Why we think Sejjusa is still working for NRM

We offer below our preliminary thoughts to be updated as developments unfold. This is done to help Ugandans at home and abroad to consult and take informed decision to support or not to support Sejjusa and his infant organization hurriedly established two months ago with carefully selected individuals.

1. The timing of Sejjusa’s defection is suspect, coming so soon after NRM government expressed deep concern about the growing strength of the opposition in the diaspora;

2. Fearing that there might be disturbances and obstructions at the conference launching his Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) organization in London in December 2013, Sejjusa issued private invitations to carefully selected individuals instead of a public invitation which would have attracted many participants. Either by accident or change of mind at the conference one participant raised disturbing issues about Sejjusa and was forced out of the conference hall, giving the organization a memorable bad start;

3. To disguise the true purpose of his mission, FUF has been described as ecumenical but there is nothing religious in the Manifesto that has many deficits as outlined already and posted on face book and Ugandans at Heart Forum among other channels of communication;

4. Sejjusa continues to present himself in published photos dressed in military uniform and uses Kyankwanzi language that has defined the NRM philosophy, proving to his masters and NRM that he has not changed;

5. Sejjusa has failed to provide evidence to prove that he is a refugee registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It wouldn’t be surprising if Sejjusa is still enjoying some if not all the benefits and privileges accorded to him before his so-called defection;

6. Sejjusa’s statement at the launch of FUF is extremely vague on the mission of FUF, his activities and even Museveni. He correctly states that he knows Museveni very well because he has been with him for a long time but Sejjusa refuses to tell the public what he knows about Museveni’s commissions and omissions that have violated Ugandans’ human rights and fundamental freedoms. Sejjusa implicitly defended Museveni when he says “…Mr. Museveni is merely a representative of a tragic situation, is a representative of an experiment that has gone tragically wrong both in Africa and in our country. Museveni is merely a representative”. In short, Sejjusa is saying that Museveni should not be blamed for what has happened in Uganda and elsewhere in our region because he is a mere representative.

7. Regarding the mission he states that it is to build a critical mass movement of people to free themselves. The movement starts with Sejjusa by admitting “I am wrong and say I am sorry. But I must move forward”. Here are two basic problems. Sejjusa does not define how the mass of people will free themselves. Second, he refuses totally to give examples of what he did wrong and is sorry for. We know the past impacts the present. Without publically clearing the debris of the past including information about who killed Andrew Kayiira, moving forward is going to be extremely difficult for Sejjusa. Because he can’t be left alone as some people have suggested, Sejjusa should be bold, come clean and spell out in detail how he plans to use the critical mass if he mobilizes it to effect change in Uganda. There are two possibilities: the military option; and non-violent strategy. Which of the two has Sejjusa decided to use? Sejjusa needs to realize that he is now working in a questioning environment different from the one he is used to. He will therefore need to adjust to the wishes of the people. Total silence about his and NRM past and vagueness about the future will not make life easy for him.

Betty Kamya summed up the feelings of many when she wrote “I am sorry but I expected an analysis (genesis, growth, effects, consequences, impact, projections) of Uganda’s problems from Gen. Sejjusa’s statement, his proposed solution, strategies to achieve the solution. I expected to learn what FUF stands for and how it will deliver Uganda. All I learnt was his disappointment with M7, how votes are stolen by NRM and that KB won the 2006 elections. To his credit, he does say, and I agree with him entirely, that the problem of Uganda is bigger and older than M7, but he does not say what the problem is. Can somebody who understood the Gen help me?”

In these circumstances, it is fair to conclude that Sejjusa has not defected. He is on NRM mission to break up the opposition in the diaspora, get Museveni reelected and return home at an appropriate time to continue to serve Museveni and the NRM. Should Sejjusa disagree with this conclusion he is welcome and free to offer his views with supporting evidence.


Sejusa still refuses to answer legitimate questions

David Sejusa (formerly Tinyefuza) has refused to answer legitimate questions. Either he is unwilling or unable to do so presumably to avoid implicating himself in what has gone wrong in Uganda over the last 30 years in which he played a pivotal role in the military, security and legislative branches of government.

Sejusa gives the impression that we are still living in the 17th and 18th centuries that were dominated by absolutism, scheme of things and divine right of rulers that considered themselves as God’s representative on earth and were answerable only to Him and not to the people they ruled.

Let us remind Sejusa that we are living in the age of Enlightenment dominated by reason, dissent, asking questions and demanding satisfactory answers. Therefore setting the clock back isn’t an option. The earlier the questions asked are answered the better for Sejusa and his FUF.

Attacking others using unfortunate language in the hope that pressure to answer questions will be reduced could end up revealing Sejusa’s Achilles’ heel.

Meanwhile it would be helpful if Sejusa could present evidence that he is a refugee registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Failure to do so could be interpreted that Sejusa is still working for NRM government to destroy the opposition in the diaspora.

These are issues that can only be handled by Sejusa himself. We therefore request officials of FUF to let Sejusa be personally responsible.


The FUF Manifesto has many deficits

Reading the Manifesto gives the impression that it was prepared in a hurry by a narrow range of specialists without practical experience. Some areas especially in the social and demographic sectors, regional and external relations appear to have been forgotten or remembered as the Manifesto was going to the press. For example, the East African economic integration and political federation are just mentioned in passing without indicating the benefits and costs to Uganda. The economic sector does not refer to the general shortcomings of the Washington Consensus launched in 1987 and why and how it came about and what was sacrificed in the process.

The Manifesto is largely a description of what has gone wrong in Uganda since NRM came to power in 1986. There is little mention of what needs to be done to right the wrongs with virtually no mention of how it is to be done. The focus on institutions and separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government is not enough. In the absence of capable and patriotic leadership and democratic governance institutions can’t work.

The Manifesto does not attempt to establish linkages among economic, social and environmental dimensions to ensure sustainability nor does it address the linkages among peace and security, development and human rights.

The manifesto exhibits elements of appeasement to win certain sections of Uganda and we know what can go wrong with this approach. The Manifesto is very selective and therefore narrow on Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Manifesto does not appear to have given enough thought on how Uganda should be governed in the transitional period and in the long term.

These deficits might explain why FUF officials are reluctant to be interviewed or answer legitimate questions and are beginning to focus on criticizing the work and philosophies of others as well as using unfortunate language to describe others instead of articulating what they want to do to oust the NRM regime and implement their program in political, economic, social, regional and external relations sectors.

By way of comparison, we suggest FUF members read UDU National Recovery Plan (NRP) available at www.udugandans.org.

Uganda voices in the opposition at home and abroad need to come together, harmonize our thinking and speak with one voice. Each one of us has something to put on the table to advance our common cause of unseating the NRM regime. Together we can’t fail; scattered and stepping on one another’s toes and venturing into areas in which we have no expertise and experience we shall take longer or fail totally to realize our mission. These are preliminary comments on the Manifesto.


Suddenly, Baganda want independence, not federo

This is the third time that Baganda have suddenly demanded independence from Uganda. On December 30, 1960 after Baganda failed to agree with the colonial secretary on a formula for independence acceptable to them, Lukiiko decided to secede. On May 20, 1966 Lukiiko once again demanded independence by giving the central government an ultimatum to quit Buganda on or before May 30, 1966.

The colonial government ignored the decision and went ahead with elections in 1961 for the independence of Uganda which the Democratic Party (DP) won under the leadership of Ben Kiwanuka and became the first prime minister of self-governing Uganda. The second decision for independence was interpreted by the central government as a rebellion that had to be prevented, resulting in the 1966/67 political and constitutional crisis that abrogated the 1962 constitution under which Buganda enjoyed a federal status.

Since the abrogation of the independence constitution, Baganda have consistently demanded its restoration and return of the federal system of governance. The demand received considerable attention at home and abroad including a debate on Radio Munansi for two consecutive weekends.

Consequently, in October 2012 a conference was held in London on federalism. The current Katikkiro of Buganda was the keynote speaker and laid the foundation for returning Uganda to a federal system. There was overwhelming support in principle from all parts of Uganda. It was decided that a committee be established to consult with all sections of the population throughout the country and in the diaspora and convene a national convention so that Ugandans decide how they want to be governed.

In March 2013, at a meeting in London, the committee on federalism was formed and tasked to conduct comprehensive consultations with a focus on culture and governance, prepare a report with action oriented recommendations and convene a conference at an appropriate time. The committee with a good representation of Baganda has begun collecting information.

Suddenly, especially since the signing of a secret Agreement between Kabaka Mutebi II and President Museveni, there has been a surge in the demand for secession using especially Somaliland as a case in point. Some Baganda have demanded that the armed wing of Ugandans to the Rescue Organization should focus on that goal. Given the deteriorating political situation in Uganda anything can happen, leading to the disintegration of Uganda or a civil war.

Experience of failed and costly attempts to secede by Southern States in the United States, Biafra in Nigeria and Chechnya in Russia should serve as a warning to the few but vocal Baganda pushing for secession. This could open a Pandora’s Box and expose Buganda’s Achilles’ heel. It could wake up “sleeping dogs” as happened during discussions for Uganda’s independence. In Ankole, Bahororo demanded a separate district which was denied. This denial woke up Museveni who ultimately created Ntungamo as a separate district and Ankole is the only area where the kingdom was not restored. The Bakonjo and Baamba demanded a separate district which was denied. It was followed by Rwenzururu guerrilla war and eventually got what they wanted.

As we know the nucleus of Buganda comprised three counties of Busiro, Kyadondo and Mawokota (G.K.Kahangi 2003). The rest was added through military conquest and colonization in part with external support and those affected know it. The issue of the lost counties should serve as a reminder complemented by current demands for autonomy by some counties. To pretend that all is a Garden of Roses in Buganda is unwise.

To avoid a possible catastrophe, Buganda and indeed Uganda need statesmen/women to craft a vision for the entire country for present and future generations based on a federal system that allows regions to determine their destiny in areas in which they have a comparative advantage except national defense, national security, foreign affairs, national currency and regulations for sustainable management of natural resources.

We should refrain from appeasement in seeking support for the next elections as some prospective presidential candidates have begun to do. The few vocal voices demanding secession not only in Buganda but in other areas should be persuaded to rethink because the costs in the short, medium and long term could outweigh the benefits.


How Buganda expanded from a humble beginning to a state

Buganda was founded around A.D 1200. It consisted of three counties of Busiro, Mawokota and Kyadondo.

Baganda were originally divided into six clans, each with a separate totem. Although the six clans were equal, the leader of Civet Cat (Ffumbe) clan was leader of all clans, making him the first leader of Buganda.

The first Kabaka of Buganda was Kato Kintu. Kabaka Kintu deprived clan heads of their political and judicial powers, leaving them with cultural powers only. He created thirteen clans to counter the original six and made himself the leader of all clan heads (Ssabataka).

Baganda were divided into royals and non-royals. The non-royals were subdivided into three groups: clan leaders (Bataka), civil/political leaders (Bakungu), and peasants (Bakopi).

All the land was entrusted to the king for use by all without discrimination. (The 1900 Buganda Agreement between Buganda and Britain changed this arrangement giving land to the Kabaka, saza chiefs, few prominent Baganda and the Crown, leaving peasants who constitute the majority of Baganda out in the cold. Land ownership in Uganda including in Buganda is currently changing hands once again). The Kabaka was supreme ruler.

At the beginning, clan leaders were hereditary and were powerful. Kabaka Mawanda made some changes and gradually eliminated most hereditary leaders. Ultimately power was centralized in the Kabaka. Kabaka Mutesa I had absolute power and his word was final, reminiscent of Louis XIV of France.

The expansion of Buganda began in the 17th century. The areas of Butambala, Gomba, Busujju and Southern Singo were conquered and colonized or annexed to Buganda.

Conquest and colonization continued in the 18th century. Buganda gained territory largely at the expense of Bunyoro. The counties of Kyagwe, Singo and Bulemezi were colonized. Buddu was added to Buganda around 1770.

Buganda gained more territory when six counties of Bunyoro were forcibly annexed by Britain to Buganda in 1893 as reward for Buganda’s support in Britain’s defeat of Bunyoro resistance to colonial rule. Buganda also absorbed Kokki and Kabula.

The acquisition of guns by the kings of Buganda helped in Buganda’s colonization process. For example, by 1880, Kabaka Mutesa I possessed 1000 guns. The possession of guns and Anglo-Buganda alliance speeded up the geographic expansion of Buganda.

Contrary to popular belief, Buganda is an amalgam of many clans with different histories and cultures, with some clans bigger and more powerful than others. Given this background, secession of Buganda from Uganda could open a pandora’s box that may be difficult to close.

By way of illustration, soon after Dudayev announced Chechen-Ingushetia sovereign and independent of Soviet Union on November 1, 1991, the Ingush people split from the Chechens. On November 30, 1991, the Ingush people voted to remain within the Russian Republic.

Thus, there is a possibility that some clans in Buganda may choose to remain within Uganda should Buganda attempt to secede.

The information is not exhaustive. It has been provided on demand as part of civic education.


Why Ugandans should worry about the country’s future

The purpose of my writing and speaking is to get people to realize that we are – to use a metaphor – sitting on an active volcano that could erupt any time. Those who are living in comfort at home and abroad do not want to be bothered. They have told us to leave them or their regions alone as though they live in a world of their own completely detached from everything and everyone else. They have told us many times that we should let sleeping dogs lie. Our fear is that should these dogs wake up and are hungry they may tear us apart.

Thankfully, there are many Ugandans – and the number is increasing – who share our concerns and have encouraged us to continue the work we are doing in civic education. It is hoped that those in denial will soon realize that Uganda is about to catch fire and will join with us to save it. Those of us guided by patriotic principles and long term development trajectory will resist an appeasement approach that contributed to the Second World War and provide information truthfully to enable Ugandans take an informed decision. We are fully aware of the political costs involved. Saving Uganda for present and future generations is more important than pursuing a short-term political goal.

What we see happening in Uganda is similar to what happened in Mexico prior to the 1910 revolution and the subsequent ten year destructive civil war. You will see some similarities with Uganda which could help us to take preventive measures and avert a catastrophe.

Mexico under Porfirio Diaz who was president for over 30 years was largely an agrarian society poorly integrated economically and socially like Uganda is today. Two percent owned land in Mexico. In Uganda land ownership is increasingly concentrated in a few hands. Most rural Mexicans were illiterate as most Ugandans are today. Landlessness and non-agricultural activities created a working class that was exploited but open to new ideas. In Uganda landlessness and unemployment of youth have created a class of unhappy citizens increasingly listening to new ideas.

In 1910 Mexico had been ruled by one man Diaz for over 30 years and his wealthy cronies. Uganda has been ruled for close to thirty years by one man Museveni and his cronies. Diaz became a ruler who encouraged economic growth without distributing the benefits equitably. Museveni has also encouraged economic growth without distributing the benefits equitably. As estate farming spread in Mexico to produce for export markets, many Native Americans lost all their land except what was under their houses. In Uganda peasants are losing their land at a frightening rate except what is under their houses.

Mexico’s ability to feed itself declined as it has in Uganda with some thirty percent of Ugandans going to bed hungry every night. Export-oriented enterprises in Mexico failed to create enough jobs to employ the landless as is happening in Uganda.

Frustration reached a breaking point and forces with different interests came together for the sole purpose of overthrowing the Diaz regime. The revolution happened and was followed by a destructive ten year civil war. These forces were led by Francisco Madero a believer in political democracy; Pincho Villa a leader of peasants and workers from the northern region of landlessness and foreign-owned export business and Emiliano Zapata from the southern region where the spread of export-oriented estate agriculture had destroyed native American communities.

In Uganda patriotic forces are coming together and hopefully will change Museveni regime without a revolution. That is the lesson that should be drawn from the Mexican revolution.