The people of Uganda are demanding their rights

Enlightenment and dialectics have entered into Uganda’s political economy discourse. They have developed a questioning mind about who is governing them, why our institutions and systems (education, health, nutrition, agriculture, ecology, urban housing etc) are collapsing, why Uganda’s population growth is excluding migrants and focusing on natural growth alone (births minus deaths) which is half the story.

The people of Uganda are beginning to understand their inalienable rights – God-given rights – that no leader can take away. These are not privileges. When a leader denies the people their inalienable rights, they have a right to demand them back. And that is what the people of Uganda are demanding their rights right now. Through disenfranchisement, many Ugandans were denied their right to elect their representatives at the presidential, parliamentary and local levels.

States or governments have an obligation to assist their people when in need of food, shelter and clothing. Articles 25 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights respectively oblige member states to take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. For example, to ensure that everyone is free from hunger member states are obliged “(a) To improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food by making full use of technical and scientific knowledge, by disseminating knowledge of the principles of nutrition and by developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve the most efficient development and utilization of natural resources; (b) Taking into account the problems of both food- importing and food-exporting countries, to ensure an equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need”. Food exporting countries should export surplus food over and above domestic need. It does not make sense to export food when your own people are starving as Uganda has been doing under Museveni regime.

Apart from demanding lower prices for goods and services especially fuel and food when inflation is very high, the people of Uganda want to be empowered especially women through adequate education and remunerative employment, they want to exercise their universal human rights and they want systems and institutions that work for all people and not only for a few. Ugandans who are overwhelmingly Christians want to separate church from state because the latter is exerting too much influence on the former.

These demands can be met without conflict or change in Uganda’s relations with development partners especially our western allies. Museveni’s government has ignored these demands and is using force to silence people in the name of national stability. But we know that stability imposed from above by force and a minority group as in Uganda cannot last. That is why Museveni and his NRM system are in trouble. Museveni has lost touch with reality. Market forces, rigged elections and troop deployment will not provide prosperity for all, bring about true democracy and maintain stability. The foundation of external and military support as well as the silence of Ugandans on which Museveni constructed and maintained his regime has begun to crack. The external environment has changed witness the media’s response to the brutality meted out by Uganda’s security forces on peaceful demonstrators; Ugandans’ wall of fear has been pulled down and above all sections of the armed forces have begun to distance themselves from Museveni and those close to him. We are beginning to see in Uganda what happened in Romania in 1989 when the army joined demonstrators and brought Ceausescu government down. During the French Revolution sections of the military joined rural and urban demonstrators especially when they learned that Louis XVI had invited mercenaries to help him crush the revolutionary forces.

We are asking Uganda faith leaders to emulate their counterparts in Poland, South Africa, Romania, Czar Russia and Latin America and the Caribbean that joined the masses during their struggle against oppressive regimes.

Our doctrine is that Ugandans will liberate themselves by peaceful means. What we need is the international community to level the playing field especially western governments, international financial institutions (IFIs), organizations of the United Nations system, the media and NGOs.

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