Uganda’s diseases of poverty may worsen under the dev plan

The NRM government was unable to detect the diseases of poverty (jiggers, scabies, trachoma, cholera, under-nutrition, pneumonia, insanity and malaria etc) – which have embarrassed the development partners and damaged the image of the government (as it prepares for presidential and parliamentary elections in early 2011) that had presented Uganda as a success story in neo-liberal economic growth and poverty reduction – for the following principal reasons.

First, the government followed strictly foreign advice that focused on inflation control, economic growth and per capita GDP without paying attention to the equity aspects. The distribution of the benefits of economic growth by class and region was left entirely to the invisible hand of the market forces which would not be interfered with at all.

Second, the government focused on producing excellent blue prints such as the modernization of agriculture, poverty reduction action plan and universal primary education with the assistance of renowned development experts from around the world. These blue prints were received by the international community as a model of success story before they were even implemented. The government was satisfied with that assessment which boosted its international standing and did not bother with implementation as long as the donors and the media were happy with what they were marketing on behalf of the NRM government.

Rwanda government can do what it wants with impunity

I have read, listened to debates and conversed with many people in Burundi, DRC, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Nations in New York to find out why Rwanda authorities – government and armed forces – are not held accountable for the atrocities they are reported to have committed since 1990 when RPF (Rwanda Patriotic Front) invaded Rwanda and are still committing in Eastern DRC and Rwanda itself.

In January/February 2010, I spent thirty days in Burundi, DRC and Rwanda and conversed with many people from all walks of life. I got a lot of information mostly from informal and anonymous conversations. The following information is what I have collected before, during and after the mission. I am making this contribution in an effort to find a durable solution to the challenges not only in Rwanda but in the Great Lakes region as a whole.

Enabling environment

Some developments have emboldened Rwanda government (and its army) to do what it wants with impunity. Here are some of them.

Reprinting chapter 9 of Speke’s book has reignited Bahima and Bairu (master-slave) controversy in South West Uganda

John Hanning Speke a Bitish explorer wrote a book “The Discovery of the Source of the Nile” published in 1863. It was reprinted in 2006. The book is now available in all institutions of learning around the globe.

In chapter 9 titled “History of the Wahuma [Bahima]” and sub-titled “The Abyssinians and Gallas – Theory of Conquest of Inferior by Superior Races – The Wahuma and the Kingdom of Kitara – Legendary History of the Kingdom of Uganda – Its Constitution, and the Ceremonials of the Court” (Speke 1863).

Speke described Bahima collectively as Abyssinians or Gallas. Speke added “It appears impossible to believe, judging from the physical appearance of the Wahuma, that they can be of any other race than the semi-Shem-Hamitic of Ethiopia” noting that Abyssinians in Abyssinia are more commonly agriculturalists, the Gallas are chiefly a pastoral people co-existing with each other just as he found the Wahuma kings and Wahuma herdsmen co-existing with the agricultural Wazinza of Uzinza, the Wanyambo of Karague, Waganda of Uganda, and the Wanyoro of Unyoro (Speke 1863).

Mismanagement similarities between Mobutu and Museveni

As a citizen of Uganda I have followed developments in that country since Museveni shot his way to power in a military coup of January 1986 with external backing. As a researcher on the Great Lakes Region I have studied Zaire (now DRC) under Mobutu who also shot his way to power in a military coup of November 1965 with external backing as well.

There are similarities between the two presidents in initial domestic and external popularity, efficient management of the economy and society during the early years of their rule, participation in expensive international events and increasing authoritarianism and mismanagement largely through corruption and disproportionate spending of public money on themselves, their families, relatives and staunch political supporters (kleptocratic elite).

Yet the international community insisted until 1990 that without Mobutu there would be chaos (witness the famous title of a book “Mobutu or Chaos”) and up to the present (2010) the international community is still insisting albeit in subtle ways that Museveni is irreplaceable. Remarks by visiting dignitaries from multilateral and bilateral institutions including British ministers and experts and lavish allocation of donor money on Uganda confirm strong support for President Museveni. This conclusion cannot be denied because it is obvious. Let us begin with an assessment of Mobutu who came to power earlier than Museveni.

Similarities in suffering between Rujumbura’s Bairu and Indigenous peoples

The indigenous peoples from all over the world are meeting (April 2010) at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. For the last six years I have attended their meetings. I have listened carefully to their stories and read their publications. Their common theme has been land that has economic and spiritual value. They are therefore trying to hang on to what is left and to utilize it according to their priorities. But they are facing daunting challenges from global demands. Their stories about the negative impact of losing their land are similar to what Rujumbura’s Bairu are experiencing as they lose more land to newcomers. I will compare the experiences of the two groups, draw conclusions and propose corrective actions.

The story of Indigenous people in the Great Lakes Region

Before Bantu-speaking people arrived in the area some 3000 years ago, the Great Lakes Region was occupied by indigenous people (the term ‘indigenous’ has not been accepted by governments in the region because it is considered divisive and the term ‘Pygmy’ has been rejected by indigenous people because it has derogatory meaning). For the purpose of this article, I will use indigenous people for lack of a better term.

Kashambuzi is theoretical and ignorant

In her response to my article in Observer (Uganda) titled “Why Bahima men will not marry Bairu women”, Ms P. Kesaasi reduced me to a theoretical and ignorant individual regarding the history of and current events in the Great Lakes Region. She challenged me to produce evidence or lock up my pen and drafting pad.

I have studied the Great Lakes Region in particular Burundi, Eastern DRC, Rwanda and South West Uganda for over forty years. I have written three books on the region: (1) Uganda’s Development Agenda in the 21st Century and Related Regional Issues (2009); (2) Rethinking Africa’s Development Model (2009), and (3) For Present and Future Generations: Using the Power of Democracy to Defeat the Barrel of the Gun (2010). These books are available at I have also created a blog at I invite everyone to visit the blog and read the three books and contact me at [email protected] for further discussion as and when necessary. Let me add at this juncture that debate is important and I welcome it provided it is constructive and civil.

Symbiotic or antagonistic interethnic relationships

International assistance as development, bribe or punishment

In this article I am referring to multilateral-to-government and bilateral or government-to-government development assistance. I have spoken and written that when development assistance is given, received and used strictly for development purposes it produces tangible outcomes that improve human quality and accelerate growth and development.

For example, assistance that was given to Uganda between October 1962 when the country became independent and December 1970 before Obote’s regime was overthrown in a military coup in January 1971 was put to good use in institutional and infrastructural capacity development.

Unlike in the past when health services were concentrated in towns, under Obote I regime, quality hospitals, clinics and staff houses were concentrated in rural areas. Doctors, nurses and midwives were trained, paid well and retained in Uganda. Because there was no need for moonlighting and corruption to make ends meet, patients received good services. Private health services were subsidized to reduce charges. Primary health care received a boost in immunization, safe drinking water, sanitation, general hygiene, housing and food and nutrition security.

In the area of education, quality schools and teachers houses on school premises were constructed again mostly in rural areas, teachers were trained, well paid and sufficient instructional materials provided.

When someone treats you like a slave you have got to defend yourself

According to Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary a slave is, inter alia, (1) a bond servant divested of all freedom and personal rights; a human being who is owned by and wholly subject to the will of another, as by capture, purchase, or birth. (2) one who has lost the power of resistance, or one who surrenders himself to any power whatever… (3) …one who labors like a slave.

A number of developments with reference to the Great Lakes Region (especially Rwanda and south west Uganda) have forced me to revisit the issue of being a slave. First, my visit to Burundi, DRC and Rwanda in January/February 2010 and the detailed stories I heard in formal and informal settings in addition to information from other sources has made me realize that groups of human beings in the region have been deprived of their human rights. Reports about massacres or should we say genocide of Hutu people in Rwanda and Eastern DRC committed by Tutsi, the hidden mass graves of brutally murdered Hutu people some of them under buildings in Rwanda and DRC, the comments from people who should know better but think Hutu people – all Hutu people – are barbaric, wild beasts, genocidaires and assassins that deserve to be punished made me wonder where the world is headed.

Uganda’s development plan is a repeat of structural adjustment program

President Museveni articulated his vision of the five-year development plan in the foreword to the plan. With due respect, he just restated the objectives of the Washington Consensus or structural adjustment program (SAP) which Uganda has been implementing since an agreement was signed between the NRM government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in May 1987. The program was dropped in September 2009 because it had failed to deliver as expected.

Revisiting Tutsi Empire in the Great Lakes Region

In her response to my article titled ‘Why Bahima men will not marry Bairu women’ in which I inserted a paragraph on the Tutsi Empire in the Great Lakes Region of Africa which came up during my mission to Burundi, DRC and Rwanda in January/February 2010, Ms Kesaasi dismissed that paragraph in large part because there was no substantiated evidence. In other words I did not provide sources confirming that such a project existed. It would not have been possible to do so in an article limited to seven hundred words.

In the following paragraphs, I shall provide the sources at my disposal right now and will update the article as more information becomes available.

In order to understand how the Tutsi Empire project evolved and who has been the champion, one has to be familiar with some background information albeit not related to the project directly. Yoweri Museveni’s rise to power had external backing. The external powers were interested in the wealth of DRC and wanted some one in the Great Lakes Region to serve as their surrogate. At the beginning of the 1980s, there was no leader in the region that could be entrusted with that responsibility. Obote was not trusted because of his so-called socialist ideas (Vijay Gupta 1983).