NRM to displace peasants and grow GMOs

Museveni promised to correct wrongs previously committed in land ownership that had disadvantaged real owners especially peasants. He also promised he would balance production of food for domestic consumption and agricultural commodities for export. He promised to end suffering of Ugandans.

In practice NRM has done the opposite. More land has been taken from peasants. In 1989 Ugandans complained to the president on land grabbing by foreigners particularly Tutsi. In 1990 land grabbing was prohibited but there was no enforcement mechanism. And Ugandans have continued to lose land through fake willing seller and willing buyer concept; some land transactions are conducted at gun point.

People who borrowed using their land as collateral are failing to pay high and variable rates of interest and are losing their land. Expansion of municipality boundaries into rural land that converts peasants into tenants is causing a lot of problems as land owners are pushed off the land in the name of development.

Last year (2012) in his state of the Nation address the president stressed that the government was going to focus on developing the neglected some 70 percent of subsistence farmers. Soon after that Amama Mbabazi the prime minister announced that Uganda was introducing large scale farming to boost agricultural productivity because peasants had failed to do so.

We are losing Uganda to the East African Community

Let me begin with three points of clarification. First, there are some people who are wondering how one person can write as prolifically as I am doing without assistance. I want to assure everyone that I have never received one dollar in assistance; I have never hired a consultant or even a secretary to type my manuscripts. I have done all the research, all the writing and all the typing by myself and paid all expenses from my own resources. I have not been influenced by anybody or any ideology but my own conscience. It is a commitment to my country that has driven me to do what you have read. If unsure you are free to investigate.

Second, I became an author and co-host of an English program on Radio Munansi for various reasons. One of them is that many decision makers in Uganda used to tell me and still do that more often than not they take decisions they would avoid if they had enough information. Some of them urged me to share my thoughts with a larger public. I focused on the Great Lakes region because it has had a far greater impact on Uganda than any other African region, and it could even have more in the days ahead. Notwithstanding human imperfections, I have tried to be as factual as possible, at times examining both sides of the issue before drawing conclusions and offering recommendations.

NRM is in disarray and won’t recover

The Roman Empire was severely weakened by luxuries, corruption and strife. The empire would have collapsed even without barbarian invasions. The invasions merely speeded up what was inevitable. NRM is in the same situation. It has been weakened by too much luxury, too much corruption and the emerging internal strife. If you want to understand the level of luxury, you keep your eyes wide open during the end of year season festivities – from Christmas Day to the New Year – in the countryside. I say countryside because that is where the differences between the rich and the poor are very striking. The NRM big shots and their families are driven in four wheel vehicles. They organize parties the moment they arrive in the villages. They organize extraordinary wedding parties, christening parties, thanksgiving parties; parties for relatives; parties for supporters, parties, parties, parties to show how rich they are until they return to Kampala. And on Christmas Day they come to church dressed expensively and immaculately from the head of the family down to the youngest member. And while these festivities and displays are going on the poor, in second hand clothes and without shoes gather around and watch in disbelief, their hands covering their mouths. And they begin to wonder how these people most of whom lived in poverty like them a few years ago managed to amass so much wealth.

The burden of silence on Banyankole issue in Uganda

A society that takes things for granted or keeps silent when it is hurting can hardly makes progress. Societies that have progressed including ancient Greece had people like Socrates that questioned the status quo and would not remain or be silenced when unsatisfied about something. They developed a questioning mind and took nothing for granted. They would not budge even under the threat of death. Socrates was advised that he could avoid the death sentence for allegedly corrupting the youth if he paid a small fine and swore to remain silent about politics or went into exile. Socrates refused reasoning that the unexamined life was not worth living.

The political and military environment and laws of Uganda especially the anti-sectarian and anti-terrorism laws have made it very difficult for Ugandans to question the wrong things that have and are happening in our country. The tough anti-terrorism act has a broad definition which describes terrorism as the “use of violence or threat of violence with intent to promote or achieve political, religious, economic and cultural or social ends in an unlawful manner”(Human Rights Watch 2003). What is threat of violence and what is unlawful in the Uganda context? Under this broad definition anything said or done that the NRM government does not like can land any Ugandan in jail for a long time or forever. When you have laws like these there is no democracy, no freedom, no fairness and no dignity. Under these circumstances Uganda cannot claim to be a democracy where people are sovereign with freedom to express themselves. It is a dictatorship, pure and simple, regardless of whether elections are held or not which forces people to stay silent.

My philosophy about Uganda

A lot has been written and said about me directly and indirectly. Given my frank involvement in Uganda’s political economy discourse, it would have been unusual for my views to remain unchallenged. I have already informed readers what triggered my interest in research and writing about Uganda in the context of the Great Lakes region. I began research in the early 1970s and my first book was published in 1997. In doing so I was guided by my faith to tell the truth and be on the side of voiceless, powerless and vulnerable people. In order to empower the voiceless, one has to understand why they are voiceless in the first place. That is why I spent many years doing research using primary and secondary sources. I obtained invaluable information through personal contacts, at times travelling by bus many times between Kampala and Rukungiri. I have done my research in a historical context, not from 1986 when NRM government came to power as some commentators have implied. I have given credit where it is due and criticized where it is the right thing to do. I have credited and criticized administrations in Uganda especially British, UPC and NRM. My belief is that to solve a problem you have got to get to the root cause and the agent that caused it otherwise you will treat symptoms and you will never get the work done satisfactorily. As a result of frank and manner of presentation of research findings some people have labeled me radical, assertive, sectarian and impatient. Let me explain what each one of these words mean from my perspective and why I feel the way I do.

There is no justification whatsoever for re-electing Museveni

Through his actions Museveni behaves as though he has never understood his role as head of state. He acts as though he is representing western interests in Uganda particularly imposing structural adjustment and joining the west on major issues. He also acts as though he is a representative of Bahororo people in Uganda who are increasingly positioning themselves to govern Uganda for a long time. He sees other Ugandans as a nuisance and despises us as people below his dignity. This comes out clearly from his statements and his body language. These actions that have defined Museveni’s twenty five year presidency should disqualify him for re-election.

Museveni has managed to hang on because of his repressive style of governance with tacit endorsement of western interests and not because he is loved by the people of Uganda except Bahororo. Western interests in Uganda will be served better by letting Museveni go – without western support Museveni would not have lasted a couple of years.

If you re-elect Museveni you will lose your land

Let me clear two things upfront: (1) we Ugandans must stop the deceptive habit of pleading ignorance when things go wrong and (2) we Ugandans must know that Museveni derives his mandate and instructions to govern Uganda from external sources.

I meet Uganda ministers, MPs and officials regularly. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard them deceive us that they did not know that Museveni would do such and such a thing. They would argue that if they had had advance information they would definitely have advised him against such commission. But when you probe them, more often than not, you discover that they knew but did not have the courage to confront Museveni lest they lose their jobs.

Most MPs are there to protect their jobs and get Museveni’s backing for reelection and are not going to risk all that for the sake of defending their constituents’ interests – they are not there for that! So Ugandans do not rely on your MPs to present and defend your interests. Do not return MPs that have done a poor job. That way you send a message to the new MPs that if they do not work for you they will suffer the same consequences like the ones before them who lost re-election bid.

Donors are satisfied with our record – Museveni

Years ago, I concluded that the NRM government under the leadership of President Museveni has failed to deliver on human security – Ugandans still live in fear, in want and in indignity.

At the United Nations Millennium Summit (New York, September 6-8, 2000) world leaders adopted a Millennium Declaration on peace and security; development and poverty eradication; and human rights, democracy, and good governance. They declared that (1) they would spare no effort to free people from the scourges of war within or between states; (2) they would spare no effort to free fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty and (3) they would spare no effort to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law, as well as respect for all internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development.

These declarations are similar to what is contained in Uganda’s ten-point program launched by the NRM government when it came to power in 1986. As noted above despite these declarations at the national and international levels, massive international assistance and excellent national policy documents Ugandans still leave in fear, want and indignity and the situation is getting worse. Because of space constraints, this article will focus on development and poverty eradication – freedom from want.

Uganda won’t industrialize during our lifetime

Uganda won’t industrialize during our lifetime

Before Uganda became a British protectorate, the communities in the area had attained an economic structure of balanced agriculture, manufacturing and trade in local and regional markets. Industrious people had utilized their comparative advantage to improve their standard of living by eating balanced diets and accumulating capital through sale of surplus products. Travelers in east and central Africa marveled at the level of economic development. If the British had asked Ugandans whether to specialize in agriculture or manufacturing, they probably would have opted for industries because of the range of products and the level of industrial sophistication that had been attained.

Because Britain was looking for tropical raw materials like cotton for her domestic industries, food for her exploding population and markets for her surplus manufactured products, Ugandans were not asked about their preference. Thus, at the start of the 20th century, British authorities decided that Uganda would become a producer of raw materials and food by African and non-African farmers and a market for British manufactured products. However, in 1922 British policy was changed and Uganda’s small holder farmers would become sole producers of agricultural produce except tea and sugar. From 1923 the government actively encouraged and organized peasant production, suffocating indigenous manufacturing enterprises out of existence.