In early 1980s a few countries including Britain decided that Museveni would be the ruler of Uganda (Peter Phillips 2006) because Obote considered to be a socialist was not trusted (Vijay Gupta 1983) to take care of foreign interests. Museveni who was a Marxist was judged to be flexible and could easily be converted into a supporter of capitalism – which he has turned out to be. Britain led a visible effort in preparing Museveni for that role and has sustained him in power since 1986.
Before considering how Ugandans might lose their land to Britain and other foreigners, let us outline the steps that have been taken to enable Britain re-colonize Uganda through Museveni. The process started in the early 1980s during the guerrilla war. How was it carried out? Tiny Rowland provided finance, William Pike communication and media connections and Linda Chalker under Thatcher government political cover. According to Andrew Spannaus “Museveni, ever since he began fighting to take power in Uganda in the early 1980s, was backed by Baronnes Lynda Chalker, former Minister for Overseas Development of the Empire “ (EIR September 1997). His intellectual credentials which were previously considered insignificant were boosted by foreigners – African and non-African. Gerry O’Kane reported that Museveni was described as the intellectual who picked up a gun and used magical powers in his guerrilla war against Obote government (New Africa March 1986).
The first foreign dignitary to meet with Museveni as president was Lynda Chalker who has remained a close adviser since then (no wonder Uganda adopted the shock therapy version of structural adjustment similar to Thatcher’s in the UK). Museveni appointed William Pike, British journalist, manager of New Vision. Paul Collier, British economist, became one of the architects of structural adjustment program adopted in 1987 that replaced the ten-point program which had called inter alia for parliamentary democracy, popular participation and a decent living for every Ugandan (Journal of Democracy April 1998). Museveni then handed over to Britain through its experts (Sebastian Mallaby 2004) the restructured ministry of finance, planning and economic development and central bank. The ministry was empowered to run Uganda’s economy. By handing over the running of the ministry to British experts supported by Uganda surrogates, Museveni essentially abdicated Uganda’s economic responsibility to people who did not understand Uganda’s history and culture and put British interests over those of Ugandans more or less in a zero-sum game relationship.
Since economic decisions to be taken under British control were very unpopular such as the return of nationalized businesses to former European owners and return of Asians (mostly British citizens) and repossession of their properties probably including some of which Amin had paid compensation and implementation of structural adjustment’s brutal policies modeled on Thatcher ideas including privatization of public assets and launching of market forces and laissez faire capitalism in a globalized environment and a raging war in northern and eastern Uganda, Museveni was tacitly allowed to be authoritarian, corrupt and reject democracy and elections to give him time to consolidate his base.
It is reported that Lynda Chalker said “The situation [corrupt, sectarian and repressive], … , should not come as a surprise. In order to impose the brutal policies of globalization and structural adjustment of the IMF, democracy must be defeated. ‘You need a dictator like Museveni to push these types of policies’, she stated” (EIR September 1997). A diplomat added that “If Museveni had come to power by ballot, he would not succeed in his policies”(New African September 1997).
The external sponsors of Museveni interpreted this corruption and sectarianism, brutality and dictatorship as bold determination to maintain stability and create conditions for economic growth and foreign direct investment.
In order to consolidate this dictatorship, Museveni was allowed to reject elections and multiparty politics and without shame to practice corruption and sectarianism in broad day light. The new British Labor government under Tony Blair decided that “it will not press for multiparty reforms in Uganda” although for other African countries donor support was continued on condition that multiparty politics was adopted (Journal of Democracy April 1998).
Thus Museveni has been permitted to become a ruthless dictator to this day in 2010. In return for this support especially by Britain, Museveni has handed over Uganda to Britain. Uganda is now more colonized than during direct colonial rule (at least Britain developed fisheries to make affordable proteins to low income families which Museveni is exporting to get foreign currency to meet the demands of the rich).
Museveni took drastic measures. First, Museveni returned Asians to Uganda mostly British citizens and repossession of their properties against overwhelming public disapproval.
Second, prodded by the World Bank that works closely with or on behalf of Britain, Museveni then embarked on a massive privatization of public enterprises exercise. His measures shocked domestic and external observers who remarked in the following rather long quotation “President Yoweri Museveni has done what his predecessors could never dream of doing – privatize the entire economy. … The announcement of the privatization program caused an uproar not only in the National Resistance Council (NRC) … but also amongst ordinary Ugandans in the street… parliamentarians ran amock on learning that the government had secretly advertised the affected enterprises in foreign media – specifically the guardian of London – before doing so at home.
They [parliamentarians] groaned with anguish on learning that some government companies had already been sold secretly, without tendering. One such company was the Agricultural Enterprises, which was sold together with its six subsidiaries – Ankole Tea Co. Bugembe Plantation Co, Kitco Tea Co, Mwenge Tea Co. Muzizi Tea Co. and Salama Estates at $7.6 million, although the value of the assets of the company were put at $36 million.
What astounded everyone apart from the parliamentarians was that in spite of the unanswered questions concerning the deal, the government also agreed to take over the responsibility for the company’s debts amounting to $4.2 million [in essence the enterprise was given away almost for free].
Big questions were also hovering over the return of its former owners, Madhvani and Co, of Nile Breweries where the government’s 99% of the assets were to go for a down payment of only UShs 500 million, pending negotiations …
Kampala has become a beehive for foreign investors who stream daily into the country to make a quick buck. To ensure that they confront no hindrance, the government has announced the relaxation of all immigration and tax restrictions to foreign visitors [this liberal immigration policy has largely remained in force since then and attracted many migrants that have boosted rapid population growth].
The Uganda business community is likely to be a passive spectator as foreigners fall over each other to grab what most people believe is undervalued property. Most Ugandans are unhappy about the unfolding events. Unfortunately public hardly counts and the government will have its way over the sales program. Coming at the time of massive lay-offs in which over 10,000 workers have lost jobs in the civil service and the private sector, many Ugandans believe privatization of government corporations will exacerbate unemployment further [youth unemployment stands at over 80 percent in 2010]”(New African September 1992).
To escape massive opposition to privatization exercise, Museveni ordered that divestments begin immediately and deal with problems later. To silence dissent, Museveni declared that privatization in Uganda had come to stay (V. V. Ramanadham 1993). It has remained a secret how much revenue was generated from sale of public enterprises and the use to which it has been put.
The service sector has similarly been massively privatized and handed over to foreigners. Because of these benefits Britain has been the most outspoken admirer of Museveni for macroeconomic stability and promotion of market forces and laissez faire capitalism. Former minister of external affairs in Gordon Brown’s government boasted that Britain was the largest foreign investor in Uganda.
From Britain’s point of view it is understandable why Museveni is a wonderful leader who was rewarded with becoming chairman of the Commonwealth, dinning with the Queen and staying in power indefinitely. Britain together with Museveni have engaged in a zero-sum game vis-à-vis the people of Uganda that has kept the majority of Ugandans in the cold after 25 years of Uganda’s economic success story under Museveni a star performer and darling of the west.
Museveni’s programs in economic, social and environmental sectors since 1987 have been prepared to serve foreign interests including export of organically produced foodstuffs leaving Ugandans with inadequate supplies that have resulted in millions going to bed hungry with all sorts of problems connected with under-nutrition including insanity, children born underweight, restrictions on brain development and overall human capital formation.
When Ugandans see what has happened to their country, economy, environment and their own quality of life, they have every reason to ask whether Museveni is truly a citizen or a foreigner employed to serve Britain’s interests. Nina Mbabazi who has written confirming that Museveni is a citizen born in Rukungiri district needs to give concrete information about the location and relatives in his area of birth and resting place of his ancestors etc rather than make a dry statement. This matter needs to come to a closure soon and Nina can help in this regard. No one has a right to muzzle Ugandans from asking questions including Museveni’s birth place that mean a lot to them.
Museveni has privatized everything and transferred ownership to foreigners except land. Museveni delayed doing so because he had not yet figured out how to do it. Now he has. He has been advised to advocate four things silently and/or loudly: (1) to develop one must urbanize, (2) adopt modern methods of farming using heavy multi-purpose equipment that prepares land, plants modern seeds preferably genetically modified (GM) seeds, weeds, harvests and bags the crop with minimum labor, (3) embark on birth control for poor families and (4) discourage small holder agriculture because it is inefficient (which is false).
Museveni and his trusted ministers and civil servants have already begun to talk about these issues and have already implemented some like birth control and GM crops. Some ministers are already saying that Uganda still has large chunks of fertile and idle land which must be developed through large-scale farms using modern methods by inviting Europeans and other Africans with the means to do so in order to feed the nation adequately and generate surplus for export to maximize foreign currency earnings essential for rapid economic growth and technological revolution.
Foreign land occupation began in earnest in 1960 through a deliberate policy adopted by Britain to admit foreigners and allow them to settle with their livestock. This period coincided with the social revolution in Rwanda that threw out Tutsis. At that time Britain had decided to let Uganda become independent and did not want Tutsi refuge problem to hold back independence plans. At the same time Bahima and Bahororo in Ankole were worried about losing political power to Protestant Bairu. Anything that could boost their numbers was welcome. Kangaho, then DP MP convinced British authorities that Ankole (and Kigezi) had enough land to accommodate Tutsi Rwandese (mostly Catholic). Accordingly one third of refugees ended up staying with relatives in Ankole and Kigezi (B. L. Jacobs 1965) putting pressure on land especially in Kigezi and forcing out-migration to other districts including in Buganda where Bahima and Batutsi have settled. In Ankole environmentally fragile areas were cleared for settling Tutsi refugees and Bakiga from overcrowded Kabale including in national parks that have been badly denuded and poor indigenous population is being blamed for high fertility! Hutus from Rwanda have avoided seeking refuge status in Uganda because of cordial relations between Museveni and Kagame. Therefore the influx from Rwanda and Burundi into Uganda is of Tutsi immigrants and their livestock.
Paul Collier, a British economist, and close adviser to Museveni has written in strong support of large-scale farming using modern technology. Already Uganda has begun planting GM seeds over strong objections of many Uganda and non-Uganda scientists. Some have written directly to Museveni advising him about the long-term dangers to no avail. Museveni generally despises Ugandans for intellectual inferiority.
It is very certain that should Museveni be re-elected he will enforce privatization of land. To do so, Museveni will create a situation to force peasants into camps or in urban areas and hand over Uganda land to foreign states and companies and families from neighboring countries within the context of economic integration and political federation (which should be slowed down until their net benefits to Uganda have been properly assessed in the short and long term).
Sections of the 1995 constitution that allow free mobility and settlement and speaking mother languages have been misinterpreted that you can settle anywhere any time and use your language in a new community any time and disregard local cultures and traditions. We are getting Tutsi from Rwanda who settle anywhere in Uganda, speak Kinyarwanda and call themselves Bafumbira!
Ugandans have seen how Museveni has handled other sectors of the economy with impunity. You can be sure he will do the same thing regarding land should he be re-elected. Land ownership is not only an inalienable right of Ugandans it is the only asset and source of livelihood that they have especially the totally or functionally illiterate Ugandans.
To avoid loss of land that could trigger a civil war, the easiest and cheapest way is to defeat Museveni come February 2011. Let us take preventive rather than costly curative measures. Failure to defeat Museveni will not only be a very regrettable and unforgivable but also an unforgotten mistake. You have been warned well in advance. Two months remaining before presidential elections is long enough to organize and defeat Museveni. Go out in large numbers and do it! Our Creator will not let you down because the suffering has been too much under Museveni’s rule that has been classified as one of the worst dictatorships in history.
There is one rule that we should not forget: Our Creator helps those who help themselves. Amen.