To understand why majority Ugandans are getting poorer, jobless, hungrier, sicker, landless and are about to lose national sovereignty as borders are eliminated as suggested recently by the president of Rwanda when he met with a high powered Uganda delegation in Rwanda, one needs to know the origin of the core group of NRM and its motives to enable Ugandans to take informed decisions. To tell this story requires boldness because the risks are very high. But the story has to be told for Ugandans to read, discuss and decide on the way forward.
The original group led by Museveni formed some sort of association at Ntare School in the early 1960s, soon after independence in 1962. This group was motivated by the desire to regain domination of politics in the Great Lakes region. The independence of Congo (home of Banyamulenge or Batutsi from Rwanda), Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda introduced fundamental changes in the minority pastoralist and majority agriculturalist relations. The minority pastoralists who had dominated the agriculturalists for centuries were defeated during pre-independence elections based on majority rule. The association was formed to map out a road map to return Batutsi to power in Rwanda and regain domination in Ankole politics initially and Uganda and East Africa subsequently. The group launched an attack on UPC for rigging Ankole elections in order to gain the support of Catholic Bairu DP supporters. It also attacked UPC for lack of interest in the East African Community (EAC) project. Protestant pastoralists deserted UPC which they could no longer dominate and joined DP which they dominated. You need to remember that politics in Ankole is dominated more by religion than ethnicity. Museveni planted a seed among DP supporters in Ankole which would help him to mobilize Catholics throughout Uganda during the 1981-85 guerrilla war.
With no education and skills to get Ugandans out of agriculture where some 90 percent earn their livelihood, land is the only asset and source of livelihood. Land is therefore a national security issue that cannot be traded for anything else. The British understood this and left Uganda land alone. A law was passed to keep land in Ugandans hands except for a few leases. So when Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi announced upon return from a foreign mission that peasants were going to be displaced and their land go to large-scale farmers, Ugandans were shocked, wondering how the decision had come about and where they would go or how they would earn their livelihood. Since then land has taken on special attention in debates. We would like the prime minister to tell the nation where his idea of displacing peasants came from.
Meanwhile, some Ugandans have conducted investigations. It appears that NRM government wants to join other African countries that are selling or leasing land for long periods to large scale farmers mostly foreigners as there aren’t many indigenous Uganda large-scale farmers. “Land grabbing” in Africa is a new concept that has become an international phenomenon. The concept refers to “the purchase or lease of vast tracts of land by wealthier, food-insecure nations and private investors mostly from poor developing countries in order to produce food for export”. Uganda is already a major exporter of food grown by peasants, with little left for their families.
Radio Munansi English Program on Jan, 27, 2013.
This is Eric Kashambuzi communicating from New York.
Greetings: fellow Ugandans at home and abroad, friends and well wishers.
By popular demand I have been asked to address the issue of NRM plan to limit population growth by legislation violating the right of Ugandans to have the number of children they need.
The subject was discussed on London-based Ngoma Radio on January 13 but it wasn’t exhaustive.
As a demographer, I have written and spoken a lot about population issues including birth control which is also referred to as family planning or reproductive health. Whichever word you use ultimately family size will decline.
Having children is a human right and coercive methods should not be used to limit it. Instead, information and facilities should be provided to enable couples decide on their own.
Until the story broke, NRM’s position was that Uganda still has plenty of arable land, meaning that more people could be accommodated. The president called on Ugandans to produce as many children as they needed and he would educate them for free. Based on this assurance, some leaders went ahead and expanded maternity wards or built new ones to cater for an increase in the number of pregnant women. Men were urged to do their job. If the law passes they can’t do it freely anymore as their leaders had suggested.
Here are the principal highlights.
1. The mysterious death of a twenty four year old member of parliament has cast a thick shadow over the credibility of the government. Rightly or wrongly, the people of Uganda appear to have made up their mind thereby denting the image of Tutsi-led NRM government. The puzzle that MP Hussein Kyanjo was poisoned remains unsolved. The latest scare that the vice president had been poisoned and had to rush to hospital has left Ugandans wondering who is safe in Uganda and abroad. The allegation of poisoning Ugandans needs to be taken up in 2013.
2. Politically, NRM fared badly in 2012. A new government within NRM government was formed by Ssekikubo, Baryomunsi and Nawagaba. The fight for presidential succession by the first lady, prime minister and speaker of parliament raffled NRM feathers. To put a halt to it, the president announced a year after he had been fraudulently re-elected that he was seeking re-election in 2016. The potential for NRM implosion shouldn’t be underestimated. Meanwhile, Museveni is grooming his son Muhoozi to succeed him, witness rapid promotions including the one conferred on him by the late Gaddafi. To keep NRM together and his involvement as chairman of regional organizations, Museveni is spending less time on Uganda’s economic, social and environmental development.
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.
The publication of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) in 2011 accessible at www.udugandans.org which presents a sharp contrast to what NRM is doing necessitated civic education on a wide range of issues. We have therefore dealt with some ‘hot’ topics that others have avoided so that Ugandans fully understand why with all the natural and human resources Uganda is retrogressing which is no longer a debatable issue. Even economic growth rates and per capita income which were used to present ‘rosy’ economic performance have declined precipitously. Economic growth has plummeted from 10 per cent in mid-1990s to around three percent currently while population is growing at 3.5 percent ahead of economic growth of 3 percent. This is not development. It is retrogression. Under these conditions Uganda cannot become a middle income country in a few years from now.
In our assessment of Uganda’s performance, we have separated processes from outcomes of development such as a higher standard of living. NRM government reports processes. For example, writing an excellent modernization of agriculture document per se won’t transform subsistence to commercial farming. Writing an impressive Poverty Eradication Action Plan with little or no implementation won’t reduce poverty. Programs have to be implemented which NRM has failed to do. Constructing schools and graduating students every year is necessary but not sufficient. Education makes sense only when graduates get jobs and earn good income to meet at least the basic needs of life.
As I have said before, I joined Uganda politics not for personal gain but because I was unhappy about what was and still is happening in a country that was once the envy of the world, with a potential for rapid economic growth and social transformation in terms of improving the standard of living and life expectancy of all Ugandans.
I have expressed my disappointment through writing, radio broadcasting and trying to advise NRM government in writing and orally about how to do things better to no avail. I have distributed some five hundred copies of my ten books to Ugandans free of charge and created a free website www.kashambuzi.com to reach a wider readership. But Uganda continues to decay. This is undeniable. Metaphorically speaking, rampant corruption and sectarianism are eating Uganda away before our eyes!
Many Ugandans and others have contacted me and advised that what is needed is implementation of the good ideas already proposed. It requires that we acquire political tools since NRM has refused to adopt the ideas we have put forward. That is why I joined the United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) and was elected Secretary General with authority to mobilize political and diplomatic support for the implementation of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).
The October 27, 2012 London conference on Uganda federalism inspired by the keynote Speaker’s address (available at the Uganda Citizen website) was very successful in terms of participation which was national in scope; demographics which embraced men, women and youth; substantive in content; open, frank and tolerant of one another’s views; agreement that federalism is a national issue and consensus on the way forward. A resolution was adopted at the end of the conference and is available at the Uganda Citizen website.
I summarized areas where consensus was reached and posted the report on Ugandans at Heart Forum, www.kashambuzi.com and www.udugandans.com. Subsequently, I prepared and posted a short note on the same above websites clarifying some issues upon request. As this is work in progress, we need to update and add to the information that we already have. I have received requests in this regard. I appeal for active participation of all Ugandans in this debate so that none is left behind and also remember that nobody has monopoly or all the answers on this important subject. Here we go.
If we, Ugandans don’t wake up quickly and unite under capable, visionary and patriotic leadership, we are going to lose Uganda as we have known it and become underdogs in a new entity. What is happening in Uganda right now has a long history beginning with Yoweri Museveni. Museveni knew very early in his life what he wanted to achieve for himself and his Batutsi people. He wanted a Tutsi Empire covering initially the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region using Uganda as a base. I went to Ntare School with Museveni. As a prefect, I had a duty to study the behavior of students to recommend those that had leadership qualities. Museveni appeared to me as a restless individual with a mind fixed on something I could not quite understand. Museveni started a student organization while still at Ntare School. He supported the creation of East African integration and federation.
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.