November 2012
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Day November 18, 2012

Why Uganda must reject another military government

The life of an average woman in Uganda's rural areas

The life of an average woman in Uganda’s rural areas

Readers must be wondering why I am writing prolifically about Uganda on a wide range of topics. There are three main reasons.

1. Uganda is at a crossroads and we must decide quickly which development path we need to take and the kind of leadership required. It is now recognized that the principal constraint in Uganda’s development is the background and quality of leadership. We need to examine economic and social performance under civilian and military leadership since independence in 1962 and draw conclusions.

2. I have been covering many topics in an inter-connected manner in economics, politics and regional/international relations because development is multi-dimensional. I have introduced a seminar on Radio Uganda Boston, USA on political economy to show how politics and economics affect each other and shouldn’t be treated as separate entities in policy formulation. The NRM government’s approach is virtually one dimensional. For example, in increasing crop production and livestock herding especially with introduction of commercial goats, the government has not taken environmental degradation seriously into account. Also, education has not been linked with employment opportunities to the extent that over 80 percent of Uganda youth are unemployed.

3. It was decided at the second UDU conference in Boston, USA in October 2011 that we should step up civic education because there was a serious shortage of information leading to taking inappropriate decisions with adverse outcomes.

Uganda’s development under the civilian regime

Apart from the 1966/67 political and constitutional crisis, Uganda did very well in economic and social development in the 1960s. By 1970 Uganda’s economy was growing at a comfortable rate of close to eight percent, the fastest in East Africa. Furthermore, economic growth fed into social sectors and raised living standards. This rapid economic growth and development was recognized by the World Bank among other partners and by the NRM government itself. Here is what they wrote.

In its 1993 report on “Trends in Development Economies” the World Bank recorded that “Despite being landlocked, [Uganda] had ample fertile land and a favorable climate for agricultural growth, a relatively well-developed manufacturing sector, and an adequate transportation system. GDP growth was about 6 percent a year from 1963 to 1970, and relative price stability was maintained. At independence in 1962 [colonial administration was civilian] Uganda had one of the most vigorous and promising economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the years following independence amply demonstrated its economic potential. Uganda’s social indicators were comparable to, if not better than, most countries in Africa. The country’s health service had developed into one of Africa’s best. Uganda pioneered many low-cost health and nutrition programs. There was a highly organized network of vaccination centers and immunization programs reached 70 percent of the population. Although school enrolment was still low, [by 1970], Uganda’s education system had developed a reputation for very high quality” (World Bank 1993).

This is what we call economic growth and development showing the inter-linkage between economic growth and social advancement. Economic growth per se is necessary but not a sufficient condition for improving human condition. In Uganda particularly since the 1990s we have had jobless economic growth and highly skewed income distribution, leaving over fifty percent of the population trapped in absolute poverty.

In his statement of December 1989 at a conference in Kampala on Uganda’s economy, the minister of finance acknowledged that Uganda’s economy did well up to the early 1970s. He stated “The country had a diversified export base and earned substantial foreign currency to meet its needs. The industrial sector produced a wide range of consumer goods to satisfy local demands and a little surplus was exported to the neighboring countries. The civil service then was well formed and had capability to implement programs. There was an enterprising Asian and African middle class which ran the private sector effectively. Indeed the economy was growing at a rate of 5% per annum” (Papers Presented at the Uganda Seminar on the Economy since 1986 June 1990). Although still neocolonial in structure, NRM recognized that Uganda economy was buoyant during the civilian government in the 1960s.

Although frustrated by adverse security situation and the guerilla war, IMF/World Bank conditionality, transport bottlenecks and natural adversity like drought, the UPC civilian government recorded a comfortable real GDP growth rate averaging 6 percent per annum between 1981 and 1984 as its record in the 1960s. Agricultural performance was largely responsible for this growth (Uganda Human Development Report 1996). Under the civilian government between 1963 and 1970 and between 1981 and 1984 Uganda’s economy and society did reasonably well particularly in the 1960s.

Thus, under UPC, the civilian government led by the cabinet crafted and implemented appropriate policies that produced real results that improved the quality of life of the vast majority of Ugandans particularly in the 1960s.

Uganda’s under-development under Amin military regime

Things changed abruptly reversing the development trajectory after the military overthrow of the civilian government in 1971 and the ascendancy of Amin. Instead of running the country on well thought out development policies and following standard procedures, Amin adopted a different approach based on instructions from God communicated to him through dreams. And Amin had many dreams.

1. Amin dreamt that God instructed him that all civilians in the cabinet must become military cadets so they are tried in military courts for mistakes committed in discharging their duties. This decision undermined incentive as doing virtually nothing was safer than initiating programs that might fail along the way. It is reported that when the minister of finance advised Amin that money isn’t just printed on orders of the president, he was punished.

2. Amin dreamt that God had instructed him that all Asians – non-citizens and citizens alike – be expelled from Uganda within 90 days because they had “milked Uganda cows without feeding them”. He stuck to the dictates of the dream and Asians left the country on time without giving thought about economic and social implications. The temporary benefits to those who took over Asian businesses soon evaporated and the economy headed down the drain accompanied by social decadence.

3. Amin dreamt again. This time he was instructed that all land in Uganda be brought under cultivation regardless of who owned it to boost GDP growth without paying attention to environmental consequences and potential conflicts over land ownership. This reckless dream resulted in massive destruction of vegetation in wet lands, on steep slopes and in water catchment areas that had been protected against human activities. Disputes over land ownership ensued with some serious consequences especially in areas where land is in short supply. And hunting of wild life was so severe that surviving animals migrated to DRC where they took refuge! The exposed soil was subjected to serious erosion from strong winds and heavy tropical storms, losing its fertility in the process and resulting in reduced productivity and total agricultural production. GDP soon declined and Amin was faced again with the old problem of providing adequate goods and services for a restive population especially mercenaries from Sudan and DRC.

4. Having run out of domestic options to keep the population in line, Amin dreamt that Uganda’s land lost to Kenya should be recovered all the way to Naivasha. He thought this adventure would rally Ugandans behind him and buy him time. Then he changed his mind and decided instead to invade Tanzania, provoking a military response that he regretted for the rest of his life. Amin was overthrown in 1979 with much destruction in human lives and properties particularly in Masaka and Mbarara towns and areas between Tanzania border and Kampala.

The point being underlined here is that Amin behaved as a military commander while president of a country issuing decrees as he was used to issuing orders as a military commander. He had no time for ministers and advisers and ignored policies that they had drawn up.

The human, institutional and physical capital that had been built before he assumed leadership of the country was devastated. Ugandans died, Ugandans got imprisoned, Ugandans fled the country and those who stayed drifted from town to the countryside to a relatively safe distance from the wrath of Field Marshall Amin.

Uganda’s under-development under Museveni military regime

Notwithstanding the failures of Amin’s military regime, Ugandans gave Museveni benefit of the doubt because of his development rhetoric during the guerrilla war and the fact that he had attended college at Dar, Tanzania against Amin who completed grade two.

No sooner had he settled in than he began to behave like Amin in terms of taking unilateral decisions. Quite early on in his presidency he indicated that he was the only person with a vision for Uganda, similar to military commanders.

1. It is believed that the idea of barter trade was Museveni’s and he wouldn’t entertain any advice. Those who attempted were sidelined. As Kanyeihamba then minister of commerce in charge of barter trade reported, the whole idea was a failure and a big liability to Uganda. Uganda ended up worse off than if it had followed classical trade practice of exporting agricultural raw materials in exchange for manufactured products.

2. Museveni virtually alone took the decision to abandon the well prepared and balanced ten point program and replace it with the worst form (shock therapy) of stabilization and structural adjustment program (SAP). He rejected reports and dismissed the minister of finance and governor of the central bank who apparently supported a gradual and sequenced approach to minimize social and environmental costs. He strictly adhered to the IMF/World Bank rigid conditionality based on market forces and private sector as the engine of growth and trickle down as the mechanism to distribute the benefits of economic growth with a huge cost that forced him to abandon SAP in 2009.

3. He embarked on privatization of public enterprises without adequate studies and consultation with parliament, insisting that mistakes should be corrected as they surfaced. Privatization has turned out costly. Investment and job creation have fallen far below expectations.

4. Diversification of export production has deprived Ugandans of adequate food with serious nutritional deficits especially among children and women. Because of this poorly constructed trade strategy, food surplus regions such as Mbarara, Bushenyi and former Kigezi districts have become food deficit areas.

5. Museveni didn’t pay much attention to the environmental consequences of his decisions. He allowed construction in towns to be directed by the wishes of developers. Consequently areas in Kampala for instance that had been reserved as water drainage channels were taken over by buildings that have blocked water runoff with flooding and mosquito breeding in stagnant water as the result. Kampala hill slopes have been de-vegetated to create room for housing without steps to control water runoff. In rural areas extensive clearing of vegetation to increase agricultural production and ranches for livestock herding to increase beef exports have seriously destroyed the environment with adverse hydrological and thermal regimes as manifested in frequent and severe droughts and floods; local climate change and spread of mosquito into previously cooler places like Kabale with devastating health consequences especially among children without immunity.

6. From the beginning, Museveni didn’t believe that Uganda should be developed along the classical stages of economic growth starting with the Green Revolution to Industrial and Information and Communication Revolution. At a conference in Addis Ababa to launch the report on Africa’s Green Revolution, President Museveni asked specifically whether development must always proceed from green to industrial and finally to information revolution. The response was yes. From his body language Museveni didn’t buy it and hasn’t implemented it in Uganda. Instead Museveni has chosen to develop Uganda like Singapore, a city state based on high tech. That is why he has created Greater Kampala and encourages rural-urban population mobility and paid little attention to rural and industrial development. This is confirmed by the fact that some seventy percent of Uganda’s National Gross Income (GNI) is generated in Kampala with less than two million people out of a total population of 25 million. With Greater Kampala now operational and under his overall supervision, more resources will be invested there and it will generate a higher level of GNI than at present. The countryside and manufacturing sectors will likely continue to be neglected. Business in Greater Kampala is likely to be more capital intensive in a sea of unemployed youth. If Museveni had listened to advisers he would have realized that in a country like Uganda with over 80 percent of the population still in the countryside engaged in agriculture, priority would be assigned to the sector. His kind of vision to develop Uganda like Singapore is the wrong way to modernize Uganda.

7. Like Amin, Museveni has had a high propensity to interfere in domestic affairs of neighboring countries in Sudan, DRC, Burundi, Kenya and Rwanda. Apart from diverting huge amount of human and financial resources, Uganda has had bad relations with neighbors except Tanzania. Uganda has been dragged into the United Nations Security Council several times on allegations of military actions and plundering the resources of a neighbor.

The cost of decisions taken by Museveni, the only man with a vision for Uganda’s development has been very high. The economy has slowed from 10 percent in mid 1990s to around three percent currently against a population growing at 3.5 percent which means that per capita income is declining and poverty spreading and deepening.

Socially, all systems in education, healthcare, nutrition and housing are on the verge of collapse. Environmental degradation in rural and urban areas is alarming. Expert reports have warned that if drastic steps are not taken quickly Uganda could become a desert within a hundred years. But Museveni hasn’t paid commensurate attention presumably because by then he won’t be in charge of Uganda.

While Museveni knew there were failures arising from his vision, he thought they could be hidden by reporting economic growth, inflation control, accumulation of currency reserves in the central bank and export diversification. Suddenly diseases that had disappeared reappeared with a vengeance, water bodies home to a variety of fish were depleted, deforestation encroached on Mabira forest mobilizing resistance he had never seen, sprawling urban slums harbored unemployed criminals and demonstrators that have threatened peace and stability.

Museveni is now on the defensive blaming others including for inadequate foreign aid. Be that as it may, Museveni is now presiding over a failed state characterized by rampant corruption, sectarianism, cronyism and excessive mismanagement of public resources. Borders are crossed at will and refugees are grabbing citizens’ land particularly from vulnerable, powerless and voiceless citizens in areas like Toro where Batutsi from Eastern DRC enter Uganda. Overall, economically, socially, environmentally, politically and diplomatically, Uganda’s star has fallen.

Summing up and recommendation

The UPC two civilian regimes in the 1960s and early 1980s have performed much better and delivered superior outcomes than the military regimes from 1971 to 1979 and from 1986 to the present and still counting. The civilian regime especially in the 1960s experienced rapid economic growth and social advancement as it should be. Under the military regimes Uganda has experienced under-development with poverty, hunger, disease and unemployment rising while economic growth has declined precipitously from 10 percent in the mid 1990s to three percent currently.

Based on this record of civilian and military performance since independence, it is very likely that another military government or military leader as president will do the same. There is no room for another benefit of the doubt. Military leaders (no disrespect please) whether they are nice people or not or whether they come from good families or not are trained to handle military matters and make military decisions that are handed down to the rank and file without consulting them but civilian populations can’t be treated like that. They consult, discuss and strike compromises with their governments. There is a story, true or not, that when Bushenyi leaders could not agree on splitting the district into two, Museveni broke the impasse by dividing it into four and the matter was brought to an abrupt end. Uganda can’t afford to be governed like this again. With another military president the trajectory will remain as it is today or worse.

Ultimately the choice between civilian and military leadership resides with the people of Uganda. My job as civic educator has been to provide information so that an informed decision is taken.


Why is the Itesto the majority Working as guards in Kampala?

The Itesot must learn to hate exploitation and pride themselves in being Itesot. Where is Dr. Were of Chicago University and Vukoni L?

I am so amazed that an entire nation of Itesot can end on the streets of Kampala earning a miserable 150’000 monthly, watching over other people’s wealth. These Itesot guards, at times go for days without proper sleep and food.

I’ve talked to so many and it’s sad grotesque scenery.Virtually all of them reside in the numerous slums of Kampala! People with a culture, a tradition, a language, a history left to fade away.

Singapore a small country has made it without the bloody oil wealth – the entire Teso region can make it without Uganda. This is a society, which like Acoli, Karamojong and West Nilers have an advantage of the frontiers.

The sooner among themselves emulate the Kigezi people who are steadily moving forward under the Banyakigezi group – the intention of a colonial state in Kampala will reduce this entire people, culture, tradition and their future to nothingness.

The first objective was attained when your cattle exactly as it was done in Luwero by bush war thugs either killed or stolen. Further was the fragmentation of Teso into smaller districts. Now, the Itesot are squabbling about these nonviable districts, taking centre stage instead of seeking economic power stolen from you.

Apart from Mike Mukula who is any other Itesot worthy a mention?

Generation and generation have lost campus only to assume when you get a rifle and sit on Kampala veranda to watch over people’s wealth, this same wealth will be transmitted to you.

Quickly like the Baganda, Banyakigezi, Bunyoro create a forum and seek autonomy. As autonomy is sought people’s attention will directed to their own potential as a people territorially and politically.

The first step in this self-redefinition is to empower the Itesot with economic and political power by creating centres of economic activities. Develop your towns and also build proper residences, for your folk, as well as sending as many as possible in technical schools.

Bwanika Nakyesawa


Ugandans these days are so over ambitious,at 25yrs someone is already talking about being a life failure. Why that early? Don’t follow the trends of those corrupt officers who get rich at 23yrs,One cant be rich at 25yrs anywhere in the world, Just be patient.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg doesn’t have cash but they assume if his investment continue like its today he will be a bigger billionaire than Bill Gates,thats how wealth is counted, and besides,how many Zuckerberg do you know in this world,why rate yourself a failure basing on a fraction in a million?

In any case, Zuckerberg’s background cant be compared it with Ugandan pipo currently. But advise to my fellow Ugandans is to use the curve of diminishing returns in economics & apply it in our entire life span. Calculate the u finish skol @ 23 yrs, if u are luck enough get a job, work & save yr money monthly, if u save 40% @ 30 yrs life must have bn changed, @least build a h’se, have a family & a family car, the life goes on. But in Uganda we have bad habits like we spend much & save nothing. Secondly stop admiring pipo who accumulate wealth through corruption. Stop admiring the Amama Mbabazi and family, Sam Kutesa, Salim Saleh, Bigiri- mana, Museveni and family, Kazinda, Otafiire and kids, Tamare Mirundi, Otto Patrick, Rwakutana and family, e.t.c

The word “Millionaire” in Uganda doesnt refer to the rich,children pay millions in fees at school,and many people have salaries in that tune,in otherwords everyone is a millionaire in Ug, We are talking about being rich.Justin beiber is a successful artist not businessman,he is actually not rich but well off. While they can say he has Million dollars on his account,they don’t tell you how much he spends on a single holiday trip,that’s why you have seen Hollywood stars declared bankrupt before an ordinary American is declared,Tyson is one of them.

Factors in ug aren’t favoring the majorities but minorities. Example in Norway, once a kid is born, government gives a kid around 200 Us dollars every month. Parents open up fixed A/C & a kid get access to that money when he/she reaches 18 yrs. But unlike in Ug government don’t care, our education system is training job seekers & few pipo holding government offices don’t plan 4 future generation, They are so selfish & robbing the little resources available.

Most of the youths in Uganda, i believe don’t desire living within their means. What i advise my fellow youths is that ” spend what remains after subscribing to your monthly saving scheme”. I think even the government sh’ld come up with away of encouraging pipo to have saving culture. U know now in Uganda alwz I hear advert Son radio station’s calling pipo 4 unproductive loans like school fees loans, h’se rent loan etc with high interest which in long run affect pipo’s income.

Someone foolishly takes a school fees loan as if a child is going to produce profit in school.How about the next term? Bajjajja ffe batusomeseza ku mwaanyi,nga cooperative union bweba tenasasula todda ku somero,U educate a child within your budget not beyond it, I have seen many selling land to educate children,then a child after graduation works for 10yrs before he buys the same piece of land they sold to educate him and by the time he buys one,he already has school going children,meaning that same land is readily available for sale.

If you don’t want to save, invest immediately,don’t mind how much,if u save its hard to accumulate,and be disciplined…stop spending on others and waste money,learn from lady Badblack…bagala ur things…work hard,or die trying…if u have nothing,ure nobody…that’s a life’s fact..this doesn’t mean u should go rob a bank.i know its not easy but avoid loans,avoid credits,don’t show off or live beyond your means coz u want to impress someone,take ur little salary,divide it,do less outings,cut on all expenses,draw a yearly plan on how much u spend and invest,employ a few boys to do small businesses for u e.g chicken/ sausage stands around makerere university and other buzy locations,farming on idle land from your parents/yours,do little business and u get rich faster..dream big

A youth at 25 immediately he gets a job, he takes a salary loan to buy a car,takes housing mortgages which inflicts financial pressure on him. When he later looses his job,he begins chocking on loans and that’s when he declare himself a life failure at an early age, This is “self made failure”


Nuwagaba ressponds to the Uganda Human Rights Commission Article on UAH

The UHRC to my article is as laughable as it is ludicrous
“Don’t be afraid. Go on speaking, and don’t be silent, for I am with you. No one will attack and harm you, for I have many people in this city”. Acts 18:9-10

I received a response to my article by the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) with a mixture of consternation and laughter. With consternation because the UHRC could debase itself by sinking so low and with hope that the article portrayed the type of people we have at the commission. If anyone doubted the commission’s mediocrity, the response to my article ostensibly authored by my sister Florence Munyirwa can really confirm that. I, however, must state that such media exchanges are healthy and they don’t only buttress freedom of expression which is a cardinal human right but also help to bolster democracy in our society. I will respond to the UHRC article in turn.

1. The Commission in its opening remarks states that it has observed me as “a self-acclaimed human rights defender” but adds that it’s concerned that I should get adequate mental health and counseling. I want to state from the outset that I appreciate that I need adequate mental health just like everyone including but not limited to all UHRC staff need mental health services. As to whether I am a self-acclaimed human rights defender, I refer the UHRC to United Nations Fact Sheet 29 for it is absurd that a whole National Human Rights Institution that has recently won an award from the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) and holds an ‘A’ status given by the United Nation’s International Coordinating Committee for National Human Rights Institutions doesn’t know who a human rights defender is.

On the allegation that I have assaulted a Police Officer at CPS and another at the UHRC Head Office, I kindly beg that Ms Munyirwa the author of the derogatory response comes to court to give evidence. The UHRC is full of lawyers and they know quite well that whoever alleges proves. As I speak, I am out on cash bail and I will periodically report to court to answer to the charges that were politically-motivated by the UHRC. I wish to state that the UHRC is only a National Human Rights Institution in name but in practice it is a political institution aimed at doing public relations for Museveni’s NRM regime by whitewashing the regime’s depraved and nasty human rights record.

2. That I have been admitted to Butabika more than twice. I find the UHRC reasoning not only wanting but also unfortunate and absurd. The UHRC has engineered my being taken to Butabika on two occasions. They only do that after I have punched holes in what they do and shown them that they have to respect donors’ and taxpayers’ money. On both occasions, I have not been subjected to drugs because I have asserted myself. I want to request that the UHRC produces a medical report from Butabika if it is to continue using that pretext to gag me and dismiss me as an insane person. I must add, though, that I will proudly accept to be labeled insane if that’s what it takes to fight for justice in this country. I will however, not shy away from assuring those who label me insane that for them they are suffering from schizophrenia which is the highest form of mental illness. May I also assure the UHRC that stigma is antithetical to promotion of human rights?

3. Award for Best African National Human Rights Institution (NHRI)

I clearly stated in my article the reasons as to why the UHRC cannot be the best African NHRI. If the UHRC disagrees with what I stated, they should show how far they have gone in addressing the rights concerning the areas I raised. Fortunately, as I write this article, yesterday Friday, November 16, the Commission Chairperson Med S.K Kaggwa was at Makerere University School of Law on a function organized by the school’s Public Interest Legal Aid Clinic (PILAC) together with AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi and Prof John-Jean Barya addressing students, human rights and law practitioners. In his introductory remarks, Prof Christopher Mbazira remarked that the public had fears that with the appointment of Med Kaggwa as UHRC Chairperson the situation would worsen but it has improved. When time for discussion came, I told the audience and Mr. Kaggwa that I am fully convinced that the UHRC is promoting human rights in the breach and it never merited an award. Mr. Kaggwa couldn’t respond. In the morning hours yesterday, a day after responding to my article, the Commission locked both its gates to block my entrance. This was not the first time. They have done that several times whenever they behave in an uncouth manner towards me. Surprisingly, I had been to the Chairman’s office on November 9 and I had been given November 16 as the day when I would meet him. I am sure the locking of the commission gates had been ordered by Gordon Mwesigye or Florence Munyirwa who knew I would question her about her defamatory statement against me. It has taken me many years in school and out of school to build my name. I will not accept the UHRC, an institution mandated to protect and promote our rights cardinal of which is the right to human dignity which includes the right to one’s good name to destroy my name by a stroke of a pen. I will not accept that! Accordingly, I demand a written and published apology from the commission and if the commission can prove that I am defaming it like the statement claims, I should also be forced to apologise to it publicly. I know my observation about the UHRC is first justified and secondly, it is a fair comment. Justification and fair comment are two defences against defamation. If the UHRC through Ms Munyirwa can prove that their remarks are fair comments and/or justified, they should state so and re-echo their remarks.

4. Slow resolution of disputes and failure to pay UHRC awards

I must state that I find the reasoning given by UHRC wanting and laughable. When the UHRC states that they have to take time to adhere to the principles of natural justice, I laugh out loud instead of mourning. It’s well-known to everyone who cares to know that it’s a principle of natural justice that “justice delayed is justice denied”. Put another way, it is a maxim of equity that “delay defeats equity”. So, Ms Munyirwa, what exactly do you mean when you evoke natural justice? I hope the UHRC knows the principles of natural justice? I know there’s a principle of law that requires the judges, the commission in this case to listen to both sides. This principle is called “Audi alteram partem”. Adhering to this principle doesn’t mean the matter should take ages before it’s resolved. Otherwise, how come the courts are faster yet ordinarily the tribunals should be faster than courts in dispensing justice? On the court awards, I wish to re-echo what the commission chairperson Mr. Med Kaggwa said at the above mentioned function at Makerere University. The chairperson stated that “the government owes Sh4.5 billion to human rights victims and it seems not interested to pay yet some of the victims need this money to treat themselves”. This augments my statement that the victims rarely get the awards. The question to be asked thus is, “What does it help to lodge one’s complaint with the UHRC when there will likely be no compensation even if one won the case?” Granted, the UHRC has no budget for awards. Is it not a toothless barking dog? Has it ever petitioned parliament to amend the UHRC Act to allow it the mandate to compensate victims? My considered view is that the UHRC is in place for propaganda purposes – i.e to show that the NRM is committed to fight human rights violations. During my Secondary School days we would say, “Tubamanyire” meaning we have known you. Surely, some of us have known the UHRC.

It is quite unfortunate for the UHRC to state that I have personal vendetta against any UHRC staff member. I share nothing else in common with those people apart from the fact that I am impassioned for human rights and justice which ironically they shamelessly abuse although their mandate is to promote, protect and defend them. I am told that a group of enraged young men (call them “patriots”) under the leadership of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, Uganda’s current president picked fire arms on February 6, 1981 to fight a government that they had lost to in an election that had been held hardly two months before on December 10, 1980. That group of “patriots” walked on dead bodies to ascend to state power five years later. No state institution including the UHRC has ever labeled such “patriots” violent. Paradoxically, I, Vincent Nuwagaba who only uses my pen and my tongue am portrayed by the UHRC to be violent. What a contradiction? What an absurdity?

5. The Commission fights human rights defenders

I want to re-echo what I stated that the Commission fights human rights defenders who are critical of the government’s sordid human rights record. I am a human rights defender and I don’t have to labour to prove that. My record can speak for me. I believe if nobody is willing to speak your story, your story should speak about you. When I was a students’ leader at Makerere University since 2001-2004, I consistently decried the inhuman and degrading treatment the government subjected to the government-sponsored students. I wrote several letters in the Daily Monitor and anybody including but not limited to the UHRC can check the Monitor archives to ascertain my claim. I wasn’t paid by anybody but was driven by my passion for justice and human dignity. I strenuously opposed the repeal of Article 105(2) in our Constitution both on air and in print. I have rescued so many people detained illegally in the police cells. Just recently, I helped all the inmates of Murchison Bay Prison make phone calls to their people free of charge. Before my incarceration there the Welfare Officer Nurru Kateregga used to demand for money before making any phone call for anybody yet the welfare office is funded by our very organization the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) under the Para Legal Advisory Services project. I continue to be a fearless voice of the voiceless and what frustrates me is the fact that we don’t have a fully independent press. Otherwise, I would be exposing the most glaring human rights cases that you cannot believe. In all I do, I get no salary; I get no funding from donors or taxpayers’ money. So what is the UHRC claim to fame vis-à-vis poor Vincent Nuwagaba?

6. I want to thank the UHRC for putting a very big smile on my face. I am sure the UHRC is caught between a devil and a deep blue sea. This reminds me of a story that my grandma Susanna Kirakwende (RIP) used to tell me when I was young. The story is about a hyena which was swallowed meat fats that were glued on a stone that had been overly heated. When the hyena swallowed the meat, it found it extremely hot. Therefore, the hyena started asking itself, “Ncwere, ncwere obunuzi, miire, miire omuriro”, meaning “if I spit, I will spit the delicacy; if I swallow, I will swallow fire”. The hyena stayed in its indecision until it died of the hot meat fat glued on a stone that was as hot as a furnace. Likewise, in its myopic folly of portraying me an insane man and at the same time prosecuting me, the UHRC will ultimately sooner than later meet its demise. As a matter of fact, the UHRC has since February 8, this year subjected me to inhuman and degrading treatment but also instigated pharmacological torture against me. I am part of the civil society group that developed the Prevention and Prohibition of Torture Bill which was enacted into law and assented to by the President on July 12, 2012. I also did a media campaign for this law by publishing articles in newspapers. I am sure the UHRC knows very well that among the forms of torture highlighted by the Act is pharmacological torture. Can the UHRC claim it has not tortured me or can Mr. Gordon Mwesigye claim he hasn’t tortured me?

As a matter of fact, I have no problem with the police at the UHRC. I know they are just used as attack dogs. One of them has on one occasion asked me, “how come you don’t quarrel with anybody but when Mwesigye sees you he becomes hysterical?” and I told him, “ask yourself that or ask Mr. Mwesigye”. I never go to the commission with any tool – not even a safety pin or a razor blade. How come they fear me? I know sooner than later we shall dismiss Ugandan dictators without arms. And I am happy I am becoming an expert on non-violence revolution using nobody’s experience. I am not using Mahatma Gandhi’s experience; I am not using Martin Luther King’s experience. I only request the journalists to always cover me so that in the near future there’s a video, audio and written evidence of how to overthrow decadent regimes. I have learnt that to overthrow Museveni, we must start with his roots – who are his cadres in state institutions. Museveni merely thrives and survives on decadent institutions. That’s why I will go for some elements in the police such as Edward Kale Kayihura and Andrew Felix Kaweesi; I will go for his cadres in the UHRC, I will go for his cadres in the judiciary and his cadres in the Electoral Commission. We eject cadres from state institutions, we shall have ejected Museveni.

I find it laughable that with my levels of education, with my work experience in academic institutions, research institutions and human rights organizations, I Vincent Nuwagaba, can be branded by the UHRC a vagabond that has to be kept off its premises! I have stated this several times and I have to reiterate it. Public institutions are impersonal. They only exist to serve the public. The UHRC doesn’t belong to Gordon Mwesigye, Med Ssozi Kaggwa, Roselyn Karugonjo or Florence Munyirwa who shamelessly abuse the otherwise revered institution. I definitely love the UHRC. Incidentally, I even love and respect the UHRC staff including those who degrade, dehumanize and torture me. But I vehemently hate their filthy actions and character. I separate sin from the sinner. I accordingly, hate the sin but I unreservedly love and respect the sinner.

7. Visits to detention centres

I find it laughable if not ludicrous that the UHRC says it visits detention centres yet it has never published the grave human rights violations inflicted on the prisoners especially in prison farms. Please, go to Murchison Bay prison and ask for a prisoner called Gerald Kamanzi. Ask him how he had three bullets showered into his foot. Ask him whether he is a convict. If he is not, tell the entire world why remands are used to do hard labour in the prisons’ farms. Mao Tse Tung once said “No investigation, no right to speak”. The truth of the matter that UHRC only does propaganda not human rights work. The Commission should let people like us who do human rights work do the talking and the commission does the listening. By the way, very soon, I will publish the glaring case of a young man who was castrated by the state operatives and his case was abandoned by the commission depending on flimsy and uncalled for technicalities.

8. Partisan officials at the UHRC

I know that all fairly educated Ugandans know for sure that very few state institutions if any employ people on meritocracy basis. By the way this also goes to non-state institutions. My concern, however, is about state institutions. Before one gets a job, they must be from an NRM family, they must be NRM members or sympathizers and in a number if not all cases, investigations have to be carried out up to the Local Council level. We have village internal security officers (VISOs), parish internal security officers (PISOs), Gombolola internal security officers (GISOs), District security officers (DISOs) and so forth. We also have MISOs (Makerere internal security officers) and I have friends in ISO who tell me that ISO deploys everywhere – including in churches, mosques, non-governmental NGOs, hospitals, academic institutions, name it. At the function at Makerere University, Mr. Med Kaggwa acknowledged that he was appointed to head the commission because he was an NRM cadre. Prof John-Jean Barya, expressed worry that president Museveni has always stated that he wants to appoint NRM cadres to run the judiciary. IGP Kale Kayihura is an NRM cadre and all the leaders in the police are NRM cadres – on Tuesday, November 13, the OC CID at CPS proudly told me and some two Makerere students of how he is an NRM cadre and how they are ready to crush the opposition. He even candidly pulled out his NRM card and showed it to us! The entire Electoral Commission is headed by NRM cadre (we have done a scientific study for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and UNDP headed by Professor John-Jean Barya). Thus, if all other state institutions are run by the UHRC, what’s so unique, what is so special; what is so spectacular about the UHRC?

9. UHRC position on topical human rights issues

I am glad that the UHRC says that it gives its position on topical human rights issues. How come, I don’t see its position on the right to education; the right to health; the right to employment and the right to adequate standards of living? How come the Commission is not upfront and forthright on socio-economic rights which in most of my newspaper articles I have accentuated? How come the police stay in condemned asbestos roofed houses far contrary to ILO Convention 162 that was ratified by Uganda many years ago? How come the commission has always been silent about workers’ rights which are a springboard for all other rights? How come in the wake of public universities’ fees hike tuition, Mr. Kaggwa said it was alright? How come many civilians are tried in military courts and stay in prison for more than six years as remands? Go to Murchison Bay and look for John Bosco Olweny. Follow his case to its logical conclusion and then tell me that UHRC does human rights work. Talk about human rights reports is hogwash. Unfortunately, the UHRC will win an award as the best NHRI from the ACHPR and will get an A status from the UN International Coordinating Committee for National Human Rights Institutions on the basis of the reports it makes. But do reports promote and protect human rights? I am in the field and know what is taking place. If I was allowed freedom to utilize my brains and time, I would write a paper on each of the components raised. I believe, though that I will do my best before I am exterminated. If I am killed before doing that so be it.


The UHRC rightly states that it is the only National Human Rights Institution and it will remain so. The statement adds that UHRC has no need to compete for supremacy with any other organization. I know the UHRC personnel feel offended whenever Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) is appreciated. But that’s because UHRC has abdicated its duties and obligations. It has been overshadowed by FHRI in the field of human rights and in Uganda human rights is synonymous with Livingstone Sewanyana and FHRI. I also want to state that organizations such as the National NGO Forum currently headed by Mr. Richard Sewakiryanga are doing a more relevant job than the UHRC. However, I will not overly critique the UHRC. Surely, virtually all state institutions in Uganda are now kaput.

Anybody who tries to block me from accessing the services of any state institutions is a somnambulist; a sleep walker for I know I am a citizen and not a subject. The UHRC can only do that if they banish me. Unfortunately for them, several direct and indirect overtures have been made to banish me and I have refused. Ask the human rights defenders who are close to me how many times they have attempted to get me asylum in the most highly developed country America. Conduct research and establish how many US government officials have had interviews with me and asked me what I want and I never tell them I want asylum.

I would like to refer everyone including the UHRC of the scripture “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2Corithians 4:8-9).

Finally, I advise my sister Florence Munyirwa not to be used. After receiving the statement in my inbox I asked her in a text message whether she was ready to finish the battle she had launched against me and she replied by saying she was not involved in any fight against me because she doesn’t want strife adding that the statement was by the UHRC. My worry, however, is why does she accept to be used as though she is a robo? As a matter of fact, I cannot fight her for I know she is not a problem. Let her learn that she can only make a plausible point by attacking the points I raise not by labeling me a mentally deranged person for I am sure readers can decipher who is mentally deranged between me and her owing to what we write. Labeling me insane is just diversionary aimed to forestall us from asking the tough questions. I know I am not only a critical thinker but a philosopher king who cannot indulge in trading insults.

The UHRC should also apologise to HURINET’s Patrick Tumwine for abusing his name in matters the commission doesn’t know. The truth of the matter is that on September 28, when we had a workshop about the right to know, I was grabbed by the police from the hotel at the orders of the Director for information in the Office of the Prime Minister Simon Mayende because he felt uncomfortable with the truth I was speaking. Patrick Tumwine followed me out after my arrest and pleaded with the police to release me in vain. When I told him about the UHRC statement he was very disappointed that the UHRC can disgrace itself to that level! I cannot rule out anything including but not limited to being put to death for my advocacy for total, real liberation of this country. Therefore, I request that whatever I have documented be published online and in hard copies in case I have been exterminated by Museveni and his cadres including UHRC staff. All generations will thus know what Vincent Nuwagaba stood for.

Vincent Nuwagaba is a human rights defender

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