Uganda is in a crisis: how did it get there and how will it come out?

That Uganda is in a serious crisis politically, economically, socially, environmentally and culturally is not in doubt. What are in doubt are the causes and possible solutions. This has given rise to a number of groups pointing fingers at one another. In the interest of time and space, I will focus on the salient points.

There are those led by Bishop Zac Niringiye and General David Sejusa who argue that it is Museveni and his family alone – his wife, son and brother that are responsible and should be held accountable. With Museveni and his family out of the way NRM will be able to get Uganda back on the right track and continue to govern under a new leadership. The term Musevenism has been coined to link all Uganda problems to Museveni.

There are those led by radio munansi who argue that Banyankole are responsible for the suffering of Uganda since 1986 and they alone should be held to account.

There are those who think that Baganda that have never accepted integration into Uganda on an equal basis with the rest of Ugandans are responsible for a big part of Uganda troubles including the current debate about self-determination with secession as an option.

There are those who go back to the time of independence and argue that it is Obote and the people he groomed including Amin and Museveni that are the root cause of the problem. London-based Musaja Gyagenda has been championing this cause relentlessly. Any Ugandan whose political views he doesn’t like he associates him/her with Obote and UPC.

There are those who think that the main problem is the unregulated influx of foreigners – legally seeking work, illegal immigrants and refugees. Through his policy statements that Ugandan has plenty of unutilized arable land and water resources and needs foreigners to assist in Uganda’s rapid economic development Museveni has encouraged massive influx of foreigners mostly from the neighboring countries that have occupied good jobs and taken over the private sector and assets especially land from indigenous Ugandans.

There are those who think that inequality in access to education, healthcare and jobs have created social groups and tensions between the rich and poor, employed and unemployed and have contributed to the crisis.

There are those who believe that Museveni thinks the crisis is in his administration and has forced him to temporarily or permanently transfer some key advisers including Kutesa to the United Nations, Sejusa to London, Nyakairima to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Mbabazi who has gone on leave.

There are those who think that NRM as a whole is messy and must be unseated from power, with no allowance for a compromise to form a government of national unity.

The solutions also vary. There are those who want a military solution because that is the language that Museveni understands. This group is led by Sejusa and his confidant Amii Otunnu who previously advocated democracy and good governance as solutions and Duncan Kafero with the backing of radio munansi and foreign recruits in his outfit as he confirmed on radio munansi.

There are those in the footsteps of Gandhi that want non-violent resistance. Their argument is that more authoritarian regimes have been unseated by non-violent means than through violence. The Hague Process on peace, security and development in Uganda has adopted the non-violent approach to regime change in Uganda.

There are those who want significant reduction of central government power that has suffocated regional, district and community ability to take decisions that affect their lives. This group is calling for federalism or confederalism. Once agreed the 1995 constitution would be amended to reflect these new political dimensions that no one party can change unilaterally.

There is the extreme group of Baganda that want secession or independence from the rest of Uganda. This is the group that has been very disappointed that Scotland did not vote for independence from Britain. The recent decision that the government of Catalonia in Spain has also decided not to go for a referendum on its secession from Spain has added frustration to those Baganda that had hoped to use these two cases if they had succeeded in forcing NRM to grant Buganda independence.

There are those who think that the different groups in the opposition should stop criticizing one another regardless of their diverging philosophies and just get together to force NRM out of power and then address their differences once in power. History lessons don’t lend support to this approach. More often than not revolutions by different groups that have one common goal of unseating an oppressive regime degenerated into civil wars because there was nothing to bind them together after the revolution had been accomplished.

The group that I belong to is of the view that winner take all is not a wise solution. Instead let all Ugandans come together except those alleged to have committed war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide and form a transitional government under a presidential commission with a representative from each of Uganda regions. The government besides conducting the normal affairs of state would organize a comprehensive population census to determine who and how many we are, identify development needs and use this information at a national convention that would debate and decide how Ugandans wish to be governed. To succeed in this endeavor we need to put the interests of Uganda ahead of personal ambitions. We are all Ugandans first and foremost. Our diversity if properly nurtured is a tremendous asset. Let us keep that in mind. We are stronger acting together than separately, explaining in part why Scotland voted against independence.

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