Uganda needs a leader with a vision and courage of Kabaka Mutesa II

The late Kabaka Mutesa II of Buganda stood firm against the proposed reforms by the late Governor Andrew Cohen. The Kabaka felt that they were not in the best interest of his people and his kingdom. He also rejected the idea of an East African federation because it was not in the best interest of the people of Uganda and his country. He was forced into exile for maintaining his stand. His vision and courage won the hearts and minds of all Ugandans who dropped their differences, joined with Baganda and demanded the return of the Kabaka. The Governor who was a sensible man read the reading on the wall and returned the Kabaka to his kingdom. Perhaps with the Kabaka’s advice, Baganda in Obote’s cabinet persuaded the government not to join the East African federation in 1963, inter alia, because the exercise was rushed. The idea was shelved until very recently.

Time has come for a new visionary and courageous leader to emerge in Uganda, with backing of all Ugandans, who can stand firm against the dictates of Museveni that are destroying our nation through failed education, failed healthcare, failed economy, failed environment, failed housing, failed attire, failed democracy, failed governance and failed and unviable districts. It appears that Museveni studied the theory and practice of divide and rule which he has applied effectively since he came to power in 1986 through the barrel of the gun. It must be clear to Ugandans by now that Museveni came with a hidden agenda in collaboration with some external support, hoping that Ugandans wouldn’t find out. To discuss and understand the troubling environment that Museveni has created Ugandans need to stay cool, avoid emotions and eruptions into anger when someone expresses an opinion they don’t share.

Although the enlightenment revolution of the 18th century as a whole paved the way for a new thinking that shook the status quo, enlightenment individuals hardly agreed. Further, many of the European intellectuals were thrown into jail more than once and/or escaped into exile where they continued their work. Uganda is entering enlightenment age of questioning everything the authorities are doing as we try to find the correct development path for Uganda and we are likely to disagree a lot, at least initially, thrown into jails, lose jobs or flee into exile as Museveni and his ‘gang’ fight back.

To prepare the ground for changing Uganda’s dynamics that would transform Uganda and keep him in power long enough to turn Uganda into a dynasty, Museveni made policy statements that sounded fine at face value. He stated repeatedly that Uganda needed a visionary leader that turned out to be Museveni for the last 26 years and still counting; that Uganda had plenty of unused fertile land, implying Uganda could accommodate more people thereby paving the way for busloads of people across national border into Uganda. He complemented the latter statement with a liberal immigration policy, allowing immigrants from overseas to flock into Uganda in the name of speeding up development. A close examination as I have shown elsewhere of Museveni’s economic policies of free trade, macroeconomic stability particularly inflation control through high interest rates, privatization of public enterprises, foreign exchange, export diversification and labor flexibility were all designed to marginalize indigenous people and empower foreigners who in their turn would keep Museveni and his successors in power. If you have noticed regular and reliable advisers of Museveni are foreigners while Uganda has seasoned human power languishing at home and abroad (The preparation of an excellent National Recovery Plan by Ugandans in UDU is a case in point). Decentralization which was meant to empower districts to design and implement their own development policies and programs has ended up as an exercise in disuniting Ugandans into unviable sub-nationalisms, making Ugandans forget the “national forest in pursuit of individual trees”. Museveni’s remaining two items before he winds up his project are the dispossession of subsistence farmers, a task he has assigned to his trusted prime minister and pushing Uganda into borderless East African federation which he has assigned to his trusted childhood friend.

At the same time Museveni has ignored what sustains a country. People in numbers alone do not make a country tick. What makes a country count is the quality of the people and the incomes they earn to improve their standard of living. Museveni has designed an education and health care systems that have disproportionately advantaged people from his tribe. To get an idea who goes abroad for education and medical treatment you need to travel frequently between Entebbe, Europe and North America. To see who is studying abroad, just travel to Uganda from Europe just before Christmas and back to Europe after New Year holidays. If you understand Uganda’s demographic nomenclature and accent you will not fail to see who has gained from Uganda scholarships. For those at home education has been divided into private and public schools. The private schools are modern by international standards but very expensive. Public schools are for the poor who end up dropping out because they are hungry or graduate with poor education that they become unemployable. Museveni understands that the quality of education in public schools is awful. He has regretted a lot but done nothing to make it better because it is not in line with his designs. Museveni knows that graduates with poor education will not find remunerative work in the private sector but has done nothing about mass youth unemployment from poor families who are not keen to join security forces or to be commercialized abroad.

Regarding healthcare, Museveni slashed the budget so deeply in the name of balancing the budget and encouraged farmers to produce for export than for the stomach causing serious shortages in domestic markets and raising prices beyond the means of the majority of consumers. Poor health and poor diet have raised the mortality rate especially among women and children to scandalous levels. For example maternal mortality rose from 527 in 1995 to 920 per 100,000 live births in 2005. This is happening when under the Millennium Development Goals member states of the United Nations are expected to reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters by 2015. Museveni knows that a population that has poor education, poor diet and always sick has no economic and political voice. And that is good for his project of minimizing resistance as he metamorphoses Uganda into a new economic and demographic landscape.

Museveni has used excessive force to clamp down human rights and fundamental freedoms including preventing them from electing an alternative government by rigging elections since 1996. However, the people of Uganda are beginning to demand exercise of their rights. We thank the US government for supporting Ugandans in this effort. The US Charge d’Affaires to Uganda urged Ugandans to “remain vigilant against the infringement of fundamental human rights, including press freedom and protect the rights of minority populations and women”. The envoy reminded the government of its obligations towards human rights observance and called for people’s vigilance.

Museveni is now ready to go for the final kill through the prime minister – take the land from the voiceless and powerless subsistence farmers and give it to the rich Ugandans and foreign farmers to produce for international markets and earn adequate foreign exchange. Recently, the prime minister announced that Uganda land will switch ownership from indigenous people to those who know how to “modernize” agriculture. Without appropriate education, without remunerative employment and without income, the only asset Ugandans have is land. Before recommending what needs to be done to oppose Museveni on land ownership and other core issues, let us see how Museveni has used Ugandans to achieve his goals so far.

Museveni has created the myth in Uganda that to be somebody that counts you need to be a minister or leader of a sectarian group. In short, Museveni has corrupted Ugandans to the core with all sorts of things. Here are a few examples. During the debate to extend NRM government for five years after the first four years expired in 1990, Museveni used an important figure that should have stayed out of politics (if we go by what Museveni is saying now against religious leaders that have begun to oppose him) to make a strong and passionate statement that persuaded his followers to endorse the extension. When he needed a new presidential jet he used a member of parliament who argued strongly in support of purchasing a sophisticated presidential jet for security reasons. He was rewarded with short-term benefits after the project went through. Parliamentarians were promised big things if they changed the presidential term limits in the constitution; others were promised ministerial positions if they helped divide up a district where there was strong opposition while others were promised big rewards for helping to defeat a presidential opposition candidate in his home district. In return for that favor the tiny district was given two powerful cabinet ministers and one junior minister. With the project accomplished that district has since had a single junior minister, in one case after the list had been compiled without the district. It became embarrassing to reduce the district from three ministers to none.

Currently, Ugandans aspiring for big things have been hired to explain why Uganda needs to give land to foreign farmers. One Ugandan argued that the country still has plenty of fertile land unutilized because Uganda youth are lazy. This individual was talking about empty areas in the north that had been deserted by owners who were in camps. Others are falsely urging Ugandans to sell their land and start business in towns where prospects for prosperity are better than small scale farming. Experience so far shows that those moving into urban areas have become jobless and are languishing in sprawling slums but that has not deterred advocates of urbanization to keep pushing the case. These policies are destroying Uganda which was once ahead of Kenya and Tanzania in development and is now at the bottom which doesn’t seem to bother the head of state.

Against this bleak background, Uganda needs a new leader with a vision and courage like the late Kabaka Mutesa II to oppose Museveni and reverse course. Foreigners with local names and local languages that refuse to integrate socially with local communities are taking over our country (a foreigner who fully integrates including through intermarriage with local communities and participates in community development is okay but those who refuse to integrate should not be leaders in Uganda at any level. Ugandans have a duty to find out who they are and obstruct them from leadership. That is legitimate discrimination for purposes of national security). To oppose Museveni and his parochial designs is in national security interest, not an exercise in racism or sectarianism as some would want you to believe. No government led by patriotic leadership would allow a country to be taken over by foreigners. Ugandans are challenged to study carefully those who are governing Uganda today from all regions and you will see who is in charge at the national, regional, district and lower levels. Hopefully you won’t get a shock when you find out. Do you still remember when in 1994 people we thought were Ugandans in key, strategic and sensitive positions at home and abroad packed their bags and left for their home land in Rwanda? We still have many around from many parts of the Great Lakes region and beyond.

The new leader will need the backing of the entire nation as was done when the Kabaka was sent into exile in 1953. Ugandans stood together and demanded his return. Uganda deserves the same unity now. Museveni has to be stopped from ruining Uganda and from treating us as docile people. Let us save the nation as a whole before we turn to our regional, district or personal pet projects. In this regard, we appeal to our religious, traditional, political, police, military and intelligence leaders to back one leader with a national vision and tested determination and selflessness to save this “Pearl of Africa”. Countries have disappeared before. Uganda could be next if we go by the rate at which Museveni is pushing political federation and transfer of land from indigenous to foreign owners. We call on parliamentarians in Kampala and Arusha to understand fully why they occupy these positions: to protect Uganda and her people. We call on the youth the future leaders and occupants of Uganda to fight for your country and to campaign against candidates with dubious credentials or character.

Uganda comes first. East African economic integration and political federation are institutions designed to strengthen the national entity and not to absorb it. The United States has a federal government to support states with their inviolable borders intact. Europe is building a union to strengthen and not destroy national borders. When England and Scotland formed the United Kingdom, they did not dismantle their borders. Why should we dismantle East African borders as we move closer to integration? Let us make one thing very clear: Africa is not poor because of colonial borders. It is poor because of general bad leadership. Removing borders will not bring in good leaders. What you are likely to get by eliminating national borders is a can of worms with unimaginable challenges. Unless there are hidden motives, it is wise to live national borders as they are imperfect as they might be (has separating South Sudan from Sudan made life better?). The alternative will be more disastrous in the East African community areas. For example people and animals will fight over land ownership and pasture and watering wells like we have never seen in human history. That is why I am firm about retaining national borders. In this case and based on information at hand a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

Finally, contrary to what a few vocal voices have repeatedly dubbed me in turns I am not an instigator of genocide, racism or sectarianism. These scary words are intended to silence me or intimidate those who agree with me and want to join UDU. It is too late because the message is all out there in published books and on the internet. I am simply a “little” guy who cares about all Ugandans in present and future generations. Napoleon of France and Deng of China were below national average in height but made tremendous contributions to their respective countries.

For God and My Country

Eric Kashambuzi

Secretary General & Chief Administrator, UDU

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