RSS

Monthly Archives: September 2010

Uganda’s opposition leader, Dr Kiiza Besigye’s address in Joburg, 18 Sept 2010.

By Stephen Twinoburyo

Five years ago, I was one of the people that listened to Uganda’s opposition leader, Dr Kiiza Besigye, give his farewell speech in Pretoria as he departed for Uganda to face an uncertain future. Indeed the future was scary because on reaching Uganda to contest against the incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni, he faced a number of charges including treason and terrorism.

On Saturday, 18 September 2010, I was among the group of Ugandans and non-Ugandans alike that trekked to Johannesburg to meet him and hear what he had to say about the state of affairs in Uganda as well as his view on where he thinks the country should be heading. I here give a report of what transpired in that meeting and the analysis or commentary will follow in the comments section.

Dr Besigye’s mostly jovial and humorous address started with a narration of the history of his involvement with the NRM and Museveni. He was a friend of Museveni and campaigned for his Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM) party in the 1980 elections. By then, the UPM was a minor party that did not expect to make a major impact but rather create an new space in Uganda’s political dynamics. Museveni promised that if elections were rigged, he would go to the bush to fight but those close to him did not actually believe him. And indeed there were reports of rigging, not against the UPM but against the Democratic Party (DP). Museveni himself was defeated in his own constituency by then DP candidate, Mr sam Kutesa, who is now the minister of foreign affairs, a close ally of Museveni and who now share relation through the marriage of their children. After the elections, Museveni went to the bush and launched a guerrilla war against Milton Obote’s government that were declared the eventual winners.

Dr Besigye remained in Kampala but was later arrested at Sheraton hotel and taken to a Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) prison that was then at the International Conference center. It was there that he managed to escape and flee to Nairobi, Kenya, where he started working as a medical practitioner at Agha Khan hospital. Some of the people he was with in prison then, including prominent people from Mbarara: Mbiringi, Kabazeire and Karuhanga, have never been seen again since. After a short stay at Agha Khan hospital, he decided to abandon everything and go to fight a horrible system I Uganda. He says the bush war was not easy but they persisted in the belief that they were going to turn Uganda into a better country, not ware of the disillusionment that was yet to come. The war awas against a system that catered for a few and dehumanized the majority.

He went on to describe a patrimonial state that Uganda has become under Museveni, a patriarch being a an imposing person that believes he has the paternal right over those around him. According to Dr Besigye, Museveni once mentioned that ‘a president is next to God” and may actually believe it. “Probably he believes in God the father, God the son and God the president”, Dr Besigye said. He mentioned that so far, there is Museveni the president (himself), Museveni the minister (his wife) and Museveni the head of the army’s most elite unite (his son), not to mention his brother and in-law that are also ministers. 

Dr Besigye outlined the tools that patriarchs use that have indeed been Museveni’s methods:

Fear: patriarchs always have things around them that threaten. Museveni travels in a large convoy that consists of heavy military hardware such as rocket propelled grenades, machine-gun mounted cars e.t.c. While the country has no ambulances or fire-fighting vehicles, there are plenty of teargas vehicles, mambas and nyalas – all tools of fear. Museveni is always surrounded by AK47-wielding soldiers.

  • Dispensing favours: Museveni personally dispenses things like money, scholarships, business support, houses, vehicles, jobs e.t.c such that even some of the people who are against his system sometimes feel they have to tow the line or else they will fall by the way side. Whenever he visits villages, people come out knowing he is going to donate something – even roads. He has taken over the role of institutions.
  • Propaganda: the media has been thoroughly put under his control such that some radio stations have to apologize for hosting an opposition politician.
  •  Divide and rule: Uganda has now been broken down into numerous tiny units that each benefit directly from Museveni and are in direct competition or conflicts with each other. Numerous districts have been produced. Almost each and every tribe has faction that are fighting each other and each directly having the president’s ear. So are the religions. For a example, a company that was contarcted to explore oil in Bunyoro eventually sold the rights to another company for $1.5 billion. This was after spending about $300 million. While this company made $1.2 billion over their land, the Banyoro were fighting the Bafuruki and each seeking favour with Museveni.

Like with apartheid in S Africa, the effects of a patrimonial state are the same and in Uganda’s case, some of them are:

  •  Mass poverty: the countryside is bleeding. It’s not that people are not working hard but their sweat does not help. For example a farmer who harvest a 100 kg sack of maize can only be able to exchange it for an equivalent of 3 kg of sugar simply because there is no transport infrastructure to transport it the appropriate markets or there is too much corruption in the system to enable him get anything out of it. Women going to state hospitals to give birth need to buy their own surgical gloves and syringes before going to hospital – these only being the basics.

 

  • Last year a new presidential jet was purchased for UG Sh 84 billion after one that had been bought in 2000 for UG Sh 60 billion was deemed no longer suitable for the president. All this when state hospitals cannot provide a single panadol tablet. UG Sh 500 billion was spent on the 3 day Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) summit of which nothing, even roads, can be seen now.
  •  Collapse of public system:  all institutions, infrastructure, services, railway, water transport (e.g MV Kawa ), cooperatives, public banks are no longer existent. This is in addition to education and health that have completely collapsed. The police force has virtually turned into the military.

Dr Besigye said the Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC) is opposing this patriarch system. The system must change if Uganda is to recover. The change however must start with people’s heads. With all that is going on, with a system that has almost completely taken away people’s livelihood and dignity, you will still find those who say no change – even when their system will never improve under the present circumstances. These are all works of a patriarch. People must realize that they have the power. The IPC is not simply striving for the change of  individuals but rather the overhaul of the whole system because if new people come in under the present system, they can simply take advantage of the patrimonial system and perpetuate it.

He noted the IPC has had ideologigal differences with the DP under Nobert Mao who prefer to go it alone rather than in combination with other parties. The UPC has also decided to pull out of the IPC because it calls for a boycott of the elections while the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) prefers participation in the elections. According to Dr Besigye, not participating will be giving Musesveni a blank cheque. The IPC now therefore is composed of all the other parties represented in parliament as well as Suubi and the DP group under Mr Sam Lubega. Dr Besigye supports the idea of the opposition working together because on top of giving one voice, it enables the optimal use of resources. He noted that resources are, and indeed are always, a challenge in an election. He said that the IPC will continue to call for the change of the current electoral commission and review of the voters’ register even if it means the postponement of the elections.

If elected into power, the IPC intends to:

  • Trim the cabinet: the cabinet now consists of 70 ministers some of whom Museveni does not recall very well.
  • Cut the defence budget and improve the living conditions of soldiers. Currently the foot soldiers live in appalling conditions.  Also separate the army from politics. Currently 10 army generals sit in parliament and vote on the side of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).
  • Deal with corruption that has become a cancer on the country.
  • Create and encourage a vibrant civil society.
  • Heavily invest in rebuilding the infrastructure. The economy cannot function under the current infrastructure, most of which was built under Milton Obote’s first government in the 1960s.
  • Re-introduce the cooperatives.
  • Invest heavily in agriculture.
  • Invest in harnessing the country’s vast water resources for economic, social and health gains.

Dr Besigye’s address took just over 2 hours after which contributions and questions were raised by the public. I was the first to take to the floor and my contribution was mainly observations or suggestions.

I agreed with Dr Besigye on the issue of fear and propaganda. I noted that some people even as far as S Africa fear what the patriarch may do to them if they say something in public yet some in Uganda who are facing the system come up openly against it. I also noted that propaganda is a big tool that even countries like the US use. In my observation, the NRM does not have a good propaganda machine – or even an existing propaganda machine – outside the country and yet the opposition has failed to use this space. I also supported participation in the elections. On the opposition side, I informed the IPC president that from my observation stemming from online debates, discussions and informal forums, there is huge discontent in Uganda against the current government. However the general feeling is that the opposition is still not offering the viable alternative people are yearning for because they are not really addressing issues but rather opposing. Also opposition politics are mainly found in cities and the boardrooms of Kampala. I noted that for all his faults, Museveni knows how to campaign and despite the fact that he is the incumbent, he campaigns tirelessly to all corners of the country.

The IPC president conceded that whatever he may criticize Museveni for, he acknowledges two things in him: one, he works hard for his bad plans. He doesn’t sleep. Secondly, he plans. He knows what he wants in 10 years time and works carefully on it. But he added that the notion that the opposition is only opposing is part of the propaganda that the government is feeding on people to the extent that some are beginning to believe it. He said some of the government’s implementations have been picked straight from the opposition books – for instance the abolition of graduated tax and increase of teachers’ salaries. He also said that previously they had only managed to campaign on the eve of the lections but that this time, they have had four years to campaign and have reached all the grassroots. For the first time, the opposition will have trained representatives at each and every polling station. In response to a question from the audience, he also said that the IPC will introduce an electronic system where their agents will post results immediately after counting so that the IPC can announce their results without waiting for the electoral commission.

There were wise words, words of encouragement, the contributions got heated and sometimes emotional. A Ugandan doctor at one of S Africa’s universities asked Dr Besigye that doesn’t he think Uganda is a failing state? Dr Besigye agreed that it’s indeed a failed state and that “a state is as strong as its institutions are”. He said Somalia for instance is a failed state because all institutions had been destroyed by the previous government such that when the patrimonial system collapsed, nothing remained.

On the question of Buganda nationalism, Dr Besigye said that he supports federal. He said he doesn’t see what’s wrong with people safeguarding their cultures within the broader context of the country. he said what the Baganda are asking for is indeed theirs. He posed the question “if you are returning things to the Indians, why not to the Baganda what belongs to them?”

A UPC supporter commenting on Dr Besigye’s treason case said the only treason Dr Besigye committed was to leave dying patients at Agha Khan hospital and go to fight a democratically elected government. Of course this caused a lot of laughter. However he also asked that wasn’t Dr Besigye part of the corruption when he was still part of the NRM. Dr Besigye replied that he can explain how he worked for his things and is open to any scrutiny. Dr Besigye responding to a similar question referring to human rights says he actually supports an investigation of all past wrongs.

 Another contributor remarked that maybe UPC is right and elections are a waste of time. He noted that twice Dr Besigye has won the lections and even the courts confirmed that but Museveni went on to become the president. His opinion was that elections will never remove Museveni and that the opposition must seek alternative means. Dr Besigye responded by saying he knows how difficult it has been and they have to keep on trying. According to him, even with the rigging, vote-buying and election violence, victory is possible as has happened in Mukono recently. He also noted that Museveni has never defeated him in Kampala.

On a question on privatization, Dr Besigye said this is the biggest institutionalized scam Uganda has ever faced and in his opinion should be investigated at one point in time. It was an “accumulation scam” by a few individuals leaving the majority impoverished. All public assets were given away for the benefit of a few people – a classic case of a few exploiting the majority like happened in the S African apartheid state.

On a question of massive exposure of the rottenness in Uganda abroad, Dr Besigye observed that exposure alone won’t help. “People are not altruistic – i.e seeking the general good of all. As long as there are private gains, many (USA, Britain, S Africa e.t.c) will look away to protect their gains. At the end of the day, it’s us to drive the change”, he said.

Asked if he wasn’t concerned about his security, he answered that his security is the people. He said when he was in prison on charges of treason, a principal judge was sent to convince him to accept house arrest. He said he told the judge that if he was guilty, he should stay in prison and that if he was innocent, he should be released. He noted that the judge was sent to do all this because of the pressure from the public. He added that even if he were to be killed, those who would have killed him would find him there too. He said that fearing death in such a struggle would be a betrayal to all those who had died. His own brother had been arrested on treason charges, they were together in prison and he is now dead, but the struggle continues.

Asked if he was angry, he said he pleads to being angry at the injustices in the country but he is not bitter.

 The discussions were followed by a gala dinner organized by the FDC South African chapter and more informal interactions continued.

As an observer, and as a person who listened and interacted, I must say I was very impressed by the way he came across. I sensed this was the general feeling among all those that packed the Johannesburg venue where this engagement took place.

I look forward to hearing from other parties too about what they have to offer.

PS: I would like to clarify that I am neither a journalist nor a reporter. I am in fact a university mathematics lecturer and also venturing in the field of financial engineering. I am only writing this out this out of my own interest, firstly in writing and then sending out the message. Bear with me please if the reporting falls short of journalistic standards.

Advertisements
 
17 Comments

Posted by on September 19, 2010 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs

 

The scourge of Ugandan conmen in S Africa

Over the past few days, an online discussion has been going on among members of the Association of Ugandan Professionals in S Africa regarding reported scams involving Ugandans that we feel as responsible Ugandans, we need to step up and put a stop to or atleast help curb. Copied below is the discussion and as you read through it, you will understand what this is all about:

Hi, all a friend on face book sent this to me and asked me to pass it on. Please, those with contact in media houses in Kampala, please pass on the message.

“Please make it known to the Ugandan community that Brooklyn City College in South Africa has scammed unsuspecting Ugandan students with a promise of bursaries which did not materialize once they arrived in South Africa. They are now on the streets and struggling to come back home. The other day I even took one of them to the Ugandan Embassy to see if they could assist him go home. The bursaries were promised to the Buganda Kingdom by the so called Shaba Wa Shaba 9the owner of Brooklyn City College in Pretoria).

60 bursaries were promised to 60 students for various courses. So it means 60 Ugandan students will be on the streets of Pretoria very soon as they are starting to arrive now. I saw two of them.”

David WR (Joburg)

 ———————-

Hi David.
 
This is a serious matter, considering the fact that it might waste people’s futures and hard earned funds.
 
AUPSA can play a leading role in the matter as part of our community responsibility.
 
Is there more information on this matter that we can use i.e contact details of the person who posted the tip?
 
The said college is in Pretoria and the proprietor is known to many of us –  the allegation is familiar – I shall sound him out this weekend.
 
Any body out there with additional information.
 
Please let us look out for each other and preserve our dignity and that of others.
 
Allen M (Pretoria)

———————-

I have heard about this gentleman and this particular college before. This is a gentleman who used to be a ‘dokita’ (“fake traditional healers” that call themselves doctors) but recently ventured into colleges. I am told he is doing terrible things to other Ugandans with colleges and even formulating allegations where police come and arrest them. Yes, competition exists in all sectors of life but it’s really deplorable that a Ugandan would go to the level of destroying other Ugandans in order to succeed.

Yesterday I received information about this bursary scam. I asked the gentleman who told me to give me the phone number of this Ugandan. I phoned him and told him that what I hear him doing to other Ugandans is not good and I, as a Ugandan, are concerned and I am going to make it publicly known. He told me that other Ugandans with colleges are jealous of him because they all don’t have papers and he is the only one who has. This is very strange because many of these colleges have been operating for more than 10 years and his only started operating last year. I told him that I wanted to hear his side of the story and I am going to coordinate it with the other information I have but I was generally disappointed with what I was hearing because Ugandans are supposed to cooperate and build each other. I actually plan to write about him in both Uganda and SA papers.

This is the same gentleman I am told earlier this year went to Silk night club in Kampala and started throwing notes of money at the revellers saying “megende mulye” (go and enjoy) as they scrambled for it. Another day I am told he was reported to have portioned off the executive wing of popular Angenoir night club in Kampala and asked everybody in attendance to revel on his account. But anyway that’s his money and he can do whatever he wishes with it. The problem is when he starts making life hell for fellow Ugandans that have been struggling to make a decent living genuinely and offering a recognisable service.

Twino (Pretoria).

——————-

So sad and pathetic! I am happy that AUPSA has taken interest in this. May I suggest that AUPSA get more details on:

  • How many students have so far been affected (Already in the country and struggling to survive)
  • How many are on the way?

In the case of the first category, let AUSPA advise us how we can help e.g fundraise for return ticket(s) or short term maintenance (without conditions attached) as guardian in Uganda sort out the return the students, e.t.c. I am particularly worried about young ladies and what could potentially happen to them when they find themselves in such desperate conditions.

As for the later category, let AUSPA get more details on the entire arrangements and who is involved in Uganda. Thereafter decide whether it may be advisable to contact whoever is in charge, to stop more students from coming unless some guarantees are in place.

AUPSA may also use this opportunity to start an advisory services to Uganda parents that wish to bring their children to study in South Africa in terms of credibility of the institutions in which they be registered, cost considerations and other survival info on staying in the country.

Martin, Dr (Pretoria).

————————-

I suggest Steve & Chairman meet this man/woman and discuss matter face-to-face.

Domnic, Dr (Pretoria)

—————

Very good suggestions Martin.

Domnic, this is not a man easy to talk to. Yesterday he was telling me that he didn’t go to school but he knows how to make business. He was telling me that the other Ugandans should also learn ways of getting business.

Twino (Pretoria).

—————-

Thank you – People .Thank you so much for bringing this out.
We will not sit and watch, let us at least make AUPSA’s position clear
and position it through such a position and spirit that Dokitas (“traditional healers”) were not allowed into the AUPSA ranks.
Now let us walk the talk.
 
I think this is one of the the areas, where  where AUPSA should show that we mean to defend the good name of Uganda. This gentleman should be called and facts put clear to him and told in very clear words that AUPSA will help victims and fight this.

Thank you. Let us know how we can help.

Alex M (Pretoria)

——————

I sent this information to somebody in Uganda and below is the response I received. I actually think the embassy should play an active role in informing people back in Uganda about such activities. The embassy’s duty is not only to protect Uganda ‘s interests here but also to help Ugandans back home with relevant information that emanates from here. For long, Ugandans back home have been conned with promises of lucrative jobs, money or bursaries – like in this particular incident – and usually when they get stuck here, they end up at the embassy  and the only thing the embassy can do is give them a document to travel home. I have before written in the Ugandan papers warning about this scam.

For long we have heard of many stories where some unscrupulous Ugandans here have gone back home and conned families of their savings that they are bringing their children here to educated them or give them jobs only to reach here and disappear from them. These are the young boys and girls that end up on the street corners giving out papers for “witch doctors” because they are so desperate to survive. Some of the people that con them are the ones that indirectly employ them on the streets to give out those advert papers for “traditional doctors” – sometimes at the cost of only accommodation in a crammed room somewhere. Some young girls end up in desperate circumstances. Many of these youngsters have approached to the embassy for help and if you gather them on the streets, they will tell you their stories. This scavenging on innocent Ugandans back home must stop and it’s high time the embassy stepped forward and protected Ugandans back home. by first of all publicising this information and also collaborating with security forces on this. These people should be clearly made aware of this and that the law will seek them out.

This particular person alleged to be involved in the bursary scam is an official of a Ugandan organisation here. I wonder what credibility he is giving the organisation.

Twino.

 

“Hi Steve.

 Man I heard about this bursary scam. The owners usually come to Uganda and are presented as celebrities. It is high time we exposed them because there is a lot more than meets the eyes.

 These people have been at it for ages but there are times when you can’t sustain it.

Otherwise thanks for sharing and it would be good if this is extended to the local newspapers as well.

Abu (Kampala)”

——————-

Today I was told about another scam that has seemingly been going on for long and may actually be thriving.

There is a Ugandan-owned “recruitment company” that operates from Johannesburg but recruits people in Uganda for lucrative jobs that may make Steve Jobs feel like quitting Apple and coming to work in SA. This company I am told even advertises on radios and newspapers. Interested candidates are required to pay Uganda Shillings 2 million (approx SA R8000) to facilitate the process.

In this particular story I was told a Ugandan boy that had completed university, and from a prominent family, fell for the scam. His parents paid the money and was made to believe that he will find the job here. He was asked to travel by road, given phone contacts and to each country he came to, he indeed found somebody “that works for that company” waiting at the border and helped him through. This shows that they have a network. On entering South Africa, he was suddenly abandoned. He ended up in Mayville, Johannesburg where he was given advert papers for “traditional doctors from East Africa” to distribute at a pay of R30 per day and later sleeping in a rundown house downtown in a room of 12. Many of these Ugandan young boys and girls that are founds on the streets of each and every South African town, small or big, distributing advert papers for these fake “traditional doctors” have ended up like this. Some are even kept in bondage with threats that police will arrest them because they don’t have the right papers and only these guys can help them.

This boy’s parents managed to contact another Ugandan in S Africa who went and rescued him from Mayville. She found him malnourished and ill. Today he was put on a bus back. This is the lucky one because his parents got a contact in S Africa and were able to rescue him. Many never manage to make it back home, after they had used all their savings or sold property to come over on a promise of lucrative jobs. Some of them even have their passports taken away, apparently for “safety reasons” and are advised – like in this boy’s case – that in case of any crisis, they should go to the Ugandan embassy and claim loss of their passports so that they can be issued a temporary/emergency travel document.

I had previously heard about these cases in passing but this time I have heard from somebody directly involved. I am sure there are many such cases out there and I think it’s our civil duty to highlight them once we learn of them because there must definitely be many distraught families and youngsters out there.

Earlier this year a Ugandan boy, sounding completely blank, phoned me from the Musina border after entering S Africa and told me that he was going to Johannesburg but the person he was going to see told him that I, as the AUPSA chairman, would assist transport him to Johannesburg since he was busy at the time and was no longer reachable on phone. I told him that I live in Pretoria that is close to Johannesburg and that there is no way the ‘host person’ could have expected me to drive to Musina, 400 km away, to fetch him. I now think this must have been a victim of one of these scams.

It is terrible what people put others through in order to make money.

I am obviously sending this information to newspapers and radio stations back in Uganda as well as giving it to relevant people that have their hands in necessary places.

Twino (Pretoria).

——————

Hi Steve,

I have also heard of people who have sold their lands in Ugand to find Jobs in Johannesburg,

I think we need to name and shame who ever is doing this there must be a name to it.

Thanks

Jenifer JM (Joburg)

———————-

Stephen,
It is indeed sad. A friend’s son in going through the same after being coned. The parents are trying to find him and possibly bring him back.

Esse K, Dr (Makerere University, Kampala)

—————-

If people do not rise up and condemn such acts and especially our government, then the trend will follow suit to sangoma activities (“fake traditional healers”) which government has seeming taken lightly in tarnishing the name of Ugandans. So members if we could propose to our govt to describe this as an act of human trafficking it can be easy to even arrest them from this soil and even in Uganda, and the media should be used to publicise their identity to help would be victims as the act is deplorable

Phillip K (Pretoria)

——————–

Thank you Twino!

I think  the scam has reached all levels. I remember some time back we contributed money to one young boy when I was in Pretoria, after he was deceived & left school. He was in Senior 6 then & was brought here & dropped in Joburg & was left on the street. Luckily enough he met a good Samaritan who brought him to the college where I was working & he narrated the story to us & we had no option but to arrange bus fare and help him go back to Uganda

Now my second case is a recent one where a nephew of my friend who is currently in UK was also conned & dropped in Joburg on the street where he is struggling to survive. His Uncle contacted me & gave me the contact number of the boy  & when I called him , he told me the story of how he was conned. He also gave me the description of the gentleman who recruited him. where he stays, the car he drives & his phone contacts in Uganda( the gentleman drives a car with South Africa’s Gauteng number plate in Kampala) so that puts confidence in his culprits fall in the trap. I am  using my contacts back home bring such people to book & expose them.

Please forward this to who ever you know such that we share this information world-wide to stop this scam.

Lauben B (Durban)

—————–

 
33 Comments

Posted by on September 4, 2010 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs