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.
Military forces are created principally to protect the nation against external invasion. But they can and do step in when a government abuses human rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens. History is full of noble examples of military intervention against an oppressive regime. At times the military stays neutral when people resist the regime.
During the French and Russian Revolutions of 1789 and 1917, many in the military actually joined public protest and assisted in removing these oppressive regimes. During the brutal Stalin collectivization program, some members of the Red Army refused to participate against their own people. During the Ethiopian Revolution of 1974, the Imperial Guard stayed neutral in support of the people indirectly that had suffered so much. In the Philippines the defense minister and deputy army commander and their supporters joined the demonstrating masses and prevented Marcos from stealing the election. Marcos was defeated and driven into exile and democracy was saved.
When NRM came to power in 1986, it formed a national unity cabinet with seasoned ministers including the prime minister, ministers of finance and planning and economic development and internal and foreign affairs. It also retained some experienced permanent secretaries. It launched a popular, well-formulated and balanced ten point program. The statements by the president were relevant, giving the impression that he knew what the challenges were and how to address them. Many Ugandans were impressed and supported the program. As expected, the first year was difficult as the government tried to cope with the economic and political crisis.
In 1987, the government abruptly abandoned the ten point program and embraced the extreme version (shock therapy) of stabilization and structural adjustment program (SAP), the very program it vehemently opposed during Obote II regime in 1981-85. The minister of finance and governor of the central bank were replaced as well as senior officials. The minister of finance who was an economist was replaced by a medical doctor in charge of a complex SAP program, implying that loyalty triumphed over competence. The ministries of finance and planning were merged into one ministry and staff in planning replaced that in finance in the new combined ministry of finance, planning and economic development. This was a major change.
While in London to attend the federal conference in late October 2012 where I presented two papers and prepared a summary report of the conference, I bumped into a compatriot on Oxford Street. We discussed a wide range of issues pertaining to the sad situation in Uganda. He thanked me for writing a book on “Uganda’s Development Agenda in the 21st Century” including a chapter in which I praised Batutsi for the help they extended to me. He paused as if he was trying to say something that didn’t fit into the trend of the discussion thus far. He looked around and finally said “Why then have you turned against Batutsi?”
I told him I was not against Batutsi as human beings. I was against the destructive policies of the current generation of Batutsi in power in Uganda. And I am doing so to help them refocus the trajectory onto the right development path.
For easy reference (and against my principle of refraining from mentioning names), I am listing some Batutsi people in Rujumbura County of Rukungiri district who helped me (a Mwiru) while I was growing up. Some or their relatives are still alive and you can ask them to confirm or deny my story.
First seminar on Radio Uganda Boston
This is Eric Kashambuzi in New York, United States of America.
Fellow Ugandans at home and abroad, friends and well-wishers welcome to this first seminar on Uganda’s political economy. The seminars will be apolitical.
We thank Radio Uganda Boston for launching this new program of seminars on the interaction between political decisions and economic change and vice versa.
This political economy 101 is primarily designed for the general public. However, professionals are welcome to participate and enrich the debates. During the seminars to be conducted once a month initially we shall show how political decisions affect economic change and vice versa.
I will lead the seminars which are intended to be interactive and in response to popular demand.
We therefore encourage all of you to participate and make your voices heard as we seek a new political economy model suitable for Uganda in the next 50 years and beyond.
The governance formula including merits and demerits of military and civilian governments suitable for Uganda will be part of this discussion. Military regimes or regimes led by military leaders have so far proved unsuitable.
By Dorothy Lubowa
May 8, 2012
When Museveni went to the bush in 1981, supposedly to fight for the restoration of democracy and human rights in Uganda, most Ugandans naively believed his political rhetoric. In fact some of his original fighters in the bush and throughout the war were women. For the first time in the history of Uganda women believed they had a political ally to advance their cause and protect their rights. The administrative structure set up by NRM soon after the war seemed to vindicate the erroneous conclusion that NRM, and Museveni as a leader in particular, was a progressive leader committed to the promotion of women’s rights. On each level of the Resistance Councils established after the war there was a position for a women’s representative. In parliament each district has a female representative. All this has turned out to be window dressing.
However, as history has unfolded and displayed the true colors of NRM and its leader Yoweri Museveni, the picture we get is one of a leader who exploits women for his selfish political purposes rather than advancing the interests of women. In some cases cited below women have been humiliated and grossly abused beyond imagination.
The presidential and parliamentary exercise that ended yesterday fell far short of expectations. It is unprecedented in Uganda’s elections since 1961. This was not an election in the true meaning of the word. Elections follow norms or standards with minor unintended irregularities here and there which can be excused. The whole electoral cycle was a fraud. The electoral commission chairman’s remarks that irregularities occur in young democracies should not be accepted. To facilitate debate, here are some illustrations of what went wrong throughout the electoral cycle.
1. The Electoral Commission was partial. Museveni refused to appoint an independent commission implying he planned to rig the election.
2. Inflated voter register was compiled by a partial electoral commission. In Museveni’s home area of Ntungamo district where his wife contested a parliamentary seat, there were more than 2 million registered voters. This is outrageous! Earlier warnings that the register in Ntungamo had been inflated were denied. In Kawempe a small residential area in Kampala City another outrageous voter figure of more than 1 million was recorded.
A former African head of state remarked that when an African leader is popular with and praised sky high by Europeans it means that by and large that leader is taking care of European interests more than those of his/her citizens.
Apart from areas of white settlement, Britain (unlike Portugal) chose to give independence to African countries without much struggle in order to keep them colonized and continue to serve British interests. It did so by influencing the choice of leaders or governing political parties. If a chosen leader digressed, he would be removed and replaced by a more compliant one.
In Uganda UPC/KY coalition and the rise to power of Obote were supported by Britain. When relations between Obote and Britain got strained Obote was removed and replaced by Amin, a gentle giant easy to do business with (Jon Abbink and Gerti Hesseling 2000 and New Africa February 2001).
As we have detailed elsewhere and posted on www.kashambuzi.com, Museveni was chosen by western powers including Britain in the early 1980s to topple Obote and UPC government (actually toppled by Okello in July 1985) because Obote was not trusted to do business with (Peter Phillips 2006 and Vijay Gupta 1983). Obote was chased out twice in 1971 and 1985 because by and large he put Uganda interests above Europeans! Amin was supported until Tanzania troops and Uganda exiles chased him out of the country in 1979.
In the article on “Who are Bahororo?” it was mentioned that men do not marry Bantu women. Some readers have asked me to elaborate in order to understand why they don’t. Although Bahororo (Batutsi from Rwanda), Bahima and Batutsi cousins speak Bantu language, they are ethnically different from Bantu people, hence the use of Nilotic Bahororo and their cousins in the heading. At one time it was erroneously believed that Bahororo and their cousins were white people, but scientific studies have demonstrated conclusively and definitively that they are black people and darker with thicker lips than Bantu people – no disrespect is intended (J. D. Fage A History of Africa 1995 & Jean Hiernaux The People of Africa 1975). Although Bahororo and their cousins do not marry Bantu (Bairu and Bahutu) women they use them frequently for sexual pleasure and even produce children together. More references will be provided for those who would like to read more on the subject. Many quotations will also be used to avoid misinterpretation of authors’ messages.
What we are witnessing is that Ugandans have entered a new phase – a phase where they are asking questions and demanding convincing answers and analyzing issues dialectically to make the absent be the present because the greater part of the truth is in that which is absent, hence examining Museveni’s restoration and expansion of colonial policies.
When Museveni came to power in 1986, he preached what Ugandans wanted to hear – improve education and healthcare, balance production for domestic consumption and export, transform the economy from agriculture to industry and export manufactured products instead of raw materials etc). However, in practice, Museveni has behaved like a colonizer, making many people feel – rightly or wrongly – that he is Rwandese colonizing Uganda with connivance especially of Britain that has supported him even before he became president. Before comparing Museveni policies to those of the colonial regime, let us briefly examine what the British colonizers found at the time of colonization, how it was destroyed and replaced by colonial policies, what Obote and UPC did to undo colonial policies and then examine how Museveni has returned Uganda to the colonial period.