Uganda: We didn’t know things could turn out like this

Like in the past, we still have many Uganda leaders who don’t want to listen to advice and take appropriate decisions that are not in their immediate interests and when things turn out differently, they claim that if they had known all the facts they would have acted differently. But they still refuse to act even when you tell them what to do to right the wrong. Because of failure to listen and act appropriately, many things have gone wrong. Here are some illustrations.

1. Many Baganda leaders did not bother to campaign vigorously in preparation for the referendum on the lost counties issue, believing that Obote would not let them down and jeopardize the KY/UPC coalition. When they lost the referendum, they regretted why they didn’t act differently;

2. When UPC won the controversial 1980 election, some senior UPC politicians were advised to form a government of national unity including members of DP and UPM. Their response was the “winner takes all” concept doesn’t work that way. They behaved as though they had never heard of the “win-win’ concept. They reasoned that the losers will have to wait for the next elections to try their luck. Instead the losers picked up guns and sent UPC into exile for the second time;

3. Baganda were told in clear terms by Mzee Boniface Byanyima never to involve Museveni in their struggle against UPC government. Byanyima raised Museveni and knew his character very well. Baganda and later Catholics ignored his advice. For them anybody was better than Obote. Now they are regretting why they didn’t listen. We hope this time common sense will prevail and Ugandans avoid another rush to a leader unknown to us. And wielding a gun or he/she belongs to us (Obote belonged to Protestants) must cease to be a criterion for choosing the next team of leaders.

4. We advised Uganda legislators to go cautiously on the dual citizenship issue because it could harm Uganda’s national security interests as more non-Ugandans became citizens under the dual citizenship arrangement. They refused and now they are beginning to see the danger but they are unable to make the necessary adjustments because they are compromised. Many Ugandans fear that issuing identity cards is likely to be manipulated in such a way that the new naturalized citizens dominate the next elections and put into power a government of foreigners thus metamorphosing Uganda as Museveni had intended from the beginning of his administration. That is why increasing voices are demanding that we form a government of national Unity (transitional government), instead of going for 2016 elections, to sort out how Ugandans should be governed at a national convention.

5. Because of these dynamics, we are now advising Ugandans that there is a possibility of a civil war pitting Tutsi against the rest of Ugandans. Those who want to maintain the status quo are advising Ugandans that there is nothing of the sort: after all intermarriage between Tutsi women and non-Tutsi Ugandans is so entrenched that a civil war is not possible. They have conveniently forgotten that Obote who sent troops under Amin to attack Mengo in 1966 and abolished the kingdoms in 1967 including Buganda kingdom was married to a Muganda. Others dismiss our warning as the usual sectarian drive against successful Tutsi.

UDU authorized its committee at the Boston conference in 2011 to conduct civic education and tell them the truth to facilitate informed decisions. That was not happening because political propaganda was giving false or distorted information.

At The Hague conference of November 28-30, 2013, we pledged to work together to end Musevenism and usher in real democracy and good governance anchored on free and fair multi-party elections, transparency, participation and accountability. We shall succeed in this endeavor by providing accurate information based on facts so that the people of Uganda make the right choices. Lest we have forgotten, it is the enlightened people of Uganda that will determine their destiny and civic education is an integral part of that process.

NRM needs to recognize that no situation is permanent. The dynamic political, economic and social forces in Uganda are demanding fundamental changes. If we act sensibly and put Uganda first, the changes may happen without bloodshed. If we don’t the opposite will be the outcome. The choice is ours collectively as Ugandans. We therefore need to listen to and hear one another, learn from our history and reach consensus on the way forward anchored on compromise because there is no more room for doing business as usual by maintaining the scheme of things that has lost validity in Uganda as it did in Europe.

The situation in Uganda today is similar to what obtained in the second half of the 18th century when Europeans demanded individual liberty and equality. The response of leaders was slow in accommodating these demands and led to revolutions. We hope Museveni will draw an appropriate lesson because he can’t frustrate Uganda demands for liberty and equality much longer. We hope the Uganda military, a few hangers-on and foreign backers will assist Museveni take the right decision in good time. The decision of the military and foreign backers to abandon Ferdinand Marcos saved Philippines from bloodshed. Let us not forget this lesson.

Eric Kashambuzi

Secretary-General, UDU