As we head into the holiday season and the 2011 elections, all Ugandans are being requested for the sake of our children and theirs, to think carefully about which candidates at presidential and parliamentary and lower levels you should vote for. You should not vote for a candidate because he/she is your relative or your friend or your neighbor. Instead, you should vote for a candidate you are convinced will serve the interests of Uganda best. Sitting members of parliament should be rejected or re-elected based on their record. It is better to consider someone who has a public record of service rather than gamble on fresh candidates and you regret later. Age and gender should not be the issue. In your communities you know who can deliver best. You should not be scared because a candidate is wearing a military uniform. In the final analysis they are as vulnerable as we all are.
Above all you should look for someone who has interest in building human capital – who believes in quality education, healthcare, food and nutrition, decent housing, clothing and environmental protection. Furthermore, choose a candidate that favors a public and private partnership development model and not one that focuses on the invisible hand of market forces and laissez faire capitalism. These are things that prepare citizens to become productive and face challenges with confidence in a world that is increasingly becoming competitive and knowledge-based. Let us focus on a few areas for your careful scrutiny.
First, you should elect someone who will not take away your land. Whether you work and live in an urban area or not, land is the bedrock upon which all else stand. Many Ugandans saved their lives and of their families during the Amin regime by returning to the countryside and growing food for subsistence. It could happen again! There are pressures on African governments to sell or lease land to foreign states and/or corporations so they grow food for their people. In Madagascar a government was overthrown for mortgaging large chunks of land to a South Korea company. Ethiopian government is leasing land at break neck speed while it is unable to feed its population.
While Uganda may get foreign exchange in return for selling land to foreigners, that foreign exchange will not put food on your family table. Much of the foreign exchange that Uganda has earned has gone into purchasing a presidential jet for $80 million and maintaining Museveni family, relatives and in-laws. So Uganda land is something that must be protected to the last man or woman for the sake of our future generations in a true spirit of patriotism.
Second, candidates must explain beyond reasonable doubt the net (positive) benefits to Uganda from the East African economic integration and political federation. Getting a passport to travel free in East African countries is not enough. Expanded trade opportunities need to be specified by showing likely net benefits based on Uganda’s comparative advantage now and in the foreseeable future.
You need to remember that some countries are interested in integration and federation because they will allow families from countries without enough land to move and settle in countries with some space. Ugandans will get a flood of people from Kenya, Rwanda and Burundi. How many Ugandans will settle in Rwanda, Burundi or Kenya?
Economic integration and federation will also mean that workers from other states will compete for jobs in Uganda. Kenya and possibly Tanzania have more skilled workers than Uganda and most likely skilled jobs will be lost to our Uganda workers who cannot compete because of poor quality education and lack of vocational training. Therefore Uganda jobs need to be protected until our workers are able to compete. So do not be persuaded by nice words based on text book theories from a few politicians and civil servants that are narrowly focused or have a hidden agenda.
There are those who are arguing that if we get a federation soon, Museveni will become the first president. How will that improve your standard of living? Museveni has his plans of converting the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa into a Tutsi Empire. He has said he wants all the states in the Horn and Great Lakes to be federal states under one nation (southern Sudan and Somalia may be added onto the list) and one ruler – and you know who that ruler will be! That is why you see people still talking about historical relations between Ethiopians and Bahima, Bahororo and Batutsi although there is now concrete evidence that they the latter group entered the Great Lakes region from southern Sudan and not from Ethiopia or even Egypt. They always want to link themselves to white people although they pure black and darker than Bantu people.
The message being conveyed is that you should not rush into economic integration and political federation. Try to draw lessons from the experiences of European Union (EU), NAFTA (USA, Canada and Mexico), SADC and Tanganyika and Zanzibar). You will find that it is not as easy as Museveni tends to simplify it. Now we know that Museveni has his hidden (now exposed) agenda of Tutsi Empire. He should not drag Uganda into such a situation. We shall be condemned by our children and grand children if we act irresponsibly. We must be concerned about our legacy and our leaders have a special responsibility in this regard.
A ministerial post should not be exchanged for throwing away the future of our children. Frankly, I have never understood why Ugandans are obsessed with becoming ministers and ambassadors!
Third, Uganda’s immigration policy needs to be revisited. Uganda has become a magnet attracting people from all over the world most of whom are staying permanently. This explains why Uganda’s population is rising fast when indigenous poor Ugandans are being encouraged or tacitly coerced to practice birth control which has already reduced fertility from 7.1 to 6.5 (please note that birth control is for poor couples, the rich can produce as many as they want!), and mortality is still high or has even increased given AIDS pandemic, wars in Luwero, eastern and northern region and increasing malnutrition that is killing Ugandans directly or indirectly by suppressing the immune system that fights diseases etc. Ugandans should avoid turning our country into another Ivory Coast. Therefore this uncontrolled influx of immigrants into Uganda must be checked quickly. That is where those concerned about reducing Uganda’s rapid population growth should focus, not on dependency ratios that are not even defined and contraceptive prevalence rates that are underestimated.
Fourth, when I wrote about Uganda becoming a kingdom with Museveni as the first hereditary Muhororo king, I was not joking. I based that on ingredients in place. Everything is in place except that Museveni needs to be re-elected and get at least two-thirds of NRM MPs in parliament. That is why the NRM primaries were chaotic because Museveni was trying to bring into parliament Ugandans that he will command to do whatever he wants. That is why Museveni should be defeated and NRM denied two-thirds majority in the next parliament. If we are not careful Uganda could be engulfed in a political or military crisis we could never have imagined. Therefore do not take my advice lightly. Those who think I am lunatic or day dreamer are trying to divert public attention.
If Museveni becomes king he will restore pre-colonial Rwanda and Mpororo-type kingdom based on a feudal system of lords and serfs. Those who come from southwest Uganda know what Bairu went through under the Ankole kingdom and Bahororo chiefs in Rujumbura in pre and colonial days. I can tell you it was real hell here on earth and no Ugandan should go through that hell again.
In Rujumbura while there are today many more highly educated and experienced Bairu and others, the leaders are all Bahororo (less educated and experienced) – the MP, two presidential advisers, at least two strategic civil servants. They are there, many feel, because they are connected to the first family who are Bahororo. When you are introduced to them, they remind you that their parents or grandparents were chiefs. Those presidential candidates who are talking of restoring these kinds of kingdoms in Ankole and Rujumbura should be defeated for recklessness and political immaturity.
Once Uganda is declared a kingdom through parliament and Museveni the first king, the international community will not do anything about it because it will have gone through a democratic process. If there are legal or constitutional problems Uganda’s Supreme Court whose record in support of Museveni is well known will decide in favor of Museveni and the game will be over.