Why Uganda must worry about the future of her children

Writing from the heart and directed by conscience

Those who have read my work since my first book was published in 1997 will have realized that I am writing from my heart with no grudge against anyone. I am not writing to be praised. I am providing information as a basis for debate. My conscience and observations tell me that something is wrong in our country and society under the leadership of Museveni. I see a country that has lost direction and with no prospects for recovery under the current government. To find a solution we must get to the heart of the matter which is corruption, sectarianism and Museveni ambition to create a Tutsi Empire using Uganda as a spring board. I have advocated peaceful means for solving our problems. Force can only be used in self-defense. I call on all Ugandans do discuss these sensitive and controversial topics substantively, constructively and in a civil manner. Furthermore I call on all Ugandans regardless of their profession to work towards finding a peaceful solution so that we create a solid foundation for all our children.

Hidden agenda

Museveni came to power with a hidden grand design to take over Uganda and use it to create a Tutsi empire in the Great Lakes region. Museveni’s involvement in regional military and political affairs together with Kagame is part of this design. (Some have speculated that Kagame is a Muhororo like Museveni whose ancestors returned to Rwanda when Mpororo kingdom disintegrated explaining in part why a section of Tutsi refugees came to Uganda after 1959 social revolution in Rwanda to rejoin their kin and kith. This speculation needs to be explored further).

Museveni hypnotized Ugandans with good messages in the ten point program which he then abandoned after he assumed the presidency and embarked on his real plan silently and methodically executed with the help of structural adjustment and decentralization programs. Below are highlights of what has happened for easy reference.

Control of institutions and policy making processes

1. Museveni created the so-called government of national unity and appointed cabinet ministers of well known Ugandans but gave them no power. Real power went to ministers of state who were cadre members and largely Tutsi (generically used to include Batutsi and their cousins Bahima, Bahororo and Banyamulenge). Those who want to keep the plan hidden get nervous when we talk about Batutsi and invoke Rwanda genocide to stop debate. Batutsi have exploited genocide to enrich themselves disproportionately at the expense of others.

2. For public consumption, Museveni retained some of the permanent secretaries from the previous regimes but stripped them of power. He created in each ministry the post of director which he filled with NRM cadres and empowered them to run ministries as directed by him.

3. He packed legislative and policy making bodies such as National Resistance Council (NRC) or parliament; NRC executive and National Executive Committee (NEC) with handpicked and loyal people. Besides being head of state, Museveni became minister of defense, commander in chief of the army; chairman of both NRC executive and NEC and chairman of the ruling NRM. Museveni concentrated power in his hands.

4. Museveni did not abolish political parties but prevented them from conducting activities and undermined them from the grassroots up.

5. The constitution of 1995 was debated under his close watch and he inserted important provisions including freedom of movement and settlement in any part of Uganda and freedom to speak any language. Of all ethnic groups Batutsi are most mobile in large part because of their nomadic characteristics. Since the 1920s when they came to Uganda in search of work and 1959 in search of political security, they have moved to all parts of Uganda. According Kamukama (1997), many Tutsi refugees who entered Uganda moved out of UNHCR camps in southwest Uganda with their cattle in search of pasture. “They moved to other virgin areas in the new districts of Ntungamo, Mbarara, Bushenyi, Rakai, Masaka, Mubende, Luwero and even beyond the Nile River to Apac, Lira, Kitgum, Soroti and Kumi. Within five to eight years, the refugees had mingled with the populations in the countryside and in the urban areas and their presence started to raise questions in political circles” (G. Kamukama 1997). In these new places they adopted local names and languages but avoided social integration including Batutsi men marrying non-Batutsi women. However, Batutsi women marry non-Batutsi men who are rich and politically powerful or potentially so. If you doubt this observation, check it out in your home area or where you live now and report your findings back as your contribution to civic education. So you can see Batutsi more than any other ethnic group are in all parts of Uganda.

6. Decentralization and in particular multiplication of districts is designed primarily to promote political control of parliament and district councils by Batutsi who have money and connections to win elections.

Individual merit and anti-sectarian law

7. Museveni introduced the concept of individual merit for appointments, promotions, reassignments and awarding scholarships. At face value this sounded good. What Museveni had in mind was to appoint people to high and strategic offices from the same family or ethnic group without anybody questioning his decisions.

8. To preempt questions of a sectarian nature arising from appointments on individual merit, parliament passed anti-sectarian law which was not meant to prevent sectarian appointments and promotions but to prevent criticism of sectarian practices. That is why Museveni has been able to fill the army, police, intelligence, prisons and ministries especially of finance and foreign affairs with Batutsi from all parts of Uganda but difficult to identify because they use local names and speak local languages. Any breach of anti-sectarian law can result in heavy penalties including long jail sentences.

9. The constitution of 1995 was debated under Museveni’s close watch and he inserted important provisions including freedom for Ugandans to move, settle and own land in any part of the country and speak their own languages if they don’t want to learn local languages.

Economic and social programs

1. With help of stabilization and structural adjustment, Museveni government carried out activities that have impoverished and marginalized indigenous Ugandans and enriched and empowered Batutsi.

2. NRM government introduced a new currency and imposed against professional advice a charge of 30 percent to exchange old currency for the new one. Two zeros were dropped from the old currency so that 100 old shillings were equivalent to one new shilling, drastically reducing the purchasing power of consumers.

3. Currency was devalued by a big margin making imports very expensive. The interest rates were also raised to over 20 percent. High import prices and high interest rates have prevented emergence of indigenous business class and creation of jobs.

4. NRM government has crippled indigenous entrepreneurs and rendered them economically and politically powerless to minimize presence of a middle class that would demand liberty and justice which Museveni isn’t willing to give.

5. Disguised as a humanitarian gesture Museveni permitted the return of Asians and repossession of their properties and destroyed the indigenous middle class that had taken over those businesses. Museveni knows that the Asian community is not a threat to his political goals.

6. Public enterprises that created jobs were privatized into foreign hands working in close association with Batutsi and those connected to state house.

7. Museveni neglected agriculture through meager budget allocation not exceeding 4 per cent per annum. Agricultural subsidies were abolished or drastically reduced. Cooperatives were abolished and extension services weakened.

8. Liberalization of the economy opened Uganda borders to all sorts of cheap or subsidized imports that out-competed local industries. Some of them closed down, others are operating below capacity. Jobs were lost. Uganda has been reduced to importing used products.

9. Introduction of labor flexibility enabled employers to hire and fire at will, pay wages below a living level and subject workers especially domestic to slave like conditions. NRM launched a liberal immigration policy that allowed free movement into Uganda of foreign workers as part of structural adjustment or globalization deal.

10. Museveni focused on the service sector that is mostly foreign owned, capital intensive and located in the nation’s capital city of Kampala which generates some 70 percent of National Gross Income (GNI) with less than 2 million residents out of 34 million Ugandans, meaning that 32 percent of Ugandans outside Kampala generate a mere 30 percent of GNI, constituting skewed income distribution.

11. As part of his plan to marginalize Ugandans, the government has ignored the burning issue of unemployment and under-employment arguing that that is the responsibility of the private sector knowing full well that there is no private sector with sufficient capacity to absorb the youth that are unemployed to the tune of over 80 percent. Although Museveni has embraced the new concept of public and private partnership, he hasn’t done anything to show that he is committed to it. He is still glued to the failed monetarism that leaves the economy in the hands of the invisible hand of market forces and trickledown economics which has never worked anywhere.

12. Under the so-called comparative advantage, Museveni has reduced Uganda to an exporter of agricultural raw materials whose volumes and prices fluctuate randomly with unpredictable weather conditions and prices on international markets, rendering the economy very vulnerable. Clearing forests for export timber and crops has seriously damaged the environment to the extent that if urgent steps are not taken Uganda could become a desert within a hundred years as a UN report advised a few years ago.

13. Museveni has neglected the manufacturing sector. Yet no country has developed without an industrial base. Manufacturing enterprises add value, prolong life expectancy of raw materials, establish forward and backward linkages and create jobs.

14. Land is Uganda’s economic and social pillar. British colonial administration left land in Uganda peasant hands and even passed a law to prohibit foreign ownership. Museveni’s argument against increasing civil servant wages is that they spend a small portion of their salaries on food because each has a plot of land where they grow food. Museveni and Mbabazi have decided to hand over land to large scale farmers mostly foreigners. Museveni’s main concern has always been to find a permanent place for his nomadic pastoralists. He is therefore doing all he can to solve that problem at the expense of indigenous Ugandans. That is why you see refugees trekking all the way from South Kivu to Uganda. Expansion of municipal boundaries deep into rural areas is part of that solution, not to increase representation in parliament as is officially presented.

15. Museveni knows that educated, healthy, well sheltered and well fed people are productive and can accumulate wealth quickly and transition from subsistence to middle class economy and society. Museveni has deliberately crippled public education, healthcare, housing and food security systems. Private education and healthcare institutions serve the rich well or they go outside for specialized services. Scholarships administered by state house though meant for children from poor and vulnerable families are believed to have been dished out to those from well off or well connected households.

16. Food security is the backbone of a nation. Museveni has denied the right to food by demanding that food be exported to earn foreign exchange to cater for the interests of the rich. He has also prevented provision of primary school lunch and vowed to punish anybody who goes against his decision. Provision of school lunch is a decision of AU adopted by African governments including Uganda.

17. Museveni has encouraged Ugandans to move to urban areas on the understanding that that is where economic growth prospects are. Many Ugandans have sold their land only to end up in sprawling urban slums without hope of finding a job close to what they had been promised. They can’t return to the countryside because the land was sold.

18. Museveni government has complained about a shortage of qualified staff. Yet Museveni retrenched experienced Ugandans and prevented those in the diaspora from coming home to provide the necessary human capacity. Because of this ‘artificial’ capacity shortage, NRM government invited the IMF and World Bank to assist in designing and implementing economic policies and programs. In this regard Tumusiime-Mutebile wrote “Faced with these acute problems and a limited domestic capacity to respond effectively to them, in 1987 the government sought the assistance of the World Bank and IMF in designing and implementing an economic recovery program”(P. Langseth et al., 1995). Since that time, Uganda economy has been run by foreigners (S. Mallaby 2004). Yet in a 1993 interview which included a question about inviting Ugandans in the diaspora to ease human capacity shortage, Museveni responded “We do not mind very much if they stay abroad. … We are training [mostly through night classes at Makerere University] new people all the time in the university and technical schools. So we do not feel their absence”(The Courier 1993).

Building a formidable national security institution

1. Museveni convinced some development partners that implementation of structural adjustment was unpopular. To contain possible damaging demonstrations and strikes he needed to build a strong security system of intelligence, police, military and prisons and he needed to act boldly, implying suppressing demands for civil, political, economic and social rights. He therefore diverted large sums of development funds and built torture houses, prisons etc. He has since used these facilities to suppress Ugandans.

E. A. economic integration and political federation

It is a good idea only if it brings net benefits to present and future generations. So far Uganda has recorded trade deficits including during the first community that collapsed in 1977. Opening up borders will increase influx of East Africans that will overwhelm our limited land, education and health services. Integration and federation entail giving up part of national sovereignty, not losing the entire nation. Which parts of our sovereignty are Ugandans willing and ready to let go? Can we sacrifice our defense and foreign policies, our national currency or give up our seat at the AU and UN? Can we afford unlimited influx of human and livestock populations? Should Uganda eliminate borders as Museveni and Kagame have decided? This is not a subject that should even be raised. Uganda borders are inviolable. We should question the motive of those who want Uganda and Rwanda to become one country and find out whether there is an invisible hand urging them to do so. These are serious matters but Ugandans are quiet except a few vocal voices that want borders removed. Who are these people who want Uganda to disappear? The silence of Ugandans such as parliamentarians, religious leaders and leaders of opposition parties is surprising and raises questions as to why we run for public office when we can’t defend national interests. This silence has to be broken and the sooner the better. If we don’t the future of Uganda children is in jeopardy.