Museveni and I have disagreed on many issues in Uganda’s political economy discourse. However, we agree fully that to solve a problem we must get to the root cause (Y. K. Museveni 1989). I also agree with the late Samson Kisekka that education and mass media play crucial roles in public debates to take informed decisions (Samson Kisekka undated).
To solve Great Lakes problems in which Uganda is located we must accept that inter-ethnic conflicts are still alive and well. We also have to recognize that Batutsi from time immemorial have conflicted with other groups in Eastern DRC, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda. However, addressing the problem is difficult because any mention of Batutsi wrongdoing leads to automatic accusations of inciting genocide against them by those who want the status quo that has favored them since 1994 be not disturbed.
Since the 1994 genocide in Rwanda Batutsi are seen as victims and others as genocidaires (genocidaire is a French word which means those who commit genocide). Genocide means committing any of the following actions with intent to destroy in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group:
1. Killing members of the group;
On July 4, 2012, my articles on Ugandans at Heart Forum generated a vibrant, constructive and informative as well as – I must add thankfully – civil debate. Even those who were rough in the past were gentle this time. Those who tried to divert attention from the core message of my articles in the hope of discouraging further writing along similar lines ended up confirming what I have been saying all along; namely that NRM has destroyed Uganda – intentionally or otherwise – which is now a failed state under a military dictatorship (so that NRM stays in power an extra day because it has lost popular support) no matter what the defenders of NRM – in or out of government – may say. Others concurred that Uganda is indeed in deep trouble but complained that NRM has been disproportionately bashed. Overall, there is agreement that NRM has performed far below expectation and has therefore failed the test. We have discussed at length what has gone wrong and the factors involved since NRM came to power in 1986. The differences have narrowed considerably on the following factors behind NRM failed performance.
While many Ugandans were celebrating the fall from power of UPC and Obote II government, Museveni was busy launching his hidden agenda by introducing concepts including metamorphosis, fundamental change, larger geographic entities and pan-Africanism. We did not bother to analyze what each concept meant in terms of Uganda’s interests. Recognizing that nobody raised questions about what he meant, Museveni went further. He embarked on regional wars and interference in the Great Lakes region. Development partners garlanded and christened him the dean of the new breed of African leaders while some African leaders expressed fear about what was going on in the Great Lakes region which contributed to “Africa’s First World War”. He was elevated to the high level of attending G8 Summits on a regular basis. Some people began wondering whose interests Museveni was serving.
By popular demand we shall continue the discussion on birth control in Uganda that we began last Sunday, January 27. Let me begin by restating that having children: how many, when and how to space them is a human right which must be exercised voluntarily. Anything done otherwise is a violation of that right.
Throughout human history, couples have controlled their reproduction behavior for various reasons on a voluntary basis or through coercion. For example, ancient Greeks kept their families small through abortion or women taking drinks that brought on violent vomiting and subsequent miscarriages. Others exercised vigorously through repeated jumping that terminated unplanned or unwanted pregnancies.
On the other hand, ancient Romans preferred large families. Even so they exercised birth control as well especially by women who married early. The first recorded use of contraceptives occurred in ancient Egypt (Reader’s Digest. How Was It Done? 1995).
Even in Uganda some couples decided and still do on their own about how many children they wish to have, when and how to space them. For example, longer periods of breast feeding coupled with prohibition of sexual relations during this period delayed pregnancy.
Some Ugandans still doubt my sincerity that I didn’t join Uganda politics for personal gain in glory or wealth. I joined politics because I was and still am disturbed by what is happening to a country that with patriotic and capable leadership should be among the first world countries and not drifting to the fourth world. Uganda, however, you describe it is decaying. It is a failed state under military dictatorship concerned about keeping citizens silent and exploited at gun point disguised as maintaining national peace and security. What about peace and security for individual citizens? What about job security, food and nutrition security, health and education security and ecological security to mention just a few? I went to school to gain knowledge and skills with which to help others help themselves and I expect others to do the same. When leaders fail to do so or create conditions for citizens to help one another, then something has to be done about it, beginning with pointing out what is wrong and the cause of it without fear or favor. We have to call a spade a spade if we are going to recover our sanity and humanity as Ugandans.
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.
By way of introduction
Uganda has everything to make it a developed country. The British focused on agriculture but in the 1950s realized that Uganda needed industries to create jobs and transform the economic structure. Uganda also needed law and order or an enabling environment including capable leadership for rapid economic growth, equitable and sustainable development.
Under the UPC government in the 1960s an effort was made to employ Ugandans in areas of their competence. Medical doctors focused on healthcare, teachers taught and bricklayers constructed houses etc and were rewarded commensurately.
The struggle for control of political power by civilian politicians within UPC invited the military into Uganda politics when the army commander Opolot joined the Ibingira group and deputy commander Amin joined the Obote group. The Amin/Obote group moved faster and defeated the Opolot/Ibingira group leading to the 1966/67 constitutional and political crisis. From 1967 to 1970 Obote was kept in power by the military.
Eventually the army realized that it held power and decided to run the country instead of supporting politicians. UPC and Obote were removed in a military coup and Amin and mercenaries from Sudan and DRC ran the country from 1971 to 1979 and Museveni after defeating Okello has run Uganda from 1986 to the present with military backing.
The October 27, 2012 London conference on Uganda federalism inspired by the keynote Speaker’s address (available at the Uganda Citizen website) was very successful in terms of participation which was national in scope; demographics which embraced men, women and youth; substantive in content; open, frank and tolerant of one another’s views; agreement that federalism is a national issue and consensus on the way forward. A resolution was adopted at the end of the conference and is available at the Uganda Citizen website.
I summarized areas where consensus was reached and posted the report on Ugandans at Heart Forum, www.kashambuzi.com and www.udugandans.com. Subsequently, I prepared and posted a short note on the same above websites clarifying some issues upon request. As this is work in progress, we need to update and add to the information that we already have. I have received requests in this regard. I appeal for active participation of all Ugandans in this debate so that none is left behind and also remember that nobody has monopoly or all the answers on this important subject. Here we go.
Ugandans are in the process of identifying a new breed of leaders that hopefully will arrest Uganda’s shameful decline which is no longer a debatable issue. NRM has been a big disappointment to Ugandans and development partners. And staying in power too long has made matters worse. Guns have failed to produce right leaders for Uganda so has money.
Leadership has to be earned through hard work on the right things, not through rhetoric or picking non-controversial subjects so as not to lose popularity. Hard work on military training and experience hasn’t produced good leaders for Uganda. We should drop the idea of picking another military leader. Soldiers are not trained to handle civilian populations especially in circumstances where law and order, separation of powers and checks and balances don’t exist. They run the country like the military where instructions – right or wrong – are followed without question. That is why Museveni’s unquestioned vision for Uganda which was basically hot air has driven the country backwards. This is a fact as evidenced by re-emergence of diseases that had disappeared. Look at maternal mortality which is rising and some hospital wards that have turned into hospices! When we comment correctly like this on Museveni failed policies we are branded controversial or sectarian, unfit for leadership.
While in London to attend the federal conference in late October 2012 where I presented two papers and prepared a summary report of the conference, I bumped into a compatriot on Oxford Street. We discussed a wide range of issues pertaining to the sad situation in Uganda. He thanked me for writing a book on “Uganda’s Development Agenda in the 21st Century” including a chapter in which I praised Batutsi for the help they extended to me. He paused as if he was trying to say something that didn’t fit into the trend of the discussion thus far. He looked around and finally said “Why then have you turned against Batutsi?”
I told him I was not against Batutsi as human beings. I was against the destructive policies of the current generation of Batutsi in power in Uganda. And I am doing so to help them refocus the trajectory onto the right development path.
For easy reference (and against my principle of refraining from mentioning names), I am listing some Batutsi people in Rujumbura County of Rukungiri district who helped me (a Mwiru) while I was growing up. Some or their relatives are still alive and you can ask them to confirm or deny my story.