Reflections on Sejusa and Niringiye mysterious missions

The mission of United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) which was established in July 2011 at the Los Angeles conference and its action program approved at the Boston conference in October 2011 is inclusiveness in Uganda efforts to unseat the failed NRM government by non-violent methods. We chose a non-violent strategy for three main reasons:

1. Change of regimes by violent means in Uganda has failed to produce the desired results in terms of peace, stability and human security (freedom from fear, freedom from want and freedom to live in dignity);

2. Violence begets violence as has been demonstrated in Uganda and makes matters worse. This conclusion is in line with John Horgan (2014) observation that “… violence even in a just cause often causes more problems than it solves, leading to greater injustice and suffering. Hence the best way to oppose an unjust regime … is through nonviolent action. Nonviolent movements are also more likely than violent ones to garner internal and international support and to lead to democratic and non-militarized regimes”;

3. There is sufficient empirical evidence that “… nonviolent struggles are steadily increasing in numbers whereas violent movements are decreasing [because Africa and the entire international community have discouraged them as a means of changing unjust regimes witness the cases of Mali, Central African Republic and Burkina Faso where the military was prevented from forming a government], and in recent decades nonviolent movements have outnumbered violent ones. Moreover, nonviolence is about twice as likely to be successful as violence” (John Horgan 2014).

Accordingly, against this backdrop UDU called upon Ugandans including especially those in the security forces and closer to NRM strategic institutions like the presidency to join hands with the civilian population as was done for example in The Philippines in 1986 to remove by nonviolent means the dictatorial regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

Thus, when David Sejusa and Zac Niringiye announced they had joined Uganda political dissenters against the regime they were warmly welcome. The articles written by Sejusa against the regime and the interviews on BBC and VOA and the demonstration undertaken by Niringiye and subsequent brief detention gave prima facie evidence that they were serious about regime change.

However, what raised suspicions is that Sejusa did not say anything new neither did he give names of who had directly or indirectly contributed to the suffering of Ugandans. An invitation to have him on Radio Munansi was not accepted. Efforts to talk with him on the telephone were equally unsuccessful. As a last resort I wrote an article raising issues that remained unanswered. The article was published in the New York-based Black Star News.

Upon receipt of the article The London Evening Post contacted Sejusa for his reaction before it was published. His unsatisfactory response was published and is available for easy reference. Subsequently we were advised to contact Amii Omara-Otunnu then chair of Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) on matters related to the organization. Otunnu shared Sejusa views about the use of violence to unseat the NRM regime under the leadership of Sejusa whom he presented as a game changer. The FUF strategy of regime change by violent means posed a problem for UDU that is non-violent in the first instance. However, in a subsequent conversation, Amii and I agreed to work together on areas that did not involve violence such as issuing a joint communiqué about the anti-gay legislation. We didn’t issue the communiqué apparently because Amii did not get clearance.

There was also a disturbing story that heightened suspicion. Apparently, Sejusa had asked some members of his group to contact Joseph Kony and his terrorist group to mount a joint invasion of Uganda and unseat the NRM government. Whispering spread that Sejusa was possibly on duty to dismantle the opposition in the Diaspora that was getting stronger and worrying the NRM regime.

Because of these developments we tried to ascertain that Sejusa was truly in exile and had severed relations with Museveni government. Sejusa declined to provide information that he had applied for and was granted asylum status and who was supporting him in the Diaspora. He also refused to answer questions relating to the allegation that he had received on his Swiss bank account $1 million from Museveni.

Relations between him and other Ugandans in the Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) deteriorated apparently on strategy issues and six months after FUF inauguration in London the organization disintegrated as announced by Sejusa himself. Subsequently, Sejusa was deserted en masse, remaining with two friends.

Sejusa’s abrupt return home has given rise to many interpretations. Some are reasoning that his mission failed; others it was completed successfully and yet others he was broke and winter was too much for him forcing his return to Uganda.

However, his arrival at Entebbe airport in the middle of the night might signal that the authorities didn’t want him to talk. Or his return could signal a political calculation by NRM that it is tolerant of political dissent and is therefore democratic and respectful of individual freedoms and rights, all intended for the consumption of the international community as 2016 elections approach and Museveni may be under some pressure not to seek re-election in 2016.

A few days upon arrival in Uganda Sejusa renounced violence against the regime. This could mean that if he had entered into a deal with some Ugandans in the Diaspora to unseat Museveni government by force he was sending a signal that he had netted them and they should abandon the project or face the consequences.

The case of Zac Niringiye is equally intriguing. There are rumors subject to confirmation that Zac is still doing business with the NRM regime. That he still travels on a diplomatic pass port may confirm the connection. Another observation that raises suspicion is that while on mission abroad Zac resists to be interviewed or photographed. And his exact mission has been difficult to understand except that he is against Musevenism which he has declined to elaborate.

At The Hague conference of November 2013 participants from Uganda and in the Diaspora agreed to block the 2016 elections through nonviolent actions. To that effect it was agreed that a road map be prepared together with methods to conduct non-violent resistance. However, upon return to Uganda instead of embarking on blocking elections Zac began to mobilize for electoral reforms in preparation for the 2016 elections contrary to The Hague decision.

To cap it all, the emerging consensus is that Sejusa and Niringiye are helping the NRM to address the mounting challenges against the regime at home and abroad. The mobilization for electoral reform is seen as an attempt to divert the attention of the opposition from preparing for the 2016 elections. Sejusa and Niringiye missions abroad are seen as efforts to dismantle the opposition that is exerting influence thanks in part to social media and diplomatic networking.

Sejusa and Niringiye disappointed many and devalued themselves

Whether he succeeded or failed in his two-year secret mission in the Diaspora, Sejusa will never be the same in the minds of many people. He gave hope especially to those like Ugandans to the Rescue (UTR) under the command of Duncan Kafero that want to change NRM regime by violent means. He made it clear that military violence was the only language Museveni understands. Some members of UTR welcomed him as their man although they cautioned him about his statement that he would be the next president of Uganda, a position reserved for Kafero. It is possible subject to confirmation that UTR and Sejusa may have entered into a compact to fight together.

There are others who vouched to support Sejusa and even die for him because they saw him as the only game changer through violence and the undisputed Uganda’s next head of state and government. They were sure of getting good jobs in his government. Some had already been appointed ministers as we heard. Sejusa’s abrupt return to Uganda, renunciation of the use of violence and warm welcome by Museveni government conveyed very disturbing messages to those who had rallied behind him especially those who apparently had been instructed to contact Joseph Kony for a possible agreement to work together to unseat NRM regime through violence. There is much fear and bitterness.

Zac Niringiye who initially appeared to be anti-NRM regime – especially after what is now considered a fake demonstration and brief detention to hoodwink the people of Uganda and friends and well-wishers abroad – and a non-violent crusader has disappointed many people at home and abroad. Zac has remained silent on this point of fake demonstration and imprisonment.

For some of us the first disappointment came at The Hague Conference of Ugandans at home and in the Diaspora that took place in November 2013. He declined to make a statement as planned. He exhibited disinterest in the three day proceedings by for instance conducting side discussions. Instead of summarizing the debate as we were later told Zac chose to talk about Musevenism as the root cause of the problem in Uganda. He recommended that Musevenism must be rejected and ejected. He then disappeared before a discussion took place on this new concept. Subsequent requests for a detailed definition of the concept were not entertained.

At The Hague conference there was a unanimous decision that we should work hard through non-violent resistance to prevent the 2016 elections taking place. He was together with two other members directed to champion this cause using a roadmap and methods that were completed in June and circulated to The Hague members in early July, 2014. Zac immediately turned his back on this decision and instead began a mobilization exercise on electoral reforms necessary for the 2016 elections.

He visited Europe and USA twice soon after The Hague conference but his mission was never disclosed at least to some of us. He avoided being interviewed and photographed and would not disclose the balance of his schedule. We later learned from a separate source that Zac was an activist and not a member of the opposition. Is he an activist within the NRM? Suspicions skyrocketed and we tried to find out. His travelling on a diplomatic passport sent signals that we were probably dealing with a wrong man. When Sejusa was invited to the conference on electoral reforms and none from USA that had received him twice, some Ugandans began to draw some conclusions that he should be avoided.

To repeat what has remained unclear is his mission. As a former assistant bishop, does he want to play a political role of becoming head of state of Uganda as Archbishop Makarios, a Greek Orthodox clergyman did by becoming the first president of Cyprus in 1959 or Bishop Abel Muzorewa who became president of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia to block the guerrilla fighters from overthrowing the independence that was unilaterally declared by Ian Smith in 1965? Does he want to play the role of Cardinal Jaime Sin of the Philippines who mobilized Filipinos and ousted Ferdinand Marcos from power in 1986 and sought no office in the new government or of Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa who fought apartheid and sought no office in the next government?

What is clear is that Zac and Sejusa share the same sentiment that it is Musevenism or Museveni and his family alone that has crippled the nation and must be removed. But if they are serious how come Museveni – a man who is known for not compromising or losing a fight unless under extreme pressure as in the case of the anti-gay bill – has tolerated these two men? That is a question that remains to be answered. You are all invited to play your part.

Happy New Year to you all

Proposals for Uganda’s post-NRM transitional government

The politics of exclusion and winner-take-all (zero sum-game) has not worked well in Uganda since independence in 1962 and in many other developing countries. Political exclusion has constrained access to economic resources and social services by those in the opposition leading to inequalities and consequent conflicts.

This matter of political exclusion has been taken up at the United Nations negotiations for the post-2015 development agenda. Goal 16 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) calls for peaceful and inclusive societies, rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It will form an integral part of the development agenda from 2016 to 2030.

In Uganda there is general consensus that the politics of exclusion should be replaced by an appropriate arrangement in the post-NRM period. The current model also has concentrated power in the presidency and at the center at the expense of regions which has come under severe scrutiny because it has undermined the principles of separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government and the associated checks and balances and federalism respectively. During consultations for the 1995 constitution, the majority of Ugandans called for a federal system of government but was excluded from the constitution.

The idea of an all inclusive transitional government as a replacement of the politics of exclusion was discussed by Ugandans at the July 2011 Los Angeles conference that created United Democratic Ugandans (UDU). Mubiru Musoke was elected chairperson to cover principally constitutional matters. Eric Kashambuzi was elected Secretary-General with mandate that included diplomatic networking and civic education and matters related to transitional government and proportional representation. The transitional government that has the following proposed characteristics and functions has enjoyed considerable support among Ugandans at home and abroad.

1. The transitional government should be inclusive of all stakeholders including NRM so that no one is left behind;

2. It should be led by a presidential team so that each region is represented. Currently some regions are complaining that they have been excluded from the highest office in the land. Members of the team should be selected on the basis of agreed upon criteria which must include impeccable character, sufficient knowledge and experience to understand the intricacies of domestic and international politics and economics. They must not participate in the next elections as they would have the advantage of incumbency over other candidates. (Following the death of Stalin of the Soviet Union, a three-person team was appointed to run the affairs of state at that difficult moment and subsequently replaced by Khruschev, a non-member of the team). The chair of the team should rotate among the members;

3. During the transitional period whose duration should be based on the tasks to be undertaken should not make major changes in the civil service (civil service which is apolitical serves every government in power).

4. Besides the day-to-day management of state affairs, the transitional government should strengthen the capacity of institutions. To avoid sectarianism which has plagued the civil service, a team of public service commissioners should be appointed with each region represented. Furthermore, security forces should be managed by the chairperson of the Joint Chiefs of Staff instead of one military official;

5. It should conduct a comprehensive population census to know exactly who we are and how many not only for political but more significantly for development purposes;

6. It should organize a national convention of all stakeholders to debate and make recommendations about how Ugandans want to be governed.

7. The transitional government should then organize free and fair multi-party elections.

8. To avoid protracted debate over which constitution – 1962, 1967 or 1995 – to use, the government should be governed by a charter.

We call upon all Ugandans at home and in the Diaspora to comment on these proposals – in line with the principles of transparency, participation, ownership and accountability.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all

Eric Kashambuzi

December 25, 2014

The World and international community are changing very fast

Here are the latest developments:

1. Military governments through military coups or guerrilla wars are over, witness developments in Mali, Central African Republic and Burkina Faso;

2. Winner-take-all or zero sum game is out of fashion. The mood is for inclusive and peaceful societies in political, economic and social engagement;

3. Concentration of power in the hands of one person in a centralized system of government is out of fashion. Devolution of power to lower levels, separation of powers and checks and balances or collective leadership are on the ascendancy;

4. Freedom and equality in rights and dignity, good governance (transparency, participation and accountability), rule of law and respect for human rights are receiving more attention than ever before.

Implications for Uganda

Since independence Uganda has experienced ‘strong man’ leadership and bad governance, leading to instability, insecurity, inequality, poverty and its offshoots of hunger, disease, illiteracy and environmental degradation. Uganda is characterized as a failed state subject to internal and external shocks. This sad situation needs to be stopped and reversed through the following steps.

1. The people of Uganda regardless of profession must combine efforts and embark on non-violent resistance to unseat the NRM regime. The Hague Process for Peace, Security and Development may serve as a basis;*

2. Set up an all inclusive transitional government led by a presidential team under the “Transitional Charter” to avoid complications from the 1995 constitution, witness the conflicts between the “Moshi Spirit” and the 1967 Constitution following the overthrow of the Amin regime.

*Uganda Peace Conference London, 28-29, 2014


The first ever conference of Ugandans at home and in the Diaspora met, in their individual capacity, at The Hague, The Netherlands on November 28-30, 2013. There was a balanced representation regionally (all four regions were represented); demographically (youth, gender, middle and senior Ugandans), faiths (Protestants, Catholics and Muslims) and professionally (military, journalism, legal, diplomacy, political and business administration, entrepreneurs, economists and accountants etc).

Justification for the conference

By all accounts, Uganda is a failed state under a repressive regime led by one person who controls security forces, public and private sectors, the economy and politics, domestic and external affairs. Civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights have been grossly violated. There is no rule of law and separation of powers or checks and balances among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government. Good governance in terms of government transparency, people participation in decisions that affect their lives and government accountability are virtually non-existent. One man is head of state and government; commander-in-chief of the armed forces and chairman of the ruling NRM party. Consequently he controls all levers of power in Uganda. Sectarianism, cronyism, corruption, skewed income distribution that favor the rich and invasion of and interference in internal affairs of neighbors define Uganda character today.

Overall when value expectations in terms of goods, services and conditions of life to which people believe they are entitled have fallen far below expectations and/or when men and women realize that their worth and capabilities can no longer be exploited, or can their aspirations be denied as in Uganda, they rebel (Robert Gurr (1971 and Robert Taber (1972).

Uganda has thus become extremely vulnerable to internal and external shocks. The internal shocks include high levels of poverty and vulnerability, unemployment especially of youth including university graduates, food and nutrition insecurity in a country that is food self-sufficient and generates surplus and poor health. Uganda’s external shocks include reliance on a few exports in raw form whose volume and prices fluctuate randomly and dependence on unpredictable foreign aid, making planning very difficult. The environment has also been severely damaged largely by human activity including de-vegetation to grow food and export crops, livestock, harvest timber and overfishing. De-vegetation has accelerated biodiversity loss, soil erosion and fertility loss, adverse hydrological and thermal changes that have been accompanied by severe, frequent and long droughts and floods. According to recent reports, 80 percent of Uganda will turn into a desert within a hundred years if corrective measures are not taken without delay.

Decisions of The Hague conference

After three days of intensive presentations and debate, it was concluded that a regime change by non-violent means in the first instance was necessary. The conference opted for non-violent struggle over armed resistance for the following reasons:

1. Empirical evidence shows that most of the authoritarian regimes have been removed by non-violent means. 323 case studies on violent and non-violent resistance were studied from 1900 to 2006. “In addition to their growing frequency, the success rates of nonviolent campaigns have increased. … although they persist, the success rates of violent insurgencies have declined”(Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan 2011). Furthermore, “A study conducted of some five dozen transitions to democratic rule concluded that in over 70 percent of cases, authoritarian regimes fell not because of armed resistance but because of boycotts, strikes, fasts and other methods of protest pioneered by the Indian thinker [Mahatma Gandhi]”(Ramachandra Guha 2013). Some two hundred specific methods of nonviolence have been identified. They are classified under three categories (1) protest and persuasion; (2) non-cooperation; and (3) intervention. Non-violent struggle is conducted by psychological, social, economic and political means (Gene Sharp 2012). Non-violence campaigns generally fail when only one or two methods are employed. It also fails when mobilization is limited to a small group or a small area. Thus, people power has a chance of success when accompanied by new policies and methods of operation.

2. Violent struggle is in decline. In The Philippines, East Timor (Timor Leste) and Iran, for instance, armed struggle did not work and was abandoned in favor of non-violent resistance. Armed resistance has been abandoned as the principle method in Palestine and Basque Separatists (ETA) in Spain. In Palestine, liberation groups “… have all de facto adopted non-violence as their principle method of choice in recent months – albeit to different degrees in terms of formal endorsement and irrevocability”(Michael Broning 2011). Non-violent resistance successes in Tunisia and Egypt have reduced further the necessity of armed struggle, unless perhaps in cases of self-defense.

3. In Uganda attempted or regime changes by armed resistance since 1966 have brought more suffering than peace, security and prosperity. Non-violent resistance methods should therefore be adopted. Besides, there doesn’t appear to be support for another armed resistance after the catastrophes in the Luwelo Triangle, Northern and Eastern Uganda.

Post-NRM peace and security must be guaranteed

Conference participants examined various cases of civil wars that have occurred following regime change. It was noted that when various groups with different and often opposed perspectives come together to get rid of a common enemy, once that enemy is gone there is nothing that binds the groups together and they drift into bloody civil wars as they compete to occupy the vacant political space. Examples of this abound including after the French Revolution (1789); the Mexican Revolution (1910), the Russian Revolution (1917); the Ethiopian Revolution (1974) and change of Amin regime in Uganda (1979).

Against this backdrop, it was resolved that steps must be taken in advance to agree on shared values and a common purpose before the NRM regime falls. It was also agreed that we should institute a transitional government; a presidential team with each region represented (collective leadership was introduced following the death of Stalin in Russia, the death of Tito in former Yugoslavia and in Uganda during the military commission). The public service commission that appoints, promotes and transfers public servants should also be run by a team with each region represented to avoid sectarianism. Security forces must also be run by a team instead of one army commander and generals from one ethnic group or one region.

The transitional team should strengthen institutions and reconstruct capacities, conduct a population census, organize a national conference on how Ugandans should be governed and ultimately organize free and fair multi-party elections underpinned by a truly independent electoral commission.

Roadmap or action plan for regime change by non-violent strategies

1. As mentioned already, the conference should define our shared values and a common purpose (including support for tolerance of faith, diversity, gender, national unity, choice of methods of governance, rule of law etc) as a basis for our work;

2. The conference should agree on guiding principles (participation in individual capacity; professionalism; ready to sacrifice such as time; impeccable character content, consultation process – one person chairperson, vice chairperson etc be discontinued because as one of us observed recently we are all leaders etc);

3. The roadmap should employ a wide range of methods appropriate to various parts of Uganda and should avoid one or two methods of resistance because such an approach often fails especially when mobilization is limited to a section of the population or of the country. Therefore we must launch a multi-faceted (war of the flea tactics that attack all parts of the dog at the same time and reduces its capacity to defend itself) methods that cover the whole country simultaneously making it difficult for NRM to respond successfully.

4. The conference should agree on a formula and profiles to appoint really qualified and motivated champions at least two for each method: one based at home and another in the Diaspora;

5. The conference should examine and possibly adopt with modifications as necessary, the Filipino “People Power” model based on a combination of church (led by the head of the Catholic Church in Manila), civilian population, security forces (defense minister and deputy army commander) and development partners (the USA government helped).

6. In the civilian area we should tap into the youth especially the unemployed university graduates (it worked well in Tunisia and Egypt through social networks), women organizations (successful revolutions especially in France and Russia were led by women); labor unions and civil society organizations and faith-based leaders etc.

7. The conference should have a simple but clear message (regime change to benefit everyone, Ugandans to decide how they want to be governed, population census to obtain demographic data to help develop appropriate development plan for education, healthcare services, poverty eradication, energy distribution and infrastructure such as roads and industries and allocation on central government resources to regions;

8. Dissemination of the information through radio, internet, newspapers. We shall need resources for all these activities. Setting up a short wave radio station should be explored.

9. For each method of resistance we shall need at least a representative each at home and in the diaspora. The choices must be based on expertise and proven experience. It doesn’t make sense for say a chemist to want to mobilize resources. We must be transparent and accountable. We shall need an overall body that can collectively take decisions as appropriate;

10. The conference should agree on the periodicity in reporting and by what means.

Consultations leading to the London Peace Conference

Extensive consultations were conducted in writing and speaking among The Hague participants and other Ugandans through face book, tweeter, Ugandans at Heart Forum, UDU website and The London Evening Post as well as through Radio Munansi. The pros and cons of non-violent and armed struggle were discussed at length. There is consensus that armed conflicts have destabilized the country. Peaceful means to resolve political differences in an inclusive manner are receiving more support than armed struggle.

Based on overwhelming support for non-violent struggle over armed conflict, the organizers of the London conference asked Eric Kashambuzi to consult further and write a report for the conference which was undertaken through individualized consultations. A group meeting was also organized and read reports from the meetings in Kampala, working closely with Dr. Henry Gombya, coordinator of the conference.

The conversation with Paul Mutawi resulted in preparing a note underscoring the importance of non-violent mobilization in regime change and prevention of subsequent political instability and possible civil war. The note was discussed widely and adopted as a basis for preparing the paper for the London conference.

An extensive conversation took place with Moses Byamugisha who was the focal point for the Kampala group. The discussions included a brief on youth mobilization activities. Kyeswa Ssebweze introduced through discussions in Kampala a very useful concept that we are all leaders, meaning that everyone must have a mobilization role according to ones comparative advantage.

Bishop Zac Niringiye visited Europe and the United States. While in New York he briefed Ugandans on his discussions in Europe, developments at home and stressed the importance of connecting the dots among the various groups so they agree on common messaging and coordination of effort for maximum impact. In short, The Hague process primary role is facilitation of various non-violent groups to act in a coordinated manner.

The report was then prepared and circulated in draft form to members who attended The conference for comments to be incorporated into the final document. Constructive comments were received from Molly Mugisha, Samson Mande and Moses Atocon. The zero was very well received.

Three major suggestions came out namely preparing location specific action plans for specific groups at national, regional and local levels like trade unions and civil society organizations; resource mobilization for specific purposes and civic education as had been agreed upon at the Hague conference.

To facilitate preparation of action plans, the methods of nonviolent action have been appended to this report.

A website will be created to facilitate continued discussion on implementation of action plans and a meeting to be held in a year’s time.

Done in London June 28-29, 2014

** The methods for non-violent resistance will be distributed shortly.

Uganda Citizen’s compact on free and fair elections

I have read the 13 page document adopted at the National Consultation on Free and Fair Elections. The consultation took place in Kampala on 24-26 November 2014. The mobilization work covered Toro, Bukedi, Teso, Kigezi, Busoga, Sebei, Ankole, Bugisu, Buganda, Karamoja, Bunyoro, Acholi and West Nile for the conference. Here are my preliminary comments on the compact:

1. What criteria were used in this selection of areas that were visited? It would be helpful in the interest of transparency to have the names of the people that were involved in the mobilization exercise; who selected them; who funded their work and how long it took to complete the task.

2. The notion of “birth” is included in the compact. What does it relate to – to the parents’ birth; to the place of birth or status of birth? This needs to be explained clearly so that there are no ambiguities.

3. The compact also contains the phrase “other status”. What does it mean?

4. Under the paragraph beginning with “Having considered” mention is made of organizations that participated in the formulation of proposals. At the end of that paragraph it is mentioned “and other concerned Ugandans”. It would be helpful in the interest of transparency to have these organizations and other concerned Ugandans mentioned in full. Were Ugandans in the Diaspora represented? If so who were they, which organizations did they represent and who chose them.

5. Who is going to undertake all that detailed work under the New Electoral Commission?

6. How do we determine an “eligible Ugandan?” One with a new identity card, a birth certificate, a naturalized one, anyone with a Uganda passport, or anyone born in Uganda regardless of the nationality of the parents etc?

7. Under II (ii) there is mention of “with full participation of stakeholders particularly political parties, civil society organizations and ‘the public’”. How shall we distinguish ‘the public’ from political parties and civil society organizations?

8. Under II (viii) there is mention of “Membership in UPDF High Command should not be personal to holder”. This needs to be explained to be understood unambiguously.

9. Paragraph IV talks inter alia about removing campaign finance irregularities. This problem could be resolved largely by agreeing on standardizing campaign finance for candidates at various levels. For instance let all vetted presidential candidates be given the same amount of money from public resources. What causes malpractices is the drive to have more money than the other candidate and buy more voters than the opponent. This matter of standardizing campaign finance at least at the presidential and parliamentary levels should be given serious consideration to minimize corrupting the electoral process.

10. Under VII (iii) there is mention of “demarcation of constituencies”. This should be done in such a manner that each constituency has the same number of voters. This is not the case right now. Some constituencies have fewer voters than others. This could be deliberate so that instead of having two constituencies in an area dominated by the opposition you have one. On the other hand in areas dominated by the ruling party you could have two constituencies whose voters are the same as one constituency dominated by the opposition party. By having same number of voters in every constituency the problem will be resolved.

11. Under XV (i) there is mention of representation of interest groups. We should consider the inclusion of representatives of Ugandans in the Diaspora because while residing outside they play an important role in Uganda’s political economy. They have invested in Uganda and pay taxes including on their properties. They should therefore be represented in parliament and cabinet.

12. The reason given for removing workers from special interest groups because their interests can be represented by all MPs sounds discriminatory. Other special interests can equally be represented by all elected MPs. This section needs to be recast.

13. Paragraph XVIII: Implementation of the compact is very troubling because of what it omits and the constraints against it. Who will present a copy of the compact to parliament and who will follow-up with parliament as it debates electoral reforms? And who will appoint them if they haven’t been appointed or elected already? Who are the members of the Eminent Persons Group of Conveners and the convening Civil Society Organizations? Were they elected at the conference? If not how are they going to be elected? Will Ugandans in the Diaspora be included since they are very active in Uganda politics and have a right to participate as Uganda citizens? There is mention of the Coordinating Team. Who are the members and were they elected at the conference? Are Ugandans in the Diaspora members on that team? In the preparations for the conference Ugandans in the Diaspora were consulted. For Example Bishop Zac Niringiye visited Europe and USA twice after The Hague Conference of November 2013 and we indicated interest in full participation. There might be a need to circulate the draft mechanism of implementation to ensure nothing is left out. This will also be in line with the principles of transparency, participation and accountability. Certainly Ugandans in the Diaspora would like to make a contribution to this very impart exercise. All citizens including those in the Diaspora should participate in the popularization of this compact. There will need to be a coordinating committee between Ugandans at home and abroad to harmonize their message so as to avoid contradictions or duplication and focal points will be an advantage. It appears the compact was mostly designed by and for Ugandans at home.

14. Three major points were omitted. (i) The electoral reform should consider proportional representation because the winner-take-all or zero-sum game such as in forming the cabinet is exclusive. Since the compact talks of inclusivity in all aspects: political, economic and social, a proportional representation must be an integral part of the reform process. (ii) An independent vetting commission to clear presidential and parliamentary candidates based on established criteria by the independent electoral commission should be established. (iii) Standardizing campaign finance needs to be undertaken to create a level playing field at least at the presidential and parliamentary levels. This will likely eliminate buying voters.

There are two virtually insurmountable constraints to the implementation of the compact:

1. The President and NRM in general are not interested in the compact. So how will it be cleared and implemented by Parliament? Was this possibility taken into account? If yes what Plan B is available?

2. Assuming that the next elections will take place in early 2016, there simply won’t be enough time to complete all the processes called for by the compact even if NRM were agreeable.

The inescapable, if sad, conclusion is that this is an effort that won’t produce the desired results under the prevailing political circumstances and time limitations.

Eric Kashambuzi

December 1, 2014

Military rule in Africa is coming to an end

Shortly after independence, military officers overthrew elected civilian governments and established military regimes. The ousted governments were accused of a wide range of wrong doing including ideological shifts; excessive involvement in the economy including nationalization of private enterprises, accumulation of external debts and budget deficits; rampant corruption, sectarianism and cronyism; violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms and changing or amending constitutions to accumulate power and govern for life without checks and balances. These abuses had resulted, inter alia, in increased absolute poverty and its offshoots of hunger, disease and ignorance. Therefore removing such failed governments from power by military means was legitimate.

When Obote government was overthrown in 1971, the soldiers led by Amin gave 18 reasons for their action including widespread corruption, regressive taxes, high unemployment, high inflation, income inequality, sectarianism, failure to organize elections, detention without trial and frequent loss of life, creation of a second army, developing Obote’s home area of Akokoro at the expense of the rest of Uganda, breakdown of security and overall violation of human rights as well as overreliance on the army. Against this backdrop, the soldiers believe acted legitimately to prevent a bad situation from getting worse.

There was jubilation especially in the capital city of Kampala. Amin promised that once the situation had improved in a short period he would organize elections and return to the barracks and serve the government as a professional soldier. However, Amin not only failed to organize elections but declared himself president for life. He hired mercenaries who assisted him to rule with brutal force. By the time he was overthrown in 1979, up to 500,000 Ugandans and non-Ugandans had lost their lives and some 70,000 Asians had been expelled from Uganda. The environment had been extensively damaged beyond recognition in some places as in Kabale district where wetlands were converted into ranches and the local climate became warmer and attracted disease vectors like mosquitoes with serious health consequences. The economy was in ruins and many Ugandans had reverted to subsistence activities.

In January 1966 Jean-Bedel Bokassa overthrew his cousin Dacko and became president of the Central African Republic. He pledged to end corruption and improve the economy and welfare of the people. However, he soon showed his true character. He murdered Alexander Banza with whom he organized the coup and descended on politicians that served under Dacko with brutal force.

In 1977 Bokassa became emperor at a cost of $30 million, the equivalent of 20 percent of Gross National Income, which he borrowed to entertain 3,500 guests that were served with 24,000 bottles of champagne.

The emperor accumulated wealth as the leading businessman. One of the activities he engaged in was the sale of ivory leading to the slaughter of 5000 elephants a year. He also sold diamonds and timber (Clive Foss 2006). Like Amin, Bokassa damaged the environment extensively.

In 1978 Bokassa ordered that all primary and secondary school children wear uniforms made in his factories and sold in his shops. When the students protested Bokassa led troops against them and some 100 of them were killed. He then descended on university students; many of them were imprisoned and executed. In 1979 Bokassa like Amin was deposed, having made a bad situation worse.

In 1960 Belgian Congo became independent under Lumumba as prime minister with Mobutu as defense minister. In 1965 Mobutu seized power, became president and promised elections in five years. Before doing so in 1971, Mobutu abolished parliament, post of prime minister and assumed all powers of state and ruled by decree. He then hunted down opponents many of whom were jailed or killed. He remained in power for more than 30 years during which time he drained the country of its wealth for his family and cronies making the people of Zaire among the poorest on earth.

Beginning in the second half of the 1980s a new breed of military officers led by Museveni emerged. Museveni who became their dean in preaching democracy and neoliberal economics said at his first inauguration in January 1986 that his government was not a mere change of guards. It was a fundamental change. He condemned African leaders who stayed in power too long, emphasizing that he was not that kind of leader. He promised that as soon as security returned to the country hopefully by 1990, he would step down. He never did. Elections were not held until ten years later in 1996 under international pressure which were rigged.

Museveni had promised he would end the suffering of the people of Uganda, industrialize the economy, launch science and technology programs to make Ugandans technologically skilled to compete anywhere in the world, balance agricultural production for domestic consumption and export to end hunger at home and generate more foreign exchange for development purposes.

None of what he promised has been satisfactorily fulfilled. Multiparty politics has been suffocated. There is a poor record on rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights and freedoms. Instead Ugandans are experiencing arbitrary arrest and detention. And Museveni is still in power and counting since 1986.

African military rulers like their counterparts in Latin America have failed to deliver on peace, security and development. Consequently, Africans and their development partners are rejecting military governments as experienced recently in Mali, Central African Republic and Burkina Faso. Therefore Ugandans who wish to end NRM’s failed regime need to adopt non-military strategies which are more effective in regime change than the barrel of the gun (R. Guha2014).;

Uganda has a complicated history

Boutros Boutros-Ghali former United Nations Secretary General wrote “Without knowledge of history and of one’s own past it is impossible to conceive the path to the future”.

Without understanding Uganda history which is complicated, it will be difficult to conceive a smooth and sustainable common path to the future. Pre-colonial history was marked by wars of territorial expansion, slave trade and plunder to accumulate wealth. Colonial period was characterized by religious conflicts, annexation of territory, economic exploitation (growth poles versus labor reserves), indirect rule where chiefs, their families, relatives and friends benefited at the expense of others, etc.

Uganda attained independence in difficult circumstances. DP was cheated. UPC/KY entered into a fragile marriage of convenience. Our leaders could not agree on the head of state so we ended up with the Queen as head of state represented by a Governor-General. They could not agree on the name of the new country so they settled for “Sovereign State of Uganda”. The leaders could not resolve the “Lost Counties” issue that became so divisive and led to the 1966 Mengo war and the Republican Constitution of 1967 that has pitted Buganda against Obote and UPC since then.

The problems got worse and we ended up with externally assisted Amin coup of 1971. Military rule turned out worse than Obote I regime and Uganda was invaded by Tanzania in 1979 and ended up with Lule who was imposed on Uganda; then Binaisa who landed at state house. He had been refused entry at the Moshi conference 68 days earlier. Then there followed total anarchy that opened the way for Obote to return because there was a political vacuum. Some Ugandans vowed to oust him and entered into a marriage of convenience that was bound to rupture and it did even before Kampala fell to the guerrillas in 1986 when Museveni refused elections to replace Lule who had passed on a year before Kampala fell and Museveni became president by default. Baganda were thus cheated because a Muganda be it Protestant, Catholic or Muslim was expected to replace Obote. Museveni like Amin had the backing of external assistance as well as mercenaries.

This time we should not make another mistake of just joining with any group for the sake of overthrowing Museveni and then plunge the country into anarchy again. We need to form an all (inclusive) transitional government but led by people with impeccable character. Those with suspected dirty hands from any group be it NRM, FDC, UPC, DP or any other party or organization should not be permitted to join the transitional government. We must vet every aspiring leader to be part of the transitional government. We therefore call on Ugandans to come forward with information about those positioning themselves to form the next government. The government must be led by a presidential team with each of the four regions represented to prevent one person to become president and then refuse to leave office. The security forces must be led by Joint Chiefs of Staff, not by one person, representing the four regions. The public service commission must be led by a team representing the four regions to stamp out sectarianism.

The transitional government must have a clear mandate and duration. It should last up to three years. It should conduct a comprehensive population census to determine who we are and how many we are. It should convene a national convention so Ugandans debate and decide how they want to be governed. It should then conduct free and fair multiparty elections and form parliament and cabinet on the basis of proportional representation. That way the winner-take-all mindset is eliminated and none is excluded from the political, economic and social processes. Parliament should then become a constitutional assembly and draw up a new constitution. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be established of independent Ugandan and foreign experts to investigate violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms since independence so that such practices are not repeated.

Those who participate in the transitional government should not participate in the next elections because they will have the advantage of incumbency.

These are concrete proposals. Let us discuss them, adjust them or provide alternative. We can’t debate forever. Time has come to act.

Eric Kashambuzi

Post-NRM Uganda will need a transitional government led by a presidential team

I have consistently argued that the system of governance in Uganda with strong central government and one person president who accumulates political, military and economic powers in his hands; appoints and dismisses public servants has not worked. This unsatisfactory governance system has pushed Uganda to a point of near disintegration. Calls to secede from Uganda are on the increase. This is a fact we have to accept. Then we need an alternative, at least temporarily, to help us draw lessons for a roadmap for the next 50 years.

Uganda will need an inclusive transitional government for at least three years embracing all political parties and credible organizations, except individuals alleged to have committed crimes against humanity since 1962. The government must be led by an empowered presidential team with impeccable character – character is the defining word to qualify.

During periods of near anarchy as in Uganda today you need this arrangement whose principal function is to give people a breathing space. This has been done before in countries where disintegration was looming on the horizon.

In Soviet Union, when Stalin died in 1953, the supreme authority was officially vested in three top Politburo members. Khrushchev eventually emerged as the leader in 1955 (F. Rothney 2002). The Soviet Union was thus saved.

In former Yugoslavia, when President Tito died in 1980 at a time of serious political economy difficulties that threatened the unity of the country, his functions were transferred to the collective State Presidency and to the Presidium of the League of the Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY). The President of the State Presidency acted as the head of state, rotating the post annually among the members of the presidency (Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. Europa Publication Limited 1994). It allowed Yugoslavia to stick together for another ten years until people decided to go their ways in a bloody fashion.

In Uganda a three man presidential team was established by the Military Commission. The Commission recognized the importance of this office at least to calm the nerves of Ugandans that would possibly have rebelled in its absence after Presidents Lule and Binaisa had been ousted from power.

This time we need it even more to give Ugandans a chance to debate and agree on how they should be governed and deny one person an opportunity to manipulate the people and stay in power. Museveni had promised he would leave the office in 1990. It is now 2014 and he still wants to be re-elected in 2016. He is able to do this because the one person presidency allowed him to force removal of presidential term limits from the constitution. This is a lesson we can’t forget and can’t allow to be repeated.

We need to be innovative. We can’t settle into routines even when they have not worked. Let me add that a presidential team may slow down efficiency but that is not the issue now. The issue is to give people a sense of representation at the highest level while they sort out how they want to be governed. The proposed transitional government led by a presidential team should not last more than three years unless the people may want to extend it as is done in Switzerland.

Please offer your constructive views on these two proposals: a transitional government led by a presidential team for up to three years.

Eric Kashambuzi

For revolutions to occur there must be a trigger

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, [1979], 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.

Sadly, in Uganda history is repeating itself

In Uganda politics has two meanings. There are Ugandans like me who see politics as an art of capturing power and using it in the interest of the people. On the other hand, there are those who see it as a means to enrich themselves. In the rush to get power, Ugandans in the latter group have hurriedly entered into marriages of convenience that are unsustainable and therefore destabilizing.

In the struggle for independence, men like Ignatius Musazi, William Rwetsiba, George Magezi and Ben Kiwanuka, among others, that had legislative experience at the regional (Lukiiko) and national (Legislative Council) levels were replaced by ambitious but very young and inexperienced people like Milton Obote, John Kakonge and Grace Ibingira, among others who formed Uganda People’s Congress (UPC).

Within UPC there soon developed ideological and cultural differences. Ibingira who became the youngest cabinet minister at independence in 1962 was connected with the ruling house of Ankole had aristocratic and capitalist values. John Kakonge, a commoner from Bunyoro was defined as a socialist while Obote a commoner from Lango was somewhere in between.

This untenable marriage of convenience began to crack when Kakonge, Secretary-General of UPC, was not nominated to parliament and could not be made a minister. In 1964 he was ousted as Secretary General of UPC at the Gulu delegates’ conference and replaced by Ibingira who then threw Kakonge and his so-called socialist supporters out of the party (many of them formed NRM and are running the government). Then Ibingira tackled Obote for UPC leadership and ended up in prison. These developments marked the gradual decline of UPC.

The ambition by Protestant individuals led by Ibingira and Obote to wrestle power from Catholic-based Democratic Party (DP) entered into a marriage of convenience with individuals in the Mengo administration that hurriedly created Kabaka Yekka (KY) and formed a UPC/KY alliance. Thus, Kabaka Mutesa II and Milton Obote “who were implacably hostile to each other [conveniently managed] to submerge their political differences and work together to prevent a Catholic politician, Benedicto Kiwanuka, from becoming the first Prime Minister of independence Uganda”(Onyango Odongo 1993).

Within the KY, as within the UPC, there were major differences. There were ambitious Baganda who “were prepared to forget Obote’s previous public speeches in which he venomously condemned Mengo Establishment. Only the shrewd Katikiro of Buganda, Michael Kintu, could clearly see the political time-bomb that was wrapped in the alliance of the UPC and the Kabaka Yekka (KY)” (Onyango Odongo 1993). And the time-bomb went off in 1966.

Then came the 1979 Moshi conference put together in a hurry by Julius Nyerere who didn’t know what to do with Uganda after he chased away Amin. People who were not talking to one another converged in Moshi, Tanzania without a well-thought out agenda and candidates to field for the transitional government. Obote, Tiberondwa and Binaisa etc were locked out of the conference. Out of the blue, Yusufu Lule was elected president, only to regret later by his sponsors that they made a big mistake. He lasted 68 days in office. Binaisa who had been locked out of the Moshi conference a few weeks earlier as unqualified became the next president. He lasted less than a year in that post. The squabbles between the legislative and executive branches of the transitional government turned the country “into a state of total anarchy”(J.R.Leguey-Feilleux 2009).

Museveni played a big role in the ouster of Lule from office as president. Yet within months, the two men formed an alliance – the National Resistance Movement (NRM) – that brought Museveni and his supporters mostly from Ankole and Lule supporters mostly from Buganda together to fight Obote and his UPC II government. Lule became chairman and Museveni vice chairman of NRM. Unfortunately, Lule passed on before Kampala fell to the guerrillas and we can’t tell what could have happened between the two men regarding occupation of state house. What we know is that Museveni resisted elections to replace Lule so Museveni as acting chairman of NRM became president of Uganda. The alliance did not hold well. Many disgruntled Baganda who had fought so a Muganda becomes president after Obote ran out of the country and some are now threatening through USA-based radio munansi that when they wrestle power from Museveni they will punish Banyankole for the damage they have done to Buganda.

With rumors circulating that political changes might soon take place in Uganda greedy Ugandans are now scrambling to form coalitions. Sejusa, among them, is frantically calling on anyone including Amama Mbabazi to join him when he replaces Museveni as the next president of Uganda through the military force.

To sum up: it is these marriages of convenience by greedy Ugandans seeking power for themselves that have turned Uganda – with all its human and natural resource abundance and strategic location – into a failed state vulnerable to internal and external shocks.

Against this backdrop, we Ugandans need to pause, reflect on this political history of marriages of convenience and decide how we should move forward together in peace, security, stability, dignity and sustainability.

Eric Kashambuzi is New York-based international consultant on development issues and Secretary-General of UDU.