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

UDU ideas for Uganda’s future are catching on

Press statement

As Secretary General with executive responsibility for guiding the affairs of United Democratic Ugandans (UDU), an umbrella organization of opposition political parties and organizations at home and abroad, I am pleased to report to fellow Ugandans at home and abroad, friends and well wishers, that UDU ideas to effect sustainable peace, security and equitable development for present and future generations are catching on.

These ideas are enshrined in the National Recovery Plan (NRP) supplemented by subsequent pronouncements about the future of Uganda. These ideas include the following:

1. UDU has consistently called for peaceful resolution of political differences in the first instance. This idea was endorsed at The Hague conference of November 28-30, 2013 that brought together participants from home and in the diaspora;

2. UDU has advocated that Uganda belongs to all Ugandans and Uganda comes first. UDU is a forgiving organization but those who have committed mistakes and/or crimes need to come forward and tell us exactly what they did wrong.

3. UDU has called for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to record what has happened in independent Uganda to ensure that those commissions and omissions are not repeated;

4. UDU as an innovative organization has called for a transitional government of all stakeholders including NRM to prepare a level playing field based among other things on a national population census and national convention to know how many and who we are and agree on how Ugandans want to be governed before organizing a free and fair multi-party elections underpinned by a truly independent electoral commission, a truly independent vetting commission on the basis of agreed upon criteria for presidential and parliamentary candidates and standardized campaign finding;

5. UDU has recommended that instead of one president, the transitional government should be led by a team of four people (presidential commission) one each from the four regions of Uganda;

6. UDU has recommended that those wishing to participate in the governing of Uganda must go public and spell out their philosophy and personal history in a comprehensive manner so Ugandans can take informed decision.

As Secretary General of UDU, I have had discussions with leaders of FDC, UPC and Uganda Civil Society. We have concurred on the way forward as recommended by UDU. Other patriotic individuals at home and abroad have also been consulted and support this approach.

We call on all Ugandans and other peace loving people around the world especially the government and people of the United States of America and the United Kingdom to support these noble efforts to address the wrongs in Uganda without further delay.

For God and My Country

Eric Kashambuzi

Secretary General, United Democratic Ugandans (UDU)

A civil war is possible in Uganda

Concerned citizens of Uganda including me wish to warn the world as I have done before that there might be a civil war in Uganda seeing what has happened in Central African Republic where a minority group seized power by force as NRM has done in Uganda since 1986 and what is happening in South Sudan.

When people are tired, hungry and unemployed and nothing is done to ease their suffering they resort to war because they have nothing to lose. They would rather die with dignity instead of going down like sheep.

Those who don’t want to take corrective action at home and abroad reason that Ugandans are docile and are scared of the sound of a gun or when you bribe their leaders you silence the entire group that is in pain. That’s what used to be said of Egyptians until a few years ago. Let us learn from the Egyptian experience that dormant people can erupt into a deadly volcano. Uganda is about to blow up. It is a spark that is waiting to start a wild fire and it doesn’t give a warning.

We can prevent that if what I have been proposing is listened to and heeded:

1. Form a transitional government soonest including all Ugandans except those directly responsible for the suffering of Ugandans whether still in or out of government. The government should be headed by a presidential commission of four people each representing one region;

2. Conduct a population census to know exactly how many and who we are;

3. Convene a national conference so that Ugandans discuss how they want to be governed;

4. Organize a free and fair multi-party elections based on an independent electoral commission, an independent vetting commission for presidential and parliamentary elections, standardize campaign funds so that all candidates at presidential level have the same amount as well as at the parliamentary level. That way bribery and cheating will be eliminated and elected leaders will be accountable to voters not sponsors.

Eric Kashambuzi

Museveni’s Achilles Heel is not age

Let it be known that Museveni’s problem is not age. It is a combination of dangerous adventurism, incompetence, rigidity and dishonesty. He became president in his early 40s and has been in power uninterrupted since 1986. With experience of 27 years as executive president and still counting and abundant public good will at home and abroad in the early stages, financial and natural resources and highly educated and experienced Ugandans, Museveni should have turned Uganda into a first world country economically, socially and democratically.

At the start of his administration in January 1986, Museveni launched a very popular ten-point program subsequently revised to fifteen that promised among other things eradicating poverty, hunger, ignorance, disease and suffering in general; commercializing agriculture and industrializing Uganda within fifteen years; periodic free and fair elections that would elect representatives that would be servant and not master of the people. He promised a professional military force that would defend the country against external invasion. He promised security of the person and property, elimination of all forms of corruption, cronyism and sectarianism and return of property including land to rightful owners. He promised freedom, justice and equality of all Ugandans. He promised good neighborliness because doing otherwise would destabilize the region.

Soon after becoming president, Museveni abandoned all the promises and embarked on economic and military adventurism in the form of “shock therapy” structural adjustment program when he knew it had run into difficulties in Chile and Ghana. He embarked on military and other forms of interference in internal affairs of other states including in Burundi, Central African Republic, DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan and currently South Sudan which could escalate the war and extend it to neighboring countries. This military adventurism has resulted in millions dead, millions wounded, millions displaced and millions worth of property destroyed.

Because of Museveni’s pursuit of personal greatness at the expense of development, Uganda has been classified as a failed state which has become vulnerable to internal and external shocks. Therefore his age at 70 has very little to do with these failures. If anything it should have been a highly valuable asset.

There are many examples which demonstrate that advanced age when combined with competence, patriotism and honesty is an asset and produces excellent results regardless of ideological and even physical differences of leaders. Here are a few illustrations.

Konrad Adenauer a tall man became chancellor of Germany in 1949 at the age of 75. It was his longevity in power, moral authority and exceptional leadership that enabled him to turn Germany around after the devastating impact of the Second World War.

Benjamin Disraeli served Britain as prime minister. He was in his seventies during his last premiership. He used his advanced age, experience and commitment to initiate reforms and policies to inter alia improve slum, factory and farm work conditions. He believed in progress and improved living standards for all.

Ronald Reagan a tall man became president of the United States of America when he was 69 years old. He inherited an economy in recession. He turned it around, sharply reducing unemployment and inflation. He restored a sense of optimism to his nation. As a reward for his accomplishments, Reagan received a rating of Grade A.

Narasimha Rao became prime minister of India when he was 70 years old at a time when the Indian economy was in deep trouble. With his long experience in the Indian government, capable leadership and a careful selection of advisers including ministers on merit, Rao gathered courage and abandoned “many of [India’s] old and foolish policies”. He turned the economy around and laid the foundation that has lifted India onto a world stage as a good performer.

Deng Xiaoping a very short man became leader of China at the age of 73. With his long experience in the Communist Party, he knew what had gone wrong. He launched an economic modernization program that also opened China to the outside world. His main focus was ending poverty and gaining China’s recognition on the world stage. It did not matter what methods were used. He commented: “It does not matter whether the cat is white or black; if it catches mice it is a good cat”.

Not least, Nelson Mandela became president of South Africa when he was 75 years old. He successfully forged South Africa into a rainbow country where many thought it was impossible.

Thus, Museveni is being rejected by the majority of Ugandans and increasingly by other Africans and non-Africans alike and urged to step down soonest not so much because he is old but because of his failure at home and dangerous adventurism abroad.

Eric Kashambuzi

Secretary General, United Democratic Ugandans (UDU).

The people of South Sudan have been fighting since 1955

Those of us who don’t know, the people of South Sudan had fought for some fifty years since 1955 except for a short period of ten years.

It is generally known after a common enemy has been defeated, groups that had fought together begin to develop differences about how to govern themselves and at times some conflicts emerge. So what is happening in South Sudan is not an isolated incident. What we should be doing is to help them solve their differences peacefully.

What Uganda army is doing in South Sudan to join one side and fight the other side is not the way to mediate. We understand the United Nations Secretary General called President Museveni to mediate. We are also told that the President of South Sudan invited Museveni to help him defeat the Riek Machar opposition group.

Since Uganda presence in the country is not mediating but fighting on the side of the government the United Nations and the AU need to discuss how to deal with Uganda troops. It might be useful that Uganda troops withdraw and UN Peace Keepers increase their presence.

The continuation of conflicts may draw in other countries escalating the war that could even spread to the region that is already suffering massive inflow of refugees straining their limited resources.

The people of South Sudan need a break. Peace loving Ugandans and others should apply pressure on the UN, AU and IGAD to ask Uganda to withdraw its troops from South Sudan.

Eric Kashambuzi

Secretary General, UDU

Uganda opposition groups must disclose their strategies and structures

There are many Ugandans as individuals and groups that are participating in public criticism of NRM lack of transparency and accountability but they refuse to identify who they are by real names or what they stand for and how they are organized and funded.

Those especially in military organizations have argued that because of security considerations, their activities including recruitment and organizational structures will remain secret until NRM is removed from power. They will continue to raise funds but will not disclose how much and how they are used. Such groups have no moral standing to oppose NRM when they are behaving the same. In both cases transparency and accountability are missing.

NRM which unseated the Okello regime informed the Uganda people and others what its strategy was and its administrative structure. And the leadership was known by their real names. Lule, Museveni, Kisekka and late Kategaya etc never used fake names. Even the military commanders and leaders of external committees etc were known. NRM began publishing its work from August 1981 until December 1985. See their publication titled Mission to Freedom (1990). Why are current organizations refusing to disclose their strategies and structure or reporting the successes they have made so far?

In his article on the military strategy of NRA Museveni spelled out what they were doing. NRM also disclosed its organizational structure as follows:

The National Resistance Council composed of civilian and military members. It had four Sub-committees:

1. Finance and Supplies;

2. Political and diplomatic;

3. Public and propaganda;

4. The External committee.

UDU has its published strategy in the National Recovery Plan (NRP) and its committee that runs the affairs of the umbrella organization.

At our meeting in The Hague we agreed to focus on: mobilization, media, program/think tank, fund raising and legal. Once this arrangement has been endorsed at the next meeting we shall officially inform the public. We have also agreed to set up a leadership team that will be announced once agreed upon that will work in a transparent manner and be held accountable for omissions and commissions.

We appeal to those organizations and individuals working publically to unseat NRM to come forward and let us have their profiles and philosophies or strategies and organizational structures.

Eric Kashambuzi, UDU