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Month December 2010

The Traditional or Cultural Leaders Bill, 2010, is so Provocative

Uganda presidents since 1962

The Government has ended the year with a bang by tabling the Institution of Traditional or Cultural Leaders Bill, 2010, in parliament. The Bill, which seeks to operationalise article 246 of the constitution, apart from providing a hefty welfare package for the cultural leaders at the expense of the tax payers.

However, it also forbids a traditional leader from dealing with foreign governments, except with approval from the minister for foreign affairs. It also empowers the foreign affairs minister to form guidelines to regulate any dealings between cultural leaders and officials of foreign governments.

Under the Bill, traditional leaders are not immune from prosecution. “A traditional or cultural leader is personally liable for any civil wrongs or criminal offences committed by them or their agents,” the Bill asserts.

Section 9(2) states that where there is more than one cultural leader in an area of a regional government, the position of titular head shall be rotational for one year at a time.

It is clear that the Bill, is intended to tame the Buganda kingdom and it has caused uproar not only from politicians of all persuasions but also from other civil societies and religious leaders.
One will ask why table this draconian bill now? It is all about president Museveni’s Kibalo (political machinations). The president knows very well that today, he does not need Buganda votes to continue his grip on power. He only needs to do well his Kibalo. Take for example his fellow presidential candidates like Ms. Beti Kamya of UFA claiming that FDC presidential candidate retired Col. Dr. Besigye is worse for the country than Lt. Gen. Museveni. Or one of his so called challengers in the names of chairman Mao – DP presidential candidate has already declared him as leading. As if that is not enough to prepare the country’s psychic in believing in president Museveni as the only capable leader ready to “sacrifice” himself again for the 6th time. Take the shameless Afrobarometer survey, with their tally adding up to 85 not 100. This is to work on the people’s psychic to make them believe that president Museveni is leading by 66% thus will win by a clear majority. It is hoped one day, Afrobarometer will be able to explain to Ugandans what percent means, and one does not need to be an Aistain to know that 85 is a fraction of 100 in this case.
Ugandans know that the purpose of this Bill is to give the NRM MPs breathing space in their campaigns, instead of arguing the real issues (biting poverty, development, service delivery etc) that are affecting the population. Most of the MPs making the highest noise calling on the government to drop the Bill, majority are the NRM candidates. These very NRM parliamentary candidates are known for their hostilities towards traditional leaders in Uganda and Buganda in particular. Now they are becoming more monarchists than Mengo its self.
In today’s (the eighth) parliament, the NRM command the majority with more than 230 Members and the opposition with just about 70. Therefore traditional leaders or Kabaka (as the Bill’s target is Buganda’s King) is on NRM’s mercy to through, out this Bill. Sources indicate the NRM MPs are going to fight tooth and nail to bin the Bill. Their hope is the electorates to see them as heroes who defied president Museveni and their (NRM candidates) reward is to be re-elected.
However, all of this is a gimmick and a slap in the face of the voters by these so called NRM pro Traditional or Cultural Leaders in the country. It is these very NRM members of the the next parliament if they win the elections, who will bring the Bill back in the ninth Parliament. This time the Bill will muzzle and weaken the cultural leaders and finally eliminate their existence in Uganda for good.
This time, whether the Bill is thrown out, shelved or passed into law it will not affect President Museveni’s monolithic family rule in Uganda. He will continue to surprise Ugandans and the world with his political antics. First of all he did not need and does not need the authority of parliament to do anything in the country. For example creating kingdoms within a kingdom like installing Sabanyala of the minority Banyala (of 2.7 per cent of the population of Bugerere county) taking over the majority Baganda (at 32 per cent in the county). Denying the Kabaka entry to some of the counties within his kingdom. Massacre of innocent an unarmed people just because they loved and defended the norms of their traditional or cultural leaders. Sending men and women of the national army on his personal foreign military adventures in the guise of the spirit of Pan-African solidarity or peacekeeping.
President Museveni believes that he will continue organising periodic election rituals where he always turns out victorious. At the same time forgetting that the country is slowly descending into anarchy.
It is unfortunate for the president’s naivety at under estimating the resolve and spirit of Ugandans, who always through positive politics stand and defend the country and their traditional or cultural leaders. This struggle is their life’s honour. Therefore, whoever thinks that Ugandans are to be taken for a ride he is nothing else but a day dreamer in State House.

Hood Ssempbebwa.
Liberal Democratic Transparency – LDT Party.
December 2010.

How Museveni is silently turning Uganda into another Ivory Coast

It has been reported that migrant workers have triumphed over indigenous population in Ivory Coast’s presidential and parliamentary elections – essentially taking over the country. Museveni in collaboration with or under the direction of foreign advisers is methodically, silently and incrementally turning Uganda into another Ivory Coast. This is being done by increasing migrants through favorable policies and reducing indigenous population through birth control measures. I have already written an article arguing that immigrants will soon outnumber indigenous Ugandans. Let us see how Museveni is doing it beginning with policies that are encouraging foreigners to enter Uganda under conditions that are not clear to the public.

First, Museveni’s decision to adopt the shock therapy version of structural adjustment or economic recovery in 1987 was not an accident. It was designed to introduce unpopular decisions quickly before opposition groups organized to resist them. They also required dictatorial methods of governance which have been tacitly endorsed by Museveni’s foreign backers and conveniently described as bold leadership.

The first very unpopular policy change was the return of Asians and Europeans and repossession of their properties nationalized by Obote and Amin. The return of foreigners was done largely through quick and comprehensive privatization of public enterprises. As V. V. Ramanadham (1993) observed “It has been decided [by government or Museveni] to begin divestments immediately, and to deal with any problems as they arise, rather than to delay the privatization program until all constraints have been resolved” Supplementary policy decisions have permitted hiring of foreign workers whose contract status is unclear. This policy has increased immigrants in Uganda.

Museveni has followed strictly structural adjustment requirement that developing countries should employ foreign experts to direct their economies (John Brohman 1996) that has turned out to favor migrants into Uganda. To create room for foreign experts dominated by British (Sebastian Mallaby 2004), Museveni decided to retrench senior civil servants and to refuse the return of qualified and experienced Ugandans in the diaspora. Museveni has sugarcoated his unpopular refusal by arguing that Ugandans in the diaspora will contribute better to their country by earning and remitting foreign currency that is badly needed than returning home where they may not find work because of retrenchment programs. Additionally, Museveni has encouraged qualified and experienced Ugandans to seek work abroad.

The capacity gap Museveni deliberately created has been filled by foreign experts particularly in the key ministry of finance, planning and economic development and central bank that has responsibility for national policy formulation supported by national surrogates. NRM cadres like the first minister of finance and central bank governor who did not support shock therapy adjustment were fired. The fired minister who was an economist by profession was replaced by a medical doctor. That can tell you who has been in charge bearing in mind that Museveni did not have governance experience before becoming president in 1986. It has been reported that Museveni underwent training in macroeconomics by foreign experts.

Second, Museveni has consistently argued that Uganda still has plenty of arable land that needs to be utilized to maximize economic growth and transformation. He has equally argued that a liberal immigration policy within East African economic integration and political federation would promote Uganda’s economic prospects. Consequently Uganda has become an attractive place for migrant workers and refugees. Kenyans, Burundians, Rwandese and Somalis have particularly flocked into Uganda as workers, refugees and illegal migrants. Some of them have acquired land and become settlers.

Settlement anywhere in Uganda has been facilitated by provisions in the 1995 Uganda Constitution that allow Ugandans to reside and settle anywhere in the country and speak their native languages. Under these provisions Rwandese and Burundians for example can settle anywhere in Uganda and speak Kinyarwanda claiming they are Bafumbira!

Information about migrants is normally obtained in reports on population census and vital statistics (births, deaths and marriages registers). Two developments have made access to migrants’ information impossible. The 2010 report on Uganda’s population status excluded information on migration. The argument, difficult to believe, is that information on migrants is scarce. But we know that the ministries of labor, internal affairs, economic planning and UNHCR (refugees) keep information on in-migrants, out-migrants and refugees.

Further, it has been reported that all files on vital statistics have been stolen. However, testimonies have revealed that those who ‘stole’ the files are known. Ugandans must demand that these files are all returned intact.

Third, Museveni, like no other leader in East Africa, has pursued fast track negotiations on economic integration and political federation with such a zeal that some are beginning to wonder why the rush. However, conclusion and ratification of economic integration and political federation agreements if they happen while Museveni is still president, he will use them to allow more migrants into Uganda especially from Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda where population densities are very high. This will change the demographic composition in Uganda in favor of migrants.

Policies and programs regarding indigenous populations have focused largely on birth control for poor citizens. Museveni has – knowingly or not – pursued a Malthusian approach to birth control. Simply put, Malthus believed that those able to maintain a family without burdening the state can produce as many children as they can. For poor people Malthus recommended that they should not be permitted to marry and have children until they demonstrated that they had adequate means. Poor couples should be discouraged from having more children by denying them relief such as food and making conditions difficult for them to want to have an additional child. Meeting basic needs would encourage them to have more children. Ricardo added that more children would ultimately increase labor force that would push wages down and make it difficult for them to make ends meet, hence more relief and additional burden to the state or rich citizens. Therefore the best way to avoid these difficulties was to limit the number of children in poor families.

Museveni has made direct and indirect statements in line with Malthus that may seem contradictory because they are not explained to the public. In public Museveni has been preaching that Ugandans should have as many children as God gave them. This message is directed at the rich.

For poor Ugandans, Museveni has approached birth control indirectly. In 1996/97 he announced that the government will admit into free primary education four children from each family. He said if you have an extra child you will be responsible for his/her education. Word filtered through that help could be provided through family planning to those who did not want an additional child (birth control is avoided because it is sensitive). Family planning conveys good news that you are planning the birth of a child while birth control conveys bad message of preventing birth of a child. In the end family planning and birth control result in fewer children.

Birth control advice was taken by poor couples and fertility has declined considerably in a relatively short time from 7.1 to 6.5 and contraceptive use has increased from 15 to 24 percent. These birth control outcomes were omitted in the 2010 report on Uganda’s population status. The report gives the impression that fertility has remained at 7 and contraceptive use has remained low at 24 percent. The report does not show progress that has been made.

Following Malthus advice, Museveni has refused to subsidize food because that would encourage poor couples to have more children. When he addressed the UN General Assembly in 2008 on the impact of rising food prices on Uganda consumers, he reported that Uganda did not have such a problem because everyone has a piece of land or a relative that produces food can help in difficult times. These arrangements have kept food prices low.

Here is exactly what Museveni said “As far as Uganda is concerned, apart from the lazy ones, the only groups that are adversely affected are salary earners in towns. Unlike the farmers, they cannot benefit from the higher food prices. Yet they must buy food. Fortunately, all these families [urban families] in Uganda have a dual capacity. Apart from being salary earners, they also own land in the rural areas or their relatives do. They can, therefore, subsidize themselves through growing food using this land. Africa and other agriculture-based economies should rise up, utilize their full potential and take advantage of the high food prices”.

Through this statement, Museveni announced that high food prices had not affected Uganda consumers and there was no need for subsidies or stop food exports like other countries had done. He took a position that is favored by major donors. He did not convince his listeners. What is known about Uganda is that many farmers do not produce enough food. And during the world food crisis 2007 and 2008 food prices are reported to have risen sharply. Even today in 2010 about 10 million Ugandans out of 33 million go to bed hungry.

Museveni hid the Malthusian thought favored by foreign experts that once you start subsidizing food, it may become a permanent feature that would encourage poor families to have more children. The best thing was to starve them so they have no urge for an extra child. Uganda experts who probably would have advised him differently have been marginalized at home or are working abroad.

Museveni has also taken two further steps to limit fertility of poor Ugandans. He has refused to create jobs for unemployed youth because if he does they will make enough money for dowry and wedding and the beginning of a family. Many youth especially in towns cannot afford to marry because they have no means. These unemployed youth have become the target of birth control which is being popularized through Uganda media that has published pro-birth control articles and rejected those with different approaches.

Museveni is also vigorously pursuing rapid urbanization disguised as a solution to slow agricultural transformation while the real goal is to push Ugandans into urban areas where life is difficult and contraceptive supplies readily available to limit child birth.

Other indirect birth control local and foreign voices are advocating replacement of small holder farmers with large-scale ones. For example, British economist Paul Collier and principal adviser to Museveni believes in large-scale farms based on modern science. He has advised that “First, contrary to the romantics, the world needs more commercial agriculture [large-scale], not less. … Second, and again contrary to the romantics, the world needs more science: the European ban and the consequential African ban on genetically modified (GM) crops are slowing the pace of agricultural productivity growth in the face of accelerating growth in demand” (Foreign Affairs November/December 2008).

Yet, in its World Development report 2008,the World Bank “hailed the role of small farmers in leading the way out of hunger and poverty and recognized the importance of state intervention in agriculture and some subsidies” (Foreign Affairs November/December 2010). Following other reports including those by the United Nations, the whole world has supported small holder agriculture because it is productive, efficient, environmentally and socially friendly.

Notwithstanding, Museveni has chosen to follow Paul Collier’s advice. He has introduced GM crops against some Uganda and foreign voices. He is also encouraging rapid rural-urban migration to vacate land for large-scale farms. While in towns, Museveni believes that pressure of urban life will force urban migrants to accept birth control more easily than in the countryside.

There are two conclusions to be made. First, since 1987, Museveni has relied on foreigners for advice and policy formulation that drove Uganda along unpopular structural adjustment path that eventually crashed and was abandoned in 2009 after causing untold suffering. If Museveni had mixed advisers he probably would have avoided what many call his humiliating admission that structural adjustment had failed to deliver and had to be abandoned.

Ugandans holding key positions particularly in the ministry of finance and central bank behave more than European advisers. They give the impression that they have no mandate for social and environmental conditions in Uganda. They produce statistics like Keith Muhakanizi did recently that do not reflect the suffering of Uganda people. For example, Keith Muhakanizi reported that the number of people wearing shoes has increased and housing has improved. Then why has the spread of jiggers increased since wearing shoes and living in good houses reduce the spread of jiggers?

Second, policies adopted since 1987 have favored an increase of migrants and increased birth control of poor indigenous families. If the trend continues, Ugandan indigenous population will soon be outnumbered by foreigners. When people discuss these and other developments implemented by Museveni, they begin to wonder whether Museveni is a foreigner pushing a foreign agenda or a Ugandan employed by a foreigner and forced to implementing unpopular policies because of collective responsibility principle. Either way indigenous Ugandans are steadily losing control of their country.

With 25 years in power pursuing the policies analyzed above, Museveni would not change course even if he realized he was on a wrong path. This can be deduced from the foreword to the current five – year development plan. The language he used was similar to key elements in structural adjustment program. Staff in the ministry of financed and central bank with their advisers have continued to stress macroeconomic policies as though Uganda was re-launching structural adjustment as it was done in 1987.

To save indigenous Ugandans from losing their country, there is one choice only – defeat Museveni in the February 2011 presidential elections. When Museveni is re-elected he will assume that Ugandans have endorsed his past policies and will push harder for economic integration and political federation that will result in Uganda flooded by migrants that will drown indigenous populations and create another Ivory Coast this time in East instead of West Africa. When this happens Ugandans should not say they did not know because now they know.

Eric Kashambuzi

Museveni has turned Uganda into a sad story

1986, the year Museveni became president of Uganda, coincided with an announcement from Ghana that “IMF fails to redeem”. Since 1983 Rawlings had used force to implement stabilization and structural adjustment program. In the end the experiment failed – badly. In 1986, the minister of finance publicly admitted that Ghana’s economy was in deep crisis – the ‘economic success story’ had been a hoax. There were complaints that there was something inherently wrong with international financial institutions’ (IFI) diagnosis of Africa’s challenges and the medicine they prescribed. Rawlings was accused of sowing in the wind by ignoring advice of his Ghanaian advisers in preference for IFIs – IMF and the World Bank (Africa Concord September 18, 1986). Although donors’ had poured vast amounts of money into Ghana the experiment did not work. Finally Rawlings too announced that he had been unimpressed and had had enough of IFI policies (Peter Anyang’Nyong’o 1992). Ghana quietly dropped off the World Bank/IMF list of high performers and was replaced by Uganda (Paul Nugent 2004).

Before becoming president Museveni had spent most of his time in military training, fighting, reading revolutionary books and criticizing Amin and Obote regimes. He had no practical experience in governing a country – much less a complex country like Uganda. Like Rawlings before him, Museveni chose to ignore his Uganda advisers and to listen to foreign experts who lectured him on the virtues of the Washington Consensus. He filled the powerful ministry of finance and central bank with IFI’s surrogates. Paul Collier, British economist working at the World Bank championed the design of Uganda’s structural adjustment program (SAP) (The New Federalist May 25, 1998) and monitored its implementation. Collier is still actively involved in Uganda’s macroeconomic work, even after structural adjustment has been officially abandoned as a failed model.

Structural adjustment focused on inflation control and economic growth completely disregarding unemployment reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher in Britain. It was thought that low and stable inflation would attract large foreign investments that would promote rapid economic growth and create jobs. Through trickledown economics the benefits of growth would spread to all Ugandans equitably and pull them out of poverty. Through taxation revenue would increase and the government would allocate them to infrastructure (like roads and energy), institutions and social sectors like education, healthcare and housing.

Uganda massively devalued the currency to promote exports particularly non-traditional (NTEs) such as foodstuffs as an engine of growth, privatized and liberalized the economy and balanced the budget by targeted retrenchment of public servants that looked like sectarianism, removed subsidies on productive and social sectors, introduced user charges for education and healthcare that kept children away from school and sick persons from hospitals. Expenditure on security forces was exempt from budget cuts and even increased as Uganda faced a rebellion in northern and eastern Uganda and ventured into costly regional wars in money, troops and reputation. Museveni was tacitly permitted by western sponsors to delay multiparty democracy and even to be dictatorial in order to implement the unpopular structural adjustment program and fight wars some of them on behalf of his sponsors. “The new British Labor government has decided that it will ‘not press for multiparty reform in Uganda’” when elsewhere on the continent including neighboring Kenya multiparty was a condition for continued foreign aid (Journal of Democracy April 1998).

Initially economic growth was rapid in large part because of excess capacity inherited by Museveni government in 1986 (unutilized industrial capacity stood at some 80 percent) and restoration of peace in the southern part of the country that permitted Ugandans to engage in economic activities on their own initiatives and improvisations. Inflation was also quickly brought under control from triple to single digits. Western reporters and other commentators got excited and used economic growth figures (mostly cooked as statistics were scarce {Consultative Group for Uganda April 16, 1997 & Sebastian Mallaby 2004}) and low inflation per se as a measure of success. Like Ghana, Uganda was marked a ‘success story’ and Museveni graded a ‘star performer’ and ‘darling of the west’ prematurely. Uganda appeared on front pages of major international newspapers, on western television screens, was quoted in major magazines and academic journals and in United Nations reports to conferences and the United Nations General Assembly. Museveni was even invited regularly to attend G8 Summits of most developed countries in the world! He was sought after at conferences and Museveni enjoyed it big and often became boastful – perhaps he knew it would not last long!

The momentum began to fade since the late 1990s and by 2010 Uganda was talked about in past tense and Museveni even missed the UN General Assembly Summit on MDGs in New York in September 2010 even though his name remained on the list of speakers but did not show up when it was time for him to speak because there was not much progress he could report to his fellow presidents – a very sad moment indeed not only for Museveni but for all Ugandans as well especially those that had gathered in the General Assembly Hall to hear him speak! The following contributed to Museveni’s diminished image and Uganda’s fall from grace.

1. Economic growth fell short of the projected 7 per cent per annum as a minimum for meeting Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Notwithstanding low and stable inflation and political stability in the south, the anticipated foreign direct investments did not happen thereby hindering rapid economic growth and creating jobs. Devaluation of Uganda currency resulted in expensive imports which are crucial inputs in Uganda’s economy. Consequently, small and medium enterprises that create jobs were unable to afford expensive imports. High interest rates to curb inflation by reducing money in circulation discouraged borrowing. Furthermore, trade liberalization opened Uganda’s economy to cheap imports especially used products like clothing that out competed local industries like textile and apparel. Overall, economic growth has remained far below 7 percent. Unemployment especially of youth now stands at over 80 percent over 50 percent of them university graduates that are frustrated, desperate and increasingly becoming alcoholic and engaging in criminal activities to make ends meet.

2. Trickle down of economic growth benefits did not take place. At a 1998 conference in Tokyo Japan, former Administrator of UNDP observed that “Uganda is a leading example of an African country that is doing many of the right economic things [inflation control, currency devaluation, economic growth, diversification of exports and balanced budgets etc] to lift its people out of poverty. It has posted growth rates averaging over 6 percent a year for a decade. Yet two-thirds of the population remains in absolute poverty, per capita income is only now approaching the level it had attained in 1970” (Development Cooperation Seminar 1998). Not only has the overall standard of living not reached the 1970 level but 20 percent of Ugandans are believed to be poorer than when Museveni became president in 1986.

3. The emphasis on export diversification of nutritious foodstuffs (especially fish, beans and sim sim) traditionally produced or harvested for home consumption has resulted in eating non-nutritious food stuffs such as cassava and maize. There is scientific evidence that individuals who eat a lot of maize and cassava without nutrient supplements develop neurological abnormalities such as insanity. “A diet high in cassava is poor in essential nutrients, particularly protein and B vitamins, unless supplemented with animal protein…. It has been shown the frequency of cassava consumption to be associated with higher plasma thiocyanate levels and low mean vitamin B12 in the serum … where a significantly higher percentage of neurological abnormalities occurs (e. g. visual difficulties, paraesthesiae, impaired hearing, vibratory sensitivity)” (B. J. Meggers et al., 1973). Cassava which was introduced in Uganda as a famine crop has become a staple under Museveni government. Studies have also shown that those who eat a lot of maize/corn without nutritious supplements develop pellagra, a vitamin-deficiency disease characterized by dry, scaly skin and can lead to insanity. Maize like cassava was a famine foodstuff. Under Museveni’s regime it too has become a staple. A word about fish is in order at this juncture. Fisheries including fish farming/ponds were developed by British administration for the sole purpose of providing protein to low income families when under-nutrition had become severe. Under Museveni regime fish has become a major export commodity. The scarcity in domestic market has raised the price so high that many households cannot afford it. Export of foodstuffs to earn foreign currency for the rich to enjoy has resulted in about 10 million Ugandans going to bed hungry, under-nourished mothers who are producing underweight children with permanent physical and mental abnormalities or early death, 40 percent of under-nourished children under age five and some 80 percent of children dropping out of primary school because they are hungry (Museveni has refused to let them have lunch). The strategy of production for cash rather than for the stomach under Museveni regime has done a great deal of damage to Uganda population and human capital formation in particular. Regions that produce surplus food like Bushenyi are among those areas with the highest level of under-nutrition because most of the food is sold to purchase inter alia mobile phones that have become a net drain on most household incomes.

4. Agricultural expansion by clearing large swathes of vegetation in part to increase exports has resulted in extensive biological loss with serious soil erosion, adverse thermal and hydrological regimes. Rainfall has become irregular in amount, timing and duration constraining agricultural production. Irregular rainfall together with longer and drier periods have resulted in frequent and devastating droughts and floods, causing serious food shortages and destroying infrastructure like bridges. Water tables have dropped, lakes have shrunk, perennial rivers have either dried up completely or become seasonal, spring wells are gone in many places and desertification conditions have become common. Dust clouds have become a traffic hazard during dry seasons. Scarcity of water combined with soap has resulted in reduced bathing and washing of hands thus contaminating food before eating and increasing diseases of the digestive system. Repellent body orders and skin diseases have become common in town and rural areas. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has advised the government that if corrective steps are not taken quickly Uganda could become a desert within a hundred years. This is a very short time.

5. The social sectors especially of education and healthcare have taken a heavy beating. There is a shortage of drugs due to corruption – not lack of funds because Uganda gets a lot of foreign aid. The encouragement of qualified and experienced Ugandans to work abroad or discouragement from returning has deprived Uganda employment of qualified and experienced professionals, ending up with unqualified and/or experienced people or professionals in wrong places where they are inefficient (medical doctors in finance or policemen in education). “Because of these sorts of conditions, many of the most principled and best educated [Ugandans] leave to work abroad. Many of those who stay [behind] are underused [in part because they belong to previous regimes or did not join the guerrilla war], their abilities and knowledge wasted. Just when globalization demands innovative knowledge, [Uganda] has fewer and fewer [human] resources”(Dissent Spring 2002). Although hospitals, dispensaries, schools and universities have increased the quality has declined precipitously. Uganda has graduates at all levels that are mostly functionally illiterate. For this reason, unemployment is very high while skilled jobs are going to qualified foreign workers. Many people are sick while the country has many hospitals and dispensaries that have inadequate supply of medicines, doctors and nurses. Therefore those who measure Museveni’s success in the number of schools and dispensaries or graduates are missing the point. We need to look at the health status and functional literacy of Ugandans.

6. Using the few illustrations above one can safely conclude that Museveni has turned Uganda into a sorry state: poverty is still over 50 percent with 20 percent poorer than in 1986; income distribution is highly skewed in favor of few families with connections to the seat of power; unemployment of youth, Uganda’s future leaders, is over 80 percent; Uganda is de-industrializing while existing industries are operating below installed capacity shedding workers to make ends meet; corruption and sectarianism have gone through the roof; alcohol consumption, traffic accidents, domestic violence and human sacrifice have become uncontrollable; child school dropout and early marriage are contributing to large families; functional illiteracy is preventing Uganda graduates from getting skilled jobs that are going to foreign workers; diseases of poverty such as jiggers, trachoma, scabies, etc including those that had been forgotten are spreading like a wild brush fire (between 1995 and 2000 infant mortality rose from 81 to 88 deaths per 1000 live births, under-five mortality increased from 147 to 152 deaths per 1000 live births during the same period and maternal mortality rose from 527 in 1995 to 920 per 100000 live births in 2005 {MDGs report 2003 & APRM 2009}); moral decay including sex work even by married women with knowledge or encouragement of their spouses to put food on the table are no longer secrets and environmental decay and unplanned construction in towns have resulted in frequent and severe droughts and floods and slums teaming with crime and disease (and yet Ugandans are being encouraged to relocate to towns where economic growth prospects exist and once they live the countryside the rich buy peasant land and uproot them). Images of decay such as disfigured bodies by under-nutrition, jiggers, overturned vehicles with dead bodies all around; collapsing grass thatched structures called schools or children studying under trees have brought shame to Uganda and to Museveni in particular once considered the star pupil of Africa. Many in the west who supported him are now avoiding him at conferences while demonstrators scream and write dirty words against him in full view of cameras from all over the world. If you do not call this a sad story, then I don’t know what is.

Eric Kashambuzi
Working with UN in New York

Privatization of Uganda’s public enterprises was Thatcher’s idea

In her article dated December 7, 2010 on Uganda parastatals, Kesaasi wrote that privatization of Uganda public enterprises was not Museveni’s idea. It was Margaret Thatcher’s! This reminded me of work I did a few years ago about similarities between UK’s and Uganda’s development programs.

While researching and writing about structural adjustment programs (SAPs) or Washington Consensus around the world (Chile, Bolivia, Poland, Russia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia etc), I found that the similarities between Thatcher’s and Museveni’s structural adjustment programs were very striking. It was as though Uganda was a part of Britain run by British officials and institutions under Margaret Thatcher as prime minister. I decided to study it in a historical perspective and to identify which areas were similar and with what impact on the people in the two countries. I compressed the findings into chapter three on ‘Structural Adjustment in the UK and Uganda: Are there Similarities?’ in my book titled “Uganda’s Development Agenda in the 21st Century and Related Regional Issues (2008)” available at

I found that in their structural adjustment programs (SAPs) Thatcher and Museveni focused on inflation control regardless of unemployment, state exclusion from economic activities including privatization of public enterprises and promotion of the invisible hand of market forces and laissez faire capitalism as the engine of economic growth and job creation. I wondered why Museveni who had been preaching socialism could suddenly embrace the full range of capitalism by adopting the ‘shock therapy’ version of SAP like Thatcher in the UK which Ghana had just dropped because it created hardship for Ghanaians and Tanzania was resisting under Nyerere. I decided to study the relationship, if any, between Museveni and Britain going as far back as I could. What was going through my mind was whether Museveni had asked Thatcher to take charge of Uganda’s economy since it lacked qualified and experienced staff among NRM cadres. Or was there a general hidden and pre-arranged deal?

I found out that during the guerrilla war Museveni had received financial backing by capitalist Tiny Rowlands of Ronrho. Publicity support was provided by William Pike connected to BBC. Although I did not establish a direct connection between Thatcher and Museveni or her government during the guerrilla war, Linda Chalker former and Thatcher’s trusted minister was the first foreign dignitary to meet with Museveni as president of Uganda and their relationship has remained close since then. It was also Linda Chalker who finally prevailed on Museveni to enter into a structural adjustment agreement with the IMF and subsequently the World Bank before he could obtain foreign assistance from western donors. IMF and World Bank represented the ideological and capitalist views of Margaret Thatcher. Among others, Thatcher did not want to hear anything connected with socialism, hence the abandonment of a mixed economy model and eventually the whole ten-point program because there were traces of socialism in it.

In late 1986, the minister of finance and governor of central bank were relieved of their duties signaling that major changes in ideology were on the way. Staff in the ministry of planning and economic development that went along with IMF thinking was promoted to lead the new and strong ministry of finance, planning and economic development.

Since Museveni and his NRM cadres did not have governing experience especially at a difficult time of structural adjustment and globalization that was increasingly becoming knowledge-based, one would have thought that he would retain senior staff from Obote regime that had formulated and implemented structural adjustment from 1981 to 1984. Instead, they were either retrenched or marginalized. Secondly, Museveni refused to invite well educated and experienced Uganda economists and others living abroad to come home and help with managing Uganda’s economy. Instead, he advised them to stay there, accumulate foreign currency and remit some to Uganda as their contribution to national recovery and development.

Museveni then proceeded to fill the skills gap in the ministry of finance and central bank with foreigners especially from Britain either directly or through the World Bank or IMF. Paul Collier, British economist, was hired either directly from Oxford University where he teaches or through the World Bank. He came to Uganda and championed preparation and implementation of Uganda’s structural adjustment or economic recovery program. Collier like Thatcher believes in macroeconomic stability and government non-intervention in the economy. Young British economists who were familiar with Thatcher’s version of structural adjustment were hired to work in the ministry of finance and central bank. Senior Ugandans complained but to no avail, giving the impression it was a done deal. The ministry of finance and central bank have since then been dominated by British officials and the Department of International Development (DFID). A medical doctor replaced an economist as minister of finance, signaling loyalty rather than competence (no offence intended).

Then came abrupt and massive privatization of public enterprises. Government decision was “… to begin divestments immediately, and to deal with problems as they arise, rather than to delay the privatization program until all constraints have been resolved. Privatization in Uganda has come to stay. The public sector and the private sector should get together to ensure that the whole exercise is a great success” (V.V. Ramanadham 1993). Here again, the impression is that it was a done deal. Thatcher government was putting pressure on Uganda to welcome back Asians who should repossess their properties.

Then there was the Rowlands factor. As a businessman, Tiny Rowlands did not finance Museveni’s guerrilla war and facilitate his travel for nothing. Museveni owed him something. Thus, a combination of Asians demand for their businesses, compensation for Rowlands’ help and Thatcher’s demand for elimination of socialism from the surface of the earth and Museveni’s desire for British protection led to abrupt and massive privatization of Uganda parastatals. The assessment to determine their value, which parastatals should be privatized, liquidated or retained and managed along commercial lines did not take place. There were arguments that Uganda commercial bank needed to be managed better and not privatized but that appeal fell on deaf ears.

Thus while the idea to privatize Uganda’s public enterprises may have come from Thatcher as part of her overall (global) ideology, once the idea was discussed and accepted in Uganda, it became Uganda’s or Museveni’s idea. Ugandans should therefore refrain from arguing that it was not Museveni’s but Thatcher’s idea. That being the case, Museveni should report to the nation how much revenue was collected from the divestment exercise and to what use was the money put.

From this analysis, it appears that handing over Uganda’s economic formulation and implementation to Britain and divestment of public enterprises with the largest share going to British business was pre-arranged. Since 1987 Linda Chalker, Paul Collier, William Pike, DFID and a team of British economists in finance and central bank as well as British corporations have played a decisive role in Uganda’s economy assisted by Uganda surrogates. The total switch from the ten-point program to structural adjustment surprised and even angered many Ugandans. Are there other surprises that we can speculate about?

First, as has been argued already on my blog if Museveni stays in power for another five to ten years Uganda is likely to become a kingdom with himself as the first hereditary king. What has emerged from Article 37 of the Constitution is that what began as cultural leaders and institutions has turned out into a demand for kings and kingdoms throughout Uganda. Museveni has promised to build houses for chiefs in the north. What does that tell you? There is a story that even Bakiga are demanding a cultural leader! When Museveni feels there is a critical mass he will direct NRM MPs to pass it (Uganda kingdom) into law. And he will then tell the world if there are complaints that the decision was made democratically. Since you can only have one king, the law will specify that current kings of Buganda, Bunyoro and Toro and the Kyabazinga of Busoga become senior chiefs and all other districts will be headed by chiefs.

Second, talk about moving peasants from rural areas to towns is gathering momentum. There are Ugandans and foreigners who argue that Uganda will not develop until the population has been urbanized. Urbanization in Europe and the New World which they quote as illustrations was associated with industrialization and a dynamic service sector. Uganda is de-industrializing and the service sector is becoming knowledge-based and computerized. So where are jobs going to come from? We already have over 80 percent of Uganda youth unemployed most of them if not all of them in towns. Where are the jobs? Where are the houses?

Third, the issue of urbanization is linked to the one on large-scale farming. There are foreigners and rich Ugandans that want to grab peasants land but they do not know how to do it differently. So they are urging peasants to move to towns and they take their land. For a start some rural areas are being incorporated into municipality which makes it easy to buy. That is what happened in Rukungiri municipality. Major General Jim Muhwezi urged Rukungiri district council to meet in an emergency session on a Friday afternoon and passed a resolution demanding a municipality. Jim Muhwezi presented the district resolution the following Monday morning to parliament which approved it. The consultation procedure was by-passed and the Local government that has responsibility for municipal matters was shut out. We have sought guidance from the Speaker of Parliament several times to tell us what happened but have not received a response and it is almost six months since parliament decided Rukungiri become a municipality. Now you see what happens when you are powerless. The areas incorporated into the municipality targeted Bairu people (slaves) who are being squeezed out (we gather minerals have been discovered in the area so the rich want to grab the land). This is how Bairu people have been treated in Rujumbura county of Rukungiri district since Bahororo landed in the area in 1800, ninety years after Mpororo kingdom (present day Ntungamo district part in Uganda) disintegrated.

All in all, with functional illiteracy of many Ugandans it will be very difficult to find jobs in a knowledge-based economy. You therefore need to hang onto your piece of land because that is the only asset that you have got. To protect Uganda interests no Uganda land should be sold or leased to foreigners – Africans or non-Africans because that is all we have got! This is a matter of self preservation.
Eric Kashambuzi
UAH forumist in New York

Museveni is responsible for re-opening old wounds and inflicting new ones

Some Ugandans have been warning me directly and through other channels that if I continue writing against Museveni’s government and his governing style I will be severely punished directly or through members of my family, relatives or friends. There are times when risks have to be taken for the sake of present and future generations. This may sound naïve but I believe in it very strongly. Museveni risked his life and that of his family when he chose to fight the government of Obote from Luwero jungles.

The wounds inflicted on Bairu (slaves) by Bahororo in Rujumbura and in Ankole have a long history. To understand them we need to revisit the feudal methods Batutsi used to cripple Bahutu (slaves) in Rwanda and how Bahororo carried them and used them in southwest Uganda.

Museveni is a Nilotic Muhororo. Bahororo are Batutsi from Rwanda who founded a short-lived Mpororo kingdom in mid-1600s that lasted less than 100 years. It disintegrated from internal struggles. Bahororo dispersed when Bahima under Bahinda ruling clan occupied their land in southwest Ankole (roughly present-day Ntungamo district), turning Bahororo into commoners. Some Bahororo went back to Rwanda, others to Rujumbura, yet others to other parts of Uganda while the rest stayed in Ankole and kept a low profile under the temporary adopted name of Bahima. Bahororo in Rwanda, Ankole, Rujumbura and elsewhere tenaciously clung together and kept the dream of becoming a great nation alive (hence Museveni’s dream of Tutsi Empire). That is why Batutsi (or Bahororo who returned to Rwanda and came back to Uganda as refugees in the 1960s) supported Museveni during the guerrilla war (they were supporting a fellow Muhororo!). These Bahororo/Batutsi refugees were closer to Museveni than members of other groups including Bahima, witness prominent roles played by Rwigyema, Kagame, Bunyenyezi and Baingana etc during and after the guerrilla war. Bahima played a supportive, not a deciding role.

By way of introduction, let’s see how feudalism worked in pre-colonial Rwanda. Batutsi stripped Bahutu of their land and property and even their king’s title of Mwami. Hutus who had been wealthy before the arrival of Tutsis through mixed farming (livestock herding and crop cultivation) and manufacturing enterprises were reduced to serfs or servants and labored for the needs of their new Batutsi lords. Bahutu provided free food and drinks (Batutsi did not grow their own food because cultivation was below their dignity), free labor and carried their lords and family members in litters and their luggage when they travelled. Bahutu were not allowed to own cattle which was a store of wealth, a source of protein and material for clothing, a measure of value, a means of exchange (dowry) and a symbol of prestige. In rare cases when a Mututsi gave a Muhutu a cow for whatever reason the cow was infertile or about to die or a bull to prevent Bahutu from accumulating wealth through reproduction. Wealthy Bahutu were disproportionately taxed through tribute to impoverish and dominate them.

As noted already, Bahororo introduced in what later became southwest Ankole and Rujumbura county of Rukungiri district feudal methods of governance. In Rujumbura which the author is familiar with, Bahororo did a lot of harm to indigenous Bantu people they dubbed Bairu (slaves).

First, Bahororo collaborated with Arab slave traders and sold members of defeated indigenous tribes into slavery (Bethwell A. Ogot 1976).

Second, Bahororo took over Bairu grazing land (Bairu had short horn cattle which was replaced by Bahororo long horn cows). Consequently short horn cattle disappeared.

Third, as slaves Bairu people were forced to labor for Bahororo. They produced all the food and drinks. Bahororo like their Batutsi cousins did not grow their own food because cultivation was below their dignity. While Bairu prepared food and brewed beer for Bahororo, the two groups never ate together because superior Bahororo could not imagine eating with slaves.

Fourth, Bahororo ate all Bairu goat meat. Bairu ate mutton because it is despised by Bahororo. However, Rujumbura ecological conditions are not suitable for sheep grazing. Accordingly, Bairu did not get enough protein, explaining in part their short stature (Bairu children from wealthy families that eat adequate and balanced meals three times a day are tall). To supplement mutton, Bairu ate grasshoppers which were regarded beneath Bahororo dignity (they did not need to eat grasshoppers because they had enough protein from meat and milk). Whenever there is a dispute between Bahororo and Bairu the latter are often described (till today in 2010) as cheap people who even eat miserable-looking grasshoppers. To Bahororo (educated or not, rich or not) Bairu are inferior no matter their education and status at local, national, regional, continental or international levels – very sad indeed! If one could record and produce what Bahororo say in private conversations about Bairu the world would get a shock.

Fifth, when Bahororo wanted to show how they despise Bairu, they would spit in the latter’s mouth. It happened in Buliisa recently!

Sixth, Bahororo women from royal families did not urinate on the ground when they travelled. They packed their chamber pots in their luggage which was carried by Bairu people. They would urinate in their chamber pots and more and order Bairu to empty and clean it, put it back in the luggage before the journey resumed.

Seventh, when one of the Bairu men carrying their Bahororo lords in litters got tired, his heel would be pierced with a sharp metal object (omuhunda) as punishment.

Eighth, at the end of the harvest season, Bahororo (who were nomadic) would camp in Bairu areas where the harvest was reported to be good and would eat most of the food. They would then sleep with Bairu women in their husbands’ beds, have sex with them or their daughters and even produce babies together while Bairu men slept in the bush. The new babies (called Abambari or half-caste) would be raised by Bairu men who did not produce them. Bairu men would not get mad at their wives or daughters because they were raped by Bahororo men.

The total effect of these human rights abuses was Bairu impoverishment and humiliation; voicelessness and powerlessness combined with resentment. This was the situation at the start of colonial rule.

Through education, church counseling and Bairu marrying Bahororo women (Bahororo men still do not marry Bairu women although they have sex with them and increasingly with other non-Bahororo Uganda women and are even producing children together under the current regime), there was a general consensus that what happened in pre-colonial period should be forgiven (not forgotten) and move on.

While in exile during Amin days, difficult conditions encouraged Bairu, Bahima and Bahororo families to work together for survival. For the first time the two tribal groups ate and drank and even formed non-sectarian political parties together. Many Bairu people joined Museveni’s guerrilla war not as slaves but as Ugandans who wanted a better life for all. Museveni did not see it that way.

Upon becoming president, Museveni began to plot how to reintroduce feudal methods of governance in a subtle way. Like Batutsi of pre-colonial Rwanda, Museveni believes very strongly in military might to crush any real or imaginary opponent and to impoverish others beginning with Bairu as his immediate ‘enemies’. There are reports of meeting(s) Museveni has convened at his home in Rwakitura to plot the implementation of the feudal strategy. One report of those meetings has been in circulation for a while. The report details what steps should be taken by Bahororo to marginalize Ugandans in order to rule the country for ever through hereditary arrangements. Those who have not read the report are advised to do so. One point that was recorded is that Bairu should never see the report in part because they are the principal target.

Because Museveni claims historical connections with Rujumbura, Bairu people thought that since they had supported him during the war, he would reward them commensurately like other groups. What shocked Bairu people is that when the war was over, Museveni associated with Bahororo from Rujumbura including those who were staunch UPC supporters that forced him to go to war to remove them from power. Bairu people who mobilized support for him were left out in the cold. When the military size was reduced, many Bairu were kicked out, not a single Muhororo from Rujumbura is reported to have been retrenched.

Under structural adjustment, schools in Bantu communities were either closed or downgraded from secondary to primary level, forcing many students to drop out. In the public service, many Bairu were disproportionately retrenched.

Although Rujumbura has had influential ministers, presidential advisers and senior civil servants in strategic ministries, there is no development project of significance that has been brought to areas where Bantu/Bairu live. While Bahororo dominate the business sector in Uganda, none has invested in Rujumbura. They have built residential houses and one small hotel for them to stay in when they are in the area. The Muhororo Member of Parliament returns to Rujumbura at campaign time with bags of salt, soap and money for local brew to distribute to desperate, impoverished and vulnerable Bairu people in return for promise to re-elect him.

While I was doing research on Rujumbura, I travelled widely in the area and by bus between Kampala and Rukungiri town. I found it better to do research by listening to conversations than using a questionnaire or asking direct questions. From Kampala to Rukungiri and back and for several trips I was able to together useful information from primary sources and could write with confidence. After studying the situation carefully I wrote an article titled “How Rujumbura’s Bairu got impoverished”. It was published in Observer (Uganda) newspaper about two years’ ago. The article became very instructive of what was going on in other areas of Uganda. Those who did not like the article descended on me with all sorts of insults, accusing me of sectarianism and a man full of hatred. They even distorted what I had written and accused me of fomenting a revolution against Bahororo which I was advised would not occur because influential Bairu men from Rujumbura have married Bahororo women and would side with their in-laws, not with disgruntled Bairu losers. I was threatened with arrest and imprisonment if I stepped on Uganda soil again because I violated the anti-sectarian law and reopened old tribal wounds.

In spite of these threats and friendly advice to give up writing, I have persisted and more articles have been written and published. I have even written to the President, Speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister and other government officials bringing to their attention the suffering of Uganda people under their leadership (These letters are on my blog and in my book titled “For Present and Future Generation” available at

The way Museveni and his government have treated the people of Uganda especially the youth, our future leaders, is unacceptable. A leader like Museveni who chooses to export food to earn foreign currency to buy a presidential jet worth some $80 million etc when his people are starving and children are dropping out of school because they are hungry and too weak to study; a leader like Museveni who refuses to assist unemployed youth during a severe economic recession and spends public funds hosting ICC and AU conferences for his personal prestige should be opposed no matter how strongly he is backed by powerful western powers.

Thus, it is Museveni who has reopened old tribal wounds in southwest Uganda. It is Museveni who has extended feudal methods of governance to the rest of Uganda causing untold suffering and opening fresh wounds in the rest of the country. Experience in Ethiopia under Haile Selassie and Zaire under Mobutu is that when unjust status quo is protected too long and changes finally occur, the impact is massive. What others and I have been saying is that Museveni should stop what he is doing because it is reopening old wounds and inflicting fresh ones. If I am hurt or any member of my family, relatives and friends the world will know who has committed the crime and he or she will not go unpunished! Those who may want to try should think again.

Here is a word of advice: If Ugandans do not unite and drive Museveni out of power, we and our children and grand children will regret the consequences of our inaction. If Museveni continues along the current trajectory of dictatorship the negative impact of his actions will be with Ugandans for a very, very long time. Now you know!

Eric Kashambuzi
Author of Uganda’s Development Agenda in the 21st Century and Related Regional Issues and also a Principal Policy Advisor to the UN Millennium Development Goals Support Team

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