Dear Ugandans at heart,
Many people have said before and some of us have written that President Museveni doesn’t merit an honorary PhD from Makerere University. I have come to appreciate that Makerere University senate acted wisely to give Museveni an honorary PhD. If it was given to a coward like Mkapa who served his country for a paltry ten years and left power for fear of cumbersome responsibilities before he was fully milked by his countrymen, why not award a leader who disregarded the calls by the “agents of disorientation” to serve only two terms but as a result of popular demand he facilitated MPs who might have frustrated the people’s wishes to repeal a provision in that paper document that some of us mistakenly call a constitution so that we could maximally milk him? Remember at the heat of the debate on whether or not term limits should be repealed to allow us milk our vision monopolist, Mama Janet, rightly wrote an article in the press titled “Museveni doesn’t need a job, it is Uganda that needs liberation”. She ably showed how Museveni was godsend. Although Jesus Christ sacrificed in his ministry for only three years, Museveni has sacrificed for a cool twenty four year! I am not intending to sound blasphemous, I am quite serious!
Who of the past leaders has sacrificed longer than Museveni? None. Museveni is a genuine patriot and genuine patriots serve their societies until they drop dead! Those who retire – the Mandelas, Mkapas et al are not genuine patriots. While Obote attempted to bring on board many ethnic groups into government, Museveni ably understood that too many cooks spoil the broth. Thus, although the Movement system under which Museveni sacrificed for twenty years was meant to be bread-based, he turned it blood-based because he knew not many would sacrifice. Had he not done that, his government would be long gone and Ugandans would be the losers. Some will argue that blood-basedness benefited a few people. They are wrong. The Banyankole-Bakiga say kabe kakye kagire obunuzi. What would it benefit the country if everyone grew rich? Where would we get people to work for others? We complain of traffic jams, what would the situation be if everyone had a vehicle? In my county Ruhinda only Otafiire has chewed big enough because he has to remain healthy in order to think for all of us. But also that shows Museveni rewards on the basis of meritocracy. Is it not only Otafiire that fought the bush war?
We had too many inefficient parastatals, useless banks, Uganda Hotels, civil servants’ houses, cooperative unions, marketing boards and idle public land. The visionary president gave them away. Don’t ask for accountability because when you give away, you receive no money in return. If we had stayed with them, they would possibly enrich many people and cause fiscal and political instability. In order to have stability, money has to be in the hands of a few trusted individuals. The president is accused of fighting corruption selectively. But this is for the good of the nation. Wouldn’t it be too bad if he sacrificed superb performers such as Mbabazi and Otafiire in the name of fighting corruption?
The president started UPE and USE to separate wheat from chaff. How can the smelly children of peasants sit in the same class with ministers’ children wearing flagrant perfumes? The solution to that was, start UPE so that the rich take their children to private schools and the poor occupy UPE schools? With UPE the poor will remain poor as they cannot go beyond UPE and the rich will grow richer. This is because our President is a devout Christian who follows the bible in Mathew 25: 29 which says, “those who have, more will be added unto them; those who have not, even the little they have will be taken away”. So what is this crass talk that the rich are growing richer and the poor growing poorer? Didn’t God make some people to be heads and others to be tails? Museveni being the only visionary Ugandan knows this quite well and that’s why he merits an honorary award.
To the rural women whom Mama Janet said recently are the wretched of the earth, I would say that Mama Janet is terribly wrong. At least now they can sleep. Before this regime, they were destabilised by the liberation war in the Luwero Triangle. Because now they are liberated, none can fight a senseless war to deprive the women of their sleep. Not even the hunger and excruciating poverty can deprive the rural folks of their sleep. While these people are asleep, the president sacrifices his sleep while planning and sometimes holding trans-night meetings all of which are aimed to maintain the status quo – keep a few people with money to abide by Mathew 25:29.
To the sons and daughters of the peasants who presumptuously go to Makerere University and other universities for degrees, the president has ably shown that they don’t belong there. Because they accidentally and sometimes stubbornly go to universities, after graduation they cannot get jobs meant for graduates lest they mix with the privileged. The reason is: peasants’ children are socially unclean. Accordingly, those who stick to morals go home and dig while those who choose to keep around opt to run coursework bureaus which in the long run help the rich to buy “degrees” at a cheap price and go to where they belong – Uganda Revenue Authority, National Planning Authority, Uganda Investment Authority, National Social Security Fund, an a host of lucrative NGOs. This is good for it keeps money in the hands of those who already have.
There are people who have accused the President of stopping the Kabaka’s visit to Kayunga naively attributing the 10 – 12, September riots which claimed more than twenty lives and saw around five hundred idlers in jail. This was good for social order. Those of us who naively argued that the Kabaka like any other person had a right to freedom of movement should know that the government was obligated to protect the Banyara’s minority interests. But also the government had to protect the Kabaka Mutebi who risked being lynched. Museveni couldn’t wait for such a horrible thing to happen to the man he loves so much that he risked all the blame from his lieutenants and had his (Mutebi’s) kingdom restored in 1993. We need to remember how Brig. Noble Mayombo (RIP) strappingly defended his brother Maj. Okwir Rabwoni when the latter risked traveling with the blacklisted Col. Besigye! Such brotherly love is the one that Museveni has for Kabaka Mutebi.
While some of us argued that the best thing was for Museveni to give the Kabaka security guards, we were wrong. Who is the Kabaka to be guarded as though he is the President? Although the Kabaka’s subjects pay huge taxes to the government, doesn’t he know that the taxes are a preserve of a few visionary people to ensure their health and welfare for the good of the entire Uganda. Now the President has only 10,000 guards, did the Kabaka want to take off 2000? This would definitely imperil the life of the President. Because the president has the foresight, that is why the Kabaka’s visit was blocked. Certainly not because M (Museveni) hates M (Mutebi) after all they share similar initials.
I hear many people ask where Museveni’s tangible achievements are. Don’t they have eyes to see the unprecedented levels of corruption which keeps a few people healthy so they can guard, guide and direct the trend for the rest of us mortals? Have they forgotten that a professor who happens to be a minister in this government once said corruption is an indicator of development? Who doesn’t see the potholes? Who doesn’t see that the increase in university fees is aimed to train a few but quality workforce? Giving the ministry of agriculture between 2 to three percent is no bad idea because it guards excess production which would make agricultural products’ prices come down but also scarcity of agricultural products begets famine which would ultimately help curb our exploding population. Mr. President go, get your PhD.
Mr. Nuwagaba is a human rights defender and can be reached via email firstname.lastname@example.org
Before you read this story, I could have been thrown in jail over the two counts of threatening violence and assault, which were prompted by my opposition to Makerere University fees hike. I have been prompted to write this story by the public perception about me which luckily I got to know courtesy of The Independent’s Joseph Were who before me told Andrew Mwenda that I am a fighter a reason that makes it difficult for me to be employed by anybody. This perception has been as a result of the negative story that was written about me by The Red Pepper reporter by the names of Johnson Taremwa alleging that I beat up Makerere University’s then Academic Registrar, Amos Olar. Sadly, despite the fact that I told him and his Bosses that the story was faulty, neither did the paper retract that story nor did Johnson Taremwa apologise to me. I told them that the story hurt me, hurt my friends and hurt my employers. It surely shattered my public image.
First of all, I never stepped in the Academic Registrar’s office. Secondly, I was not fighting for a master scholarship in Law as I cannot be admitted for a Master of Law since I am a political scientist. Thirdly, Johnson Taremwa didn’t talk to me and he shamelessly attributed words to me by putting them in inverted commas. A serious journalist should be accurate, objective and fair in their reporting. I am aware the role of the media is to educate, inform and entertain. Sadly for Johnson Taremwa, he makes a fortune through misinforming and tarnishing people’s names. I, however, don’t fault the red pepper management for running the story if they felt it was true because if I indulge in unethical and uncouth character I don’t have to be shielded by the media practitioners simply because many of them are my friends.
How did it all begin? On Thursday 13th August I wrote a letter to president Museveni opposing the increment of fees in public institutions arguing instead that the government must increase funding to public educational institutions. I still hold that view. In fact, now, I strongly argue that if we are to attain the always flaunted prosperity for all, even private educational institutions should be subsidised by the government since the people trained therein are not private people but Ugandans who inevitably will contribute to the phenomenal development of the country if meritocracy is to be adhered to. Please refer to The Independent of 21 August 2009. After writing the letter, I later went to pick my on Friday 14th August 2009 and coincidentally I never had a Bachelor’s Identity Card. I finished my Bachelors course in 2004. I showed them my Masters Identity card, my passport and said I can bring my transcripts which bear my photo, I was told I couldn’t get it. I said, I must get it because it was mine. I was later to be told that there were orders from above not to be given my admission letter as they thought I would cause a strike. On Monday 17 August 2009, when I went, I first went to Professor Oloka-Onyango who took me to the Faculty Registrar and I was told to get a police letter which in my view they should have done it first if there were no ulterior motives for denying me my admission. It is clear, they feared Professor Oloka. Ironically, after coming with a police letter the Faculty Registrar said she wasn’t permitted to give me my Admission Letter. Good enough, Prof. Oloka-Onyango found me once again in the Faculty Registrar’s office. I said, before Professor Oloka that, “Prof. these people are deliberately refusing to give me my admission letter but I must sue the university should they do so”. I was sent to Mr. Vincent Ekwang’s office. Prof Oloka personally drove and dropped me at the Senate Building and told me, “Vincent, go and face Mr. Ekwang and if they don’t give you the admission, you come back to me”. He added, “But please, don’t assault him verbally”. If I am to be accused of having idols, Prof Oloka Onyango is one of my idols so I had to follow what he told me. Sadly, when I reached Ekwanga’s office, Ekwang never gave me my admission and in a short while I was arrested by Police officers. At first there came one armed officer who blocked me from getting out but later he was joined by four others – three men and one woman with a gun. In total I was arrested by five policemen with two guns. I first refused to go with them for I didn’t know where they were taking me but later I was overpowered.
Shortly, after we had got out of students, I was terribly beaten and a Makerere University security guard called Egesa can testify. I was to spend two days in Wandegeya police cells. At Wandegeya I was denied police bond despite the intervention of some UN official, professors in Makerere University our organisation Foundation for Human Rights Initiative and not less than fifty friends. I and my friends were told it is Maj. Gen Kayihura who ordered that they don’t release me. Later, on 19th September 2009, I was taken to City Hall Court from where two charges of assault and threatening violence were read for me. I denied the charges and was taken to Luzira where I spent fifteen days. I was later released on bail on 3rd September 2009. To date, I am still undergoing malicious prosecution.
This is not the first time though, that I am undergoing such a traumatic experience. I have in the past stopped on the verge of the grave and I have a case against the state which has not been heard despite the fact that it was cause listed and aired on virtually all radio stations in May 2009. In fact, the new vision also wrote about that story. The Red Pepper of 4 July 2009 also carries my horrific experience. Last year’s issue of the Prisoner Magazine published by the Uganda Prisoners’ Aid Foundation run my story. But most importantly is that Gen Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of the Republic of Uganda knows my ordeal. Surprisingly, each time they illegally arrest, detain and torture me, they also steal my property. So far, they have stolen my computer, my flash discs and some sums of money which I have reported to the police but they have chosen to ignore me. I have been subjected to physical, psychological and pharmacological torture. I, nevertheless, know that this is the price to be paid if our decadent society is to be healed.
I am a law-abiding citizen thus, I don’t believe in impunity. Whoever disputes this should do so in the open. I only have two tools with which I fight – my pen and my tongue. If there is a problem I believe we should debate and argue rather than exchanging blows. This is not the era of guns and blows. It is the era of using the brains to solve our problems. I call upon you to join me in the human rights crusade. This is just a tip of the iceberg.
Vincent Nuwagaba is a human rights defender
Contact: email@example.com or +256702 843 552