The mood is shifting from armed struggle to peaceful regime change

As Ugandans struggle to unseat the failed NRM regime – and all opposition groups agree – that has made Uganda vulnerable to internal and external shocks, two strategies for regime change have emerged. There are those who want war in the first instance by invading the country because according to them that is what Museveni and NRM understand.

But there are many obstacles to the military strategy. The mood in Uganda, in Uganda’s neighbors, in Africa, in Europe, in the Middle East and in the rest of the world is not in favor of changing regimes by military means – regardless of how they came to power. We have seen what happened in Mali and more recently in Central African Republic – the coup leaders were dispatched into oblivion.

In Spain the Basque Separatists (ETA) have abandoned armed struggle. In Palestine various groups (… have all de facto adopted non-violence as their principal method of choice in recent months – albeit to different degrees in terms of formal endorsement and irrevocability” (Michael Broning : The Politics of Change in Palestine: State-Building and Non-Violent Resistance 2011).

Furthermore, Article 8 (1) of the Protocols on Peace and Security in the Great Lakes Region states “Member states hereby denounce all armed groups in the Great Lakes Region and repudiate any association with such groups, and agree to strictly combat all activities undertaken by such groups”.

Article 23 (2 & 3) of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance denounces “Any intervention by mercenaries to replace a democratically elected government” and “Any replacement of a democratically elected government by armed dissidents or rebels”.

Article 4 (j) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union (2000) endorses “The right of Member States to request intervention from the Union in order to restore peace and security”.

The United Nations believes in resolving disputes by peaceful means in the first instance.

Thus, Ugandans contemplating the use of force in the first instance (there is more room in the use of force in self-defense) to remove NRM from power should keep in mind the obstacles they face and the likely heavy destruction in lives, institutions, infrastructure and properties. We should not easily forget the high costs in the Luwero Triangle, Northern and Eastern Uganda.

There is a second school of thought – and I belong to this group – which believes that if properly organized non-resistance campaigns will topple NRM regime. All we need to do – as the people of the Philippines did in 1986 – is come together under able, dedicated and patriotic leadership – not silent pseudo-leaders who want power for themselves. One attempt that didn’t go well in Uganda that used a few methods after the 2011 fraudulent elections and in large part because of lack of coordinated effort among various opposition groups shouldn’t be used to undermine the potential of non-violent resistance campaigns.

Chenoweth and Stephan (2011) have demonstrated that civil resistance works based on evidence collected since 1900. They state “In addition to their growing frequency, the success rates of non-violent campaigns have increased [and] “the success rates of violent insurgencies have declined”. It is important to note that “… in the case of anti-regime resistance campaigns, the use of a nonviolent strategy has greatly enhanced the likelihood of success”.

Civil resistance campaigns have failed when and where “… they are unable to overcome the challenge of participation, when they fail to recruit a robust, diverse and broad-based membership that can erode the power-base of the adversary and maintain resilience in the face of repression”.

At The Hague conference in November 2013, Ugandans from home and in the diaspora resolved to remove the NRM regime through non-violent resistance campaigns after which a broad-based transitional government would be established under a presidential team instead of one person as has been the case since independence in 1962 which has not produced the desired results.

Besides running the daily affairs of state, the transitional government would conduct a comprehensive population census, consult with Ugandans how they would like to be governed, convene a national conference and agree on the way forward, build institutions including a truly independent electoral commission and then organize free and fair multi-party elections.

A follow-up Peace Conference is being organized under the leadership of Dr. Henry Gombya in London on June 28-30, 2014. This conference has been advertised broadly for transparency, participation and accountability. We urge those interested to attend this conference to design a road map or strategy for non-violent regime change instead of wasting time preparing for 2016 elections – elections that the opposition can’t win under present conditions (the recent DP victory in the Luwero by-election shouldn’t for a moment be regarded as setting a new course for 2016 elections to be won by the opposition). The venue and agenda of the conference will be made available in due course.

For further information, please contact Henry Gombya and his team in London; Moses Byamugisha in Kampala and Molly Mugisha in The Hague.

Eric Kashambuzi

Taking bias out of politics will help Uganda design a correct path

As we head for London to attend the Uganda Peace Conference at the end of June, 2014 participants will need new lenses that seek and tell the truth. Uganda which is overwhelmingly a religious country and increasingly becoming enlightened has failed to shed bias and tell the truth, the principal quality of religion and enlightenment traditions.

Because of deep-rooted bias we Ugandans have failed to determine the respective roles of religion and ethnicity in Uganda politics and conflicts; the roles of UPC and KY in the breakup of the alliance; the roles of UPC and KY in locating the central government in Buganda; the roles of the Lukiiko and UPC central government in the 1966 and 1967 crisis; the roles of Obote and Ibingira in the emergence of Amin and Museveni as Uganda leaders; the roles of the military and non-violent resistance in regime change etc. Let us look at the evidence.

Religious conflicts and wars in Uganda since independence

Some Ugandans and others have continued to argue that Uganda instability and wars since independence have been caused in large part by religious conflict over political power. There is no evidence of that. What we know is that when the largely Catholic-based DP lost the argument at the London constitutional conference in 1961 and the subsequent elections in 1962 and 1980, it opted to form an opposition instead of going to war.

Ethnic conflicts and wars in Uganda since independence

Regarding ethnic conflicts pitting Bantu people against Nilotic people, there is no evidence of that either. After independence the struggle for power has been waged among the Nilotic people. Ibingira and Museveni who are Nilotic are the ones that fought Obote, a fellow Nilotic. Amin who wrestled power from Obote in 1971 was not from the Bantu ethnic group. Okello who wrestled power from Obote in 1975 was Nilotic, like Obote. Museveni who wrestled power from Okello in 1986 is Nilotic, like Okello was. So where is Bantu versus Nilotic conflict? So far there hasn’t been inter-ethnic conflict but intra-ethnic.

The respective roles of UPC and KY in the breakup of their alliance

From the start the KY and in particular Katikiro Michael Kintu resented the deal struck with UPC in London in 1961 at the constitutional conference because the deal did not put Kabaka and indeed Baganda on top of everyone else. It was KY that declared that peace and prosperity will not occur in Uganda unless their demands were met.

It was KY led by Masembe-Kabali and Katikiro Michael Kintu that blocked negotiations for a mutual solution to the lost counties issue as Obote had promised. Presumably on their advice, Kabaka of Buganda who was at the same time president of Uganda refused to sign the bill authorizing the holding of the referendum and transferring the counties to Bunyoro at the end of the referendum. The referendum which Buganda never expected would be held or lose if it were held ruptured the UPC and KY alliance.

The roles of UPC and KY in choosing the location of the central government

It was KY that demanded that the seat of central government and national assembly or parliament be in Buganda and UPC complied.

The battle between Lukiiko and central government

Following the humiliating defeat in the referendum and dismissal of Michael Kintu as Katikiro, the battle with the UPC central government shifted from Katikiro to Lukiiko. On May 20, 1966 Lukiiko led by three Saza chiefs hurriedly adopted a resolution calling on the central government to relocate outside Buganda by the end of May. Some Kabaka’s ministers did not support the ultimatum issued by the Lukiiko.

The UPC central government interpreted the ultimatum as an act of rebellion by the Lukiiko and acted by military instead of political means in part because of suspicions that arms had been obtained clandestinely and stored in Mengo. That the fighting with the national army led by Amin lasted some 12 hours of intense exchange of fire could mean that Mengo was prepared. The sad result was the ending of the 1962 independence constitution and the adoption of the 1967 Republic Constitution and abolition of kingdoms.

The emergence of Amin and Museveni as Uganda leaders

Because of endemic bias, some Ugandans have maintained that Amin and Museveni were groomed by Obote as his agents during and after he exited. The evidence doesn’t support that. Without Ibingira attracting Shaban Opolot, Uganda’s army commander, to his side in Ibingira’s efforts to wrestle power from Obote by military means, the latter (Obote) would not have leaned on Amin shoulder, the deputy army commander, for survival. Thus, indirectly, Ibingira groomed Amin.

Similarly, it was Ibingira who again indirectly groomed Museveni. When Ibingira became Secretary-General of UPC in 1964 defeating Kakonge who had a large support of youth wingers, he (Ibingira) dismissed them including Museveni, to pre-empt a rebellion within the party. Museveni then decided to fight UPC that ejected him. Therefore it was not Obote who groomed Museveni but Ibingira.

Military as the only solution to Uganda’s political problems

Contrary to evidence documented since 1900 that non-violent resistance has caused regime change many more times than the military, some Ugandans still believe the NRM can be removed only by the military invading Uganda. Consequently that group refuses to acknowledge the efforts being made by non-resistance struggle and the progress made so far. Even without firing a shot so far, those who believe in the military option have refused to join hands with non-violent resistance groups to forge a common front. This is reminiscent of what happened in Ethiopia whereby the civilians waged a non-violent struggle against the imperial government. When the imperial regime was about to fall, the army which had done nothing up to that point stepped in, completed the job and formed the next government. The civilian population objected, demanding it forms the government because it had done the job. When the military refused the country collapsed into a long drawn–out bloody civil war. Ugandans should keep this lesson in mind. We all need to pull together as patriotic Ugandans, not fighting for personal or group gain but for the entire population.

This information has been compiled as part of civic education on the eve of the London conference.

Eric Kashambuzi

Kabaka Mutesa II was exemplary leader in many ways

As we look for quality leaders to govern Uganda in post-NRM regime, we need to look at those that have led Uganda at provincial and/or national levels and draw some lessons on the basis of a set of parameters. They should include inter alia pragmatism, ability to adjust to changing circumstances and compromise with those he/she deals with. Mutesa II (RIP) met these requirements.

During negotiations for political and administrative reforms with Governor Andrew Cohen, Mutesa realized that the Lukiiko was very unhappy. He quickly changed course with help of a remark that was made by a colonial official in London that East African territories would at some undefined time in the future form a political federation.

During the constitutional discussions for Uganda’s independence, the Kabaka did not insist on getting all that Buganda had demanded. He was happy with what the kingdom achieved and expressed the hope that the rest would be negotiated later.

Not least, regarding one of the most delicate issues in the constitutional discussions – the Lost Counties – it is reported that the Kabaka reconciled himself to the idea of a referendum.

Ipso facto, potential leaders will need to be scrutinized to determine whether or not they exhibit the qualities defined above. Thus as soon as possible Ugandans need to agree on a set of conditions that every aspirant must be assessed against. This will be even more urgent as we look for a team of leaders rather than a single one – an arrangement that hasn’t served Uganda well in the absence of strong institutions. There must be no short cut for anybody.

Eric Kashambuzi

Go home: You have impoverished our region

The severity of economic, social and environmental problems under the failed NRM government that has rendered the country vulnerable to internal and external shocks has provoked a reaction from Baganda who are speaking out loudly and complaining that their region is being impoverished economically and socially and degraded environmentally and culturally by unsustainable influx into the kingdom of Ugandans from the rest of the country and non-Ugandans from neighboring countries in search of economic and social opportunities and political security.

Since the colonial period policies have concentrated economic and social opportunities in Buganda while other regions have served as labor reserves. Currently some 80 percent of Uganda’s Gross National Income (GNI) is generated in Kampala and surrounding areas with a population of some 2 million while the rest of the country with some 33 million people generates a mere 20 percent of GNI.

Compared with neighboring countries Uganda had better economic opportunities and security during the colonial period attracting many people in search of work. For instance, land scarcity, frequent food shortages and a repressive regime forced Burundians and Rwandese to enter Uganda since the 1920s in search of work as laborers. In 1927 alone some 46,000 immigrants entered Uganda from the southwest route. The numbers fluctuated between 40 and 60 thousand annually. The number of men migrants far exceeded that of women, explaining in part why in Buganda at one time men exceeded women – even today there are more men than women in Uganda, implying a high level of male migration into Uganda. Although some economic migrants returned home, many others stayed and got assimilated as Baganda or retained their ethnicity, acquired assets such as land and participated in the political process.

The political instability since independence especially in Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan has forced many refugees into Uganda many of whom have settled permanently including in Buganda increasing competition for scarce economic and social opportunities and increasingly in politics since NRM came to power in 1986.

The NRM policy that Uganda has plenty of unutilized arable land and water resources and has not reached optimal population size for rapid economic growth combined with a flexible immigration policy has resulted in many migrants entering Uganda especially in Buganda where the bulk of economic and social opportunities are concentrated. Urban population in Uganda is growing at a staggering rate of 5.7 percent compared to 2.6 percent in the rural areas.

Uganda’s economic growth and trickle down policy has failed to distribute benefits equitably and resulted in high absolute poverty level and unemployment especially of youth. Accumulation of properties such as land in fewer hands has resulted in increasing landlessness and rapid rural-urban migration especially to Buganda putting pressure on economic, social and environmental sectors. Sectarianism and cronyism under the NRM government that have favored non-Ugandans in public and private sectors at the expense of Ugandans in an environment of dwindling opportunities and natural resources have provoked Baganda to call for non-Baganda to go back home.

This sad political economy development needs to be handled with great care lest it explodes into ethnic cleansing. One way to resolve it is to institute a system of governance such as federalism that enables regions to be responsible for their own development in areas where they have comparative advantages in financial, natural and human capacities thereby reducing migration into Buganda and encouraging those already in Buganda to return to their homes.

It has been suggested that should a transitional government be established in the wake of NRM exit that will happen sooner or later, the new government should conduct a population census to give accurate information about Uganda’s population dynamics for planning purposes and convene a national convention to decide how Uganda should be governed. This is the time that Ugandans should be bold and take initiatives to lay a solid foundation for rapid, sustained and inclusive economic growth and social development without damaging the environment. One of the pre-requisites will be political inclusion at all levels, respect for human rights and freedoms and the rule of law. The June 2014 London conference of Ugandans from home and in the diaspora should include an item on this matter in its agenda.

Eric Kashambuzi is international consultant in development issues. He lives in New York

To unite Uganda we need to identify the problem first

Ugandans won’t understand our troubles fully without studying the genesis of conflicts between UPC and KY and the differences within the Mengo administration. The purpose of my constant writing and talking is to give Ugandans the necessary information to take informed decisions.

Musaja Gyagenda who resides in London has consistently maintained that it was UPC under the leadership of Obote that alone planted the seed that has constrained Uganda’s peaceful development since independence. You have heard his arguments on Radio Munansi and I will not repeat them here. Instead I will give you the other half of the story.

First of all it should be understood that at the start of the UPC and KY short relationship, the two groups were diametrically opposed. UPC was nationalistic and radical whereas KY was conservative and primarily concerned about the future of Buganda in independent Uganda. They came together for the sole purpose of defeating DP a largely Catholic-based party led by Ben Kiwanuka a Catholic who was well educated and fairly experienced Muganda commoner.

At the constitutional conference in London in 1961, Buganda demanded (1) an autonomous federal status; (2) an independent army; (3) a separate High Court; (4) a police force of its own and (5) control of the strategic towns of Entebbe and Kampala (T. V. Sathyamurthy 1986).

At the end of the conference the Kabaka Sir Edward Mutesa (RIP) wrote the following about the outcome.

“The talks were successful for us. With Obote’s support we obtained a great deal of what we wanted and looked forward to receive the rest later. We were to have our own High Court and body guard which was meant to be 300 strong, but never run above 120. Also the Lukiiko could decide whether to hold direct elections for LEGCO, which was to be called the National Assembly, or whether to nominate members; Ben Kiwanuka was disturbed by this. Though we had started asking for an army we were content. Mr MacLeod gave us all sherry and we smiled” (Onyango Odongo 1993).

While the Kabaka took a compromising stand, his Katikiro Michael Kintu, the Lukiiko and KY were unhappy about the outcome of the conference. On this Onyango Odongo (1993) writes:

“When the Buganda Delegates returned from the Constitutional Conference and reported their achievements to the Lukiiko, they were strongly criticized by members of Kabaka Yekka Movement of having failed to secure acceptance and acknowledgement of the superiority of the Kabaka of Buganda over all Ugandans from other members of the delegations at the conference, who were representing the various tribes in Uganda. They particularly wanted the new Constitution to spell out clearly that the Kabaka was above the Prime Minister of Uganda. Hence with tremulous agitation, they issued a public statement which reads:

‘As from 1st March, 1962, the seat of Uganda Prime Minister will be in Buganda at Entebbe, and the National Assembly of Uganda will be in Buganda in Kampala. We of the Kabaka Yekka cannot hesitate to state that if Uganda is ever to be a prosperous and peaceful country, the Prime Minister must always be subordinate to the Kabaka and other hereditary rulers as shown by Kabaka Yekka in the picture opposite’”.

As you can see the location of the central government in Buganda was demanded by Baganda. It was not imposed on them. Secondly, because of these arguments, it was not possible to agree on the Head of State and Uganda entered independence with the Queen as Head of State represented by the Governor General. Thirdly, it was not possible to agree on the name of the country. Temporarily, it was referred to as the Sovereign State of Uganda. Fourthly, no agreement was reached on the sensitive issue of the “Lost Counties”. The colonial power insisted that there should be a written provision for a referendum. Michael Kintu was unhappy. The Kabaka reconciled to the idea. Obote persuaded Baganda and Banyoro that he would do everything to reach a mutually acceptable formula after independence. Michael Kintu remained adamant and no such a formula was agreed to when the referendum took place. Buganda lost the referendum and that contributed to the end of the UPC and KY coalition and subsequent sad developments

On May 20, 1966 three saza chiefs from Kyagwe, Buddu and Ssingo proposed a radical resolution in the Lukiiko which was unanimously adopted. An ultimatum was served that the central government should remove itself from the soil of Buganda before May 30, 1966. This resolution divided the Mengo administration. Before the resolution was adopted, the Katikiro tried to restrain the three saza chiefs from tabling a hastily drafted resolution.

The central government regarded the Lukiiko resolution as an act of rebellion that had to be dealt with. “On the 24th May [1966], the Kabaka’s palace was surrounded by troops under the immediate command of Colonel Amin. Obote’s justification for ordering a direct frontal attack on the palace was that a large cache’ of illegal arms had been found hidden in the grounds. … After an engagement lasting about twelve hours, the Lubiri was razed to the ground…”(T. V. Sathyamurthy 1986).

There were Baganda on both sides of the dispute. Some of the strongest supporters of Obote were from Buganda. “Baganda militants did not receive as widespread a support from ordinary people as initial reports would have led one to believe” (T. V. Sathyamurthy 1986). On May 28, 1966 several of Kabaka’s ministers “broadcast a joint message appealing for calm and an end to fighting and implicitly disavowing the Lukiiko resolution of the 20th May” (T. V. Sathyamurthy 1986).

The purpose of this story is to give you information that Musaja Gyagenda has left out so that you can take an informed decision. Lest I am misunderstood, this is not to apportion blame but to draw lessons.

Eric Kashambuzi

Sejusa’s FUF has serious deficits that have crippled it from the start

Sejusa who has been living in London since May 2013 privately launched the Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) in London in December 2013 with handpicked participants that included a non-Ugandan believed to be an adviser to Yoweri Museveni. There is speculation that some (if not all) of the participants could be ESO agents that Sejusa used while he was head of ESO and ISO, the equivalent of CIA and FBI respectively. Efforts to get the list of those participants have so far yielded no results. We urge Sejusa to release the list to the public soonest.

What also needs to be known is that Sejusa is the sole founder of FUF, a very unusual and disturbing arrangement in the formation of political organizations in time and space.

The FUF conference got off to a bad start when a participant (Monique Wyatt) who had been officially admitted into the conference hall was forced out of the room apparently for asking unexpected but legitimate questions about Sejusa’s alleged criminal activities in Northern Uganda including when he was head of Operation North – a scorched-earth policy to destroy any living object in the air, on land and under water – and escorted to the boundary of the conference premises by security forces, clearing the confusion that she had stormed out of the conference hall on her own.

It is also confirmed, contrary to earlier statements, that Monique was not thrown out of the hall by her Northern conference participants only but by a combination of Northern and non-Northern participants. Furthermore, it is not Sejusa who had suggested that Monique should be allowed to stay in the room. It is Prof. Moussavi, the non-Ugandan conference participant (presumably a supporter of human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals) believed to be an adviser to both Museveni and Sejusa.

The FUF Manifesto has been variously described as a replica of NRM policy position or an incomplete document pieced together possibly in a hurry without much analysis and substance; lacking broad scope and sector interconnectedness. Above all the manifesto lacks an implementation strategy – totally! It is stated that FUF’s mission is to mobilize a critical mass of supporters employing ecumenical doctrine which implies mobilizing Christians only. The manifesto contains an element of appeasement loosely inserted targeting a particular group of Ugandans when it refers to the 1962 constitution. What FUF intends to do with this critical mass once it has been mobilized – if it will – is unclear, lending strong support that the purpose as many Ugandans believe and more are joining in is to destroy NRM opposition in the diaspora and save NRM from total collapse.

Another piece of evidence that Sejusa and FUF are about the destruction of opposition to the NRM in the diaspora is that FUF in Uganda is unknown and Sejusa has virtually been forgotten according to a recent article in Uganda’s Observer newspaper. Additionally, Sejusa has limited support only in Parliament, military, security services and senior officials in the government. There appears to be no support for him from the general public.

That Sejusa has not deserted NRM and fled Uganda for fear of his life because he opposes the project to impose Muhozi Kainerugaba as the next president of Uganda is supported by the fact that he has continued to behave as an NRM official. He has insisted on wearing his military uniform and continues to use NRM language of calling opponents of NRM insane, bankrupt and sectarian for intimidation purposes. He has refused to answer questions to test whether or not he deserted NRM. He has also refused to appear on radio programs such as those presented by Radio Munansi.

There are also reports (subject to confirmation) that Sejusa is still communicating with senior members of NRM. It has also been alleged and not denied by Sejusa that Museveni deposited $1 million on his Swiss bank account. That Sejusa and Museveni are advised by the same Prof. Moussavi of Oxford University is an indication that Sejusa hasn’t deserted NRM and possibly he is still reporting to Museveni.

Contrary to popular belief that Sejusa is a refuge in London trying to unseat the NRM regime, the evidence at our disposal points in the direction that Sejusa is in London on duty to destroy the opposition that is growing stronger and getting better organized and coordinating with opposition forces at home thereby worrying NRM, witness donor significant withdrawal of support to NRM regime which started before Sejusa landed in London, destroying statements that Sejusa is a game changer from his base in the diaspora.

Those who have a conflict of interest including Lawrence Nsereko also known as Kiwanuka based on his reports in Los Angeles and Boston meetings in 2011 of his and his wife’s arrest and severe torture under security forces including when Sejusa was head of ISO and ESO should withdraw themselves from any involvement with Sejusa. And those who are attempting to defend Sejusa in the media should produce convincing evidence. Generalized and emotional speeches won’t do at all.

Upon reading this article, we request Sejusa to respond if he thinks our reporting is inaccurate. We believe strongly that Ugandans should be presented with accurate and balanced information to enable them take informed decisions. Silence on the part of Sejusa will be interpreted as consent.

Eric Kashambuzi