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Monthly Archives: May 2011

Hooting for democracy is a very necessary irritant!

By Stephen Twinoburyo

Hey buddy! Any worry about hooting? You don’t have to. I look at hooting as one of the many small measures aimed at expressing defiance at this regime. I look at it as a statement aimed at telling Museveni that people are fed up. Walk to work was a success but I believe it can also not be sustained for ever and it cannot be the only measure. All these small measures aim to undermine the regime, make people more bold in opposing it and any slight thing will simply blow up. I don’t know how frequent the hooting will be but if it’s sustained, it will build its own statements. Already the chaps in police are making it interesting remarks about it, and the panic can only be interesting. Museveni’s regime is definately not weak and nobody expects it to fall anyhow, more especially out of hooting. But it’s an ageing and crubling dictatorship that’s on it’s way and anything that helps it out is good.

Hooting may be an inconvenience to many people but it’s a necessary irritant. I dislike the noise of vuvuzelas but during the the World Cup we all welcomed them because they made a statement and their noise was considered by some of us who disliked the vuvuzela, a necessary and understandable irritant. We cannot expect change out of tyrrany and expect it in a comfortable way. Is war not irritating? Aren’t sanctions not irritating, or even hurting? But sometimes we welcome these discomforts in a quest for future general good.  I am so happy with the hooting.

I think people should understand what civil disobedience means – it contains the word ‘disobedience’. The purporse of this disobedience is to undermine and eventually break down the authority of an undesired regime. Some people say hooting in such a manner is illegal. Yes it may be. But they need to realise that ‘legitimate’ and ‘legal’ are two different things. A government can outlaw anything – just like Museveni is doing or the apartheid governmentt outlawed many things including inter-racial intimate relations. That does not make the acts illegitimate. The reactions of government towards W2W, in my opinion, make hooting legitimate. In fact if Museveni and his goons had not been stupid and clamped down on W2W, it would have in most likelihood attracted fewer people than hooting. In a struggle, people have to be creative and design all ways that will undermine the undesired authority. Museveni did a lot of this in his war against Obote. He made some places unreacheable to Ugandans and we all got frustrated and angry with the Obote government. His ‘bandits’ then, blew up structures and made some roads no-go areas due to land mines. All this frustrated the economy and made us edgy. He very well knows the value of this and that may be reason he has put ‘economic sabotage’ in his sights of no-bail.

Another thing that needs to be noted is that many of such struggles are also about frustrating the enemy and forcing the enemy into mistakes. Museveni’s clampdown on W2W was such a mistake and it had done him irreparable damage. Hooting is all about frustrating him. I doesn’t need the entire population, just like not everybody, not even a quarter of the normally non-walkers, were going to walk to work anyway. Rememeber this was something that didn’t attract much attention until police picked interest in it. I remember that article from either TIME or CNN that said nobody took notice when Besigye decided to walk. Nobody except Uganda’s security forces. So this hooting, to me, is a necessary nuisance. Some of these things are just about getting at the enemy and emboldening the people – making people lose fear. If you read the hsitory of the struggle against apartheid, you will get amazed at how the ANC and other opposition groups did this part very well. These acts also help to put the international spot light on the prevailing problems and preferably isolate the regime. Walk 2 work played a very huge role in this. There is now no shortage of literature, graphics or data to show the world about the regime. Museveni’s statements also do not help his situation. And remember too that a struggle is also about politics – this should not be forgotten and it’s absolutely unnecessary to run away from this fact. In fact my bush war – on a laptop and phone – is all about politics, even though I am not looking at any personal gain out of this. My gain is a good Uganda for our children. Many Ugandans have showed remarkable selflessness and their desire is the same – a better Uganda that has respectable and respecting institutions, that offers them freedom and pride, and is not run as a personal bedroom. All these are small pieces of the big picture.

Some of the methods employed in a struggle will be successful while others will not, but nevertheless all possible avenues must be tried. Sometimes things will even appear like they are not moving. There were moments when Muibbarak looked like he had regained full control of the situation but a day or two later, something out of his own making would drive him further down. Museveni is never short of such. Museveni has reached a point where he is his own enemy. Soon either him or his idiots will make a statement or do something that will push him further down. I am particularly not worried. If I think of a person who in 1980 was fighting the apartheid government, then I know that there is hope. If at the begining of this year anybody would tell me that Gaddafi would at this time be living most of his life hiding away from his own people, I would tell them that they were mad. Whatever happens in Libya, it’s a one way process though there may be moments when the push becomes agonisingly stand-still or even reverses. Even Museveni himself during his push for Kampala faced numerous huddles. Towards the end, they had a big push to the capital city but unexpectedly got held up at Katonga for months when the match to Kampala had looked so easy. So not all days can be shiny. All sides are palnning. Some strategies work and others don’t. There are days that will be slow and even others where gains will appear to have been erased. What matters is the ultimate goal, and the focus on that. What has started in Uganda is a one-way process. The only question is how long it will take and how nasty it will be. Unfortunately, the longer it takes, the higher the price, but it’s a price that Ugandsans now have no choice but to pay and will ultimately pay. I am never under any illusion that when standing up against a dictatorship anybody, including myself, can pay this price but a struggle is more about the spirit than individuals. As long as the spirit lives, there will be people to carry it. Interestingly, many hanging around Museveni and purporting to live in him name, are doing so to get the little they can out of him before his fall. I have heard some people who are doing their best to meet him so that they can get their bit before he hits the sink. Don’t be surprised eventually to find many ‘NRM’ people that ‘never liked’ Museveni. At least some of us are forthwith.

Did I hear a one out-of-touch Nageda say the people who express their discomfort at the behaviour of our current leaders are the “great unwashed of the slums”? Then so much the better. Let them join the struggle. They should have been employed, earning a good income and living good deserving lives, not idling in the slums. Museveni rode on the so many failings of the previous government to swell his ranks – and some of these failings he was really part of. We should not expect that we are going to smile Museveni out of his intolerance and greed for power. Nor should we expect that we are going to raise the Poland or Egyptian kind of demonstrations. We are not that sophisicated. Somebody remind me, was it Brazil or Algentina where women banged saucepans until the governmentt fell? Now that was irritation.

Measures like hooting don’t necessarily topple a dictatorship, but they chissel away at it’s once feared might. They are all part of the small processes that eventually bring down the portentous monolith. Hooting is a very welcome irritant! After all the basic purpose of hooting is to help people out of danger.

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Facing the challenges of youth radicalization in Uganda: Omar Kalinge-Nyago.

I received the following analysis through email, though not from the author but from one of the receipients, and thought I should share since I agree with the author in many aspects. Besides, the author requested that the information be shared:

Museveni on the edge:

Facing the challenges of youth radicalization in Uganda

Omar Kalinge- Nnyago

 

omarkalinge@gmail.com

 

Kampala, May 23, 2011

 

Ugandaheld its second multiparty presidential and parliamentary elections on February 18, 2011.  There were eight presidential candidates in the election. Days later, all the candidates except the only woman candidate in the race, Beti Olive Kamya rejected the outcome of the elections and called for a fresh one. International and local observer reports lent credence to the hard fact that the 2011 elections was far from free and fair, but stopped short of calling for a repeat of the election, never an expected recommendation by any measure.

Widely expected to be violent, the election had passed off relatively peacefully, save for a few trouble spots where the military shot voters, including a journalist on polling day, in Eastern Uganda. The prophets of doom, it seemed, had been shamed. For over a month, the immediate post election period was also peaceful, amidst heavy deployment of police and military on the streets of urban areas especially in the capital,Kampala.  The security chiefs must have started congratulating themselves for a job well done, and perhaps demand a pay rise. Beneath the calm, though, a storm was brewing and as events of the past two months indicate, an underground people power movement was quietly organizing.

On March 9, 2011, the first people protests under the umbrella organisation CAFFE, Campaign for a Free and Fair Election commenced inKampala. CAFFE’s major demand was a fresh, free and fair election.  Two days later another protest was held in Jinja resulting in the death of two civilians due to tear gas related complications and the brutal beating of a female journalist by policemen, resulting in the loss of her two teeth. The die had been cast! Another smaller but sharp protest was held in Kampala in the  now famed Kisekka  market to demand the  release of youth who had been arrested on March 9, 2011 during the first demonstration. They were released on court bond.  

A week later, another CAFFE protest was held in the Eastern town ofIganga. Those first brave demonstrations emboldened the population. They broke the ice and when history of people power campaigns in Uganda is written some day, CAFFE will perhaps be thanked for doing the impossible amidst threats by Museveni (broadcast by local and international media) to shoot protesters,  and a war time level of troop deployment on the streets. They proved that it was possible to defy the police and military, in pursuit of what is right. The government media tried to downplay the significance of the demonstrations. They were unsuccessful.  People in the three major towns ofUgandahad seen and tested the all formerly feared tear gas, and moved on as if nothing had happened.  Four names will be remembered: UPC’s Olara Otunnu, JEEMA’s Asumani Basalirwa and Muhammad Mayanja Kibirige and Sam Walter Lubega, an independent presidential candidate, who, as it were, “threw the first stone”.  In April, another platform, Activists for Change (A4C), headed by a newly elected legislator fromBugandacalled Mathias Mpuuga was launched, to agitate against rising fuel prices and prices of food and other essential commodities.

Suspected to be the brainchild of IPC, the Inter Party Cooperation, A4C presented itself as a non partisan peoples’ platform. Its message was all embracing – you didn’t have to be political to worry about the rising cost of living. Both CAFFE and A4C  use the same pool of activists to varying degrees. While CAFFE is outrightly political, A4C attempts to be seen to espouse social, non partisan concerns. UPC’s Olara Otunnu, JEEMA’s Mayanja Kibirige and Democratic Party’s Nobert Mao have been arrested in both CAFFE and A4C activities. FDC vice President Salaamu Musumba narrowly escaped arrest on May 10, 2011 in a CAFFE procession that was headed to hold a banned rally at theCity SquareinKampala, where JEEMA’s Mayanja and DP’s Nobert Mao were disrespectfully arrested by operatives of the Rapid Response Unit.  This makes the current activism  more complex that it seems. When A4C came on the scene after CAFFE’s launch it was seen by some as a competing force to CAFFE. As it turns out, they are complementary and seem to be coordinated at a certain critical level but each pursuing its own strategic communication strategy. There are steps to make CAFFE a more robust platform which may result in change of name to reflect its objectives  better.

There is no single opposition politician inUgandatoday that is as recognizable as the charismatic  FDC’s Dr. Kizza Besigye, Museveni’s former physician in the liberation struggle who fell out with the regime in 2001. When he endorsed A4C without reservation and championed A4C’s Walk to Work campaign, he brought  new energy to political activism that has changedUganda’s political discourse. Like his other party leaders,  he leads  from the front and has been arrested four times in one month. His last brutal arrest on May 02, 2011, which was witnessed by international and national media audiences caused grave harm to his health. This sparked off blanket riots  that literally shut down business in the capital on May 03, 2011. Six people were shot dead by security while dozens were injured by live ammunition.

While being flown to the Kenyan capital for medical attention, Besigye was first denied exit atEntebbeinternational airport before finally being cleared by the government which was prevailed over, it is alleged, by certain Western diplomats. After treatment, on his return toUgandaon May 11, 2011 Besigye was thrown off a Kenya Airways plane citing security reasons. It was learned later in an official Kenya Airways communication that they had received information that the plane carrying Dr. Besigye would not be allowed to land inUganda. After tremendous embarrassment to theKenyagovernment,Ugandagovernment and Kenya Airways, Besigye was allowed to return, on the morning flight of May 12, 2012.

Bad timing. This is the day that president Museveni was scheduled to swear in as the president for another five year term. Tens of thousands of Besigye supporters went to the airport to receive him while others lined up along the way to cheer him and his wife, travelling in an open roof SUV. A journey of one hour on a normal day turned out to be an eight hour trek. This, on same and only road that Museveni’s guests to the swearing in ceremony would use to drive to the airport on their return.

The police and military must have panicked, they started shooting and  beating supporters, often hurling tear gas canisters at bystanders. According to the Media Centre director, one person was shot dead, allegedly for stoning the Nigerian President’s convoy. In a strange twist, Goodluck Jonathan’s spokesperson has denied that any stones were thrown towards the president’s convoy. The police spokesperson denies that anyone was shot dead. Eye witnesses saw a dead man with gunshot wounds after Jonathan’s convoy passed. Journalists were particularly targeted for beating and many of their cameras were confiscated. A few of the cameras have now been returned to the journalists but the footage of Dr. Besigye’s procession has been erased. The journalists have now threatened to boycott government functions if the government does not apologize and compensate for their lost and damaged equipment.

In an unprecedented move, the Uganda Law society held a peaceful sit down strike for three consecutive days to protest abuse of human rights and police brutality. They presented a petition to the Chief Justice at the High court.  Days later,   Uganda Women’s Network, UWONET, staged a police regulated procession to demonstrate against rising food prices and the cost of fuel. These and other demonstrations by Ugandans living  in the UK and USA point to a new era and methods in political resistance not witnessed in Museveni’s 25 year old reign.

Political, civil society and human rights groups have slighted government for the indiscriminate use of  excessive use against unarmed  demonstrators. The police insists that demonstrations are banned. They claim that they act in self defence, when their officers’ lives are in danger. The demonstrators  say that their peaceful demonstrations are turned into riots by police, and the military, which commence unprovoked  acts of aggression like flogging, kicking and shooting, on peaceful demonstrators.

Uganda’s post election period is fraught with many challenges, not least the challenge of youth radicalization. 90 percent of the demonstrators on the streets ofUganda’s capital and urban centres are under thirty years old and largely unemployed. They are disappointed that all the promises of the good life president Museveni has promised for the past 25 years in power have not reached them. They are angry that corruption in high places is just rising, not declining, despite repeated pronouncements by the long serving president to end. They relate the high cost of living and the inflation rate that has reached an unprecedented 14 percent up from 9 percent in just a month to the scandalous election spending by Museveni whom they accuse of having raided the national treasury to rig the election through voter bribery.

In the run up to the elections, a whooping 602 billion shillings supplementary budget was spent in unclear circumstances, in the guise of ‘delivery of services’. Museveni antagonists assert that the money was just a tip of the iceberg of a larger corruption scandal, not unlike the former 500 billion scandal unearthed by a parliamentary committee report on the Commonwealth of Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) held in Kampala in 2007. Just his month, a dubious procurement of fighter jets with 73 trillionUgandashillings was passed without following regular procurement procedures.

Youth radicalization inUgandahas reached its highest peak in the past month, and the fear of youth dominated widespread violence is not far fetched. Government has responded by brutal arrests and suspension of human liberties. Indiscriminate arrests have been made across towns inUganda. Research has shown that indiscriminate arrest is one of the key factors that exacerbate radicalization and transition into extremism. The other known factor is unmet expectations. Both these critical factors are into play onUganda’s streets.

Amidst all this, there have been calls for dialogue between the Museveni government and the opposition parties but mistrust persists, while harassment of opposition leaders by security forces has reached peak levels. Dr. Besigye’s wife missed a flight  toNew Yorkwhere she works with the UNDP on May 16, 2011. Her car was towed (with herself inside) from her home’s gate 15 miles out ofKampalato a nearby Police Station. The opposition leader’s home is besieged by security forces and he is all but under unofficial house arrest. The opposition refuses to call off the Walk to Work campaign, and promises to walk until government addresses the concerns’ of the people, quite a tall order.

There is need now inUgandamore than ever, to focus on youth concerns to prevent the prevailing radicalization from developing into extremism and violence. Opposition parties as well as the government ought to sit on a roundtable and seek intelligent solutions if peace is to be achieved again onUganda’s streets. What is not apparent is whether the concerns of the youth will be high on the agenda.

omarkalinge@gmail.com

Glossary of abbreviations

A4C                Activists  for Change

CP                   Conservative Party

DP                   Democratic Party

FDC               Forum for Democratic Change

JEEMA           Justice Forum

IPC                  Inter Party Cooperation

UNDP                         United Nations Development Programme

 
 

Nina Mbabazi: Any lessons from Obote’s rule?

By Nina Mbabazi

Nina: Obote didn't see the winds of change, do we now?

In response to letters addressed to her by Drew Ddembe.

Dear Drew,

I am glad to see that I can influence you somewhat. From one NRM kid to another NRM kid (you) who has gone renegade and is enjoying it a little too much, I shall labor to answer your questions. I hope I shall not sound like I too am on the verge of going renegade although it may please you greatly if that was the case. In fact, it may please the conspiracy theorists most if I indeed joined you on the other side of renegade. Before I answer your question, I would like to state that I believe that what you should have stated wass, that if NRM of 1986 met with NRM of 2011, they would wonder in amazement if they are one and the same and an arrest would occur.

Now with regard to your letter: Letter to Nina – “If the Museveni of 1986 met the Museveni of 2011, he would shot him on sight”, I have a different take. It is true UPM the pre-cursor to NRA/M scored abysmally in the 1980 elections that were widely rigged by UPC. I mean, I was there as little as I was!

My dad lost to his cousin Hon. James Rwanyarare despite our spirited UPM songs. My uncle, the villagers would later tell me; employed serious kiboko, but with hindsight and seeing endless kichupuli kiboko story about my daddy, I say my mzee lost because he was not as popular as his cousin. Many people lost that day including Mr. Museveni who trailed with 172,000 votes.

This is almost what Chairman Mao Nobert got this time round no? That shows you; don’t give up on your preferred Presidential candidate. May be he will have better luck next time.

Unlike Suubi which was sectarian in this election, the UPM stood on principles of social justice and equality for all. Very noble causes but as the book Wars, Guns and Votes reveals, they rarely win you an election. Kizza Besigye would do well to pick up the book and read it. I am willing to lend him mine when I am done. He will automatically take a chill pill and refocus his energy. I bring Suubi up because in 2011, we have seen the re-emergence of issues that had brought the 1966 crisis to the fore of our National politricks.

Anyway, I digress. That (Suubi) was Patrick’s issue; for me, I just wish to focus on the title of your lovely letter. Let us not go down tribal politricks lines but seeing that you and I are part educated outside Uganda, we need to refocus on examining whether or not your statement is true and what the statistics tell us without resorting to calling each other names and delving in boring figures.

For starters, if we were sitting in the same room as the bush war gentlemen in 1981 at my father in laws Makindye house (Hon Mathew Rukikaire); prior to them leaving to start their mischief against President Obote; who had been declared winner and to add insult to injury, the runner up to the 1980 elections Democratic Party was sharing parliamentary space with them under the leadership of Right Honourable Butagira; I think you and I would probably give the same lecture.

Where you and I would defer would be on one particular point. You would support them to go and I would urge wisdom and planning and a clear understanding on how the numbers influence an election and the need to build grassroots structures to win the next election. For me, an election is all about numbers (never mind that the statistical data shows the falsehood of my frame of mind)

Indeed Museveni must be credited for being ahead of his time and that time seeing the booby trap that DP was landing itself into. As you have probably read, elections in Africa do not necessarily yield a leader who is the choice of the people.

It did in Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, etc; all of this after many decades of struggle and dictatorship. Elections only yield democracy after people’s rights have been abused by all leaders, that is, leaders of the legislative, executive and judicial wings of government. It is only the most depraved leaders who have a tendency of politically motivated violence and deceit, who would carry the day. However, when a decent one comes along, the population asks for all they can get and most likely, he shall only serve one term and lose miserably because honest men according to statistical data don’t win elections in the world’s poorest billion people.

They can be used though as wonderful catalysts to the change that you want. I can tell you about a governor in Nigeria who elevated the standard of living of his constituents, he reduced infant mortality rate, raised their income, and then they punished him by voting for his opponent who was dishing out soap and salt.

No goodie two shoes would thrive. This is why I think that unless Morgan Tsvangrai styles up and becomes thuggish like President Robert Mugabe, he will spend all his frigging time in between jail houses and hospitals. Anyway, don’t let President Obote’s angelic facade deceive you, he is after all the one who said in 1984/5 “ I am the custodian of your ballot”  He wanted to maintain himself as the keeper of peoples ballots, and by extension of the keys to State House.

There were very many imaginative rigging techniques then. Remember Vice President Muwanga introduced the idea of different ballots boxes for different political parties in the 1985 elections that never occurred? If it had occurred, do you know how much bloodshed would have flown to ensure nobody can reach the DP ballot box? Yes, Obote was shamelessly transparent and guess what? That election would have come and gone and Uganda would have had a president. Goes to show, elections are really not a standard for democracy AT ALL. You need to examine the behavior after elections to see if you are really dealing with a democrat.

As it were, Uganda at the beginning of 1980 had a leader who had been restored to his Presidency by Tanzania but before that, he was ejected by his pitbull Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada, Ssalongo, CBE, MBE, OBE, Life President (I think those are his imaginary titles. Feel free to imagine some more).

President Obote had tinkered with the 1962 constitution and replaced rule of law with the pigeon hole constitution as my facebook note from the magazine “Transition” clearly shows. Then what happened in 1966? Waaaaiiiiiit for it,…….the UPC Secretary General Hon Grace Ibingira assisted Obote pass the detention without trial act which was meant to lock up noisy men who didn’t want to hear of the pigeon hole constitution, like Abu Mayanja, Neogy (Transition chief Editor), Binaisa, and that category. By the way, how did Professor Mazrui survive?

President Obote’s paranoia got the better of him and he in turn locked up Ibingira. It was clear in 1966 what Obote’s character traits were. Do you remember what Ibingira said in his book about this incident? (Well I didn’t remember but Charles Onyango Obbo was quick to remind me): He said “Fate is a double crosser”. Ain’t that funny?

Unfortunately for Obote, the very man whom he conspired with (Idi Amin) and raised funds to overthrow President Muteesa had realized that “entebbe ewooma”. I mean, do you remember how much money President Amin was accused of making on the Congo gold scandal? Money that facilitated the overthrow of Muteesa? The reason why Amin assassinated Hon Daudi Ochieng? So all of these characteristics were very evident before 1980 and really people still voted for him. by a landslide of 57%. Remember UPC had 73 out of 126 MP seats?

As a matter of fact, I would say opposition was strong those days. They managed to get 42% of seats in parliament. Do you remember why ordinary wanainchi accepted Obote? Because the British who funded Nyerere told them that we didn’t have another visionary leader. Forget that at that time there was a budding leader David Oyite Ojok and his Military Commission. Fate must have double crossed Ojok and all those leaders. We are lucky Ojok was not ambitious. If he were, we would have seen a new coup, but he was the definition of total loyalty to the main man Obote and the principles of why they fought Amin.

Just to recap; do you think that a leader who overthrew his own government to become President, who arrested the legislative wing of government until they passed his pigeon hole constitution would yield to free and fair elections? It was simply the entire bush group deluding themselves and giving Obote the legitimacy he needed to win. We should have arrested them at that point for being dreamers.

Now after they participated, then they wanted to go to the bush? To repeat your words; the more things change, the more things remain the same. To be honest, it is the NRM of 2011, that would shot the NRM of 1986 calling them a bunch of simpletons and treacherous because what they were planning was total treason to the state, yet a state can’t develop to first world in one day and with politically violent individuals. Rome was not built in a day but centuries.

Here is why I think NRM 2011 would finish off NRM 1986 saying development takes time. It is the wisdom you learn with age. With time, NRM has realized that not all of us citizens think the same. Some are brainer than others, some are more violent than others and some are more productive than others, some just want to kulembeka, and others want to get free lunches. What was the preamble to go to the bush? That the election was rigged and Obote was not a legitimate President. Obote was not yet a monster because he had not yet started killing people. Democracy takes centuries to build like Rome.

People had breathed a sigh of relief that Big daddy Amin with his Malyamungu were gone, but as soon as the “bandits” (for that was what Uganda newspaper archives of 1980-1985 used to refer the NRA/M members as)went to the bush after the Kabamba attack and beginning of war, the death traps of Idi Amin came back. See fear is a very bad disease. It eats at mans’ capacity to do good and he in turn becomes a monster.

Again, if only our leaders had seen this, they would have seen Uganda was following in a predictable trajectory. Did Obote underestimate the power of the bandits? I don’t think so and this is where the story changes and where I believe NRM can safeguard themselves. The winds of change were blowing and Obote didn’t see them. With mobile telephony, youtube, facebook, twitter, flickr, googlegroups, etc; the winds of change are out there and only a blind man can’t see it. Have I not digressed again? Obote, underestimated the dangers in not building systems.

You say that NRM has underestimated the current level of dissatisfaction with their leadership. I am assuming all of them because it is collective responsibility for the party right including your mummy and daddy? How can one living in this global village not see the signs? If one sees them, will they not work towards fixing the problems?

Mark you, what is happening today in Uganda is a typical cycle of development. It is just that we as Ugandans don’t know how to deal with change, but every new generation brings change. Our parents were more progressive than their parents, and we in turn are more progressive than them. They grew up in the village, we grew up in the global village (via TV) our aspirations are different, our demands different. Growth includes taking new steps and accountability.

In ancient India, a man was not considered educated until he was 45 years. This is because he would have learned astology, astronomy, mathematics, the art of governance, arts and science, etc; then they would declare him educated and he can then rule. This they did so that he can measure his decisions carefully.  In Africa, we have parents that educate their kids and don’t understand that you can’t turn around to tell them to switch off their brains.

Life doesn’t work like that, but that was the African chiefs mentality so, we are experiencing cultural clashes of ideas between the generations. I think this is what happened with NRM 1986. They were on a different wavelength than Obote who was an old gentleman, so the clash was inevitable. This is the only instance that is reverse where NRM 1986 would certainly arrest NRM 2011 because the mentality change is significant.

Anyway, let us hope that your cry and those of others is loud enough for even the people who suffer from hearing impairment. Do you think your staunch NRM parents are blind to the fact that all their kids have gone renegade? Maybe it is us young people who are underestimating the capacity of the party members to read the signs. Have you thought about it in that way?

NRM and Obote cannot be the same. Obote underestimated the wisdom in “DO NOT ISOLATE YOURSELF” and “DO NOT GO TRIBAL” then add the generational gap. Our Leader Obote was in checkmate only he didn’t see it but the whole world did. This I believe was his undoing NOT the NRA that remained a rag tag army for most of 1981-1983 when things started to change for them.  NRA’s strength came from Obote’s weakness.

You see, Obote knowing he had rigged the election and wanting to stay in power, made so many false moves on his chess board. If he had learned like President Mugabe how to play one armed force against the other, he would have been a formidable opponent for a little longer maybe another 5 years, except he would have nowhere to run to exile because even Zambia would not have allowed a Mugabe like leader in their country. As it is, NRA found a weakened petulant leader to use your words.

Do you remember Obote’s wrong moves? Do you remember how he arrested Ibingira, hounded Kakonge out of the country? Do you remember how he was clueless that Oyite Ojok had built a tribal army and they were all loyal to him? Do you remember how he isolated himself rather than follow the adage, “keep your friends close but your enemies even closer”? Do you remember how Bazilio Okello was more senior to Obote’s Lango tribesman Smith Apon Achak but he (Obote) bypassed him and promoted him anyway when Ojok died?

First of all, Ojok’s were very big shoes to fill, secondly, Smith was too junior and his rise to that position simply meant that a coup would be in the offing and didn’t it come to pass? Do you really remember how helpless President Obote was when Oyite Ojok died on 2nd December, 1983 and how things fell apart at that point?

Remember, that from the Military Commission days, Oyite Ojok was the defacto President of Uganda and the only one who seemed to hold it together? That is after he (Ojok) had played the worst kind of tribal politics in the army and in the Military Commission? The marginalization of other tribes was just for world cup. The Baganda were the most affected by all of this and do you recall how you Baganda in turn gave NRA/M support and became the victims of Luweero and upto today still claim that you want your big share of the National cake?

There was a formula to the toppling of Obote; It was God’s formula. A series of unrelated events worked to undermine Obote almost as though God was willing us to have a new leader. Obote was a weak leader. Fantastic at oratory but weak at keeping the country together. Change was in the air and it was his time to leave the scene.

I think with NRMs regional balancing act, which itself has limits; has managed to keep all people feeling like they have a slice of the cake, but indeed change is in the air. NRMs problem is going to come when instead of fruit cake, the population upgrades to chocolate ganache and it finds people no longer wish to eat its cake. One would think that the opposition knows that it is their job to design a whole new cake with richer ingredients?

 So why do I believe this time is different from 1980? It is not that Kizza Besigye lacks the will to become the President, it is that he has too much will to become president and we Ugandans have long since become weary of such actions and fear that it they may not provide peace, prosperity and democracy. Democracy obviously doesn’t come with the elusive fundamental change.

NRM can’t fall, not unless the junior officers in the army like the colonels are disgruntled. With Obote, all colonels were loyal to their Acholi tribesmen. I am not sure if we have that kind of sentiment at colonel level, in any case, Besigye has forever assumed that they support him and yet they have never come to his rescue? Why is that do you think? Could it be that he is just wishing upon a star and that it will only be a false move on the part of NRM that causes such a move? In which case, such a scenario is very unpredictable. You can’t tell who shall win and who shall lose. As statistics show, for every successful coup in Africa, there are four unsuccessful ones.

Ugandans are therefore not willing to support such action as another bush war. We watch W2W and we want to understand if the leaders can articulate issues. Not to be condescending, but if we had many leaders who could articulate our issues, we would have built very strong institutions since 1986. As it is, they have under achieved even Besigye when he was still a Minister. I want to know what he did to ensure that demonstrators in Uganda could line up on Entebbe road, but that there were barriers to prevent them from disrupting traffic. What did he do to improve police investigative skills so as to shorten time that public prosecutors bring cases to trial? Maybe he can reinvent himself and tell us his achievements. God knows we want to hear a good story after weeks of chaos.

So the whole fundamental change speech on the steps of Parliament 1986, made us all more cynical and skeptical for political violence to bring the development that is needed by all Ugandans. Instead we want to see him (Besigye) build a strong political party with serious divergent views from NRM. He must build alternate platforms and leave that as his legacy. When opposition retakes 42% of Parliament, then we shall praise his good work.

I know you say that why do we take the speck out of Besigye’s eye when NRM have a whole truckload of logs in theirs. We shall demand for greater performance on NRM side, but while you are being neutral, don’t assume that neutrality is criticizing NRM only; You have  to take up a stand to help Besigye build strong opposition institutions. See our generation does not belong to the school of thought who voted and campaigned for multipartism just to make donors happy, we really want to walk by what we believe. That would be our version of “fundamental change”. See this is why for me, I am rolling over with laughter because me and 7% of all Ugandans voted best in the referendum. We chose the Movement system knowing full well, that some of our leaders would find it hard to operate in a multi platform setting and would resort to tribalism, bribery, etc.

Are young Ugandans frustrated by the fact that the government right now does not seem to be aware that to prevent them from hitting the streets and burning tyres (as we saw on NTV), they would have to seriously create upto 1M jobs a year? An insurmountable task for any African but imagine if they could do it? Do they know that we look to Rwanda and ask why they (tiny Rwanda) can have pothole free roads while we don’t?

Maybe as statistics also point out, it is because Rwanda is a dictatorship. Any dissenters are locked up for good measure under the guise of “inciting for genocide”. The advantage to that is, Kagame then has time to focus on work rather than endless verbal and political battles. But,…BUT,….Uganda never chose an autocracy, we chose democracy and as statistics also show, democracy among the world’s bottom billion only works to increase infant mortality, poverty and poor government performance and any attempt to move to dictatorship only accelerates regime change so leaders are caught in a dilemma. Perform and get voted out, or permanently impoverish your people. There are a few cases where democracy has brought development but those are in the countries with term limits which you don’t have.

You and I really had a go at each other before elections about Mulago. If you need a clear example of the dangers of democracy among the world’s poorest, go to Mulago. Yes, unlike you who has your babies abroad, some of us who have not gone renegade still have to use the service of Mulago. Although just stepping there many times has almost pushed me over the boundary to the renegade side.

Oh dear, I digress again. We are speaking on legitimacy and elections right? Uganda has 13.2M voters roughly. Only 59% showed up to vote. What we should be examining is why did the other 41% stay home. This does not give Besigye legitimacy to demand for a fresh election. Let us look at the numbers and understand what they really mean. If jointly opposition got 2.5M ballots making it about 30% (Besigye and others), when looked at against the total voters, their percentage drops to 19%. Likewise NRMs final score was 68% but when looked at compared to all 13.2M voters it was really 41%.

This percentage is a sign that there must be a policy shift to engage and dialogue with ordinary Ugandans. In other words, the fruit cake is no longer appreciated and NRM 1986 would see it and sound an alarm here which NRM 2011 should do well to heed.

 NRM needs to upgrade to chocolate ganache or black forest gateaux because omulimo will become abysmal if they stay with the fruit cake. another thing the book War, Guns and Votes taught me, is that statistics prove that you can only impoverish your population on time, after that, it is performance which means bye bye or violence which means quicker bye bye. Either way, Jasmine train seems to know its trajectory.

The opposition is weak, but the voter turnout drop has to be examined. What caused it? Interestingly the same Afrobarometer poll that showed NRM victory at over 62% also showed that over 50% people believed that elections didn’t mean anything in terms of enjoyment of the democracy. A high number also believed that elections were commercialized. The Ugandan population has come to the realization that elections do not guarantee prosperity. How about Kizza Besigye chews on that paradox for a second and sees how to move Uganda back to 42% opposition?

So to conclude, Obote always overthrew the constitutional order to have his way, He did it in 1962, he did it again in 1980. NRM has stuck to their promise of democracy and elections but with mixed results on prosperity. I think what we need to discuss is what next?

Can we examine whether or not elections and multipartism can bring us from low income to first world. I believe that democracy alone can’t do this. It requires system build up, it requires confidence in the systems’ ability to work and whether or not we are committed to making it work.

I like that your parents went to Kololo for the swearing in but I guess despite their support, NRM is outnumbered in your household alone but let us be honest.; it is not because you support Besigye, but that you are fed up of the perceived status quo of failed government policy and the refusal to listen to the people.

Can I just highlight Nigeria here for a second (or maybe two minutes)? President Obasanjo never wanted to leave the chair. Anti, entebbe ewooma! So when the time came to look past him, he started the shenanigans of removing term limits. This President had built a strong robust economy. Nigerians worldwide were proud to call themselves Nigerians, but others in his party also had other plans, so they defeated his plans. Do you know what saved Nigeria from turning into an Obote state? It was Obasanjo himself. He immediately shifted his Finance minister (a strong no nonsense woman) to another Ministry because he had to plunder the treasury to sell an otherwise unsellable Umaru Yar Adua. As fate would have it, Nigeria is a shining star now, not by luck but by that saying “fate is a double crosser”. It was not Nigeria’s fate to be without fault and when they went on the anti corruption route, it was the corruption route that saved them from anarchy.

Anyway, back to the NRA and its transformation to what it is today. It seems to me that in 1985 the winning formula was the introduction of the LC system. For once Ugandans felt that their views were heard. Unfortunately the Rubaramira Ruranga 2006 law suit made the LCs ineffective and no funds ensured no vote in five years.. Now notice I say LC not NRM structures for the two are different totally.

Without an active LC system, grassroots corruption which is far more dangerous that public service corruption crept in. People have to pay the LC who was not elected 10,000 or more just for an introduction letter. People had to pay the LC to settle rape cases and such matters. Justice was for hire, you know the story. This I believe is what pushed the voter turnout to be the lowest it has ever been but I could be wrong. I am working under the assumption that people are more concerned about their community governance than National.

The problem with low voter turnout is that statistically, all evidence points to increased political violence in elections to come. It also points to increased commercialization with elections to come, it certainly points to a voting category of people who are not ideologically grounded so they will vote for their favorite who may not necessarily support the party principles and then the party becomes more unmanageable because various competing forces are in place. I am sure you may have heard of people who sold cows to win the LC1 Chairmanship primary. What do you think he/she is going to do to get that cow back? Yupe you guessed it!

 NRM in 1985 which controlled many areas introduced the LC system where people could go and be heard. People found them a breath of fresh air because they listened. This is why archives show us areas under the control of NRA/M in 1985 were more stable than other parts of the country at that point.

Over time, in the politics of the worlds’ poorest nations, extremists take center stage and make the various parties about choosing us or them or you are either with us or them and by so doing they turn the parties into organizations that don’t listen. By so doing they have make them look like they are coming apart at the seams, but I am sure with countless renegades world over like yourself (oh yes, please don’t think you are the only one. It seems renegade waters exist in all countries), these renegades will all wake up and hopefully bake a chocolate ganache. Those renegades go by the name  foresight.

In other words, NRM needs to go out looking for “foresight” because foresight is out of sight. He has gone AWOL. It is time we looked for that renegade “foresight” and put him under house arrest and tell him to bake us a cake. Who would shoot who for foresight? We can only wait for time to reveal this to us.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2011 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs

 

NRMO-SA responds to petition submitted by Ugandans in SA to President Zuma

The Ugandan Community responds to the Petition as submitted to President Jacob Zuma on the 10 May 2011, by Twino and co.

Dear fellow Ugandans,

As you may have heard or read, on the 10th may 2011 a handful of Ugandans made their way to the Union buildings and submitted a statement to the President’s office (https://ugandaspeaks.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/petition-to-president-jacob-zuma-by-the-ugandan-community-in-s-africa/). We have been studying the whole process and making our investigations into the degree of consultation that this group could have made with the Ugandan community in South Africa, so as to claim to represent the Ugandan community here. Our findings are well alarming to say the least. We present to you a concerted representative response to this absurd action by Twino and Co.

Some of the key questions on the minds of the Ugandan community here include; who is Twino? Since when did Twino and Co begin to represent us? What water does the petition hold anyway? It is these and other more subtle issues that we intend in this communication to present as debated by the people.

Representation

Ugandans strongly feel that they cannot any more be taken for a ride by the likes of Twino and co. Self proclaimed intellectuals who think they can at any time say what they want and purport to represent them. Efforts have been undertaken to democratically constitute the Ugandan community in South Africa into various groupings, organizations and associations, both Political and Social, which fairly represent their opinion on issues. These processes were intended to put an end to the Twino syndrome: Intellectuals hijacking the people’s voice and creating an impression of being representative emissaries of the people. Social bodies like Buganda Cultural Association, UCAN, USAA, and political groups like the NRMO-SA, FDC, UPC, KY, etc have undertaken processes to democratically elect their leaders. They have by the same token endowed the power of representation with these leaders. As the Ugandan community, we recognize these structures and are well willing to discuss and make consultations from time to time on issues that affect us. We denounce the instance of some few unelected individuals purporting to represent us. These individuals, just like any other Ugandan, are free to either join with existing organizational structures, form a constituent grouping that we should feel free to identify and recognize, or simply represent themselves. They should stop this dictatorial, embarrassing and uncouth usurping of the people’s right to democratic representation.

What water holds in the petition?

Reference has been made to general characteristics of a dictatorial government with an obvious lack of empirical correlation of matter and facts on the ground. Meanwhile the language is strong in painting a terrible image of the NRM government, the real question should be: How true and empirical are these allegations? Any well meaning reader of this petition should be able to ask this simple but fundamental question. The essence of what is written does not lie in the writing, but in the actuality of the substance. It is just befitting that some of the allegations that Twino and co. raises should be put to the test here.

  1. Erosion of the Rule of Law: Is this really true of our Uganda today? What law is Twino referring to? The NRMO government, much unlike others before, has wisely entrenched its workings in the democratic processes of representation and the law. On no single occasion has the government arbitrarily passed decrees or acted outside the rule of law. If any matter needs redress or attention, the people’s parliament has been consulted and its input solicited to enact relevant amendments, new legislation, etc.

An interesting analogy could be drawn with the case of Besigye arrest. As a democratic leader of the people of Uganda, the onus rests on Dr. Besigye to live by example in respecting the rule of law. Just like in South Africa, the country that Twino is petitioning, the Police have the legal duty to ensure order in matters of any demonstration. They are supposed to guide the demonstrators. It is the duty of every citizen to respect this guidance. Dr. Besigye on the contrary chooses to disregard the police guidance. What do you expect of government then? Just like any other Ugandan, Dr. Besigye with all due respect is obliged to live under the law of the country. Did the arrest have to be violent, however? Of course not, but any arrest will certainly turn violent in a case where the suspect is resisting arrest. The police are empowered to use all necessary force to ensure compliance to the law by every Ugandan, the Dr. included. One is left to wonder whether Dr.Besigye could have targeted to gain sympathetic political capital from all his dramatic gesturations. We will not debate that here. 

  1. Crumbling Infrastructure: Oh please Twino. Where is your basic economics? Can you honestly stand and tell Ugandans that their infrastructure is worse off today? It is a general point of agreement for both Ugandans in Uganda and in Diaspora that the economy of Uganda is better off today. Under the NRMO government, we have maintained the highest rate of economic growth for more than a decade to date; at 10%, this rate is only second to the Guangzhou province of China’s rate of 11.3%, and well rivals that of Angola at 10%. Both social and economic infrastructure has been strengthened under the NRMO government. The average Ugandan is happier today. Economic liberalization has finally given fruit in form of an increased private sector and elevated average enjoyment by Ugandans. In a strategic cooperation between Government and the Private sector, more schools, hospitals, water supply networks, power sources, etc have been built. The common Ugandan now holds the real power of self-determination in form of economic empowerment. It is high time Twino and co. went back home to witness this, before they sing the obsolete tune of misplaced irrelevant political statements and self defeating arguments that are coarsely embarrassing.

 

  1. 3.       Non Delivery of Social Services:  It is obvious that Twino and co. have the dangerous Homesickomeosis. This is a terrible non medical condition that many people in Diaspora tend to contract. Symptoms include a sickening lack of facts on the ground in the home country, a fixation with destructive propaganda, mental stress arising from failure to revisit their home country and a childlike cry for help to anyone who cares to listen. Homesickomeosis is worse in cases where the patient has economic impediments to going back home or has personal matters with the regime in power like a criminal record, especially if someone jumped bail. Short of this, there is no more logical explanation to Twino and co’s problem. On a more factual basis, since 1995, with the adoption of the IMF Structural Adjustment Programme, Uganda was militated against to reduce its public sector in favour of an expanded private sector under a more liberalized economic environment. With full conviction and against all odds, the NRMO government pursued this policy. Today Uganda is reaping fruit in form of increased local government delivery systems. With Decentralization, the people of Uganda at a local level freely determine the speed and degree of social service delivery in their localities. An expertly drawn budget system ensures that local government structures have increased budget allocations and diversified sources of revenue to effectively render social services to the communities they serve. Is it all perfect then? Of course not. There is still room for improvement and that is why the NRMO requested Ugandans for another term in government; a request that was well granted by more than 60% in the February general elections. Elections the EU Commissioner to Uganda, Mr. Roberto Ridolfi is said to have declared as Free and Fair.

 

  1. 4.       The 18th February 2011 General Elections: It is high time Twino and co. plus all opposition learnt to take the bitter pill. I will be the first to admit that the NRMO party used money in this election. But yet again, which party does not use money in an election? Ugandans and friends of Uganda should not be fooled by this incessant cry of foul play. A real objective analysis will indicate that a genuinely level ground was presented to all parties in the country to compete. Dr. Besigye leading the Inter-Party Coalition (IPC) was fouled by his own campaign team. Apart from internal wrangles that saw division, indifference and sabotage within the coalition ranks, a fatal mistake of Assumption was committed by the campaign team. They assumed that the incessant noise that is made by a few street vagabonds would practically result into a winning vote. My honest advice: Dr. Besigye, Twino and Co. and all opposition should go back to the drawing board. Instead of wasting more time with political stunts and stale bickering in the cities of Uganda, they should strategically reach out to the general population, especially in the rural areas. They should be able to sell a manifesto that runs beyond simplistic catch phrases “Omusajja Agenda” (The man is going; in direct reference to President Museveni). Such political hyacinth was effective in luring some simpletons in the old days, but not today. Ugandans want more realistic substance. They have learnt to analyze political promises. They vote for ability. This level of political maturity is well substantiated by the trend in some areas where people voted. It was common to have the choice of Museveni for Presidency and have an opposition candidate win in local representation. It simply means that Ugandans know what they want and are not blindly following the NRMO party.

 

  1. 5.       The Petition Requests:  I have personally held Steven Twino in high regard both as a friend and a colleague from the old Makerere University days. But my grounds for this respect are being threatened by the base ideas that are put at request to President Zuma in this petition.

 

(1)    That Mr. Zuma should turn down Mr. Museveni invitation to the Presidential Inauguration. Of course Twino and co should not have expected that baseless simplistic distortions of facts on the ground would have been enough to convince President Zuma in this direction. Certainly a Head of State, like President Zuma would need more than that to take up issue with President Museveni government. One should have expected President Zuma to know that there must be more than meets the eye behind this petition. In a different communication, one Ugandan has given a profiling of the members of the group that Twino blindly led into this selfish ambition and it is appalling to say the least. It summarizes the fact that the majority of them left Uganda under a police hunt for arrest. Some stole money from companies that employed them, raped girls, sold military equipment to gangs of thieves, and some committed murder. Many of these cases are still pending their return to the country.

(2)    That President Zuma should DEMAND President Museveni to release all detainees in prisons. Comrades, allow me address Mr. Twinoburyo and his gang to say; Next time you try to pull off such a stunt, you should take time to study what you are presenting before a Head of State. Under what political arrangement can President Zuma make such a demand on our Presidency? Don’t you think that President Zuma is well schooled in diplomatic relations between states and the respect for the sovereignty of independent states? Such demands only exist in your small world of idealists, Mr. Twino.

Our Conclusion on the matter

Meanwhile the exercise of a Petition on any matter by Ugandans in Diaspora is not unwelcome; it should be grounded on substance. As leaders of our people, it is expected of us to use the opportunity to guide them in generally reaching and acceptable factual issues. Occasion should never be taken by anyone to misrepresent Ugandans at any time. If we fail to respect the people we lead, they will in turn disrespect our intentions. As Ugandans, let us develop a more acceptable approach to issues that concern us, other than rushing to make allegations, slinging mud at those you selfishly hate. The likes of Twino should learn to fight the temptation to drive selfish routes on the bandwagon of people’s misfortunes. People lost lives and property in the opposition disturbance. We should not turn such unfortunate incidents into pillars to build political capital.

For God and My Country

 

Douglas Kabanda

David Rwamutemba

John Bunnya

David Wango

This response is written by the Office of the NRMO-SA resulting from a wide consultation with Ugandans in South Africa.. Contacts: Douglas Kabanda (Chairman) 073 971 3481 or David Rwamutemba (Secretary General) 073 9062546.

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2011 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs

 

Uganda’s arms imports from South Africa

By Stephen Twinoburyo

According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), an institute that tracks military spending of 173 countries around the world, in their Background Paper released in January 2011, Uganda in 2009 imported from S Africa arms worth SA Rand 169.2 million ($24 m). Uganda was by far the highest of the 32 African countries SA exported arms to. The 2nd highest country, Senegal, bought less than half (Rand 84 m) and the 3rd highest, Kenya, approx a third (Rand 55 m).

Uganda’s armed purchase from 2009 alone dwarfed what many Africa countries had spent on S African arms over a period of 10 years from 2000.

(http://books.sipri.org/files/misc/SIPRIBP1101.pdf)

The transfer of major conventional weapons by South Africa to Uganda between 2000 to 2009 included the following APC/ISV type military vehicles:

2002 15 RG-31 NYALAS

2OO4 5 MAMBAS

2005 31 BUFFELS

2009 6 GILLAS

According to SIPRI, armoured vehicles supplied from South Africa were also used in the violent suppression of demonstrations in Uganda in 2006.

Information from the South African National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), presented in a report by Peter Bachelor titled “South Africa’s Arms Trade and the Commonwealth: A Cause for Concern?” (http://carecon.org.uk/Leverhulme/P12.pdf) , shows that Uganda’s arms imports from post-apartheid South Africa between 1996 and 1998 amounted to only Rand 41.8 million. This however was second only to Congo-Brazzaville in Africa.

The BBC, on 1 March 2006 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/4762386.stm), cited an Oxfarm report that showed how a South African subsidiary of the British company BAE Systems sold Mamba armoured personnel carriers to the Ugandan government ahead of the country’s general elections. The report said at least 32 such vehicles had been sold to Uganda by the subsidiary, called Land Systems OMC, since 2002, with the most recent consignment before the release of the report  arriving just ahead of polling day. The report went further to say that at least three people had been killed when the vehicles were used to quell demonstrations a week before the elections.

Imported vehicles: do they give Ugandans pride or trauma?

Uganda’s overall military expenditure has risen from UG Shillings 234 billion to 583 billion (US $268 million).

There is concern in some circles about the sale of arms to African countries like Uganda. Peter Bachelor in his report quotes James Speth, an administrator at the United Nations Development Programme, as saying “ The world cannot ask Africa to develop and then blight its development efforts through the sale of arms and ammunition that fuel Africa’s civil conflicts”

South African armoured personnel carriers have been very prominent in the recent brutal crackdowns on the peaceful walk-to work protests which have seen the death of at least 10 people.

What is the role of that vehicle in the background?

Recently, the country signed a deal for delivery of Russian military fighter jets worth US $740 million. But the real question should be, why is the Uganda government buying arms at such a massive level when their people are living in wallowing poverty? According to the International Monetary Fund, the country, GDP per capita stands at a lowly US $509. The country’s infrastructure is crumbling and public health is non-existent. Quality education is a thing of the past. Why then does the government need to spend heavily on arms?

Because of the threat of Lord Resistance Army’s Joseph Kony and the war on terror, the world was quick to give Uganda arms without strict scrutiny. It’s now questionable whether the imported arms were indeed for these purposes. Following what has been witnessed in Uganda over the past few weeks, it’s prudent that developed democracies restrict arms sales to Uganda.

On 5 May 2011, a Ugandan newspaper, the Red Pepper, reported that the Ugandan Police Force had imported more that 40 South African made anti riot trucks called Nyalas (type RG-31) to bolster their already rich collection (http://redpepper.co.ug/welcome/?p=7753).

South African made nyalas on arrival at Kampala

Ugandans in South Africa, in a petition to President Zuma, requested that South Africa puts a stop to the sale of arms to the present government of Uganda (https://ugandaspeaks.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/petition-to-president-jacob-zuma-by-the-ugandan-community-in-s-africa/). Recent events in Uganda have shown that the weapons Uganda imports are for use against her people rather than advance their well-being. Unconfirmed reports say that much of the teargas used against demonstrators and the dyed spray used against opposition leaders are imported from South Africa. International media reported that the coloured spray was a common tool used by the apartheid police and what is being used in Uganda could be remnants of that.

Opposition leaders being drenched in pink spray as they tried to address a gathering

The 2011 arms purchases are likely to be alarmingly high considering President Museveni’s controversial re-election and the subsequent walk-to-work protests. Now, more than ever, countries like South Africa that promote highly democracy and human rights both within and outside their boarders should take a moral step and stop the sale of arms to countries like Uganda that are blatantly and severely repressing their people.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2011 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs

 

Petition to President Jacob Zuma by the Ugandan community in S Africa

Posted by Stephen Twinoburyo.

Following the recent state violence seen in Uganda, Ugandans in S Africa decided to petition President Jacob Zuma on the matter. After getting the necessary security clearances from both the presidency and the city of Pretoria police, a small group of people was permitted to deliver the petition and this happened today, 10 – 05 – 2011, with the petition being read out and handed over to an official of the South African presidency that was assigned to receive it at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. He stated that the contents of the petition make it an urgent matter requiring it to reach the desk of the president as soon as possible. Pictures of the violence were also attached in a booklet that made up the petition document. The petition was signed by a group of Ugandans on behalf of the wider Ugandan community and a copy to be retained by Ugandans was signed by the official of the presidency.

The petition follows:

His Excellency Jacob Zuma,

President of the Republic of South Africa,

Union Buildings,

Pretoria.

10/05/2011

Dear Mr. President

 

RE: THE DETERIORATING HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION IN UGANDA AND PRESIDENT ZUMA’S INVITATION TO THE UGANDAN PRESIDENT’S INAUGURATION

  1. BACKGROUND

As you are well aware, Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986 started very well and was a beacon of hope for Uganda as well as the continent.

However over the years, the values he held started getting eroded by his increasing and unending hold onto power and intolerance of those that sought to challenge him. Over the past decade or so, Uganda has seen increased authoritarianism, erosion of the rule of law, changing of the constitution to prolong his stay in power, escalating corruption, defiling of Judicial and parliamentary institutions, crumbling infrastructure, and non delivery of social services.  Around the year 2000 some of his senior army officials broke away from his movement and formed rival opposition parties at the realization that Mr Museveni had abandoned the original values that motivated them to fight the bush war. These include Colonel Dr Kiiza Besigye and General Mugisha Muntu. This has caused bitter political friction and to a great extent made Museveni shed his earlier shine.

The general election of 18th February 2011, from which the presidential inauguration emanates, was full of irregularities as has been abundantly confirmed by various election observers. Indeed the opposition in the country dismissed the whole process as a sham. During this election Uganda saw the largest ever police, anti-riot police and military deployment ever on the streets of Kampala and all the major cities and towns of Uganda pre, during and after the elections. That deployment is still on, two and half months after the election.

President Museveni bankrolled his campaign out of state resources to the tune of US $ 350 million, financed through a supplementary budget after he had exhausted the national treasury. Currently, all government departments are not in a position to deliver services to people and civil servants are going without pay.

With the inflation currently at 15% and soaring, ordinary Ugandans can no longer afford the basic necessities.

The presidential inauguration scheduled for 12 May 2011 will cost a whooping US $ 1.36 million in an environment of high poverty and misery. Ugandans are not happy about this because this extravagant event completely disregards their plight and it follows a trend of inconsiderate state expenditures. The day is expected to be a day of protests and/or crackdowns.

The Ugandan community in South Africa is aware that your Excellency have been invited to Uganda for the inauguration.

Assembling at Union Buildings

  1. CURRENT SITUATION

Given the prevailing economic hardships and accompanying government extravagancies, on the 11th April 2011 Ugandans embarked on a walk-to-work campaign as an expression of their displeasure with the rising food and commodity prices.

The walk-to-work campaign was aimed at making the government pay more attention to the suffering of ordinary Ugandans, to initiate service-delivery which has been non-existent for years and put a check to the kind of reckless expenditure outlined above.

Reading out the petition: Stephen Twinoburyo

President Museveni’s response to this peaceful initiative has been very brutal and shocking to the world. For the past month, Ugandan forces have systematically and consistently brutalized unarmed citizens. Opposition leaders and their supporters have been shot at, beaten and tear gassed by both the police and the army in tragic scenes which have seen the death of at least 10 people, including two babies. Scores of people have been injured and many opposition politicians and ordinary citizens are under arrest. Impromptu arrests are now the order of the day and all kinds of security personnel units litter the street corners of many Ugandan towns.

All this is happening in the non-violent process of walking.  This is a blatant abuse of human rights as enshrined in the Uganda Constitution and underpinned by the Core values of Human Dignity, Equality and Freedom.

All this state brutality has been widely covered by both the Ugandan and international media including the South African press. (See attached links for easy reference).

Mr. President, we hope the South African embassy in Kampala have briefed you already on the situation.

Handing over the petition

  1. OUR REQUEST

Your Excellency, as a leader of the largest economy and strongest democracy in Africa, and also a recognized member of the world’s emerging democracies, we request the following;

3.1                 That you turn down the invitation to attend the inauguration of President Museveni

We feel that by attending, you will be giving legitimacy and tacit approval to the insensitivity expressed by President Museveni towards the people of Uganda through his extravagances in the face of massive sufferings of the common people. The people of Uganda look towards the leaders of more advanced democracies like South Africa to be the first to express disapproval towards the excesses of fellow leaders.  By attending that function, we feel you will have broken the spirit of “ubuntu” of the ordinary Ugandan and sided with or helped entrench a system that torments them.

Signing of a copy the petition by an official of the South African Presidency.

3.2                 That you take up the issue of human rights violations in Uganda with President Museveni and demand that he treats his people with human dignity as enshrined in the Uganda Constitution.

Many Ugandans still have bitter memories of the way Idi Amin brutalised them and not much help came from the rest of Africa until the late President Julius Nyerere of Tanzania intervened.

We recognise that we live in a much changed world and are very hopeful that things will be done differently so that leaders like President Museveni who have showed repressive and dictatorship tendencies can be checked in time.

Attentive petitioners

3.3                 That you demand that President Museveni releases all those people that have been unjustly detained in prison simply because they chose to express their discontent through walking or other non-violent means.

3.4                 That as a leading and respected member of the African Union, you table the pain of Ugandans before the organisation.

3.5                 Mr President, Uganda has previously bought arms, police vehicles and equipment from South Africa. These are now being used as tools of terror against the people of Uganda. We request that you review and put a stop to any further purchase of military and police equipment by the current Uganda government from this country. It is widely believed by Ugandans that the tools that torture them are products of South Africa.

Your Excellency, the Ugandan community in South Africa is eager to see the same kind of democracy we enjoy in this country enjoyed by fellow Africans elsewhere and in this particular case, Uganda. We look forward to your good office to tackle the issue of Uganda with the seriousness it deserves because the ordinary people of Uganda feel they have been pinned to the wall.

We thank you very much Mr. President.

The Uganda Community in South Africa

Signed on behalf of the wider community.

Etv interview.

REFERENCES

  • Uganda: Torture, Extortion, Killings by Police Unit (Human Rights Watch: March 23, 2011)

http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/03/23/uganda-torture-extortion-killings-police-unit

  • Uganda: Concern over continuing restrictions to the work of human rights defenders (Amnesty International: 14 April 2011)

http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AFR59/007/2011/en

  • Rights watchdog turns spotlight on Uganda Police ( The East African: 4 April 2011)

http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/Rights+watchdog+turns+spotlight+on+Uganda+Police/-/2558/1137856/-/86cep8z/-/index.html

  • Election funding: Uganda is broke, says Bbumba [Finance Minister] as tough times loom

http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/-/2558/1106116/-/view/printVersion/-/ky6ob1z/-/index.html

  • Human Rights Watch pins govt over killings

http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/-/688334/1159390/-/c216evz/-/index.html

  • Deadly Crackdown on Uganda’s Walk-to-Work Protests [TIME 23 April 2011]

http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2067136,00.html

  • UN. Rights boss criticises Uganda protest crackdown.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110501/wl_nm/us_uganda_un_rights

  • Ugandan protesters ordered   shot for walking to work (The Washington Times: 20/04/2011)

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/apr/20/ugandas-president-orders-soldiers-to-shoot-protest/

  • “Baby shot dead, Besigye jailed (Daily Monitor: 26 April 2011)

http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/-/688334/1148904/-/c2na5hz/-/index.html

  • Uganda urged to halt police attacks on peaceful protesters (Amnesty International: 21 April 2011)

http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/uganda-urged-halt-police-attacks-peaceful-protesters-2011-04-21

  • Uganda police brutality in pictures (Independent Newspapers SA: 26 April 2011)

http://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/uganda-police-brutality-in-pictures-1.1056881

  • Thrty two leaders for Museveni fete

http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/12/751473

 
14 Comments

Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs

 

Deconstructing Museveni’s Nairobi interview

By Stephen Twinoburyo

President Yoweri Museveni’s office announced that he would be in Nairobi on official business the day after his political opponent was flown there in great agony for urgent medical attention following injuries he sustained in a brutal attack from the president’s security agents. This visit came at the time when the nation was angry and expected answers from the president. The international community has also been following Uganda’s events keenly.

During his stay in Kenya, Museveni was interviewed by NTV Kenya.

In the interview, Museveni seemed angered by the journalist who asked him if he didn’t feel concerned that he is increasingly being compared to former Ugandan dictator, Idi Amin, in various circles. He instead started berating the journalist and telling him that he was “unserious” and didn’t know his work if he could ask Museveni such a question. He spent more time berating the journalist than putting the matter to rest. Museveni seems to suggest that it’s an insult for anyone, least of all the journalists, to compare him to Amin, when actually he is doing nothing, and instead encourages the actions that bring that comparison. He has variously used the notoriety of Amin throughout the world to hide the heinous acts and violation of human rights by the police and the army under his regime. When Ugandans mention him in comparison with Amin they are only holding him to the statements he made of the aims of his movement and government i.e. to stop state inspired violence, to end torture, to respect the rule of law.

Why is this policeman kicking and spraying a held man?

In the same interview, President Museveni failed to express any regret about the method of arrest his political opponents or the number of innocent people hurt by teargas, bullets or beatings. And he instead justified the actions of the police and army. This is regrettable. Ugandans truly feel hurt and would have expected the president to express regret and condemn the actions of his security men. He seems to be out of touch with his people and does not seem to be reading the prevailing mood. If this is not the case, then he is outrightly arrogant. After the scenes that have been beamed around the world, the president could have done better. Newspapers around the world have been using headlines such as “Uganda police brutality in pictures”: http://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/uganda-police-brutality-in-pictures-1.1056881. This is an image Museveni should have been cleaning. Museveni seems to be behaving the same way ousted Egyptian president, Hosni Mubbarak, behaved in his addresses to the nation during the Egyptian riots, completely misreading what his people were asking him.

May the president take a look at this video again and see if the actions of these men don’t deserve regret, and in fact disciplinary action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoNt_RKhIdk

In the interview, President Museveni instead claims that it is Dr Kiiza Besigye who was responsible for the way police acted because he sprayed pepper spray onto the police and then the police together with plain-clothes security agents retaliated with their own pepper spray on Dr Besigye. This statement is bizarre. Firstly, none of the numerous local and international news media captured this action yet they all captured the brutal police assault and vandalism. Secondly, how did the police know in advance that Dr Besigye was going to use pepper spray on them such that they came prepared with theirs? Is pepper spray one of the tools police use in their duties? Thirdly, the police and security agents vandalised Dr Besigye’s car with hammers and guns, breaking windows before spraying him with harmful chemicals. How then was he able to spray them with pepper while he was in a closed car they were vandalising?

President Museveni has no regrets for this

The clip above shows Museveni’s security agents, who people refer to as thugs, heavily assaulting other people. Did the president not see the need to regret the actions of these “thugs”? As Uganda’s clergy put it (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4GgzGVoowuw&feature=share), in any normal society, a person vandalising somebody’s car would ordinarily be a thief or thug and police would be required to arrest him unlike in this incident when the police just looked on, and in fact took part. What a disgrace to the police uniform! The president should have expressed regret for this action rather than seeming to condone it. The Washington Post recently remarked that Museveni’s comments nowadays boarder on the bizarre and the scolding of the Ugandans clergy for daring to advise him as shown in the following clip underscores this, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4WAdyvgHc0&feature=share.

Dr Kiiza Besigye being loaded onto a police truck after assault

It’s a shame for the president to refer to the police/army/CID as boys who might have taken the action a little far in a rather trivial manner. If he can say that of police brutality of this magnitude, wouldn’t Obote, whom Museveni castigated, not also have the justification to use a similar line of reasoning about the brutalities of the police/army when arresting suspects during his regime? And the leadership of the operation on site included an ASP and one Turyagumanawe who are very senior police officers. Are these the officers Museveni calls boys? If they are indeed Museveni’s boys, do then those who disagree with Museveni stand a chance before these ‘boys’?

"Museveni's boys" in official action

The president, without any shame, said Dr Besigye earlier wanted to walk but the police told him not to walk. The president should realise that within the prevailing hardships, walk to work is an expression of people’s frustrations with his reckless spending of public money , without any sign of regard or feelings for ordinary people when the majority of Ugandans are living in abject misery. As TIME magazine puts it “Museveni’s reelection campaign is estimated to have cost $350 million, with a supplementary budget approved to foot the bill after the national treasury was reportedly exhausted. Since then his regime has spent $740 million on fighter jets and at least $1.3 million on his swearing-in ceremony [this month, May 12] — all while inflation has soared from 6% to 11% since February…. infrastructure is crumbling. Education and health services are failing the people. To buy off potential political adversaries, Museveni has added so many new districts that Uganda, a country of 32 million, now has the highest number of sub-national administrative units in Africa and the fourth highest in the world. And the standard of living is still painfully low, with GDP per capita at only $509, according to the International Monetary Fund.” http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2067136,00.html

Already the lead security agent in the Besigye attack is said to have fled the country. His homes  across different parts of the country, from Kampala to Rukungiri, have been destroyed by people angry at his actions. Doesn’t it say a lot if the Museveni’s security agent can run into exile out of people’s anger? It was also reported that people stoned the army commander, Aronda Nyakairima’s convoy as it drove through a Kampala surburb. Isn’t this a sign that things have changed in the country? Museveni and his group must be wondering why people hate them so much so soon after an election he ‘won’ convincingly, when just a matter of weeks ago people were ululating his name on the campaign trail. First of all his campaign was a moving Bank of Uganda in a galaxy of poverty but also the actions of his men as we see in the following clip are turning even his erstwhile supporters away: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNvfwtby_FE&feature=share

So much seems to have changed in Uganda. Does Museveni think that everybody: the clergy, local and international media, the people, foreign observers e.t.c are getting it wrong and it’s only him that is right? Even the Amins had a similar mindset. “The riots, in which roads have been barricaded with burning tyres and vehicles pelted with rocks, mark a new level of defiance. Facebook and Twitter, which the government unsuccessfully tried to block, are reverberating with dissent. Museveni’s heavyhanded attempts to put out the fire only appear to be fanning its flames.” The Guradian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/29/uganda-rebellion-crackdown-besigye-museveni

The above situation seems to be summed up in one Ugandan’s comment on facebook: “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” – George Orwell, ‘Animal Farm’. – “You know you’ve sunk to a remarkable level of depravity when you’re repeatedly compared to Idi Amin!”