We must come together quickly to save Uganda

If we, Ugandans don’t wake up quickly and unite under capable, visionary and patriotic leadership, we are going to lose Uganda as we have known it and become underdogs in a new entity. What is happening in Uganda right now has a long history beginning with Yoweri Museveni. Museveni knew very early in his life what he wanted to achieve for himself and his Batutsi people. He wanted a Tutsi Empire covering initially the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region using Uganda as a base. I went to Ntare School with Museveni. As a prefect, I had a duty to study the behavior of students to recommend those that had leadership qualities. Museveni appeared to me as a restless individual with a mind fixed on something I could not quite understand. Museveni started a student organization while still at Ntare School. He supported the creation of East African integration and federation.

The politics of independence based on majority rule changed the history of minority domination of majority in Ankole district. Museveni belonged to the ruling minority and it appears he did not like the change. However, given the numerical inferiority of pastoralists including his Batutsi people in Uganda, he could not reverse the political changes and pursue his Tutsi Empire through the ballot box. He therefore decided to use military means to achieve his goal. That is why he went to study at Dar es Salaam campus of the East African University to have easy access to Southern African Liberation Movements and OAU’s Liberation Committee. Besides military training, Museveni read and wrote about revolutionary theory.

Upon graduation in 1970 (it is not clear whether he graduated in political science or political economy) and as an integral part of his grand scheme, Museveni worked briefly in the president’s office in charge of people he described as nomadic like the Masaai. It appears that he was locating Batutsi people who are scattered in all parts of Uganda especially where there are cattle herding activities. They came to Uganda starting in the 1920s from Burundi and Rwanda in search of work and as refugees following the 1959 Social Revolution in Rwanda. Since he became president, Museveni has surrounded himself with good historians and possibly archeologists, anthropologists and sociologists to trace Batutsi wherever they are so he employs them in his dream of creating Tutsi Empire. So when you see someone from Eastern, Northern, Buganda and Western regions getting a senior position in sensitive and strategic public office especially finance and foreign affairs and in intelligence; police and military, you will find on closer examination that that person is a Mututsi who speaks local language and has a local name or a non-Nilotic man who has married a Mututsi woman – just check and you will see. This may explain why some leaders don’t care about what is going wrong in their areas because these officers may not be indigenous people from the area. That is why it has been suggested repeatedly that Ugandans must strive to know the family tree of the people ruling Uganda. This is not sectarianism. It is a national security issue and therefore the right thing to do.

Let me digress a little if only to give some background information. As most of Ugandans know by now, Batutsi are Nilotic people whose ancestors spoke Luo and entered Uganda and other parts of the Great Lakes region from Bahr el Ghazal in South Sudan (not from Ethiopia). They came with long horn cattle. Wherever they settle, they adopt local languages and local names but don’t intermarry with local people except in a few parts. Their women began marrying influential or potentially influential non-Nilotic men largely after independence primarily for political harvest. As a general rule Batutsi men don’t marry outside their ethnic group for fear of letting outsiders know their secrets of dominating others. As a result they have remained Nilotic people by identity. They are not Bantu people! Thus, Uganda has been governed by Nilotic people since independence – Obote, Amin and now Museveni.

Museveni knows he is unpopular as it emerged at the Moshi conference, during the transition period of 1979-80, when he could not be allowed to lead the party he claimed he belonged to and lost a parliamentary seat in his home constituency in southwest Uganda in 1980. That is why he has rigged all elections since 1996.

Museveni became president by accident for two reasons. First, fellow Ugandans who wanted Obote and UPC out of power and could not wait for the next elections opted for a military solution and were prepared to hire anyone who knew how to use a gun. Museveni who was in a bad shape offered his services and became commander of NRA dominated by Tutsi mercenaries and used Luwero Triangle to fight Obote regime. Second, Yusuf Lule who was chairman of NRM would have become president on capturing Kampala in 1986. Sadly he passed away a year earlier and was not replaced, giving Museveni who became acting chairman a chance to become president essentially through the back door. Museveni was not brought to power by Banyankole. He was crowned by Baganda and DP supporters. Furthermore, Museveni’s confidants during the guerrilla war and since then are Batutsi including some westerners called Bakiga (Ugandans need to read more about the history of the Great Lakes region because there is so much confusion about Bahima, Batutsi, Banyamulenge, Bakiga, Bafumbira and Bahororo). So majority of Banyankole who are suffering a lot have nothing to do with Museveni’s coming to power and should not be crushed when Museveni and his entourage depart.

While in the bush and since he became president, Museveni has used powerful language and notions we took at face value and missed their hidden meaning until much later. Museveni was fond of using such terms as metamorphosis or fundamental change (complete change like turning water into vapor), Pan-Africanism, ending African balkanization and creating larger geographic entities essential for accelerated trade and development. What Museveni had in mind all along was a Tutsi Empire. And in April 1999, Museveni announced to the whole world that his mission was to create a federation of states in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region. In order to achieve this goal, he needed a base where he would operate from without much trouble. He has impoverished, marginalized and divided Ugandans and rendered them powerless and voiceless. He has fought wars at Uganda’s expense to install friendly regimes and pushed the East African economic integration and political federation project as an integral part of forming a Tutsi Empire. How did the destruction of Ugandans and their country come about?

Museveni accepted the shock therapy version against slow and incremental stabilization and structural adjustment program (SAP) after a long period of discussion to fit it into his Tutsi Empire project. Lessons from other countries implementing structural adjustment programs (SAP) such as Ghana and Senegal had indicated that SAPs were unpopular and led to riots and economic and political instability. Museveni argued that shock therapy version required strong security forces and intelligence to prevent riots and political instability in a fragile country like Uganda and he got tacit donor support for it. Donors also permitted him to delay elections until SAP was on solid ground. Museveni took advantage of this environment and dismissed civil servants, reduced or eliminated subsidies, kept trained and experienced Ugandans in exile, introduced fees for education and charges for healthcare, eliminated or downgraded schools, destroyed cooperatives, distorted food production in favor of sale than for domestic consumption, caused unprecedented malnutrition and school dropout for lack of lunch. This strategy created the “new poor” of retrenched civil servants on top of the “old poor” mostly in rural areas that got poorer. To control inflation, he siphoned money out of circulation through high interest rates making it difficult for Uganda’s small and medium enterprises to borrow and start labor-intensive activities. The devalued Uganda shilling made imports including of intermediate goods in manufacturing enterprises very expensive. He focused development on Kampala which generates 70 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) but largely controlled by capital intensive foreign owned businesses. Through willing buyer and willing seller, many Ugandans have sold their land to the rich and have ended up in urban slums without work.

As intended, Ugandans have become extremely poor (recently 81 percent Ugandans reported that they are poorer), functionally illiterate (over 80 percent of youth are unemployed), sick (including from re-emergence of diseases that had disappeared), hungry (malnutrition is killing more Ugandans than malaria that now kills twice than before) and slum dwellers (about 70 percent of urban population live in slums). In rural areas 68 percent of the population that are subsistence farmers with high growth potential were deliberately ignored as the president reported in his State of the Nation address in June 2012.

Through his prime minister (he could not make such announcement without clearance and authorization), Museveni has proposed to take land away from peasants who have been described as incapable of modernizing farming and give it to rich large scale foreign and local farmers. However, there is overwhelming evidence that small holder farmers when adequately supported are more productive, more efficient, more environmentally and more socially-friendly than large-scale farmers. The justification that small holder farmers cannot transform Uganda’s agriculture is therefore false. Museveni just wants to impoverish Ugandans by taking away their land. By creating Greater Kampala, Mengo must have lost much of its land. It is not clear how much land indigenous Baganda own in Masaka in view of a large influx of pastoralists and their cattle from Ankole and Rwanda who entered Uganda as refugees after 1959. In areas like Ntungamo there are reports that foreigners outnumber indigenous people in some sections. Uganda’s immigration policy has encouraged foreigners to enter Uganda illegally or as refugees and many do not leave, hence their contribution to rapid population growth. There are rumors that NRM government plans to naturalize them as full citizens, substantially increasing Batutsi people who have entered from Rwanda and Eastern DRC.

Broadly, the impact of structural adjustment on human capital formation is devastating. Undernourished mothers are producing underweight children with permanent physical and mental disabilities; under-fed children are developing smaller brain size than normal and cannot learn properly and perform well as adults and lack of school lunch has driven hungry children from school who become mothers in their teens. Clearly Uganda’s future has been severely dented.

Museveni’s intelligence hand is in every home, every church and every department. The story about the election of the new Archbishop of the Church of Uganda is the latest development likely to weaken the church and give Museveni an upper hand. People are now afraid of their relatives, even family members, because virtually everyone is spying on everyone else. Spies are everywhere at home and abroad. You don’t know whom to trust anymore and this has created a breakdown of homes and weakened community cohesion. Museveni is now trying to break up the opposition by wooing UPC. There are stories that Miria Obote widow of the late president has been offered a cabinet post. Museveni is now working with Rwakasisi, a former confidant of Obote. Having abused, fought and crippled UPC, Museveni now wants the remaining pieces to be accommodated in the NRM closet. He is doing this in part to prevent UPC from joining hands with UDU that has emerged as a formidable challenge to NRM. NRM is now hovering above a precipice brought about by succession struggle between the president’s wife (who wants to succeed her husband by association because her record in Karamoja doesn’t qualify her for the job besides other constraints. The First Lady should try to learn if she hasn’t what happened to Mao’s widow who was favored by Mao and included her among the Gang of Four that succeeded him) and the Prime Minister (PM) whose record isn’t clean either witness Temangalo problem which apparently has not been resolved and his threat to take away land from peasants and give it to rich foreign and local farmers. And to make matters worse for the PM his daughter with a few months old premature baby is being dragged into court and/or prison for non-payment of a loan, timed presumably to embarrass the PM. Who might be helping the First Lady? If Museveni had had a good record, one might have been tempted that the First Lady may have helped and she should be given at least one term as a token of appreciation. But given Museveni’s disastrous record, one may similarly assume that the First Lady has played a part and she should exit with him.

Museveni has used effectively the concept of decentralization – originally designed for development purposes by transferring responsibility and authority closer to the people from the central government – to divide the country into districts so tiny that they are economically unviable but strong in sub-nationalism thereby killing the national unity project.

Having weakened Ugandans and turned Uganda into a base of operation, Museveni then turned his attention to East African economic integration and political federation apparently to end the region’s balkanization into a larger economic and political entity. Because he wants to become the first president of the new East African political entity, he has pushed the negotiators to put political federation ahead of economic integration which is like putting a cart before the horse or building a house starting with the roof. Since his true goal of Tutsi Empire was discovered Museveni has twice in a row refrained from reporting to Ugandans in his State of the Nation address what progress is being made, implying that he is working behind closed door. But recently the cat was let out of the bag. A high powered Uganda delegation went to Rwanda apparently for a cultural function in respect of Kutesa’s departed father (RIP) but eventually met with Kagame who in his speech stated that East African borders will be dismantled as negotiations for East African federation progress. This is a very strong statement unfit for a cultural function made by a head of state. Therefore this may be interpreted as an official Uganda delegation to discuss with the president of Rwanda how to dismantle East African borders and create one East African citizen and one common language. We don’t know how other states have reacted but this is a statement that must be taken seriously. Rwanda and Uganda appear ready to push for the abolition of national boundaries and create a new East African citizen. With Sudan poised to join the community, four countries namely Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan will likely vote together on major issues and defeat Kenya and Tanzania. And one of the resolutions will be to abolish national borders and it will be carried. This is a dangerous move that all Ugandans must collectively oppose or we shall lose Uganda. Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi with high population densities may welcome the idea in order to flood Uganda and metamorphose it as Museveni has advocated for so long.

I have sketched out for discussion, Museveni’s dream of a Tutsi Empire and the destructive methods he has used on Uganda and Ugandans to get there. The situation is desperate. Uganda has been so divided that one wonders whether it is one country anymore. The people have been impoverished, marginalized and corrupted that will allow anything to pass even if it is obvious that they or their children will get hurt along the way. We have become dangerously short sited. We need to put ourselves together under capable and patriotic leadership and save Uganda before it is too late. Once a resolution is passed by the East African Legislative Assembly with NRM member as speaker, the game will be over and the decision may not be reversed. Uganda will cease to exist as national boundaries are abolished – our MP’s need to act now, not to hide behind caucus decisions. Museveni will get his Tutsi Empire, become its first Emperor, overpopulated Kenyans, Burundians and Rwandese will shed their surplus that will flood Uganda which will indeed be metamorphosed as Museveni told us a long time ago. Ugandans will be swallowed up, forced to speak a foreign language and disappear as we have known ourselves. If we don’t act now we should not shed crocodile tears, claiming we didn’t know what Museveni was doing all along. Now we know.

Eric Kashambuzi

Secretary General, UDU