MOU lacks transparency, participation and accountability

Until we receive copies of the MOU we shall continue to ask questions because this is a public, not a private, issue. It is also an issue that goes beyond the interests of Buganda. As they say when Buganda sneezes, Uganda catches a cold.

The MOU apparently signed by the Kabaka of Buganda and the President of Uganda has raised many questions largely because little is known about the process involved in its negotiation and signing.

We understand that negotiations regarding the return of Buganda kingdom began between Museveni and Mutebi during the guerrilla war when the two met in London and again somewhere in Uganda and continued thereafter until about five years ago when everything came to a halt because of fundamental disagreements.

But these discussions regarding public assets have remained shrouded in secrecy. There are stages in the negotiations when things have to be kept secret. But when secrecy becomes a permanent feature or the public is given information that is hard to swallow then suspicions begin to emerge as they have regarding the MOU. This exercise has lacked transparency and participation as well as accountability, the three elements that mark good governance.

Why NRM lost what makes a country develop

Patriotic Ugandans and friends have cause to worry about the future of Uganda which is being shaped by current developments. As we know the past impacts the present and the present influences the future. What makes a country grow and develop are its people underpinned by an enabling environment including education, health and nutrition care, infrastructure, institutions, good governance and the political will and commitment of leaders.

The first decade of Uganda’s independence witnessed commendable progress in these areas. In its 1993 report covering the 1963-70 period, the World Bank observed that “Uganda’s social indicators were comparable to, if not better than, most countries in Africa. The country’s health service had developed into one of Africa’s best. Uganda pioneered many low-cost health and nutrition programs. There was a highly organized network of vaccination centers and immunization program reached 70 percent of the population. Although school enrolment was still low, Uganda’s education system had developed a reputation for very high quality”. Uganda had also made substantial progress in infrastructure particularly road construction and institutions in research, extension services and cooperatives.

Ugandans have a right to know who their representatives are

To understand why majority Ugandans are getting poorer, jobless, hungrier, sicker, landless and are about to lose national sovereignty as borders are eliminated as suggested recently by the president of Rwanda when he met with a high powered Uganda delegation in Rwanda, one needs to know the origin of the core group of NRM and its motives to enable Ugandans to take informed decisions. To tell this story requires boldness because the risks are very high. But the story has to be told for Ugandans to read, discuss and decide on the way forward.

The original group led by Museveni formed some sort of association at Ntare School in the early 1960s, soon after independence in 1962. This group was motivated by the desire to regain domination of politics in the Great Lakes region. The independence of Congo (home of Banyamulenge or Batutsi from Rwanda), Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda introduced fundamental changes in the minority pastoralist and majority agriculturalist relations. The minority pastoralists who had dominated the agriculturalists for centuries were defeated during pre-independence elections based on majority rule. The association was formed to map out a road map to return Batutsi to power in Rwanda and regain domination in Ankole politics initially and Uganda and East Africa subsequently. The group launched an attack on UPC for rigging Ankole elections in order to gain the support of Catholic Bairu DP supporters. It also attacked UPC for lack of interest in the East African Community (EAC) project. Protestant pastoralists deserted UPC which they could no longer dominate and joined DP which they dominated. You need to remember that politics in Ankole is dominated more by religion than ethnicity. Museveni planted a seed among DP supporters in Ankole which would help him to mobilize Catholics throughout Uganda during the 1981-85 guerrilla war.

Why has Museveni divided up Uganda into many districts?

One of the outcomes of UDU conference in Boston in October 2011 was recognition that there is an acute shortage of information about Uganda’s history, its place in the Great Lakes geopolitics and domestic political economy. It was decided that one of the main follow-up activities of UDU secretariat be civic education within the framework of the National Recovery Plan (NRP). I have consistently argued that:

1. You have got to identify the root cause(s) of the problem before attempting a solution;

2. You have to present research findings as truthfully and honestly as possible;

3. You have to study the actions of actors dialectically by looking for that which is not said because that is where the main motive is likely to be located;

4. You should not shy away from telling the truth for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. For instance, a doctor would do a disservice if he treated a patient with a sexually transmitted disease without disclosing the cause of the problem to avoid hurting feelings. The right thing is to tell the truth and ask that the partner also comes in for treatment so that the disease is cured once and for all, assuming that the two partners won’t engage in extra relations.

Population growth is scapegoat for Uganda’s damaged environment

Radio Munansi English program Sunday February 10, 2013

This is Eric Kashambuzi communicating from New York.

Greetings: fellow Ugandans at home and abroad, friends and well-wishers. Welcome to the program. We look forward to your active participation in this interactive conversation.

Since Amin time, population growth has been blamed for Uganda’s problems including environmental degradation in rural and urban areas. There is a rumor that NRM government is about to introduce to parliament a bill limiting family size to three children. This is a blatant violation of human right of couples to decide how many children they wish to have when to have them and how to space them. What the government can do is to facilitate and create conditions to enable Ugandans take informed decisions but not to force them especially by some leaders who have more than three children. It doesn’t make sense to force Ugandans to limit their family size when the government wants to eliminate Uganda borders so that other people from East Africa and beyond come is as they like. These are contradictions and one wonders what the overall goal is as far as Uganda population is concerned. Many countries are protecting their borders to eliminate or limit immigrants but in Uganda and Rwanda they want to abolish national borders. Uganda isn’t going to solve other people’s problems to its detriment. Uganda hasn’t benefited from the East African community in terms of trade, labor and population mobility as we discussed yesterday.

Religious leaders and call to justice in Uganda

It is now recognized that to bring about justice or fairness in Uganda will require inclusiveness, full participation, solidarity and compassion. In other words it means involvement of all sections of society: religious and traditional leaders, political and civil society leaders, security forces, youth, students and women. Religious leaders in Uganda have a special responsibility to end injustice because they interact directly or through networks with the population and appreciate its suffering better than most observers and are therefore in a position to recommend appropriate and location specific short and long term action-oriented solutions. The Christmas sermons in 2011 were very powerful in this regard. You need to build on that solid foundation in 2012. To facilitate your work and remove some possible obstacles in relations between religion and politics let us review in a historical perspective the work of religious leaders and theologians to end injustice.

Museveni NRM 27th Anniversary Address

Museveni’s address was not directed at Ugandans but donors who have withdrawn support largely because of rampant corruption and mismanagement of public funds. He was I think also addressing the United Nations on one Millennium Development Goal – Achieve universal primary education. He focused on the glass half full, leaving out the empty half.

He was telling donors that his administration met the requirements or conditionality of stabilization and structural adjustment program (SAP).

1. That is why he talked about growth of the economy or GNI and per capita income;

2. That is why he talked about inflation control to single digits;

3. That is why he talked about export growth and diversification;

4. That is why he talked about accumulating international reserves;

5. That is why he talked about his determination to stamp out rampant corruption as part of good governance practice.

These were the conditions together with market forces, austerity and trickle down that were imposed by donors including IMF and World Bank which Uganda adhered to rigidly with serious social and environmental costs that he left out in his address. In other words, Museveni was saying that he did religiously what the donors wanted him to do except stamping out corruption which he has begun addressing and calling on the resumption of aid and technical assistance.

Globalization and re-colonization of Uganda

During the 2004 hearings by the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, many African participants equated globalization with the re-colonization of Africa. Many Ugandans believe that Uganda which was never fully de-colonized has already been re-colonized since entering into structural adjustment with the IMF in 1981.

In order to appreciate that re-colonization has actually occurred, one needs to understand what the objectives of colonialism were. They were to secure a strategic advantage, evangelize the natives and obtain tropical raw materials and food for British industries and population respectively and land for surplus British population; and finally markets for manufactured products.

Britain, France, Germany and Belgium conflicted over the control of areas that eventually became Uganda. The agreement between Germany and Britain involving Heligoland is well known as is the Fashoda incident between Britain and France. The interests of White settlers in Kenya and Egypt’s reliance on the waters of the Nile affected the final shape and size of Uganda. Ultimately Uganda lost big chunks of land in the east and the north to Kenya and Sudan respectively. In the south and west of Uganda land was also exchanged among Germany, Belgium and Uganda. Uganda remains a battleground for old and new colonizers as a gateway to the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa. During the cold war era, Uganda sat at the intersection between the ‘red’ and ‘blue’ belt states that contributed to the 1971 coup.

Uganda’s post-independence political challenges

Radio Munansi English program February 17, 2013

This is Eric Kashambuzi communicating from New York.

Greetings fellow Ugandans at home and abroad, friends and well wishers and welcome to the program. We look forward to your active participation in this interactive session.

We have been requested to spend some time discussing Uganda’s political challenges since independence. There is hunger for knowledge as Ugandans get more engaged than ever before in affairs affecting their lives.

We study history to understand what happened in the past and what lessons we have learned and how we have applied them to make life better by discarding bad practices and building on good ones. There are those who think we should move on and not look backward because we may discover things that should not be disclosed to the public. However, many Ugandans are demanding to know the history of their country as far back as possible. For this program we shall examine the circumstances surrounding the birth of Uganda as an independent state and how those circumstances have shaped the last 50 years of independent Uganda.

Uganda’s birth as an independent nation took place in a very difficult environment and many important issues were rushed through or delayed as negotiators had to meet a deadline of October 9, 1962. In this session we shall consider the period immediately before independence and up to 1970. In the next session we shall discuss political developments from 1971 to the present.

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Boosting agriculture to end poverty in Uganda

Press statement

On behalf of United Democratic Ugandans (UDU), I thank the United States Ambassador to Uganda H.E. Scott DeLisi for his statement on the role of agriculture in tackling the challenge of poverty in Uganda. The statement is timely and relevant because over 80 percent of Ugandans depend on agriculture for their livelihood and poverty is higher in rural than in urban areas where NRM government has concentrated its effort.

The rural areas in Uganda are dominated by peasants who have been the engine in the production of agricultural export commodities and food crops since the 1920s. It has been demonstrated globally that small holder farmers when facilitated are more productive, more efficient and more environmentally and socially friendly than large scale farmers.

The international community including the United Nations, G8 and the World Bank has agreed to support smallholder farmers in the efforts to increase global food productivity and total production. G8 has already allocated funds for supporting small holder farmers including in Uganda. UDU calls upon the Uganda government to create an enabling environment to boost small holder productivity including through high yielding seeds, organic and inorganic fertilizers and small scale irrigation schemes than replace them with large scale farmers as Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi suggested not too long ago. As agreed by NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development), a development organ of African Union, Uganda should earmark at least 10 percent of national budget to the agriculture sector beginning in the 2013/2014 financial year.