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.

We can’t let Uganda land go to large-scale farmers

With no education and skills to get Ugandans out of agriculture where some 90 percent earn their livelihood, land is the only asset and source of livelihood. Land is therefore a national security issue that cannot be traded for anything else. The British understood this and left Uganda land alone. A law was passed to keep land in Ugandans hands except for a few leases. So when Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi announced upon return from a foreign mission that peasants were going to be displaced and their land go to large-scale farmers, Ugandans were shocked, wondering how the decision had come about and where they would go or how they would earn their livelihood. Since then land has taken on special attention in debates. We would like the prime minister to tell the nation where his idea of displacing peasants came from.

Meanwhile, some Ugandans have conducted investigations. It appears that NRM government wants to join other African countries that are selling or leasing land for long periods to large scale farmers mostly foreigners as there aren’t many indigenous Uganda large-scale farmers. “Land grabbing” in Africa is a new concept that has become an international phenomenon. The concept refers to “the purchase or lease of vast tracts of land by wealthier, food-insecure nations and private investors mostly from poor developing countries in order to produce food for export”. Uganda is already a major exporter of food grown by peasants, with little left for their families.

Immigrants and refugees in Uganda’s political economy

Radio Munansi English program February 3, 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 our discussion on population growth in Uganda, we observed that in preparing the 2010 State of population vital information on people entering and leaving Uganda was scarce and therefore not analyzed in terms of migrant and refugee contribution to Uganda’s population growth and impact on land, business, jobs, social services and environmental degradation etc. Migrants and refugees have been part of Uganda’s political economy since the early 1920s and the early 1960s respectively.

Let us begin with migration.

A combination of push factors in neighboring countries especially in Rwanda and Burundi and pull factors in Uganda led to huge labor migration into Uganda.

Is it the messenger or the message that has become controversial in Uganda debates?

I embarked on research and writing with the sole purpose of correcting distortions in the Great Lakes political economy with a focus on Uganda. I was fully aware that my findings and solutions would raise much dust and controversy. Before I wrote my first book which came out in 1997 I said a prayer for God’s guidance and protection. I have written ten books since then. Here are some of the issues I have raised and become controversial.

Contraception and population decline

The conventional wisdom is that once women have access to contraception, population growth will decline drastically. I have countered that while contraception is necessary it is not sufficient. I have argued that a combination of contraception, anti-poverty programs, girls’ education and women empowerment is better than contraception alone. Is it the messenger or the message that has become controversial?

The paradox of hunger and abundance

I have criticized the NRM policy of food production for cash than for the stomach. The president has been the champion of this policy. Households have responded and are selling so much food to the extent that there isn’t enough for household consumption and for school lunch. Consequently regions that are food surplus are experiencing severe under-nutrition especially among children and women. I have suggested that for nutritional and moral imperatives, Uganda should only export surplus food over and above domestic requirements. Is it the messenger or the message that has become controversial?

Baganda must stop blaming Banyankole for their suffering

I am writing this story fully aware of the potential political cost. But the story has to be told in order to identify the cause of Baganda suffering and put the matter to rest for good.

Virtually every weekend you hear someone on Hollywood-based Radio Munansi complaining that Baganda are suffering because of Banyankole and when time comes the latter will pay a heavy price. I heard this narrative again when I was in London for the conference on federalism at the end of October, 2012.

I have written some articles on this subject demonstrating that Banyankole have nothing to do with Baganda marginalization and suffering. The majority of Banyankole are suffering like other exploited Ugandans under the NRM government. We also need to draw a distinction between Banyankole and the ruling Batutsi many of them Rwandese that have settled in Uganda particularly in Buganda (have adopted Luganda names and speak Luganda language) since the 1959 social revolution in Rwanda.

Discussing this subject of Batutsi in Uganda and their direct and indirect wrong doing has been made extremely difficult by anti-sectarian law and accusations of genocide promotion which Batutsi have taken advantage of to entrench themselves in Uganda and are in the process of taking over the country under the guidance of Museveni using most of the time Uganda citizens mostly Baganda in return for favors.

Freedom of expression will liberate Uganda

Countries that have progressed have had citizens that fought for their inalienable (natural or God given) rights and freedoms including freedom of speech. They have also taken risks. When you shy away from them chances are that you will remain behind. Some efforts create quick results – negative or positive – others take a long time. Sometime reversals occur. But a start has to be made.

Uganda has just ended fifty years of independence. The overall assessment is that things haven’t happened the way we wanted them. That means we have to revisit what we did and find out what we need to discard, refine or retain as is.

One of the common complaints in Uganda is the system of governance that has concentrated power in the central government and suffocates efforts for regions or districts to decide what they need to do to improve the quality of their lives. The tier system that Uganda has introduced through decentralization is not sufficient because the central government determines what states/provinces or districts should do and the minister of local government is empowered to take decisions that could frustrate local initiatives.

Comments on Robert Response on Gt. Lakes developments

I am basically a researcher and writer. In doing so, I provide well researched information as a basis for discussion on the way forward. My focus of research and writing is on the Great Lakes region. As such you cannot avoid writing about inter-ethnic conflicts which have been of a zero-sum game: “I am in power and you are out”. I am trying to create space for dialogue so that we engage in a win-win discussion to permit all people in the Great Lakes region to live in peace, freedom and dignity. And what’s wrong with that?

Apart from 1959 to 1994, the history of Rwanda since the 15th century is one of Tutsi dominating, exploiting, impoverishing and marginalizing Hutu people. When Kayibanda became leader of his Hutu party in the 1950s, he approached Tutsi and suggested power sharing in a win-win arrangement. Tutsis refused because to them power sharing with Hutu is impossible (Kagame dismissed the Hutu president, prime minister and other ministers whom he used when he captured power in 1994 before he was able to control Hutu population).

Why Uganda must worry about the future of her children

Writing from the heart and directed by conscience

Those who have read my work since my first book was published in 1997 will have realized that I am writing from my heart with no grudge against anyone. I am not writing to be praised. I am providing information as a basis for debate. My conscience and observations tell me that something is wrong in our country and society under the leadership of Museveni. I see a country that has lost direction and with no prospects for recovery under the current government. To find a solution we must get to the heart of the matter which is corruption, sectarianism and Museveni ambition to create a Tutsi Empire using Uganda as a spring board. I have advocated peaceful means for solving our problems. Force can only be used in self-defense. I call on all Ugandans do discuss these sensitive and controversial topics substantively, constructively and in a civil manner. Furthermore I call on all Ugandans regardless of their profession to work towards finding a peaceful solution so that we create a solid foundation for all our children.

Hidden agenda

External factors in Uganda politics

It would be a big mistake to discuss Uganda politics since independence in 1962 without a consideration of the role of external factors. External support can be in the form of commission or omission. The pre-independence politics was manipulated externally to defeat DP and Catholics and pave the way for Protestant UPC/KY and Obote as leader of the coalition and executive prime minister at independence. The coming to power of Amin in 1971 had a huge external involvement and sustained him in power until 1979. The overthrow of Obote II government in 1985 involved a heavy external hand operating from within and without Uganda. Obote was denied external funding at a particularly difficult time under the pretext he didn’t stick to one of the conditions set by the IMF and the World Bank cut off funding after Kanyeihamba and his colleagues convinced it at a conference in one of the Scandinavian countries on the basis of human rights violations and the World Bank switched support to NRM while still in the bush.

Ours will be a liberal democracy

Liberal democracy has two main components. First, it is based on free and fair elections which are held regularly so that all eligible citizens choose their representatives and form a government. Second, a liberal democracy guarantees that rights for individuals and groups are protected and ipso facto cannot be taken away by government. Put another way, liberal democracy is a form of government that combines representative institutions of government including free and fair elections with liberal values in terms of individual rights and responsibilities.

It is important to stress that it is citizens that vote in a free and fair environment. And government cannot take away inalienable rights and freedoms of citizens.

In writing chapter two of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) which was released to the public for comment last week, United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) committee examined the elections and governments in Uganda since 1961. All of them did not meet the two components of a liberal democracy. Citizen participation in elections and government has been less than satisfactory, elections have not been free and fair, foreigners have been allowed to vote and governments have violated human rights and fundamental freedoms of Uganda citizens.