Is it a crime for Uganda citizens to request background information of their leaders?


Things that citizens of other countries take for granted such as the right to know the background including birth place of their leaders have become taboo in Uganda. Uganda sits at the center of Africa and has acted as a magnet attracting many people particularly from the Horn and Great Lakes regions of Africa. Because of colonial history whose impact is still felt, Uganda has in its midst people from other countries and continents. Demanding to know who they are, how they got into the country, what they are doing and what future plans they have is a normal thing without sectarian content. Simple questions have been turned into a political matter with potential for instability. Refusing to answer these questions will only lead to more suspicions.

People have come into Uganda for different reasons. The Nubians entered what later became Uganda in search of temporary shelter when they were cut off during a rebellion in Sudan in the 19th century. They stayed and were later hired by Frederick Lugard to break colonial resistance with brutal force.

They then kept a low profile until the 1970s when they were hired by Amin – himself a Nubian – who  brutalized Ugandans for nine long years. Amin’s birth place has remained problematic to this day. Some Ugandans believe that because Amin was not a true Ugandan he hired mercenaries including the Anyanyas (poison) who constituted 75 of
Uganda’s armed forces and ordered or facilitated them to brutalize Ugandans. In 1979 they disappeared with their loot and left Uganda in a miserable position.

During colonial days, many people came to Uganda looking for work and some of them stayed but there were records of where they came from and where they were working. When economic conditions deteriorated and there was too much unemployment in the late 1960s, the government decided to ask some foreign workers to return to their countries to ease the labor situation. However, when Obote and UPC government was overthrown in 1971 one of the eighteen reasons for the coup was that by asking foreign workers to go back home, Obote had damaged neighborly relations. But he was trying to take care of the needs of Uganda citizens first!

Many people from Burundi, Rwanda, Eastern DRC, Sudan, Kenya and Somalia etc have entered Uganda since the 1920s looking for work or seeking temporary shelter from political instability in their countries. Ugandan authorities welcomed them on a temporary basis. They were given education using Ugandan tax payers’ money and they got
jobs in all sectors and rose to very high positions including in security and political sectors and had access to national secrets.

Some of them participated in the Luwero Triangle guerrilla war as mercenaries to the tune of some 25 percent in National Resistance Army. After the formation of government in 1986 by National Resistance Movement (NRM) many of them got important jobs including in the National Resistance Council, defense, internal and foreign affairs.

Ugandans were shocked to discover that those people who posed as Ugandans had all along been Rwandese because they left for Rwanda en masse when Habyarimana’s government was overthrown by Rwandese Patriotic Army. Those who stayed behind are still influential in Uganda’s security forces and have increasingly entered politics and are serving from the lowest councils to parliament and in the executive and judiciary branches of government besides active
participation in the lucrative sections of the private sector because of connections with the center of power.

When economic conditions are favorable and everyone has a job, people tend to ignore foreign presence in their countries. But when economic performance is bad with so many unemployed, people begin to look around for an explanation and foreigners tend to be targeted. The increasing political, economic and social hardship in Uganda with few people including foreigners amassing wealth at the expense of indigenous people has sparked a desire to know who our leaders are who do not seem to care about the suffering of vulnerable people witness the excessive force in dealing with the “Walk to Work” campaign.

The increasing number of MPs and Ministers whose roots are unknown has become a major factor in Uganda’s political discourse. What has particularly disturbed Ugandans is the manner in which Museveni with support of his wife who is also member of parliament and cabinet minister has handled the economic hardship as reflected in rising prices of goods and services especially fuel/kerosene and food. By refusing state intervention to ease the suffering especially of
vulnerable groups like pregnant women, lactating mothers, children, the sick and elderly has raised questions about the background of the president and first lady. People are demanding to know their family trees. The longer they resist to respond, the more difficult it will be for them to govern a suspicious populace.

, , , , , , , , , All