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.