Some Ugandans and non-Ugandans who have doubts that peaceful demonstrations alone (which I support) will squeeze Museveni and NRM illegitimate government out of power have asked me to explain the mechanism through which it will happen. Let me state right away that I have opted for peaceful demonstrations because their potential for human loss, injuries and displacement as well as destruction of property is much lower than the military option.
Uganda is a small country with a vulnerable economy dependent on external forces through exports, donations and soft loans, foreign investors, foreign experts and advisers, tourism and remittances by Ugandans living abroad. All we need to do is to convince these forces including our neighbors and all members of the East African community to cooperate with the suffering Ugandans to change the regime through peaceful means.
Sustained demonstrations and civil disobedience will create economic disruptions and security response will generate instability. These developments will constrain production of goods and services, cause supply to fall below demand, raise prices and force more Ugandans including NRM supporters to join demonstrations in protest against rising prices especially of food thereby denting the popularity of Museveni’s illegitimate government. Deterioration in economic activity will reduce the tax base and government revenue forcing it to cut back the provision of services further reducing its popularity especially its illegitimate leader Museveni.
Reduction in economic activity will reduce production and export of commodities thereby reduce foreign currency earnings and correspondingly cut back on importation of intermediate and consumer goods and services. The business community that depends on imported intermediate goods will cut back on production and employment or leave the country altogether for greener pastures. Rising unemployment especially of youth will lead to destabilizing criminal activities to make ends meet and translate into anger against the government. The unemployed will swell the ranks of demonstrators in protest against intolerable hardship and Museveni government responsible for it.
Tourism which is one of Uganda’s main foreign exchange earners will decline due to political instability and reduced quality of services caused by demonstrations and civil disobedience. Reduced foreign exchange earnings will reduce government revenue and reserves at the central bank and limit further government capacity to import goods and services. The elites that have been used to luxurious livelihood will turn against Museveni and join protests for regime change.
These developments will lead to macroeconomic instability especially through high inflation as demand for goods and services exceed supply. The donor community will begin to read the writing on the wall and reduce or terminate its generous financial and technical support.
Finally, as their contribution to remove Museveni and his illegitimate government from power, Ugandans in the diaspora, besides galvanizing the international community away from support to Museveni, will reduce or cut off remittances to Uganda, notwithstanding the temporary pain that this would cause to relatives. The adverse impact of reduced remittances on the government will be considerable.
The total effect of these actions including rising absolute poverty will make the government so unpopular at home (even among NRM supporters) and abroad that Museveni will have no choice but to step down.
However, to succeed, all these activities and demonstrations will need to be coordinated at home and abroad for maximum and quick effect. Already commendable progress is being made at home to coordinate political party activities with a common message. Many organizations have been formed abroad but need to be coordinated as well for maximum efficiency and effectiveness. That is why an umbrella organization for Ugandans in the diaspora has been proposed and has been well received witness positive comments for urgent action on Ugandans at heart forum.
Working together with one umbrella organization at home and another one abroad Ugandans will not fail to squeeze Museveni out of power. This arrangement of peaceful demonstrations will deny Museveni the possibility to use massive force to intimidate Ugandans. Use of the media especially display of images of security officers brutalizing innocent and peaceful demonstrators in exercise of their right to march, assemble and express opinions peacefully will significantly force them to behave humanely for fear of arrest and prosecution by the ICC for individual criminal actions whether or not directed by superiors. The images of killed and wounded Ugandans especially women and children posted on the internet and broadcast on TV screens around the world have already exposed the brutality and dictatorship of Museveni who has begun to complain that his forces are being lenient on demonstrators, implying an admission that demonstrations are beginning to bite. For maximum effect they have to be intensified and above all sustained.
The combined effect of well organized and led demonstrations under umbrella organizations and the media worked very well under Solidarity and Civic Forum and brought down communist regimes in Poland and Czechoslovakia respectively in 1989 by peaceful means.
Umbrella political organizations in Kenya and Zambia brought down KANU and UNIP governments respectively which had been in power for a long time. Ipso facto, Ugandans should give peaceful demonstrations a chance to bring Museveni down rather than rush to a military solution in the first instance.
When Museveni regime has gone, those who have committed crimes will be dealt with according to the law. The rest have nothing to worry about – they will not even lose their jobs as happened under Museveni regime. We appeal to all Ugandans to join in the demonstrations to speed up the collapse of Museveni’s regime because collapse it will. It is a matter of time!