As we finalize preparations for Uganda’s 50th birthday anniversary as an independent nation, we need to take stock of what we have achieved as a nation and where we have fallen short in order to pave a clear, equitable and sustainable path for the next 50 years.
Most Ugandans today were born after 1970 – a period dominated by political instability, economic and social hardship – and don’t have the benefit of comparing the civilian regime of Obote I and the military regimes of Amin and Museveni. What has been written about UPC and Obote I of the 1960s found mostly in NRM documents picked and emphasized deficit areas and ignored the achievements. To a certain extent Obote, subsequent leaders and supporters are to blame for not writing their stories to provide a basis for comparison. We hope that between now and October 9, UPC leadership will arrange to fill the gap.
Obote formed a civilian government which focused on building a physical, institutional and human foundation for eradicating poverty and its offshoots of hunger, disease and ignorance. Investments went into schools, hospitals and houses; roads and energy; cooperatives and extension workers; manufacturing that established linkages with agriculture. According to the World Bank report (1993), by 1970, Uganda’s social indicators were better than most countries in Africa. Uganda developed a health sector that was one of Africa’s best. UPC pioneered low-cost health and nutrition programs. Vaccination centers were constructed and immunization program reached 70 percent of Uganda’s population in just seven years. Uganda’s education developed a reputation for very high quality. Between 1965 and 1970, Uganda’s economy grew at an average rate of 8 percent per annum – the highest in East Africa.
On the deficit side, UPC’s invitation of the military into political affairs is regretted because two wrongs don’t make a right. It was reliance on Amin to counter the other side that caused international and domestic problems. Amin was the principal element in the allegation of Congo gold scandal. Although cleared of the scandal, UPC’s image was dented. It was Amin’s excessive use of force on Mengo that tarnished further the relations between Buganda and UPC. It was the rejection of UPC and Obote largely by Buganda that contributed to a military government led by Amin (who had led excessive attack on Mengo) into power. The jubilation with which Amin was received in Kampala discouraged friends of Uganda that wanted to deny him the presidency on account of his past brutal record. It was the rejection of UPC and Obote II after the controversial 1980 elections which DP thought it had won that brought another military government of Museveni to power (Museveni who lost a parliamentary election in 1980 in Western Uganda was not installed by westerners as president. In that regard he does not represent western interests. Ipso facto, Western Uganda has not had a president). The lesson to be learned from this analysis is that political disputes should be settled by political means, keeping the military out.
Amin was brought and sustained in power by foreign interests and mercenaries from Sudan and DRC. Foreigners were interested in promoting their national interests and protecting their business advantages in Uganda. Mercenaries were hired to guarantee the security of Amin and his regime and were prepared to do anything that kept them on Amin’s payroll. They therefore did whatever they were instructed to do (or on their own initiative occasionally) with impunity. They knew that when time came they would disappear across the border and none would bring them to justice. Consequently they caused the deaths of some 500,000 Ugandans. Infrastructure and institutions, economic and social systems were virtually destroyed. Uganda suffered a reversal in human mobility as more people moved from urban to rural areas than vice versa. The economy shifted from emerging commercial activities to subsistence agriculture thereby setting the development and structural transformation program back many years.
Amin’s military rule differs significantly from Museveni’s. Amin came to power largely to save his skin. He had no transformational ambitions. He attempted to make some positive contributions including construction of a building that houses Uganda Mission to the UN on First Avenue in New York City on the same plot where the United States Mission to the UN and UNDP are housed. Besides little education and lack of civilian leadership experience, Amin was handicapped by a health problem.
Museveni, a soldier like Amin, came to power with a hidden agenda. He used the five years of guerrilla war to hoodwink the people with sugar coated bitter pills that were presented to the people as the ten point program. Museveni knew what Ugandans wanted to hear and gave it to them. But as soon as he took the oath of office, he started implementing his hidden agenda of colonizing Uganda and Ugandans using trusted and secretive Tutsi mercenaries and Tutsi who had come and stayed in Uganda since the 1920s and adopted local languages and local names but remained Tutsi in everything else. He also relied on western backers who were interested in Great Lakes geopolitics and reconverting Uganda into a capitalist state and returning Asians.
The agenda for impoverishing Ugandans began with a charge of 30 percent to change old shillings into new ones and knocking two zeros from the old currency so that you got one new shilling instead of 100 old shillings, significantly reducing purchasing power. He placed trusted people in the ministry of finance and central bank supported by foreign advises and experts. Museveni then adopted the severe form of structural adjustment (shock therapy) which helped him with development partners’ clearance to retrench Ugandans connected with UPC or on other grounds from the civil service, reduce or eliminate subsidies on education, healthcare, agriculture and kerosene that benefited the poor. Schools in targeted areas were closed or downgraded. Wages and benefits of teachers and medical staff were significantly reduced forcing them to abandon their professions or hired in private schools and clinics that serve the rich. Labor flexibility enabled employers to hire Uganda workers and pay them virtually nothing, hire and fire at will. Museveni diverted large sums of development funds into security apparatus to intimidate; arrest and torture Ugandans into silence and/or invade neighboring countries in pursuit of Tutsi empire dream.
Having crippled Ugandans by denying them food which is being sold to earn foreign currency for the comfort of the rich, denying them quality education and skilled training, denying them remunerative employment and a living wage and denying them good healthcare, Museveni has now embarked on the last phase of his project: dispossessing Ugandans of their land, the only asset and source of livelihood Ugandans have in the absence of salaries and pensions for the majority. He has corrupted leaders who are also involved in dispossessing the people they represent. He has given them districts that are economically unviable and unsustainable, thereby killing the national unity project which greedy leaders don’t see or have ignored. Through bus loads of immigrants Museveni is silently changing the demographic composition of Uganda. Districts are being carved in a manner to give immigrants their own districts and soon the districts of immigrants will exceed those of indigenous population. Immigrants will then have more representatives in district councils and in parliament and the game will be over – Uganda will be owned by foreigners and Ugandans will become serfs on their former land. That is Museveni’s ultimate goal and he is almost there. Those leaders that are being used don’t you ever tell us you didn’t know what Museveni was up to. Now you know so get into action or you will be held accountable – keep that in mind. Those who want to cover the truth are going to rebut by calling the author a racist or sectarian, inciting genocide. This is not racism or sectarianism: it is a matter of national interest exposed by a patriot.
Instead of discussing national matters like this and appointing capable leaders to fight for the indigenous people, we are busy crushing each other or dancing to music without knowing its meaning. Ugandans on some forums need to rethink their whole approach and weigh the costs and benefits of their behavior when commenting on other’s work. Sub-nationalism has made us miss the forest for the trees and we are losing Uganda. Intellectual hecklers using fake names and hired to confuse must be stopped. For me I can assure you whatever you say won’t change a thing because I am working on behalf of the voiceless and powerless people for no pay or influence from anybody.
Uganda is potentially a rich country with poor leaders or leaders with different agenda like Museveni. We have tried civilian and military leaders. On balance the civilian leader served Uganda better notwithstanding the pain caused to some sections of Uganda. The military leaders have been disastrous – on balance Museveni worse than Amin. Amin didn’t colonize and dispossess, his mercenaries ran away when Amin was overthrown. Museveni’s mercenaries and relatives from the Great Lakes region are taking over Uganda assisted by Batutsi who came before them and are using local names and local languages to confuse indigenous Ugandans who are voting them into district councils and parliament. Those who want to save Uganda for themselves and their children should take this message seriously and act appropriately and urgently including by knowing the background of people who are leaders or aspire to lead. We have been too kind for too long. People we accommodated as refugees on humanitarian grounds are now in charge of our country, keeping indigenous citizens marginalized or in exile. We should not support a candidate with dubious origin simply because he/she is in our party which must defeat the other one represented by an indigenous candidate. You may be admitting a wolf into your goats’ house. Museveni is bent on absorbing Uganda into a borderless East African Tutsi empire and/or metamorphosing Uganda with a new demographic landscape.
That is the message for the next 50 years – to ensure that Uganda does not fall into foreign hands and is led by capable, civilian and patriotic Ugandans regardless of the region they come from as some members on Ugandans at Heart Forum have confirmed.
For God and My Country