Radio Munansi English Program Jan. 26, 2013.
This is Eric Kashambuzi communicating from New York.
Greetings to you all: fellow Ugandans at home and abroad, friends and well- wishers.
I am glad to be back on Radio Munansi to continue the discussion of issues in Uganda’s political economy under the theme “Together we shall succeed”.
I mentioned political economy to signify that political decisions determine economic direction and economic forces affect politics. Thus, politics and economics are inter-linked.
I also chose the theme “Together we shall succeed” because I honestly believe that by working together we have a better chance of unseating NRM whose record of failure is there for all to see. I have been thrilled to see that the idea of working together has been received warmly by fellow Ugandans on face book among others.
Since the beginning of 2011, I have been active in Uganda politics. I have told you who I am, where I was born and grew up, where I was educated and what I have done in my career. I presented my profile in three parts which are posted at www.kashambuzi.com for easy reference.
I have shared my views with you about how I see Uganda today and where it is headed. I have done so in a patriotic, honest and objective manner, fully aware of controversies when you tell the truth. But it is through controversies that the quality of leadership is assessed. Keeping silent or compromising principles to gain support isn’t the right thing to do. However, flexibility without sacrificing principles is permissible.
I believe very strongly that unless you identify the root cause of the problem you won’t be able to solve it. In my speeches and writings I have tried to do so by discussing Uganda within the Great Lakes region context.
Since the last fraudulent 2011 elections a lot has been done to right wrongs committed by NRM government.
I joined Radio Munansi at the beginning of 2011 in the heat of political campaigns for presidential and parliamentary elections. I called for free and fair campaign and casting of ballots. NRM refused to establish an independent electoral commission and used the advantages of incumbency to steal the elections. The Commonwealth Observer Group reported that the electoral process from registration of voters through the announcement of election results lacked a level playing field – a diplomatic way of saying that the results were null and void. The opposition parties and groups didn’t accept the results and regard the NRM government illegitimate.
I am going to make my presentation in two parts: (1) progress report on what has happened during my absence from Radio Munansi and (2) the story about the impending military coup.
After the 2011 elections which NRM stole, opposition political parties and organizations at home and abroad, decided to work together under one umbrella organization. We thank Ugandans to the Rescue for organizing the first meeting in Los Angeles in July 2011 at which UDU United Democratic Ugandans was formed. The UDU committee or secretariat was mandated to prepare a National Recovery Plan (NPR) to form the basis of our work. The committee was also mandated to establish diplomatic networks, expand membership and convene a second conference in Boston in October 2011.
What we have achieved so far:
1. The Boston conference was organized on time and took place on October 8, 2011. Ugandans to the Rescue representatives participated actively and chaired one of the sessions. The conference devoted the time on discussing the National Recovery Plan that was endorsed at the end of the conference. The Plan and the Executive Summary are posted at www.udugandans.org. The Plan has been well received at home and abroad. It has formed the basis of civic education through radio stations and through the internet particularly Ugandans at Heart Forum and the Uganda Citizen. Kamunye newspaper has translated into Luganda some of the courses we have conducted in order to reach a wider audience.
2. We have communicated with members of parliament regularly and written to women, youth, religious leaders and security forces calling on them to join hands in order to bring changes in Uganda by peaceful means in the first instance. My colleagues especially Joseph Magandazi, Dennis Nnyondo and Dorothy Lubowa have been particularly active in their areas of expertise and experience. Ugandans have participated actively and exchanged information that has improved the understanding of Uganda’s political economy situation within the regional context. Issues that were considered taboo have been discussed and we now have a better idea about who has done what since the 1980s in the Luwero Triangle and in Northern and Eastern Uganda.
3. We have condemned corruption, sectarianism, cronyism and mismanagement of public funds. The wall of fear is being pulled down and Ugandans are demanding answers as to why human conditions are deteriorating for the majority of Ugandans when Uganda has received over 30 billion dollars in donations and billions more in remittances by Ugandans living in the diaspora. We have condemned rising maternal mortality and women who have died in child birth because of negligence for various reasons including failure to bribe medical staff at delivery time. We have called on the minister of health to resign because of the Mulago Hospital shameful incident where a pregnant woman jumped to her death for lack of attendance while she was giving birth. The health sector has performed poorly as witnessed by the re-emergence of diseases that had disappeared such as plague, jiggers, scabies, sleeping sickness, cholera etc. We shall give more information in the course of the debate.
4. We have established diplomatic networks and conducted discussions with governments, relevant UN organizations, parliamentarians and non-state actors especially those responsible for human rights. Some friendly countries have issued press statements demanding improvements in the human rights area and their missions in Uganda have been active as well. Human rights organizations have also been engaged in discussions with the government on respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Because of these engagements, abuse of human rights especially during demonstrations and political campaigns has declined somewhat albeit more remains to be done. This has enabled opposition parties to win by-elections and parliament to begin to exercise its rights more forcefully. We thank them for their efforts in the face of tremendous difficulties.
5. We have also been involved in activities and conferences organized by other groups. For example, we participated in the conference organized in London on federalism. We presented a paper on the subject, strongly supporting a federal system of governance which means sharing power between the central government and local governments as this gives Ugandans the opportunity to design their development programs according to their priorities, endowments and culture. The Odoki report provides evidence that the idea of federalism has strong support in Uganda.
6. We also believe that properties including land should be returned to their right owners. This includes Buganda land and forests. As Museveni promised in 1985, NRM government should correct errors committed through “’development’ projects or outright theft of [peasant] land through corruption” (Yoweri Museveni 1985).
7. We have issued many press statements on various aspects including Mabira forest, demolishing slums in Kampala, the environmental impact of the oil industry and human rights abuses among others. We have also commented on government policy statements including the State of the Nation, budget speeches and the prime minister’s statement that NRM will give Uganda land owned by peasants to large scale farmers.
8. We have offered views on Uganda’s economic challenges pointing out that without industrialization beginning with agro-processing activities, Uganda has no chance of joining the ranks of middle income countries.
9. These are a few examples of what has been done. The reports on these activities are available at www.udugandans.org. I urge you to spare some time and read what we have produced. More needs to be done and together we shall do it and succeed in our goal of bringing about political change in Uganda without spilling blood.
2. The story of impending military coup
I want to address the story of the military in the struggle to liberate Uganda at two levels.
First, there is the story that the minister of defense and the president have threatened to use the military force to stop the brewing people’s revolution. I wrote calling on all Ugandans and the security forces to join hands and prevent a military coup. One commentator wondered what difference it would make if the military took over because we are already ruled by a military dictatorship.
The difference is that once we have a military government it will suspend the constitution which is the supreme law of the land. Parliament will be suspended as well as political and civil rights. Uganda will be ruled by decree. We shall come under the rule of the jungle where the strong will gobble up the weak. We should avoid that from happening. We in the opposition need to come together and speak with one voice against a possible military coup. The African Union, the United Nations and Uganda’s development partners and non-state actors should be informed about our stand so they put pressure on Museveni and Kiyonga to drop the idea of a military coup. Although it has been reported that the idea of a coup has been dropped there is no guarantee that it won’t be reintroduced. We should therefore act under the assumption that a military coup is possible and prevent it from happening.
Second, as many of you know, I have been advocating change of NRM government by peaceful means in the first instance using other means including force only in self defense. The people of Uganda are tired of wars and spilling blood since 1966. I have called on all Ugandans including the military to join together for a peaceful change of NRM regime which has failed to deliver as expected in all areas of human endeavor.
Some commentators have assumed that I want the military to overthrow the NRM government and then form a government that includes members of the opposition. They are thinking of the kind of government that Amin formed when he overthrew the UPC government in 1971 with Amin as president and a cabinet of civilians except the minister of the interior who was a military man (Obitre Gama).
That is not what I have in mind. I want Uganda soldiers to play the role that the French soldiers in 1789, Russian soldiers in February 1917 and 1991 and Philippine soldiers in 1986 played. They joined the public and removed authoritarian/conservative regimes and returned to the barracks. I am not even suggesting that a military person should head government.
We don’t want a situation that developed in Ethiopia during the people’s revolution of 1974. The Ethiopian civilian people began the revolution which was joined much later by the military. When the imperial regime collapsed the military high-jacked the revolution and formed a military government and then turned against the people that initiated the revolution.
We want our fellow soldiers in Uganda to continue to defend the nation against external aggression and Ugandans against internal dictatorship.
We know that some elements in the police and the military want democracy which means government of the people, for the people and by the people; good governance and respect for human rights and freedoms and restoration of liberty, justice, equality, dignity, protection of property and pursuit of happiness.
These are the groups that we want to join with civilian population and bring about change by peaceful means. When the French Guards in Paris joined the people in Paris during the French Revolution, the rest of the army hesitated and King Louis XVI could not rely on them and withdrew his plans to attack the National Assembly and demonstrators and the revolution was saved.
When soldiers in St Petersburg joined the demonstrators, the generals found it difficult to attack them and parliament that had formed a transitional government. Instead, the generals advised the Czar, Nicholas II to abdicate which he did in favor of his brother who also declined and the revolution was saved.
When the minister of defense and deputy army commander in the Philippines and their followers joined with the people and Cardinal Sin, the Archbishop of Manila, the rest of the military found it impossible to fire on the people and advised Ferdinand Marcos who had stolen the presidential election to resign and go into exile for his own safety. The opposition leader who had won the elections was declared the president and formed the government. The people’s revolution was saved.
This is the kind of military collaboration with the people of Uganda that I am talking about.
Thank you for your attention.