I have been a leader since grade three

There is consensus that Uganda is suffering a leadership crisis in NRM and opposition parties, causing Uganda to go silent political issues and to decline economically, socially and ecologically. That there wasn’t a public outcry over the mysterious death of a twenty four year old Member of Parliament and death of a pregnant woman at Mulago Hospital signifies a serious leadership deficit. The public is asking where opposition leaders are. This concern was expressed on Ngoma Radio program that ran on January 13, 2013 from 4 to 6 o’clock, London time. There is therefore a search for leadership to lay a foundation for a better Uganda for all citizens. But what constitutes a good leader?

It is recognized that a good leader should at least have discipline and trust; lead by example and ability to bring and keep people together to solve common problems and take care of the interests of all members of society.

Out of concern for the decadence that has engulfed Uganda, I have humbly offered my services to serve because I believe I have something to offer to solve the challenges we face as a nation. I have experience accumulated over many decades. And experience counts a great deal. Let me illustrate.

On discipline: The headmaster of Kashenyi primary school in Ruhinda sub-county of Rukungiri district told my parents that he selected me to be a time keeper because I was disciplined in the sense that I was the first to arrive at school every day. I used to get up very early to sound the drum for teaching catechism which my father was responsible for. Then I would get ready for school and was the first to arrive. Because of this discipline, the headmaster entrusted me with that responsibility. And I didn’t fail him. I have kept this discipline since then. If you ask me to be at a meeting at 7 o’clock, I shall be there barring circumstances beyond control. Ask those I worked with on Radio Munansi English program. I was there at ten o’clock sharp.

On trust: At Kinyasano secondary school I was selected to become a librarian because I liked to read beyond the assigned textbooks. I was told that many books had disappeared and should stop that from happening again. And I did. Then there was a problem of sugar being stolen from the store. Because I was trusted sugar was kept in the library. This was a serious responsibility. First I had to be at school every day to open the library and second to be present when the cook measured the sugar he needed for lunch.

Lead by example: A good leader must lead by example. You can’t stop your colleagues from smoking in their offices when you smoke in yours. You can’t force workmates to be punctual, when you come late. You can’t stop corruption and sectarianism when you practice them however much you complain about them.

During my career, I was given various management responsibilities including regional program for Africa and United Nations General Assembly affairs. In one case I was assigned to an office where punctuality and absenteeism were common. I learnt that my predecessor was always coming late and disappearing from office frequently without informing colleagues where he went. The rest of staff followed suit.

The only way I could stop the habit was to lead by example. Without complaining that there was a problem, I simply came to the office on time every day in the morning and afternoon and left on time for lunch and after work in the evening. When I was absent from office, staff knew where I was. Seeing that I was punctual and not disappearing from office mysteriously forced others to follow suit and I solved the problem without saying a word about it.

On leadership: It is a mistake to pick a leader because of family connections or loyalty per se. While loyalty is necessary, it doesn’t constitute a sufficient condition. To pick a leader requires observation of the behavior of the targeted person for quite a while.

The headmaster of Butobere Senior Secondary School told me that he had picked me to become a prefect and house captain because he and other teachers had observed my behavior and character for two years. I didn’t smoke and didn’t drink alcohol. I observed lights out requirement and was popular with fellow students regardless of ethnicity and religion and was performing well academically and in sports.

I was selected to be scout troop leader at Butobere School because as I was told was respected and liked by fellow scouts. I led the team to Marumba camp in Rujumbura where scouts from Kigezi district met for some ten days. We came second in overall performance but we were judged number one in discipline. I made sure we observed all the rules. To succeed I had to serve as a role model. Nobody would go out of the camp at night because they knew I would find out and act appropriately because I had the mandate to do so.

I was picked to become a prefect at Ntare School because of my record at Butobere School, my active participation in sports at Ntare and popularity among students.

Bringing and keeping people together: UPC was formed in 1960.

1. In 1961 then Secretary General John Kakonge (RIP) visited Kabale town. I met with him and we discussed mobilization to increase party membership. He told me what to do which included non-discrimination. He said all Ugandans were welcomed into the party. I formed a UPC youth wing and became its president and tried to recruit all students. I didn’t succeed in recruiting Catholics because at that time Uganda politics was overwhelmingly religious-based. Those that had joined left under peer pressure that a good Catholic had to join DP. But I managed to recruit Protestants from different backgrounds including ethnicity.

2. I was elected president of Rujumbura Students Association at a time when the association was experiencing many difficulties. I was elected to instill discipline because some members had become unruly. I approached the challenge by talking to the difficult members individually; making it clear that those who insisted on disrupting work of the association would not be tolerated. I made sure they were engaged instead of isolating them and by the end of my term morale, discipline and respect for one another had improved.

3. I was elected president of African Students Association at the University of California at Berkeley USA because fellow students found me reasonable in our discussions focusing on issues that brought all students together instead of joining one camp against another.

4. In 1979, I co-founded in Lusaka, Zambia, Uganda Unity Group (UGU). The idea was to bring Ugandans together. Ugandans had been split so badly that I felt something needed to be done before Amin regime was toppled. I succeeded in bringing a sizeable group drawn from all parts of Uganda, all religions and all ethnic groups. We were easily admitted at the Moshi conference and one of our delegates was elected minister of state. I couldn’t attend the conference because my employer forbade direct participation in national politics.

5. Co-founder of African Amicale at the United Nations in New York. The need arose to coordinate African activities and needs that were scattered in different departments. I was among the first champions and participated actively in its activities. By acting together we had greater impact than acting separately. That is why I like the idea of an umbrella organization of opposition political parties and organizations opposed to NRM, a transitional government and disproportional representation in Uganda politics.

6. Co-founder of UDU in 2011: My joining Uganda politics is based on the fact that the opposition (political parties and organizations at home and abroad) need to come together to form a critical mass to challenge NRM by coordinating the agenda and electing credible leadership. I was elected Secretary General charged with diplomatic networking responsibility and coordinating preparation of a National Recovery Plan (NRP) as well as civic education and analysis and response to developments in Uganda political economy. Within a period of 18 months, UDU has made significant progress in working with development partners, conducting civic education and keeping an eye and responding to developments in Uganda and working with other organization including attending the conference on federalism in London in October 2012. UDU has created a website www.udugandans.org where all our work and periodic reports of UDU performance are kept. We are now engaged in joining with other groups that haven’t done so and prioritizing our work with a shift towards action. UDU is also compiling a list of professionals in different categories and at various levels to avoid the pitfalls of Moshi conference in 1979 that formed a transitional government without adequate preparation. UDU believes Uganda should set up a transitional government of all stake holders to clean up the place and prepare solid ground for free and fair elections based on independent electoral commission, revised constitution as appropriate, standardized campaign finance and a vetting committee of all candidates.

7. Leadership by giving back: I constructed my first house in Rukungiri town to lead my fellow Rukungirians that we have to give back to our communities that supported us as we grew up and encourage those that come after us to do the same. In the same spirit I constructed a church for my community. My businesses have created jobs offered on merit to people in my community without discrimination as to religion or ethnicity.

8. Leadership in abstentia: Although I don’t live in Uganda, I have led my team that manages my businesses at home in farming and real estate.

Am I ready? As you can see I have built leadership experience over many years. Through research and writing, I know what Uganda challenges are and how to address them. I have been open and exhaustive in my approach and would welcome others to do the same. I have adopted the approach that you can’t solve a problem without understanding its root cause (s) first. I also believe very strongly that Uganda has shed too much blood. We should use peaceful methods to bring about change but must be ready to use other means should self-defense become necessary. That is why in UDU we are talking of Plan A and Plan B which should be developed concurrently but applied differently with Plan A coming first. Fellow Ugandans that is a snapshot of my leadership experience and I am ready to serve Uganda should I be given the opportunity. Other aspiring Ugandans should present their leadership profile to give Ugandans an opportunity to make an informed decision. Leadership should not be purchased or acquired at gun point. Please read and let me have your sincere feedback.

Eric Kashambuzi

January 14, 2013

, , , , , , , , , All