Highlights of Uganda history and politics

Lest we forget, let us remind ourselves of the discussions we have had so far and the issues that have emerged. My contribution has been publication of ten books, creation of a blog www.kashambuzi.com, co-host of an English program on Radio Munansi, participation in debates through Uganda Observer newspaper, Ugandans at Heart Forum and as Secretary General and Chief Administrator of UDU. I have avoided discussing or writing about private lives or family matters of Ugandans I have referred to. Without understanding our history and political experience, we will continue to engage in misinformation and misinterpretation of developments. Uganda’s history and politics have been distorted to serve parochial interests and setting the record straight has created some of the controversies we have witnessed. Because the highlights cover discussions of a year and half, the article is therefore a bit longer than usual.

As we move forward we should be governed by reason and tolerance, not emotion and intolerance; equality, not superiority; merit, not favoritism as to religion, region, gender, age or ethnicity etc and civility and decorum, not abuse or threat. We must always remember that Uganda belongs to all of us. Not one single individual or a group of few individuals should be allowed to determine the country’s future trajectory. When one attempts, Ugandans must act boldly and swiftly and nip the effort in the bud. Here are the highlights.

Resolving Uganda challenges will require partnership and a level playing field

What Ugandans want that has been denied by NRM government is recognized by the international community and the African Union (AU) both of which Uganda is a member. The United Nations Millennium Declaration of 2000 and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance of 2007 state very clearly what Ugandans are struggling for against stiff NRM resistance. Here is a sample of what we mean.

Regarding freedom that has been denied to Ugandans, the Millennium Declaration states: “Men and women have the right to live their lives and raise their children in dignity, free from hunger and from the fear of violence, oppression or injustice. Democratic and participatory governance based on the will of the people best ensures these rights” Regarding equality that Ugandans do not enjoy, the Declaration states: “No individual and no nation must be denied the opportunity to benefit from development. The equal rights and opportunities of women and men must be assured”. On tolerance that is a very rare commodity in Uganda, the Declaration states: “Human being must respect one another, in their diversity of belief, culture and language. Differences within and between societies should be neither feared nor repressed, but cherished as a precious asset of humanity. A culture of peace and dialogue among all civilizations should be actively promoted”. On respect for nature which has been trampled in Uganda, the Declaration states: “Prudence must be shown in the management of all living species and natural resources, in accordance with the precepts of sustainable development”.

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)

The Rome Statute came into force on July 1, 2002 and Uganda is a signatory.

The States Parties to this Statute are “Determined to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prevention of these crimes”.

It is the duty of every State to exercise its criminal jurisdiction over those responsible for international crimes.

Article 5: Crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court

(a) The crime of genocide;

(b) Crimes against humanity;

(c) War crimes;

(d) The crime of aggression

Genocide (Article 6) any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

A message for Uganda security forces

The message is addressed to intelligence, police and military forces.

You are Ugandans like the rest of us. We are all brothers and sisters. Article I of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in part that we “should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood [and sisterhood]”. Thus, in our specialized areas, all Ugandans have the responsibility to act towards one another in that spirit. Yours as security forces is to protect Ugandans from being hurt and/or losing their lives and properties. As such you should be loved by all Uganda citizens. When you enter an area you should be welcomed and helped in doing your job of protecting their lives and properties. You should do your job professionally and strictly according to the book.

You belong to the people and serve the people of Uganda through public institutions. You do not belong to or serve an individual whether he gave you a job and/or promoted you. These individuals do that in their official capacity as president or commissioner of police etc. As professionals you do not make or unmake governments. That is done through a democratic and electoral process like Uganda is going through right now. Your job is to serve all the people of Uganda fairly, equally and transparently through established public institutions.

Dear Joe

Thank you for your comment on Tutsi Empire project that appeared in my remarks in Observer this week. The idea of Tutsi Empire is not new. It has been raised at national, regional and international levels. If you have been following the debate on this subject and history of relations between Batutsi and Bahutu and Bahororo and Bairu you will understand why the possibility of Tutsi Empire is alarming.

The donor community has expressed concern about this project. Problems between Museveni and the West (donors) began when Museveni dreamt of a Tutsi empire and together with Kagame invaded DRC. The donor mood towards Uganda changed (Business in Africa April 2001). President Mugabe was drawn into DRC war primarily to prevent the establishment of Tutsi Empire in Middle Africa (J. N. Weatherby 2003). During my mission to DRC, Rwanda and Burundi early this year, the region was full of talk about the imminent establishment of Tutsi Empire and I reported this in my article in Observer. Many commentators are of the view that it will be achieved by military, political or economic means. So when Museveni pushes the E.A. Political Federation many think he has Tutsi Empire in mind. And Museveni has not denied it.

State intervention in Uganda’s economy has become unavoidable

I stated in a July 2010 article on the difficulty of applying Malthus essay to Uganda’s population that population growth becomes a major issue in Uganda’s development discourse when the economy is in deep trouble. Amin ordered doctors to reduce population growth through contraception when the economy had run dry after all the stock from the expelled Asians had been used up. In Uganda today (July 2010) the economy is fast drying up and scapegoats are being created to justify the socio-environmental problems including rapid urban population growth, slums and wetland destruction. This is happening in large part because for over twenty years the NRM government has relied on market forces and laissez faire (let alone). Reporting on population ‘explosion’ has become an exercise in propaganda blaming Uganda citizens for over-breeding but remaining silent about massive migrations into Uganda and food exports since the beginning of the 20th century. What is happening in Uganda will not correct itself. Government intervention has become unavoidable to correct the imperfections of the invisible hand of market forces and laissez faire capitalism.