Monthly Archives: November 2011


Date: 16th November 2011

Mr Hargreaves Tisetso Magama

The Chairperson

Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation

Parliament of the Republic of South Africa.


Mr Malusi Stanley Motimele

The Chairperson

Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans

Parliament of the Republic of South Africa.


Dear Sirs,


We, members of the Ugandan community in South Africa, under the umbrella of Uganda Civil Alliance Network (UCAN) would like to bring to your honoured attention the failing state of democracy and deteriorating human rights situation in Uganda.

Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, in power for over 25 years, has increasingly resorted to repressive and unjust means to maintain his grip on power in the face of increasing discontent over his length and style of leadership.

It's time for the world to turn screws on this man

Below, are the areas we highlight:

  1. 1.      ELECTIONS

General elections are not free and fair – so much so that post-election petitions are the order of the day. No effort has been made by the regime to eliminate the election loop-holes as stipulated in the country’s court judgments [1]. The Electoral Commission is wholly partisan, never independent, and controlled by Museveni and as a result, Ugandans have lost interest in the electoral process.

The most recent national elections have particularly been followed by an unprecedented state of social and economic paralysis, accompanied by heavy military deployment throughout the country.

  1. 2.      THE ECONOMY

Museveni has unilaterally squandered trillions of Uganda Shillings through supplementary budgets at the expense of Ugandan citizens whose salaries are neither paid nor increased. At the same time, state hospitals, state schools and many other public institutions are crumbling due to lack of funds [2].

The rate of inflation in the country topped 30% this October, its highest level in two decades. The regime faces widespread discontent over spiraling food and commodity prices. Though the increase in food and commodity prices is a global phenomenon, Uganda’s financial crisis has a lot to do with the regime’s wasteful use of the country’s resources.


At least ten people were killed and hundreds arrested by security forces during a harsh crackdown on “Walk to Work” demonstrations in April 2011. Earlier, after the cultural site of Kasubi Tombs in Kampala had burned down, two people were shot dead by Museveni’s security forces during his enforced unwelcome visit to the site and no action was taken against the culprits. Museveni has consistently used language that encourages brutality from his security apparatus [Annexure A].


There have been wide condemnations of a proposed legislation that would make it easier for the regime to block demonstrations, public meetings, muzzle journalists, arrest opposition members and enable the scrapping of pre-trial bail for certain charges for up to 6 months. The regime is creating a climate where it is becoming increasingly difficult for the citizens to freely criticize government officials, their policies or practices. In the proposed legislation, any group of three or more people will require police clearance to meet.

All these proposed measures impose impermissible and alarming restrictions on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in blatant violation of Uganda’s obligation under the country’s Constitution and International law.

Opposition activists and journalists have been subjected to harassment and politically-motivated arrests for merely criticizing the regime, and more alarmingly, treason charges are laid randomly to crack down on political dissenters [3].

The regime claims that by walking-to-work, the citizens are plotting to overthrow the government. Unexplained killings and suspicious motor-accidents have become common and many Ugandans view these as means of eliminating dissenting voices. From recent events, some believe the regime is planning to “eliminate” opposition leader, Dr Kizza Besigye.

These actions have created an environment of fear and terror in the country.


Museveni has been interfering with the country’s institutions and we cite a few examples:

(i)                 He has interfered with corruption cases and ensured that those close to him have their cases withdrawn, while at the same time sending the common man to prison to give the international community an impression that he is dealing with corruption. In a recent case of corruption against his former Vice President, Mr Gilbert Bukenya and while the matter was sub judice, he publicly declared that according to his own investigations, Mr Bukenya was innocent and shortly after that the Inspector General of Government withdrew the case from the court saying “he had lost interest in the case.”

(ii)               Whenever parliament comes up to question the Executive, he devises unconstitutional means to compromise their independence, including bribery, blackmail and intimidation. Recently when parliamentarians demanded accountability in the country’s oil deals that are only handled by Museveni and his inner circle and passed a motion to investigate the cabinet ministers implicated in oil corruption, Museveni branded them rebels and “threatened to go back to the bush” to enforce his way; an act of blackmail. This is after he had invited his entire party parliamentarians to a bush resort and dressed all of them in military uniform as means to intimidate them. He vowed not to abide by parliamentary resolutions [4].

Without transparency and accountability, corruption in the country’s oil sector is increasing and through it, some in the regime are enriching themselves at the expense of millions of Ugandans that are languishing in abject poverty.

Andy Demetriou, former Tullow Oil Uganda’s head of external relations, said Tullow (ENI) made personal payments to Museveni and ministry of Energy officials in return for Tullow’s offshore exploration rights which are caved in ‘secrecy’. Tullow, in other countries like Ghana, publish agreements on open channels including the internet, something President Museveni is resisting in Uganda claiming this will undermine the government.

(iii)             During his recent presidential campaigns, Museveni instructed the National Treasury to transfer US $400 million to the State House account which he personally controls without any accountability, and later $740 million to buy fighter jets without consulting any relevant organs in the country. These withdrawals from the National Treasury and many other unilateral expenditures are partly held responsible for the economic crisis the country is currently facing [5].

Museveni, through his language and actions, now treats Ugandans with much disdain and contempt, and is only accountable to himself. He has promoted or turned a blind eye to corruption among his own as a way of ensuring their loyalty. To most Ugandans, he has lost credibility and legitimacy to govern the country. His security forces now continually terrorise the citizens and the distinction between the army and police has completely been removed.

Therefore we:

i)                    Express grave concern at the deteriorating situation, the escalation of violence and  the unnecessary civilian killings;

ii)                  Reiterate that it is the responsibility of the regime to protect the population and reaffirm its primary responsibility of taking all feasible steps to ensure the protection of civilians,

iii)                Condemn the gross and systematic violation of human rights, including arbitrary detentions, ‘organized’ motor accidents, unexplained disappearances, torture and summary executions,

iv)                Condemn acts of intimidation and regime-planned violence against opposition party members, dissenting Ugandans, members of parliament, the media, professionals and many others and urge the regime to comply with their obligations under International Human Law and the Uganda constitution,

v)                  Consider the widespread and systematic attacks currently taking place against the civilian population as crimes against humanity,

vi)                Are concerned that the situation in Uganda if allowed to continue could constitute a threat to International peace and security,

vii)              Are concerned that South African tax-payers’ money that may go to the Ugandan regime in any form is used to harass, kill, imprison and suppress Ugandans.


We further note that the Uganda government has over the years been acquiring a lot of its arms from South Africa.

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, approximately a third (Rand 55 m).

Uganda’s armed purchase from 2009 alone dwarfed what many African countries had spent on S African arms over a period of 10 years from 2000 [6].

The transfer of major conventional weapons by South Africa to Uganda from 2002 to 2009 included the following APC/ISV type military vehicles:

2002 15 RG-31 NYALAS


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?” [7], 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 [8], cited an Oxfam 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.

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”

There is widespread belief in Uganda that South African armoured personnel carriers have been very prominent in this year’s brutal crackdowns on the peaceful “Walk-to Work” protests which saw the death of at least 10 people

On 5 May 2011, a Ugandan newspaper, the Red Pepper, reported that the Ugandan Police Force had imported more than 40 South African made anti-riot trucks called Nyalas (type RG-31) to bolster their already rich collection [9].

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. 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.

South African weapons are increasingly being viewed as tools of repression in Uganda

Now, more than ever, countries like South Africa that highly promote 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.


There are many South African or South African-liked companies operating in Uganda and offering a good service but there are some that are working with those in the regime to loot the country, manipulate its institutions or aid the repression of the people. Examples of these companies are, Saracen International an arms company in which Museveni’s brother [10] owns much of the Ugandan stake, Tullow Oil and Heritage Oil (both implicated in oil corruption), and Libone Litho Printers whose East African agent, Mr Sam Rwakoojo, is the secretary to Uganda’s Electoral Commission yet this is the same company that printed  ballot papers for Uganda’s 18 February 2011 elections.

Cellular Phone giant, MTN, is accused of having blocked opposition party communication on Uganda’s polling day on 18 February 2011, and allowed only Museveni’s ruling party to communicate hence frustrating the efforts of opposition parties to independently tally the votes. This was clear collusion by a South African company with the regime and probably aided the rigging of the elections by Museveni who had earlier vowed not to allow the opposition tallying of votes to go ahead.


In light of all the above, we through South African Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation and Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans call upon South Africa, which is a major player in Uganda, to:

i)        Demand the immediate end to violence and  attacks against civilians;

ii)      Demand that the regime comply with their obligations under International law, including International Human Rights and take all measures to protect civilians and their basic constitutional rights;

iii)    Enforce an arms embargo against the regime;

iv)    Stop directly funding the Uganda government but rather fund projects that are managed independent of the government;

v)      Impose targeted sanctions against Museveni and those within his regime that have wantonly fleeced the country of its resources, and freeze all the assets they hold internationally until such a time that proper audits have been done and expropriations of stolen assets or funds have been returned to the state. These actions should extend to their immediate family members because many of them are known to ‘hide’ their assets and launder their money through family members.

vi)    Call for the censure of South African companies that are facilitating or complicit in the looting of Uganda’s resources or assisting the regime in suppressing people’s rights, many of them working either directly with Museveni or corrupt politicians that are close to him.

vii)  Intensify efforts to find a solution to the crisis which responds to the legitimate demands of the Ugandan people, with the aim of facilitating dialogue which should lead to political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution – this process should exclude Museveni;

We in particular call upon the Government of South Africa to institute intervening measures for Uganda, and support any efforts to find a sustainable and peaceful solution to the crisis in the country.

We thank you for taking time to consider the Ugandan situation.

Yours Faithfully

Henry Muhwezi

Chairman, Uganda Civil Alliance Network (UCAN)

On behalf of the wider Ugandan community:

  1. Richard Obo
  2. Dominic Drabile (Dr)
  3. Stephen Twinoburyo
  4. Fred Kasirye (Dr)
  5. Wilfred Onen (Dr)
  6. Dan W Kigoonya
  7. James Aguma
  8. Malcom Matsiko
  9. Herbert Tumusiime
  10. Michael Kakoza
  11. Baker Mayambala


  1. Parliament of the Republic of Uganda
  2. South Africa’s Political Parties
  3. Uganda’s Political Parties
  4. South African Media
  5. Ugandan Media

PS: A copy of this letter has been sent to leaders of all political parties in the parliament of South Africa, the speaker of the parliament of Uganda, Ugandan political parties (including the NRM) and sections of both S African and Ugandan media.

Similar letters have been sent to the UN, US, EU and AU. Ugandans all over the world are called upon to embark on such calls and actions. Be free to use the contents of this letter to further the cause for a better Uganda.


[1]: Uganda: The Management of Elections – A study by AfriMAP and The Open Society

Initiative for Eastern Africa

[2]: Inside Museveni’s campaign money

[3]: Govt accused of suppression, Rights group says treason charges have replaced failed anti-bail law

Amnesty hits at govt for clawing back civil rights – Special Reports |

[4]: Museveni vows to defy MPs over oil  /688334/1272888/-/bgu483z/-/index.html

[5]: Museveni directed me to pay Basajja, Bbumba says – National |

MPs want Bank of Uganda Governor to resign (over use of public money with Museveni)

[6]: South African Arms To Sub-Saharan Africa – SIPRI

[7]: South Africa’s Arms Trade and the Commonwealth: A Cause for Concern?

[8]: UK attacked for Uganda arms deal (By Oxfam)

[9]: Ugandan Police Force has imported more than 40 RG-31 Nyalas from S Africa.

[10]: Museveni brother’s Saracen security company may be training militia in Somalia

[11]: Connection between South Africa’s Saracen International, Blackwater, Uganda and Somalia



Posted by on November 21, 2011 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs


An Idiot’s Guide to Forcing Museveni Out of Power.

Dear Mr Yoweri Museveni

A while back, I wrote giving some advice on what I thought could help you: “An Idiot’s Guide To Museveni Leaving Power” ( My promise then was that I would follow it up with something else if you did not find it useful.

Considering that I haven’t seen any positive change since then, I conclude that you did not find it useful. Possibly you did not even understand it, in which case I will cease my communication with you and write to those that may not only understand the message, but also find it useful.

If I am to ever write to you again, I’ll make it much simpler but nevertheless, I appreciate your time.

Yours in wishing your exit,

Stephen Twinoburyo.

Now to fellow Ugandans,

I previously promised that if President Museveni would not find the previous Idiot’s Guide useful, I will follow it up with an Idiot’s guide on how to force him out of power, and below I outline the steps:

Step 1: Realise that Uganda is the loser each extra day he spends as the leader of the country. This is a step many of you have passed.

Step 2: Decide that as somebody who is concerned about the country and the future of her children, you are going to do something about it.

Step 3: Start doing something about it. This is the most crucial stage but one important thing is that you have the power to do it. You should in fact remember that it’s through your power that he came to power but he misused your power to abuse the power he was entrusted with. Therefore with your power, you can still recall the power he thinks he owns yet it is your power. Many of you have started doing something and this is very commendable.

There is still a lot within your power that you can do.

When Museveni came to power in 1986, he asked Ugandans to trust him and we indeed trusted him, surrendering all our power to him. In a previous writing, “Uganda, explained by our Cultural Dimensions” (, I explained that Uganda is a country with a high Power Distance Index where “the less powerful members of society accept that power is distributed unequally and look up to authority more readily. Both the followers and the leaders endorse this power difference.” Museveni readily exploited – and even enforced – this position. Eventually Ugandans realised that they have no power at all, and Museveni’s actions and statements have seemed to indicate that this is the belief that he too holds. Recent events however show that Ugandans are embarking on a process of reclaiming their power. Museveni too, is aware of this and his brutal clampdown on any dissent is an attempt to maintain the high Power Distance Index. His attempts to curtail human freedoms and liberties in the country are borne out of his realisation that people are beginning to reclaim their power. In July this year, America’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in report commissioned by the US military’s Africa Command, AFRICOM, noted that “the NRM is on a long-term trajectory of decline, and thus its survivability by the end of President Museveni’s current presidential term is certainly in doubt.” I wish to be less optimistic than the Americans.

Does he still have a chance to wave into retirement?

There was a time Museveni used to be mentioned (mistakenly) in the same sentence as Mandela. Nowadays, he is mentioned (correctly) in the same sentence as Idi Amin. He now largely avoids international gatherings where decent people sit and democracy is a discussable topic. He skipped the recent UN summit in New York as well the Common Wealth Heads of Government summit in Perth. Much of this is because you Ugandans have reached step 3 i.e decided to do something about it. Challenging the authority of dictators makes them panic.

There is still a lot more.

Dictators survive on their victim’s minds. They make it seem to the victims that without them (dictators), the victims wouldn’t survive. We feed the tools that sustain the dictators. An important step in eroding the power of a despot is to deny them the tools they survive on and frustrate their efforts. Ugandans need to use their civil power to frustrate Museveni’s authoritarianism. Part of what we have seen in the form of strikes by various sectors of society has played a huge role and it’s some of these actions that have emboldened Museveni’s own to start openly challenging him.

Like other societies faced with similar situations have done, Ugandans need to embark on acts of resistance and I advocate for civil disobedience – a legitimimate exercise. You should simply keep away from or refrain from implementing the regime’s exercises.  Just as the international community can impose sanctions on the regime, you too can frustrate the regime from within. You can for instance choose one day to stay at home, refrain from buying the regime’s tools like New Vision, refuse to attend the president’s addresses, formulate songs that highlight the excesses of the regime and ask party representatives hard questions about their role in the regime. All these actions need to be done in a non-violent manner so as not only to protect the general population, but also keep away from the violence that would inevitably be unleashed on you by the regime.

During the apartheid time, there were some people within the communities that worked with the security apparatus of the regime against the people. The moment they were found out, the communities made them answer. I see many policemen and security agents openly torturing people without shame or feelings. We live in an era of high communication and phone cameras. If such tortures are identified, let messages be sent to their communities such that whenever they attempt to return, people whistle at them (akaruru) and make their lives difficult until they realise that being part of the exercises of a brutal regime is not helpful.

Any lessons from these erstwhile powerful men?

Every Ugandan needs to take it upon him/herself to be a fighter for the country’s democracy and human rights. There were many people that individually did their part in fighting apartheid without coming out in the open or seeking recognition for their efforts. Similarly, there were many people that worked for Obama’s victory without his team ever getting to know them. In all the cases, their motivation and satisfaction was the goal at the end. The effort of every Ugandan, however small it may appear, is significant. Some actions can fall under “passive resistance”.

All these efforts though may look small, add up to break the back of the regime. There is a tendency for people to look at Museveni’s army and think it is his strength. Forget that. His strength is the fear he creates. The army is made up of men and women who are in fact living worse lives than us. They suffer the general conditions that the country has descended to. They are our brothers and sisters that are more or less imprisoned in a service that they cannot walk away from – remember what it took Dr Kiiza Besigye to leave the army? What is keeping them in the army is anything but royalty. In all cases where despots have been deposed, people have wondered where the armies went. Museveni’s army is only his small inner circle of top officers – period. So please , if you get a chance to speak to your brothers and sisters within the security forces, point out to them the pain they are causing the nation by serving this regime. They are only supporting a small, brutal and corrupt group that hardly cares about them except to make them their tools of sustenance.

Does Museveni want to go his friend's route?

In summary, every Ugandan who cares about the country should start disobeying the regime, consciously but in a non-violent manner, and deliberately work toward its downfall. Soon or later, Museveni will be forced out of power.

These have been much fewer steps than the previous Idiot’s Guide. Next I will be writing An Idiot’s Guide On What To Do With Museveni After Forcing Him Out Of Power. I expect that to consist of much fewer steps – probably one.


Posted by on November 11, 2011 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs


All those who care for Uganda should adopt a regime-change policy

By Stephen Twinoburyo

I have seen a report that the Ugandan opposition has agreed to make change of government their goal. According to Nation Media, Democratic Party President Norbert Mao, speaking on behalf of four of his counterparts – Dr Kizza Besigye (FDC), Mr Olara Otunnu (UPC), Mr Asuman Basalirwa (JEEMA) and Mr Mike Mabikke (SDP) –  said “We have concluded collectively that this is a broad struggle – whether it is teachers, boda bodas, taxi drivers, traders, political parties, students and lecturers – we are all together in this struggle,” and that “a change of government is a clear goal that we are pursuing”.

This is a development I highly welcome and I have always argued that it’s pointless to simply protest without a stated goal. When the Tunisians rose up, they clearly stated their goal – that Ben Ali had to go. Similarly, the Egyptians were unambiguous in their demands. I have noticed, however, that in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, while the people know that their presidents are the problem and are not delivering, they largely avoidopenly mentioning that these presidents should go – which is actually their constitutional right to demand such. Earlier this year, I wrote to Democratic Party President Norbert Mao and expressed this opinion to him very strongly and told him that if the Ugandan opposition is to become relevant in the face of what is happening in the country, they have to project clear goals and give direction of where the country needs to go.

His exit is a necessary step towards Uganda's recovery

Not stating clearly that Museveni needs to be forced out of power is similar to avoiding mentioning the undesirability of Idi Amin as Uganda’s president in 1979. Museveni, despite his initial achievements, has taken to country to unprecedented lows – partly due to the blanket cheque we gave him and too much trust the international community vested in him. He cleverly manipulated this and this should be a lesson to learn from – the international community must insist on clear structures and frames of operation, however impressive a leader appears to be. Uganda is now a terror state and the distinction between the police/ security forces and terror has been completely removed. All structures in the country have broken down and corruption within Museveni’s clique has reached alarming proportions. On top of all this, he treats his people with so much disdain and has become only accountable to himself. In such circumstances, regime change becomes the only viable alternative. That is the natural trend.

Speaking in innuendos was not going to take the country anywhere. I have particularly been scathing in my criticism of the Ugandan opposition over their soft approach to the country’s issues and avoidance of using the term regime change. The reality is that Uganda’s turn-around begins with Museveni’s departure and simply asking him to provide good governance is like sending a criminal to prosecute himself. This is a point I have raised unequivocally in social networks and I make no bones about that – I am for Museveni leaving power and I support any legitimate means that will either make him quit voluntarily or be forced out of power. We can’t just stand by idly and watch the country deteriorate to unimaginable levels simply because regime change ought not to be talked about. Regime change is absolutely necessary in Uganda – voluntary or forced.

It should be noted however that not everybody in Museveni’s regime is bad, but it is difficult to stand out as a clean apple in a rotten bag and the earlier the good people within the regime take a principled stand as we saw some of Museveni’s party parliamentarians do, the better for the country.

Museveni’s exit is the first and necessary step to Uganda’s recovery.


Posted by on November 2, 2011 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs


Is democracy working in Africa ?

This analysis was done by the Africa Conflict Prevention Programme (ACPP) of the Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria, during the Daily Briefing of 01 November 2011 and appears on their website:

I have found the analysis very relevant and thought I should share:


Is democracy working in Africa?

The advent of the ‘wave of democracy’ in the early 1990s brought renewed hope that Africa was on the threshold of institutional change and improved governance. Tyrannies in countries such as Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Liberia, and Mali among others were ousted as pro-democracy activists stepped up campaigns to secure the ‘benefits’ of democracy. By the end of the 1990s, virtually the whole of Sub Saharan Africa had held one form of elections or another, including cases where former dictators turned themselves into ‘democrats’ at the ballot box. Various African leaders were then touted as beacons of hope. Olesegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Melez Zenawi of Ethiopia, all basked in glory of prospects for an African renaissance. Others like Frederick Chiluba of Zambia, Bakili Muluzi of Malawi and Mwai Kibaki of Kenya came to power on a wave of democracy and the promise of political and economic reform. But the euphoria was short lived as several countries including Somalia, DRC, Sierra-Leone, Liberia, Uganda and Sudan among others, relapsed into civil war and political instability.

Several years down the line, the hopes of a reformed and democratic Africa seem to be dissipating as electoral democracy unravels past structural problems in countries such as Kenya (2007/08), Zimbabwe (2008) and Cote d’voire (2011). While there has been appreciable progress in moving away from armed conflict in countries such as Angola, the DRC, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Sudan, Africa’s governments still remain largely inefficient, less than transparent and characterised by weak institutions. Many people still remain stuck in poverty, among other basic socio-political and economic ills. Even in South Africa, the euphoria of 1994 seems to be giving way to worries about the African National Congress’ (ANC) dominance, the continued structural inequalities and crime, whilst in other countries seemingly at peace, such as Ghana, there are unresolved areas of ethnic tensions. With incumbents increasingly becoming adept at winning polls through manipulation and assault on constitutionalism, the question being asked by many people is, what are the prospects for real democracy, in its various forms, in Africa?

There is no doubt that the introduction of multiparty democracy in Africa has helped to reduce the number of absolute authoritarian and statist regimes, including the most recent cases in North Africa. It is, however, debatable whether it has helped to nurture the ‘democratic delegation chain’ that adds value between elections. Considering the available evidence, many of the ‘democratic’ regimes in Africa remain fragile. Analysts such as Michael Bratton and Nicolas van de Walle argue that the process of consolidating democracy in Africa has remained more illusory than fundamental. While this argument may be contested, there is no doubt that much of the political changes that occurred in the 1990s in Africa were characterised by perfunctory and superficial changes that allowed for multiparty politics but retained the single party structures and culture. Subsequently, the political system in many countries continued to act in favour of the incumbent and perpetuated the same elite in power. In other places like Algeria, 2008, Burkina Faso, 2005, Cameroon, 2008, Chad, 2005, Gabon, 2003, Namibia, 1999, Niger, 1999, Nigeria, 2006, Togo, 2002, Tunisia, 1988, Uganda, 2005, Zimbabwe, 2000 and Zambia, 2001, witnessed attempts by incumbents, some successfully, to review the constitutions in order to extend their stay in power, despite a number of them having come to power on a platform of democracy and good governance.

Africa’s general outlook has, without doubt, improved since the 1990s, with once unstable and authoritarian regimes having held what have, generally, been termed free and fair elections, the democratic project on the continent still faces serious challenges. Despite the superficial trappings of political pluralism, most African governments still subscribe to the principle of absolute rule and tolerate democratic processes only if they serve the interests of the leader and party in power. Often, there are no visible distinctions between the state and the incumbent party and its leader. Consequently most if not all institutions of government are perceived to be instruments at the service of those in power.  As such the independence, impartiality and credibility of national institutions, particularly those that are linked to electoral processes are suspect. The ‘winner takes all’ type of democracy is also often misused to distance those who loose and their communities from political processes and access to national resources. The consequence is the polarization of society and the sowing of seeds of discord.

While democracy is promoted as the ideal instrument for producing the socio-economic and political conditions necessary for development, the process of consolidating democracy on the continent remains a difficult and daunting task. Peter Burnell has argued that not all democracies are stable and attempts to build a democracy cannot guarantee political stability, especially in least developed countries. He also observes that there are democracies where governments have persistently mismanaged the nation’s financial and economic affairs, where rapacious profit-seekers have wreaked havoc, and where sizeable inequalities of income and wealth increased further during periods of sustained economic growth. So while some might envisage a democratic dispensation as the ideal instrument to produce the economic conditions for durable peace, it is conceivable that democracy can also contain the seeds of decay. There are those who argue that the democratic approach of exposing important issues to competing processes can also aggravate or burst the deep cultural and social antagonisms.

The main challenge facing Africa is how to evolve a political culture, particularly the way representation in national political and economic processes is cultivated to respond to the diversity of society and ensure inclusiveness and fairness. There is need to go beyond mere forms and institutions of democracy to make it meaningful to the ordinary people. Democracy on the continent needs to be valued for its outcome rather than for its intrinsic features.

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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs


Uganda: Political pressure building up on Museveni?

Institute for Security Studies

African Conflict Prevention Programme (ACPP) -Pretoria

ACPP Daily Briefings

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


East and Horn of Africa:

  • Uganda: Political pressure building up on Museveni?  

The ACPP Daily Briefings:

The briefings are held weekday mornings in the ACPP Pretoria’s Situation Room and the Briefing Notes are the minutes of this meeting during which each regional expert of the Programme reports on the latest human security developments in his/her region, followed by general discussions around the table. An intern then compiles a summary of the meeting, which is reviewed by the respective researchers, and a senior researcher edits the report and provides quality control before returning it to the intern to prepare it for dispatch to the mailing list.

ACPP-Pretoria research team:

Dr Issaka K. Souare (N. Africa)

Dr David Zounmenou (W. Africa)

Dr Emmanuel Kisiangani (E. Africa & the Horn)

Ms Dimpho Motsamai (S. Africa)

Mr Arthur Chatora (Intern)

Ms Lisa Otto (Intern)

Today’s Briefings:

Compilation: Arthur Chatora

Editor: Dr Emmanuel Kisiangani

To download the PDF of this briefing or review previous briefings visit the ACPP Daily Briefing web page:

For this briefing, the ACPP team was joined by Mr Stephen Twinoburyo, a Ugandan national living in South Africa to brief us about internal issues in Uganda. This briefing is therefore based on his contributions.

Summary of Briefings:

Political pressure on Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s government continues to mount with the rekindling of the second phase of the walk-to-work campaign. The prevailing developments in Uganda seem to indicate an uncertain future for Museveni, with growing public dissatisfaction over the continued general increase in prices of basic commodities and the rise in cost of living. The Uganda economy has been on the decline and inflation has continued to rise, peaking at 28.3 per cent in September, thereby continuing to push the prices of basic goods beyond the means of average Ugandans. Ordinary Ugandans have blamed Museveni for their plight, accusing him of running a highly personalised rule and condoning corruption. Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) have also been criticized for abusing state resources to run an expensive elections campaign in February this year and for widespread bribery. Interestingly, the discontentment now appears to cut across the political divide, with fissures seemingly appearing in Museveni’s administration. The clearest sign to date of Museveni’s hold on instruments of power getting increasingly challenged is the recent parliamentary inquiries into corruption against his ministers and motions submitted in parliament to probe some alleged dodgy government deals.

It appears that some members of the NRM are beginning to question Museveni’s relevance and possibly see him as a liability to the party, considering he seems detached from the concerns of ordinary Ugandans. What has become evident is that, there are people within the NRM whose political careers are being damaged by Museveni’s poor governance and these people possibly see themselves beyond Museveni.

Tension in Uganda appears to be worsening with the detention of opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who has been under house arrest since last week after he attempted to participate in the walk-to-work demonstrations. The latest work-to-work protests have been met with police repression and intimidation, reminiscent of the previous ones held in April. Indeed, the government has continued to crackdown on the protest organisers. According to reports, three members of the Activists for Change (A4C) pressure group, Sam Mugumya, Mwijukye Francis and Ingrid Turinawe, were arrested and charged with treason for allegedly attempting “to overthrow the government”. It is interesting to note that Museveni has continued to use the security sector, particularly the police to sustain himself in power. This strategy has served Museveni well in the past as the opposition parties and the civil society have been continuously frustrated and curtailed by the police from making any meaningful inroads in their cause.  Whether the same tactics will succeed, amid the increasing assertiveness of institutions such as parliament and the judiciary, only time will tell.

Although some people have accused Uganda’s opposition parties of being weak and ineffective, it should be recalled that Uganda’s political context is a harsh one to operate in. Museveni’s strong hold on most of the instruments of power and institutions such as the judiciary and the media has continued to secure his political survival. However, the question now is, against the backdrop of popular protests in Tunisia and Egypt, is the possibility of an “African Spring” realistic in Uganda? The contexts may be different but the Arab Spring has certainly had a subtle effect on the rest of continent, particularly about how ordinary citizens can use their power to change government.

For Uganda, the biggest challenge has been the lack of effective checks and balances. It is this challenge that has led to the country’s poor record of accountability and transparency. Accordingly, if Uganda is to overcome its pressing socio-economic and political challenges and avert the possibility of an “African Spring”, then Museveni’s will need to lead his government in reforms and reforms require sacrifices. But if Museveni is to regain the trust of Ugandans, the sacrifices are necessary.

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Posted by on November 1, 2011 in Stephen Twinoburyo's blogs