Let me begin with this statement to clear the air hopefully once and for all. The purpose of my many years of research and writing especially about Uganda is not to undermine NRM’s efforts – as some have suggested – but to draw lessons about what has gone right and wrong so that appropriate adjustments can be made. Before I started publishing I had communicated my concerns regularly since 1986 with senior government officials in the cabinet, public service and public sector. So they knew my thinking but chose to ignore it. I have focused on President Museveni – not as a person – but as a policy maker who has dominated and served as spokesperson on Uganda’s political economy affairs (I have also commented on statements by the First Lady – not as a person – but as a public official. Ugandans should understand that when you become a public servant, you should expect that what you say and write will be commented upon, hopefully constructively. So when you get comments that make you uncomfortable don’t complain or use surrogates to do it for you which they don’t even do well. When the heat becomes unbearable, the best thing to do is to step down).
Museveni thought Ugandans would never discover his motive of tutsifying Uganda which he would use to create a Tutsi Empire. He blocked avenues of opposition by becoming Chairman of NRM, President of Uganda; Head of Uganda government; Chairman of the National Economic Council; Chairman of the Military Council and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. He appointed Tutsi to key and strategic positions in the government (foreign affairs and finance ministries in particular) and security forces especially the military. In his first government, he appointed the late Fred Rwigyema a Tutsi refugee as deputy commander of the army and minister of state for defense. Paul Kagame another Tutsi refugee was made deputy director of intelligence and counterintelligence with vast powers. Other key appointments were based on loyalty than competence allowing Museveni to dominate the national, regional and international stage as Uganda spokesperson and only Ugandan with a vision for Uganda development. He has treated the opposition as nothing but a gang of saboteurs and liars.
UDU has done exactly what it was mandated to do at the Boston conference: (1) conduct civic education; (2) strengthen diplomatic networks and (3) keep an eye on Uganda’s political economy. I have been privileged to serve as UDU Secretary General and spokesperson on the three mandates.
Civic education has been conducted through the media and Joe Magandazi and Dorothy Lubowa have been very active. Dennis Nyondo has served very well as publicity secretary. There are others who are compiling a list of capable Ugandans in preparation for creation of a transitional government to avoid a repeat of what happened after formation of a transitional government in Moshi in 1979. Their names will be withheld for now because of the sensitive nature of their work. We are grateful to Ugandans at Heart Forum for accepting our articles and comments. We are also grateful to Kamunye for translating some UDU articles into Luganda and distributing them for a wider leadership. We are also working very closely with the leadership of Uganda Federation Confederates. We want all Ugandans to know UDU thinking and what we shall do after NRM has exited. The idea of a transitional government of all stakeholders including NRM appears to be gathering support pretty fast. Uganda belongs to all Ugandans and every group must be represented. Inclusiveness and peaceful resolution of problems in a win –win atmosphere are principal elements of UDU’s philosophy.
Readers must be wondering why I am writing prolifically about Uganda on a wide range of topics. There are three main reasons.
1. Uganda is at a crossroads and we must decide quickly which development path we need to take and the kind of leadership required. It is now recognized that the principal constraint in Uganda’s development is the background and quality of leadership. We need to examine economic and social performance under civilian and military leadership since independence in 1962 and draw conclusions.
2. I have been covering many topics in an inter-connected manner in economics, politics and regional/international relations because development is multi-dimensional. I have introduced a seminar on Radio Uganda Boston, USA on political economy to show how politics and economics affect each other and shouldn’t be treated as separate entities in policy formulation. The NRM government’s approach is virtually one dimensional. For example, in increasing crop production and livestock herding especially with introduction of commercial goats, the government has not taken environmental degradation seriously into account. Also, education has not been linked with employment opportunities to the extent that over 80 percent of Uganda youth are unemployed.
Fellow Ugandans and friends
One of the major complaints at Uganda meetings that I have attended is that participants are never given reports in good time to study them and consult appropriately in order to debate effectively and take informed decisions. Consequently, meetings end up without taking decisions on the way forward.
Given the vital importance of the London Federal Conference, I have decided to publish my preliminary thoughts before the meeting to give Ugandans and others an opportunity to make comments and suggestion especially on points I may have left out for incorporation into the final statement so that everyone participates in this exercise. I have already circulated a draft statement on “What do we know about federal governments?” on Ugandans at Heart Forum, www.udugandans.org and www.kashambuzi.com.
Please let me have your comments and suggestion as soon as possible before finalizing them for the conference.
Roadmap to achieving a federal government in Uganda
My presentation is in two parts:
1. Renewing national support for a federalism
UDU’s first conference at Los Angeles in July 2011 was preceded by six months of extensive and frank discussions about Uganda challenges and prospects. There was full transparency and inclusiveness. At the conference there was a brain storming session that covered all aspects of human endeavor. The conference was attended by Ugandans from different parties and organizations and from all regions of Uganda with different backgrounds, demographic dynamics (gender and age groups) and experiences that enriched the discussions. Detailed instructions were issued on preparing a National Recovery Plan (NRP) as a foundation upon which to build a new Uganda. The draft Plan was circulated widely to Ugandans, friends and well wishers a month ahead of the Boston conference in October 2011 for study, consultation and comment. Comments were incorporated into the draft Plan that was prepared by Ugandans.
There are sharp differences between NRM and UDU development priorities.
1. For NRM urban and export-oriented economic growth and earning hard currency come first. This is a top-down approach where the people come last through a trickledown mechanism which sadly has not worked since it was introduced in 1987. Furthermore, NRM policy has focused on services in urban areas especially Kampala and its vicinity generating 70 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) with a population of less than 2 million out of 34 million Ugandans. NRM policy is designed to service external markets with food and raw materials first. For UDU Ugandans come first. The majority of Ugandans (over 85 percent) who are poor and unemployed live in rural areas. UDU will therefore formulate a bottom-up and pro-poor economic growth program based on agriculture and rural development (agro-processing, infrastructure such as roads – focusing on constructing permanent bridges with central government support – and affordable energy) thereby serving the people first and directly. In contrast to NRM food production will meet the needs of Uganda first and surplus will be exported to neighboring countries and beyond. With planned increased productivity, Uganda will have enough food for domestic consumption and increase exports. Under NRM policy food exports have undermined supplies for domestic consumption especially of proteins which are exported in beans and fish. Eating non-nutritious foodstuffs such as cassava and maize has resulted in neurological disabilities and insanity, undermining human capital formation.
On this Mothers’ Day, United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) congratulates and wishes you all the best. We appreciate the work you do often under difficult conditions at home and abroad. You are wonderful mothers and we thank you. Besides motherhood, you have played and – in many cases – championed work in Uganda’s economic, social, cultural, ecological, spiritual and increasingly political areas. The role of mothers in education, healthcare, nutrition and general hygiene through organizations like Mothers Union is particularly noteworthy. Your current struggle to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms has been noticed worldwide and highly appreciated.
From time immemorial mothers have made history and championed major changes of historic significance. Mothers including in France, Russia, United Kingdom and South Africa played vital roles at critical moments in history. One of the reasons for their struggle was to get empowered so that they can participate fully in decisions that affect their lives. The mothers of Uganda need to be empowered with support of the government, development partners and other organizations.
UDU’s National Recovery Plan (NPR) accessible at www.udugandans.org has accorded gender issues a very high priority. A Department of Gender was created in the UDU Secretariat to ensure that gender issues get all the attention they rightly deserve. The head of the Department is Ms. Dorothy Lubowa.
If the NRM government had done what it promised in its ten-point program, we would not be discussing the role of religion in Uganda’s development and politics. But since 1987 when it launched structural adjustment, the government left economic growth and distribution of benefits to market forces and trickle down mechanism and concentrated on building and consolidating security forces and engaging in regional and international ventures. By 2009 the government realized that the economy and society did not do well under structural adjustment and abandoned the model. Economies in success story countries like South Korea and Singapore grew at an average rate of ten percent for decades with state participation. And economic benefits were shared equitably. In Uganda, economic growth has fallen far short of ten percent. And the benefits have disproportionately gone to the few families that were already rich and are boasting in public, leaving the bulk of Ugandans trapped in absolute poverty, unemployment, sickness, functional illiteracy and hunger. Desperate Ugandans are flocking to their churches in search of relief. Therefore religious leaders have an obligation to act including calling on the government to take appropriate action. NRM government, instead of listening and collaborating with religious institutions to find a lasting solution, has begun accusing them of engaging in anti-government subversive activities thereby dragging them into confrontational politics.
As 2011 draws to a close, it is appropriate to issue a press release restating the mission of the United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) and reporting activities that were undertaken from July to December 2011.
By popular demand at home and abroad an umbrella organization named United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) was established on July 9, 2011 at a conference hosted by Ugandans to the Rescue in Los Angeles, California, USA.
The mission of the umbrella organization is to harmonize activities of political parties, organizations and individuals at home and abroad opposed to the NRM system and speak with one voice for efficiency and effectiveness.
Conference participants came from the United States, Europe and Canada. Participants came from all regions of Uganda (central, eastern, northern and western).
The conference was convened to establish an umbrella organization; adopt a name for it; elect committee members; and adopt a work plan.
The umbrella organization was established by acclamation. Regarding the name of the organization, many proposals were submitted, followed by voting. United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) got the highest votes and was adopted as the name of the organization.