As I have written and spoken on a number of occasions, revolutions will not occur unless there is a spark. I have given you the sparks that triggered revolutions in France, Mexico, Russia, Tunisia and Ethiopia. In Uganda the conditions for a revolution are there in abundance. What is missing is a spark which could come any time from now. We can prevent a revolution only if commonsense prevails in the NRM government. Ugandans are not docile people. They are ready but the spark hasn’t gone off yet.
In Iran the revolution was triggered by an article written by the Shah. Here is what happened after the Shah decided to counter the growing popularity of Ayatollah Khomeini.
“The Shah penned an article, a report supposedly about Ayatollah Khomeini, calling the cleric a coward, a traitor, a communist and insinuating that he’d partaken in particularly lascivious deeds. On January 7, 1978, when the Shah had the article published …, it was the first time the cleric’s name had seen the ink of Iran’s printing press since 1964. It also marked the last time the Shah’s people were going to put up with his crap [hence the spark].
Iranians knew it was a fake. The article that condemned Khomeini, calling him decadent and a communist spy, proved to be the noose the Shah drew around his own neck. When religious students in Qom read the article, they kicked off a protest that would snowball into a revolution. Marching from the house of one theologian to another asking them to condemn the Shah, their numbers grew from a few dozen to thousands, as angry townspeople joined in. Windows were smashed, the crowd chanted ‘Down with the Shah’, and several marchers threw stones at police manning a roadblock. The police shot into a crowd, killing five. Or may be seven or twenty or thirty….. Across the country, memorial services were scheduled, and those emotional protests spawned more run-ins with the security and more deaths. Religious students continued protesting so loudly that SAVAK and the military broke up the protests. At least seven students were killed. Riots broke out….. The oil workers went on strike, cutting off revenue and domestic supplies. The blackouts began. …
In August, a theater in the oil town Abadan burned down, killing four hundred. …, the striking oil workers blamed it on SAVAK. In September the Shah imposed martial law … All public meetings were banned and even two constituted a crowd.
Khomeini’s tapes urged followers to rebel [these days it is social media]. On September 8, 1978, thousands convened in Teheran … In response…, the military rolled in… At least eighty were killed on Black Friday… It marked the Shah’s darkest hour.
The Shah tried deal making with his people. He promised to call off SAVAK. He tossed in a new prime minister – a nationalist. But it had all gone too far. By now the revolution had full support of the bazaaris, the powerful and religious-leaning merchant class whose networks stem from traders to the countryside. … Like that in the cities, the rural population backed an overthrow of the Shah’s regime and backed Khomeini, whose anti-Shah message was also embraced by ethnic minorities… and militant dissidents…
It soon became clear that the Shah had lost his grip. Asked to leave by the prime minister, on the night of January 16, , the Shah, his wife, and his family secretly hurried from the palace and boarded the royal plane. .. For the first few months he [the Shah] made a home in Egypt, watching in horror the news of what had happened since he left [and never to return]”(Melissa Rossi The Middle East 2008).
Many leaders who refused to listen to the voices of dissent from their people including Rhee of South Korea, Marcos of the Philippines and the Shah of Iran I have written about ended up in exile, never to return. These leaders were confident they had strong security forces and reliable foreign backers. In the final analysis the people’s power prevailed. It could well happen in Uganda even though there might be strong security forces and reliable external friends.
The purpose of writing the above quotation is not to incite a revolution in Uganda but to advise the government that the way things stand the only alternative left is a people’s revolt unless the government is willing and ready to enter – quickly – into negotiations with opposition parties and groups at home and in the Diaspora to set up an all inclusive transitional government run by a presidential team with each region represented. The transitional team would then arrange for free and fair multiparty elections.
Eric Kashambuzi, Secretary-General of UDU.