help him cripple opposition in the diaspora.

The Hague process is building on work began largely in 2011 through civic education on radio munansi, Ugandans at Heart Forum; Face book and Tweeter, The London Evening Post and the New York-based Black Star News etc; diplomatic networking and research and writing all published in www.udugandans.org, www.kashambuzi.com.

The London Peace conference held on June 27-29, 2014 has issued a report demonstrating that non-violent struggle has removed some 70 percent of authoritarian governments from power while violent resistance is declining fast. Attached to the report are 198 methods of mobilizing the people for non-violent struggle.

The Hague process has called for cancellation of 2016 elections, removal of NRM government by peaceful means, establishing a transitional government of all Ugandans to avoid post-NRM political instability or civil war (witness what is happening in Libya and Central African Republic) led by a presidential team rather than one person; conducting a population census to help plan for the country, convening a national convention so Ugandans decide how they want to be governed; and ultimately conduct free and fair multi-party elections.

The people of Uganda are tired of bloody wars and war begets war. This must end. The Great Lakes region has established mechanisms to ensure no more wars. African Union has made it clear that change of government by military means will not be allowed. However, should a regime be overthrown by military means those involved will not be allowed to form a government witness Mali and Central African Republic. M23 was booted out of DRC. The Security Council of the United Nations demands dispute resolution by peaceful means first.

Thus, Sejusa and those with him bent military actions need to think again. Ugandans always remember what war does by revisiting the 1966 war against Kabaka’s palace; the 1979 war that destroyed Mbarara and Masaka towns; the Luwero Triangle that left half the population there dead and the Northern and Eastern war that used scorched earth methods under the overall supervision of Sejusa to destroy any living object on land, in the air and under water. This could be repeated again with impunity should Sejusa capture power by military means.

Finally, readers please note that the civil war that followed the overthrow of the Ethiopian Imperial regime in 1974 was due to the fact that it was the people (civilian people) that mobilized for the regime change. When they were about to take over the military stepped in. The people resisted and there followed many years of bloody struggle.

In Uganda the struggle by the people started in earnest after the 2011 stolen elections. We have made progress in mobilizing at home and abroad to oust NRM regime by peaceful means. The military put together by Sejusa at this late stage to supplant people’s efforts will be resisted and could possibly lead to a civil war. This is not inciting the people but warning about what might happen. Ugandans are now enlightened. They know their human rights and fundamental freedoms and won’t give them up without resistance this time. We need the Filipino model (People Power) where the civilians and security forces joined hands and successfully ousted Ferdinand Marcos from power without bloodshed. The Hague Process is built on the Filipino model where civilians and former soldiers have joined as individuals to present a common message of peaceful regime change and coordination of mass mobilization activities. The chairpersonship will rotate so that we don’t create rigid institutional structures that evolve into dictatorship. For us everyone is a leader according to comparative advantage.

Eric Kashambuzi

Federal versus unitary government for Uganda

As you are aware, I have written and talked a lot about my support for a federal government over the unitary arrangement we have in Uganda. Those interested please visit www.kashambuzi.com or www.udugandans.org. I have used the examples of Switzerland and Nigeria among others in support of federalism for Uganda.

Nigeria is currently reviewing its federal arrangement as it celebrates its founding 100 years ago. I urge you to follow the developments for clues as to how we should do it in the aftermath of NRM that has rejected a federal system even when the majority of Ugandans want it as contained in the Odoki report.

President Jonathan has led the process along the following lines and with the following message.

1. As defined by the 1979 Constitution ‘federal character’ is “the distinctive desire of the people of Nigeria to promote unity, and foster national loyalty and give citizens of Nigeria a sense of belonging to the nation notwithstanding the diversities of ethnic origin, culture, language or religion which may exist and which in their desire to nourish and harness to the enrichment of the federal republic of Nigeria”.

2. Bowing to public pressure President Jonathan announced on October 1, 2014 that a National Conference would be convened to chart the way forward for Nigeria.

3. He established a 13-member Presidential Advisory Committee to advise the government on a framework for the conference after nationwide consultations. The committee reported there was a national consensus for the conference.

4. The National Conference was inaugurated by the president on March 17, 2014 in Abuja. It is scheduled to last for three months. The 492 members of the conference were selected by a broad category of interest groups including government itself, labor representatives, ethno-religious organizations and former government officials.

5. The conference is free to discuss anything under the sun except the division of Nigeria.

6. The conference is taking place at a time when the National Assembly is in the process of amending the Constitution and the conference recommendations will be taken into account.

7. President Jonathan urged the delegates “to engage in intense introspection about the political and socio-economic challenges confronting our nation and to chart the best and most acceptable way for the resolution of such challenges in the collective interest of all the constituent parts of our fatherland. This coming together under one roof to confer and build a fresh national consensus for the amicable resolution of issues that still cause friction amongst our people must be seen as an essential part of the process of building a more united, stronger and progressive nation.

“It is our expectation that participants in this conference will patriotically articulate and synthesize our people’s thoughts, views and recommendations for a stronger, more united, peaceful and politically stable Nigeria, forge the broadest possible national consensus in support of those recommendations, and strive to ensure that they are given the legal and constitutional backing to shape the present and the future of our beloved fatherland. This conference is open for us to table our thoughts and positions on issues, and make recommendations that will advance our togetherness.

“The issues range from form of government, structures of government, devolution of powers, revenue sharing, resource control, state and local government creation, boundary adjustment, state police and fiscal federalism, to local government elections, indigeneship, gender equality and children’s rights, amongst others. [It should be] a positive turning point for our country’s development. We must seize this opportunity to cement the cleavages and fault lines that tend to separate us. We must re-launch our country”(Africa Today April/May 2014) – a powerful and positive message indeed.

Eric Kashambuzi

Uganda should learn from The Philippines

The principle method of UDU is to conduct civic education to bring about non-violent change in Uganda. This is the mandate we were given at the Boston conference that built on the Los Angeles conference, three months earlier.

Accordingly we have done some research to learn lessons from those that struggled before us. Studies have shown that non-violent methods are producing more results than armed struggle. Over 70 percent of authoritarian regimes are being removed by non-violence. And violent means can’t succeed unless they have external support including mercenaries as Duncan Kafero of Ugandans to the Rescue (UTR) is doing and made a very unsuccessful attempt to convince Uganda several weeks ago.

Armed struggle has been abandoned in Spain and Palestine. It was abandoned in Iran, East Timore (Timor Leste) and The Philippines. Here is what happened in The Philippines.

“In February 1986, less than two years after the start of a mass popular uprising, the Philippine dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, was ousted from power. At the time scholars predicted that the Marcos regime would be overthrown by a communist insurgency or a military coup… Instead, a popular uprising that involved nearly every segment of society, including Marcos’s armed defenders, ultimately toppled the regime. The mass civil resistance that followed a political assassination and stolen election undermined the dictator’s most important sources of domestic and international power and led to a relatively peaceful democratic transition. … The Philippines People Power movement stands as an impressive example of effective nonviolent resistance”(Chenoweth and Stephan 2011).

Four lessons are worth noticing by Ugandans.

1. The people of The Philippines came together in large numbers in a short time.

2. The participants in nonviolence came from all walks of life including sections of the armed forces led by the minister of defense and deputy army commander.

3. The Philippines had a capable leader, Cardinal Jaime Sin, the Catholic Archbishop of Manila.

4. The nonviolent rebellion had external support.

The Hague process that began in November 2013 and brought Ugandans together from home and abroad and conducted a second follow up meeting in London over the past weekend using advanced technology to obtain comments and suggestions and to reach those who could not physically attend adopted a roadmap based on nonviolent methods (It is important to note that increasingly meetings including at the United Nations are conducted through electronic arrangements including skype making it possible for people to conduct business without being physically together in one room. This method is also drastically reducing the cost of travel and associated expenses).

The next step is to designate champions to draw up action plans that are location specific to avoid a one size fits all arrangement. These plans will be used to mobilize Ugandans for non-violent resistance to unseat the NRM government, set up a transitional government, run by a presidential team to avoid possible political instability after NRM has exited (records show that when groups that came together for a common purpose of removing an unpopular regime turn against one another as they scramble to capture power leading to instability, a situation that must be avoided). The public service commission will also be run by a team to iron out sectarianism in hiring and promoting staff. The army will similarly be run by a team drawn from different parts of Uganda to avoid one army commander and generals from one region or one ethnic group as has been the case since independence.

The transitional government will then conduct a population census to determine how many we are and who we are. A national convention will follow so Ugandans decide how they want to be governed as members of one country.

Meanwhile the political playing field will be leveled for free and fair multiparty elections at an appropriate date. This way a sustainable political base will be established to enable the people of Uganda to decide who should represent them and hold them accountable for their commissions and omissions.

Ugandans are urged to give serious attention to these proposals. Time has come for Ugandans to be innovative and reject settling into routines in a dynamic world.

Two things to avoid in Uganda politics – secession and military invasion

When people are frustrated – as many Ugandans are – they tend to grab anything that can ease their pain. In these circumstances, many pet projects float around. Those with ideas begin to talk and write. Ideologies fly around using language – like ethnic cleansing – that may please listeners. Some want to go back to the golden past and launch traditional ideologies based on past glory. In an attempt to push their ideas through, they frustrate those with opposing views.

Sadly, this is what has happened to radio munansi. At the beginning of 2011, there were progressive anchor teams as well as listeners. It was hoped the country would be liberated in a short time. But when this didn’t happen disillusionment set in. People with extreme views including secession by military means using mercenaries if necessary to enhance delivery of results entered the debate.

To mobilize support like Hitler and Mussolini these extremists blamed some Ugandans for the suffering of sections of Uganda. They have now succeeded in removing progressive elements. They are now talking of the barrel of the gun as Duncan Kafero emphasized on the radio a few weeks ago as the only solution to Uganda problems. Kafero also admitted having Rwandese (Tutsi) mercenaries in his army. How can Kafero remove a Tutsi-dominated NRM regime by a Tutsi-led opposition army? Take a moment and think about that and tell us how on earth this is going to happen. When people are in too much pain they may over-doze themselves, ending their lives prematurely.

Ipso facto, Ugandans need to pause. Take a deep breath. Say a prayer for proper guidance so we don’t make another mistake. Around the world military means of removing authoritarian governments are declining. Non-violent resistance is in the ascendancy and is producing more results.

To do that requires better organization, discipline, using same message among opposition groups and mounting massive mobilization across the country with capable leaders that are patriotic and put national interests before their own. Secession and military invasion as alternatives should be avoided as chances of success are remote, besides being very costly. Secession has been tried and failed. Military governments have made matters worse.

Ugandans need also to understand who these people pushing for secession and military solutions are. You are urged to do your home work and stop taking things at face value.