Uganda needs righteous and ethical leaders

A righteous leader is one who is morally right, fair, upright, virtuous and law-abiding. Readers familiar with my publications since 1997 will have realized that I am trying to put together some ideas or a doctrine that will guide Uganda leaders to treat all Ugandans with justice and dignity. Our history has caused Ugandans to live in constant fear and suspicion of one another. Ipso facto, Ugandans don’t trust existing and potential leaders because they have been betrayed by past and present leaders. But fear and suspicion must be overcome in order to live together in peace and security. For this to happen Uganda will need leaders who tell the truth so you know where they stand, are just and ethical and believe in equality for all.

My honest writings that attempt to get to the root causes of Uganda and Great Lakes problems have caused a few people (who are using different names to give the impression that there are many opposing my views) to demand that discussing ethnic, tribal or clan differences is dangerous and should be stopped (I attended Ttabamiruka Convention in Boston, USA a few days ago and Baganda were proud of their clans with no adverse impact on their being Baganda). Those guilty of crimes against humanity in the Great Lakes region are demanding that African borders be dismantled so they can disappear in other parts of the continent to avoid being apprehended.

I have stressed again and again that you won’t solve Great Lakes region problems without addressing Nilotic Batutsi and Bantu Bahutu and Bairu unhappy relations. This historical, exploitative and genocidal relationship has been addressed by others including that “The Tutsis believed [and still do] that they were superior, and they treated the Hutus as inferiors [and they still do]” (E. Rosenfeld and H. Geller Global Studies I 1987).

Let us set the record straight on the issues of genocide and crimes against humanity. Batutsi suffered genocide in Rwanda in 1994 but Batutsi have also inflicted genocide on Bahutu in Burundi in 1972, 1988 and 1993 and in Rwanda and Eastern DRC since 1994. They have also committed crimes against humanity in other parts of the Great Lakes region including in Uganda since the Amin’s regime when they served in intelligence, police, prisons and the military. Their atrocities in Luwero Triangle and in the Northern and Eastern regions of Uganda are gradually coming to the surface.

So Batutsi are victims of genocide and have committed genocide against Bahutu and crimes against humanity in the Great Lakes region. The international genocide guilt didn’t allow all this to come to the surface. Now that the guilt credit has been used up, commentators are coming forward and telling the world what they know. For example, in an article titled “A Hole in the Forest” a story is told that “The Banyamulenge are attacking the [Hutu] refugee camps on the Rwanda border. Mobutu’s military is fleeing west. Refugees are fleeing east. Most are heading for Rwanda, but some, even thousands, are climbing the escarpment, fleeing west into the forest” (National Geographic Africa Special Issue September 2005). Thousands died from bullets, others from hunger, disease and exhaustion because of Banyamulenge attack. In the end, at an appropriate time, an independent Truth and Reconciliation Commission should be instituted to investigate what has happened and offer recommendations on how to avoid its repetition.

Uganda is still a relatively well endowed country. It has land to produce food to feed its people well, waterfalls, sun and wind for clean energy; flora and fauna, mountains and valleys for lucrative ecotourism and resilient people. It is strategically located at the heart of Africa. But it is falling behind in virtually every aspect of human endeavor because of bad leaders (it is puzzling how Museveni could give awards to Ugandans for outstanding work in Uganda’s economic and social transformation. Those given these awards should have rejected them because Uganda’s economy and society has decayed on their watch). Uganda needs just leaders with ethical (moral) behavior towards their fellow men and women. Righteous leaders should be interested in justice and right living for all. They should end oppression, impoverishment and marginalization of the poor by the powerful (Prime Minister Mbabazi idea of depriving peasants of their land and give it to rich large scale farmers should be condemned as immoral). Leaders should not live in luxury while others drown in poverty and other forms of deprivation. The new leadership in Uganda should have righteous people concerned about the welfare of all Ugandans, not through hand outs but giving them skills and an enabling environment to fend for themselves.

During the constitutional negotiations and the first few years of independence, Obote gave the impression that he strove to keep Uganda together as one nation by striking a deal with Buganda that brought monarchists and commoners together, making the Kabaka of Buganda the first president of Uganda and Kyabazinga of Busoga the first vice president. Mindful of religious interests he also brought some Catholics into his cabinet including Babiiha from Toro and Obwangor from Teso. The 1966/67 political and constitutional crisis derailed the UPC/KY coalition and paved the way for the ascendancy of Amin with a record of ruthlessness in Kenya and Uganda who became president in 1979 with open arms by civilian population in the nation’s capital of Kampala.

Yoweri Museveni gave the impression that he was the righteous leader that Uganda was yearning for. His ten point program conveyed the message of morality, justice and dignity for all Ugandans. His first government of national unity, declaration that rewards would be based on individual merit and anti-sectarian law hit the right knots. It is believed that Museveni even became a born again Christian. Ugandans prayed for his long life so he corrects the wrongs in Uganda once and for all.

Within a short time after feeling he could control the population using his security forces and had the backing of the donor community Museveni turned his back on the very people that fought with him and/or paved the way for his ascendancy to power as the Okellos have claimed (Robert Gersony 1997). Museveni launched a socially and ecologically damaging structural adjustment program fully aware of the outcomes in Chile and Ghana, warning those who opposed him. Museveni became unethical, unjust and trampled the dignity and rights of his subjects. He chose to deal with inflation control over unemployment; food exports over feeding Ugandans; imposed taxes and charges, eliminated subsidies on social sectors and agriculture, eliminated cooperatives and introduced services for the rich like private schools and hospitals and poorly funded and staffed public schools and hospitals for the poor. He supported increased exports that resulted in destroying the environment as forests, woodlands, grasslands and wetlands were cleared. He supported high food prices to benefit large scale farmers at the expense of poor food buyers in urban and rural areas. Museveni, a president, father and grandfather, has refused to support a school lunch program for primary school kids who are dropping out of school in large numbers because in large part they are hungry. And yesterday he gave awards to Ugandans for their outstanding performance in economic and social transformation of Uganda. As a Christian, I think these are leaders who have no ethical values and are spiritually bankrupt.

With or without Museveni instruction, Prime Minister Mbabazi is busy working out a strategy to deprive Uganda peasants of their land and give it to large scale farmers. Reports that public money is stolen have become the order of the day. Retired Ugandans who saved their money are going to bed hungry, have no clothes on their backs, no proper shelter because their pension money was embezzled by well connected officials.

Fellow Ugandans we have written and read enough to be convinced that Uganda lacks righteous leaders. What is needed is to gather courage, say a prayer and discard parochialism regarding ethnicity, tribe, religion, region and class and search for good leaders. They are there. Those who refuse to discuss contentious issues; those who prefer neutrality or compromise for purposes of greed or to block someone; those who can’t tell you who they are or where they were born and afraid to disclose their ancestors and clans; and those who have difficulties disclosing their biographic data are simply not genuine leaders and their applications should be discarded. They are there for selfish or parochial reasons as NRM leadership has turned out to be. Those who still believe in Museveni leadership are selfish, greedy and opportunists. Once he is gone they will be the first ones to condemn him so they can be accepted in the new regime.

A leader should take the heat, stand up and be counted. There are Ugandans who have been tested in connection with their political and leadership record and their understanding of Uganda, neighboring and global issues. The doctrine of ethics, justice, righteousness and dignity should serve as a basis for selecting leaders in Uganda in order to keep its sovereignty intact and give all Ugandans the right living.

Let me end with this: Leaders like Deng Xiaoping; Konrad Adenauer and Narasimha Rao who transformed the economies and societies of China, Germany and India respectively had been around for a long time before becoming national leaders in their 70s, had participated in the struggle and were able to distinguish between wrong and right and adopt a pragmatic approach and hire right staff to solve problems using methods and styles that won them public support. This is what Uganda needs or will continue trapped in mass poverty and unemployment, marginalization and powerlessness as well as spiritual pollution.