Uganda health minister should resign

Press release

Reports that a pregnant woman lost her life at Mulago teaching and referral hospital while giving birth to a new life because she didn’t bribe health officials isn’t only a national disgrace but also a crime against humanity. This is a second report that a pregnant woman lost her life this time in the eastern province under similar circumstances. This is a scandal of immense proportions that should be corrected immediately.

In the year 2000 world leaders met in New York City and adopted a Millennium Declaration including Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It was agreed, inter alia, to reduce by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015 maternal mortality ratio and reduce by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015, under-five mortality rate. It was also resolved that the implementation of MDGs should be reviewed every five years: in 2005 and 2010. Uganda was unable to produce a report in time for the 2010 UN General Assembly review.

My father influenced the way I treat people

My father, Reverend/Canon Samwiri Kashambuzi, as first born male and Anglican minister has had responsibilities for uniting people and resolving disputes in a mutually satisfactory manner. We have a relatively large extended family with members belonging to different faiths largely Protestants and Catholics. Although a Protestant and minister, his faith and profession did not influence how he treated members of the family that belong to another faith even during difficult religious times. The first lesson I learned from my father is that religion should not divide people. As a result religion has not influenced the way I treat people socially and professionally.

When I returned from exile in 1980, I started business in my home area of Rujumbura in southwest Uganda partly in acknowledgement of community support as I grew up and to help the development of the area. Since father was going to be the overall manager (we call him Chairman) in my absence at work far away from home, I discussed with him about selection of managers. He advised that we should pick the best regardless of their religion or ethnicity. Consequently, we picked a Catholic and a Mukiga to construct my family and first house in Rukungiri town although we had qualified people in our family. My father felt they lacked experience for the type of building we had in mind.

Leaders must be loved, not feared

In Uganda as elsewhere leaders must be loved, not feared. Security forces in Uganda must be loved, not feared. When Ugandans are afraid of something they should run to police stations or army barracks for protection, not run away. Employers must be loved, not feared by their employees. Leaders in administration and police and military must protect the people, not scare and/or hurt them. They must cultivate a culture of peace and love, not of intimidation, torture and murder.

Conditions must be created where all people irrespective of their professions live and work together in peace and security. A maid should love, not fear her boss. A gardener should love, not fear his employer. The rule of law must work, not the rule of the gun and torture houses. The people of Uganda are tired of living in constant fear at home and abroad. Ugandans are afraid of one another even relatives because you don’t know what murder weapon the other is carrying. The people of Uganda are tired of being insulted by NRM surrogates or those scared of the wrong things they have done and are being discovered who use fake names. The people of Uganda are tired of mercenaries that torture and murder Ugandans and disappear with impunity when they can’t do it anymore. Nobody can tolerate living under these conditions indefinitely. If NRM is unable or unwilling to protect its citizens then someone else should do it.

Uganda should refute allegations of involvement in DRC

Press release

United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) is concerned about allegations that Uganda and Rwanda were supplying weapons to the M23 Congo rebels whose insurrection has resulted in loss of lives and displacement of some 500,000 people from their homes. Uganda shares a common border with DRC. For peace, security, stability and development Uganda should make an effort to maintain good neighborly relations with DRC.

During a mission to DRC including to Kinshasa, North and South Kivu provinces about three years ago there were stories from formal and informal meetings from a wide range of people – Congolese and others – that Uganda and Rwanda had been destabilizing DRC through among other things creating and arming militias and plundering its resources including minerals and timber. There were also stories of a possible loss of Congolese territory in the eastern region that would either declare independence or join Rwanda which has been calling for redrawing African borders demarcated under colonial rule.

It is UDU’s humble view that if Uganda hasn’t been involved in any way with M23, it should refute those allegations for all to see. Threatening to withdraw Uganda troops from Somalia and Central African Republic unless “these malicious allegations are withdrawn” and the international community at the United Nations assures Ugandans that it appreciates the sacrifices being made may give the impression that there is something Uganda is hiding which could damage Uganda’s reputation.

Why has NRM ignored unemployment in Uganda?

With all the resources in Uganda and donor money and the work that needs to be done, there is no reason why Uganda should suffer the current unacceptable high level of open and disguised (underemployment) unemployment. Instead, youth open unemployment stands at over 80 percent that has triggered mass poverty also at over 80 percent. In a true democratic country, Museveni would have been impeached. But he is still around governing with an iron fist threatening to crush those who oppose his vision of ‘under-developing” Uganda into a Fourth World country and impoverishing over 80 percent of Uganda citizens. NRM dismal performance is a function of two factors.

First, Museveni knows exactly what to do to get Ugandans to work and end unemployment. But he can’t do it because that would empower and encourage Ugandans to oppose his long stay in power. So to keep them powerless and voiceless, he has chosen to marginalize them through unemployment and disguised unemployment. Without paying attention to lessons of history and how unemployed mobs can easily turn revolutionary as in France in 1789 and Russia in 1917, Museveni believes poor people can be sat on forever. If the trend continues recent by-elections are sending a signal that Museveni’s time may be up for voluntary exit or he could face a revolution of French or Russian style led by poor, hungry and unemployed mobs – and we have plenty of them in Kampala and elsewhere. Don’t rule out the possibility of disgruntled security forces joining the mobs. There are rumors that cracks are opening up in some sections of the forces.

Should Uganda opposition use non-violent or armed resistance in the first instance?

I have been receiving comments about why I do not support military confrontation with NRM in the first instance. In other words, why I do not want the opposition to use military means to attack Uganda first? My position is the following:

1. The mood in the Great Lakes Region, African Union and the International Community is not in favor of armed conflict. Protocol on Non-Aggression and Mutual Defense in the Great Lakes Region; African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and Charter of the United Nations will make military attack on a government regardless of how it came into power very difficult. Opposition attackers will be condemned as terrorists and Museveni will get all the support he needs and enact all draconian laws to cause permanent damage and govern comfortably thereafter. He would welcome that opportunity. We can’t and shouldn’t give it to him. Recall what happened in a successful Mali’s military coup recently: soldiers were forced to hand over power to the civilian. The Madagascar case was also hard for the new government. Conditions when Museveni waged a guerrilla war in the early 1980s were very favorable, not now. So don’t think because Museveni carried out a successful guerrilla war you too can do it.

When you’re afraid of failure you will never make progress

Many Ugandans are very unhappy about the deteriorating situation in our country. However, they are unable to react because they are afraid that if they don’t succeed in regime change or make fundamental changes within NRM the consequences might be severe. They are therefore prepared to wait until time solves the problem or someone else does it for them. That is why some Ugandans are praying virtually daily for donors to come to our rescue. In life there are few, if any, improvements that occur without human involvement and sometimes sacrifices. Intervention by others is more often than not to promote or fulfill parochial agendas that could lead to more hardship for the non-participants in the process. Therefore in order to solve a problem those affected need to participate. Second, success or failure depends upon the goal one sets. For example, those who had planned to unseat NRM regime in 2011 elections and didn’t obviously failed. Those who criticized NRM economic policy succeeded because the government dropped the devastating structural adjustment program in 2009 based on the invisible hand of market forces and replaced it with National Development Plan designed to introduce a public-private partnership model. Third, there are goals that are achieved in stages. You start with producing and disseminating information in the news papers, radios and the internet as Ugandans are doing now. The information is then debated and synthesized into policy and strategy in the second phase. In the third phase the strategy is implemented. Implementation may not achieve all the goals or none at all. The momentum may be slowed or the movement even destroyed completely. History provides lessons we can draw from so that when we do not succeed or do so partially the first time we should not despair and throw in the towel. In some of my publications, I have deliberately drawn on history lessons to show that those that persist and are optimistic win in the end. Below are some lessons that discourage pessimism and defeatism.

Democracy that doesn’t serve the people will eventually fail

Democracy that is based solely on elections regardless of whether they are free and fair will eventually fail;

Democracy that keeps the same party and leaders in power election after election will eventually fail;

Democracy that revolves around one all-powerful leader will eventually fail;

Democracy that sends its brightest and /or experienced citizens into exile and then harasses them there will eventually fail;

Democracy that is based on economic growth and per capita income regardless of how the benefits are shared among the citizens will eventually fail;

Democracy that is underpinned by security forces and safe houses will eventually fail;

Democracy that permits corruption, sectarianism and cronyism to thrive will eventually fail;

Democracy that is based on loyalty rather than competence will eventually fail;

Democracy that is not transparent and accountable to the people will eventually fail;

Democracy that defines security in national defense terms and forgets other kinds of security will eventually fail;

Democracy that does not permit freedom to assemble, associate and express opinion against the government will eventually fail;

Democracy that presides over crumbling institutions, infrastructures and systems will eventually fail;

What to do with the failed NRM government

Uganda has been described as a failed state under a military dictatorship disguised as democratic. Many of those supporting the NRM government publicly have misgivings when contacted privately. The question that has occupied center stage in discussions about the future of Uganda is what should be done to turn the country around before it is too late. Five ideas have been proposed.

First, there are those who are still committed to NRM for whatever reason and want it to stay. They are suggesting that pressure should be applied to NRM leadership to make the necessary changes and reverse the current failed trajectory. But the changes they are suggesting such as restoration of presidential term limits, ending corruption, sectarianism and mismanagement, formation of an independent electoral commission, limiting advantages of incumbency, restoration of independence of the judiciary and keeping the military out of politics will ensure defeat of NRM at the next elections. NRM is not a popular party and it is these malpractices that have kept it in power. In free and fair elections NRM cannot win. Therefore NRM is unlikely to go along with this advice. NRM has become like a very sick person that cannot work anymore and has to be retired. In other words NRM does not have the will and capacity under fundamentally changed economic circumstances – from neo-liberalism to public-private partnership – to turn the country around. If allowed to stay in power, NRM, crippled with all sorts of problems, will only make matters worse and the damage will be more costly down the road.

The economy is Uganda’s source and symbol of strength

There have been debates whether a country should consolidate its political or economic base first. On balance the consensus is in favor of the latter – the economy should form the foundation upon which to build the nation’s democracy and governance. The importance of the economy was recognized from the early days of Uganda’s protectorate. In his letter dated July 1, 1899 appointing Sir H. H. Johnson as Special Commissioner for Uganda, the Secretary of State, The Marques of Salisbury, stressed that the main object in Uganda was to organize the administration on lines that would facilitate the development of the economy to meet the requirements of the Protectorate. The issues of land tenure, agriculture, transport, trade and currency occupied center stage of the Commissioner’s work during his stay in the country.

Although a trade unionist, Obote understood the importance of the economy in Uganda’s post independence development. During the early part of UPC I (1962-1970), apart from being Prime Minister Obote also served as Chairman of the Planning Commission. He stressed the importance of economic independence through rapid economic development. Agriculture and rural development the source of livelihood of the majority of Ugandans, raw materials for industries and export earnings were given pride of place in Uganda’s first 5-year development plan (1961-1966). During UPC II, Obote did not lose sight of the importance of the economy in Uganda’s development. That is why he added the post of minister of finance to that of the president.