Social relations in Uganda must change

In Uganda the exploitative (feudal) relations between leaders and the people (lords and serfs) is on the rise in one form or another. God created us equal but man in his desire to dominate created divisions of rulers and ruled.

In Europe the feudal system developed after the fall of the (western part) of the Roman Empire in AD 476. Because of the instability that followed weak members needed protection but had no money to pay for that service. So they gave up their land. The king or overlord in turn gave part of the land (fief) to lords (king’s vassals) who in return swore to train and fight on behalf of the king as knights (horse warriors). Serfs therefore lost their land. In return for food, shelter and clothing etc serfs worked the lord’s land and virtually had no freedom. The feudal and manorial systems of exploitation began to be challenged through peasant revolts beginning in the 12th century and they eventually collapsed.

They were replaced by states with more powerful kings that ruled and exploited their subjects by ‘divine right’ i.e. their power came from God. They were answerable and accountable only to God. The people could not hold them accountable.

This exploitation was challenged beginning in the 17th and mostly in the 18th century. This period of resistance is called “The Age of Reason” or “The Enlightenment”. During this period people began to believe that all questions about the world could be answered by reason and by anybody, regardless of class. Therefore the lords or kings had no right to rule over peasants.

Europeans like John Locke, Galileo, Isaac Newton, Diderot, Rousseau, Voltaire and Hume etc championed this cause. Hume demonstrated how important it was to work things out for yourself (solve your own problems) – not just be told what to do by someone else (Museveni tells Uganda peasants to grow food for cash and not for the stomach and we go ahead and do it and end up hungry when we are selling mountains of food to neighboring countries and beyond to raise foreign exchange that Museveni then uses to buy military hardware and torture equipment against citizens). The ideas of the Age of Reason were used in the American and French Revolutions. They spread to Latin America and Haiti used them in its war of independence.

Sadly in Uganda under NRM feudalism is spreading. Land is being grabbed by the rich or at gun point who are pushing landless people into urban slums or exploiting them if allowed to stay on the land. We hear of new landlords emerging in Buganda that are likely to be approved by Lukiiko and could be extended to the entire country and approved by parliament. Who are these new landlords or masters?

Peasants and urban dwellers are being taxed heavily as happened in the European feudal system. Ugandans have virtually no freedom as happened in feudal Europe. Rujumbura constituency is hereditary, owned by Bashambu family. Independence MP was Karekaho Karegyesa. He passed it on to Jim Muhwezi who will pass it on to his son, daughter or a close Mushambu relative whether qualified or not and the people are silent. Matthew Rukikaire whom I think was a better man to represent the constituency and I would have supported him going by what I knew then about him was blocked until Muhwezi was ready because Rukikaire is not a Mushambu. He eventually gave up politics.

Museveni is methodically moving towards making his son Muhoozi the next president and we are watching hopelessly. This has got to be stopped. But to do that we need to get organized. Sadly, the opposition has been infiltrated by NRM people at home and abroad. We don’t know who Duncan Kafero is working for? There was a rumor, not yet denied, that he was working with Sejusa. We don’t know what Mbabazi is up to? Some of the opposition leaders are in bed with Museveni but confuse us: look at the business they have, the jobs their relatives are landing, travelling on diplomatic passports, money deposited on their foreign bank accounts.

Upon probing, some Ugandans who had positioned themselves as members of the opposition have changed their position. They are now saying or through their representatives that they are not in the opposition but are activists for democratic change within the established political institutions which remain confidential.

Amama Mbabazi should explain why he chose to leave the post of Secretary-General to which he was elected and the president or party chairman could not dismiss him from. Being removed as prime minister was within the powers of the president because he appointed him and was confirmed by parliament. Mbabazi could have clung to his post of Secretary-General but he abandoned it on his own: Interesting development.

Against this backdrop, I have resisted joining or be joined by any Ugandans who show up as members of the opposition for the sole purpose of removing Museveni (not even NRM as some have suggested under the slogan of Musevenism) from power.

If there is no long-term plan for governing the country after NRM is gone which will happen sooner or later there will be a civil war among so-called revolutionaries or resistance by the people when the military takes over which I think Duncan Kafero and Sejusa are planning jointly or separately – just wait and when the people have triumphed you move in with your soldiers including possibly mercenaries and take over government.

That is what happened in Ethiopia in 1974 and when the people resented a military take over there was a civil war. That seems to be happening in Burkina Faso where the people carried out the revolution. The people representatives should form the transitional government: not Compaore soldiers.

Fighting also erupted in Iran after the 1979 revolution. Here is what happened. “At home, the revolutionaries who had toppled the shah found themselves divided over the very fundamentals of the new regime: whether it should embrace theocracy, or republicanism, socialism, or mercantilism, liberty or justice. As the radical clerics around Khomeini closed ranks, opponents of the new revolutionary order faced everything from firing squads to street combat, culminating in the execution of thousands of political prisoners in 1988. The opposition that the Islamic Republic did not decimate it intimidated into silence”(Foreign Affairs January/February 2014).

This is the kind of outcome I am trying to avoid in Uganda by joining with anyone who claims to be an opponent of Museveni and NRM. Ugandans let us from now on be guided by reason, not emotion on the basis of tribe, ethnicity, religion, gender or region. Let those aspiring to be leaders articulate what they would like to do after NRM has exited. They shouldn’t keep silent or complain about NRM wrongs without giving solutions while ordinary people are struggling to remove the oppressor and when NRM is gone they spring up and take over.

Those with guns or connections of birth per se should not be allowed to rule over ordinary people who have the power once they know how to use it. Revolutions exist to change such social relations. I support peaceful revolutions as we have seen in Burkina Faso. Soldiers there should not be allowed to turn it into a civil war.

Eric Kashambuzi