Advice to Ugandans at home and abroad

As a civic educator my job is to give you information so you take informed decisions and be held accountable and not blame those you put into positions of power to take decisions on your behalf.

To begin with remember this: When you are afraid of failure, of being humiliated by calling you all sorts of names, of disappointing your friends you will never do anything.

My philosophy is that when you are convinced that what you are saying or doing is right proceed but in a civil and respectful manner. It is better to try and fail so you can draw lessons and do better next time than not trying at all and blame yourself later on when it might be too late to make a start. In this note my advice is on the following issues:

1. The opposition should stop pursuing electoral reforms because they will not happen on Museveni watch because they are designed to level the playing field that will make NRM lose. The current effort championed by Zac Niringiye is a diversionary tactic so that the opposition spends less time on mobilizing for 2016 elections. Zac who travels out of the country as and when he likes on a diplomatic passport could imply he is an NRM agent disguised as an activist, as some have claimed, not as a member of the opposition;

2. When elections are approaching, NRM government shows keen interest in the welfare of the unemployed especially the youth and earmarks some money to create some temporary jobs until the elections are over and the unemployed are forgotten again. We see the youth are now among the NRM top priority program. Don’t be fooled again. If you do don’t blame NRM whose purpose is to stay in power by marginalizing Ugandans politically and economically;

3. When elections are approaching that is when Buganda and Baganda become very important – a role model to be emulated by the rest of Ugandans. Every politician starts praising Baganda and wants to visit Mengo to take pictures with Mengo officials and seek Mengo and through it Baganda political support. Beware because praises are about to be showered on you.

4. The East African community model as it is being implemented in the economic and political aspects is not good for Uganda. Uganda will be the net loser. Because Burundi and Tanzania are being cautious they have been left out of the negotiations among Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda. Ugandans in Uganda are being turned into East Africans because of many Kenyans and Rwandese that are flocking to settle and own properties in Uganda including land whereas Kenyans remain Kenyans and Rwandese remain Rwandese in their respective countries because Ugandans are not moving in the two countries for various reasons including shortage of land and skills needed in those two countries. Kenya will benefit from a larger market for its manufactured products and kill Uganda manufacturing enterprises. Rwanda will benefit tremendously by shedding its landless population onto Uganda that will create competition for land and Ugandans will be the losers because there is no political support for them.

For now these are the issues you should grapple with and take your own decisions and be held accountable. Good luck.


Puzzles surrounding FUF and FADDU

As we begin 2015 and there are plans for collaboration among different groups for effectiveness and efficiency, there are a number of things that we need to clarified about Uganda politics in the Diaspora especially those relating to FUF, FADDU and UDU so that none is left in doubt.

FUF: at the beginning we were told that it was founded at a meeting in London in December 2013 by the group led by Ogole (RIP) and the group led by Sejusa. In other words FUF did not exist before the London meeting.

We were also told that Prof. Amii omara Otunnu was handpicked by Sejusa as chairperson of FUF. We were further told that General Sejusa was the founder, not co-founder with Ogole.

A manifesto based on ecumenical principles was drawn up which resembled a plane taking off without an indication about where it intended to land.

About six months down the road we were told major differences erupted between the two groups and FUF collapsed as announced by Sejusa.

Later on we learnt that FUF was still in existence and Amii was still the chairperson. We also learned that he had been proposed as chairperson by Ogole and seconded by Sejusa and therefore not handpicked by Sejusa. Then there was the puzzle about the methods to use to unseat NRM government. All along we knew Sejusa wanted military force. It turned out after the breakup that not all members shared Sejusa’s method but we don’t know when that difference developed and who differed from Sejusa and what they proposed.

If FUF did not exist before the meeting in London how come it is still in existence when Sejusa group broke off? This needs explanation together with the provision of a new manifesto that sets out the philosophy and strategy.

Besides Amii who claims is still chairperson, who else is on the executive and where do they operate from: in London or somewhere else?

FADDU: What exactly is FADDU? When was it formed and by whom? Who are the leaders and what does it stand for?

Then we hear FADDU has joined with FUF.

If it is true that FADDU has joined with FUF then where is the new manifesto, spelling out the philosophy and strategy? Who are the joint leaders? (Recently FADDU contacted me to collaborate with it and I concurred in principle on certain conditions. The matter was presented to the executive committee that turned down its own proposal).

Let me make it very clear: we are asking these genuine questions not because we want to be obstructionists or to marginalize any member of the group(s) but to be sure we know what we are dealing with.

In doing this we are governed by the principle of transparency, participation and accountability. We believe the Uganda public should be informed about developments as they unfold. We therefore seek clarifications – nothing more and nothing less.

Then comes UDU: It was formed in July 2011 at a conference in Los Angeles, California, USA. A committee and executive were elected with Mubiru Musoke as chairperson; Eric Kashambuzi as secretary General; Dorothy Lubowa as leader of gender and Fred Ssali as youth leader.

UDU developed a National Recovery Plan (NRP) which was endorsed at the Boston Conference in October 2011 and the committee and its executive empowered to continue the excellent work it was doing and report regularly as we do on

Mubiru Musoke’s principal task is democracy, good governance and human rights. Eric Kashambuzi deals principally with political economy matters and diplomatic networking.

Dorothy Lubowa is active on Radio Uganda Boston.

Joe Magandazi a committee member has been an active commentator on UDU work and his postings on Ugandans at Heart are well known. Recently he confirmed that UDU is popular not only in Uganda but also in the Great Lakes region.

Before the UAS-Africa summit took place in Washington DC last year, Mubiru Musoke as chairperson of UDU wrote to the White House on matters related to Uganda.

UDU is therefore alive and well and very active. Its mission is well articulated in the National Recovery Plan accessible at It leaders are well known as specified above.

We would like to have other organizations in the Diaspora to make the same presentation for Ugandans to compare notes and take informed decisions.

Intra versus inter-ethnic conflicts in Uganda politics

For quite some time, I have studied conflicts as a major deterrent in political, economic and social development focusing on Rwanda and Uganda.

Contrary to popular belief, my research has led me to conclude that the principle problem is basically within (intra) than between (inter) ethnic groups. This conclusion has led some people to consider me a highly controversial student of political economy, more divisive than uniting people and therefore unfit for public responsibility (recently FADDU that had contacted me to collaborate with them and I concurred changed its mind and dropped the idea).

We therefore need to understand this intra-ethnic dimension in Uganda politics to be able to make appropriate recommendations to break the current impasse. In the second part I will show that I am basically a uniter but you can’t unite people without articulating what has divided them. That is our challenge.

In Rwanda there has been a tendency to describe conflicts there as arising from inter-ethnic rivalry between Hutu and Tutsi. Closer and unbiased examination gives different results since independence in 1962.

The social revolution of 1959 excluded Tutsi from Rwanda politics until 1994. The Hutu from the north and south of the country formed the government between 1962 and 1994. Until 1973 the president, Gregorie Kayibanda, came from the southern region and favored Hutu from that region. The Hutu in the northern region complained that they were politically marginalized. In 1973 Juvenal Habyarimana from the northern region staged a successful military coup and became president. He in turn favored Hutu from his region.

A closer study of events since 1994 indicates that inter-ethnic conflict between Hutu and Tutsi might be less significant than intra-Tutsi conflict. We need more studies before a definitive conclusion can be drawn.

Writing a true story about Uganda politics since independence requires courage, risk and sacrifice because of its sensitivity. Uganda political conflicts since 1962 have been falsely reported as inter-ethnic between Bantu people in the southern region and Nilotic people in the northern region. They have also falsely been presented as inter-faith. Civic education is about truth telling. Thus, the true story about political conflict is intra-ethnic among members of one ethnic group whose people live in northern and southern parts of Uganda.

Until 1971 the politics of Uganda was dominated by UPC. After the election of Grace Ibingira as secretary-general of UPC at the 1964 Gulu delegates conference defeating Kakonge by two votes the struggle for power was between Ibingira a Nilotic (Tutsi/Hima) from Ankole and Obote a Nilotic from Lango. Until Ibingira was arrested and detained in 1966 UPC was divided into two camps. For example, the popular view was that in Buganda Lumu was pro-Ibingira while Binaisa was pro-Obote. In Ankole Kahigiriza was pro-Ibingira while Bananuka was pro-Obote. In Kigezi Bikangaga was pro-Ibingira while Lwamafwa was pro-Obote.

Following the detention of Ibingira in 1966 the struggle for political power was between Onama and Amin on the one side and Obote on the other side. The three men – non-Bantu – came from the northern region although not from the same ethnic group.

During the struggle to oust Amin from power the struggle was between Museveni a Nilotic (Tutsi/Muhororo) from Ankole and Obote a Nilotic from Lango. The guerrilla war mainly in the Luwero Triangle was led by Obote and his largely Nilotic commanders from the north against Museveni and his largely Nilotic (Tutsi) commanders from the south. The overthrow of Obote in 1985 was staged by the Okellos. The coup in 1986 against the Okellos was staged by Museveni a Nilotic.

The devastating war in the northern and Eastern regions was largely between Joseph Kony a Nilotic from the north and Museveni a Nilotic from the south.

If you look at the current leaders of the major political parties they are all Nilotic: Museveni (NRM), Muntu (FDC), Mao (DP) and Otunnu (UPC). This is a fact.

You can see that since independence we have not had inter-ethnic problems between Bantu and Nilotic peoples or inter-faith conflicts between Protestants and Catholics. It is purely an intra-ethnic problem.

At the risk of offending some people, I have deliberately presented this analysis as a guide as we prepare for 2016 elections. We must be pragmatic and include the missing elements in the political equation.

As a corrective measure, I have strenuously advocated since 2011 that the post-NRM government must be an all inclusive transitional one led by a presidential team to give a sense of shared responsibility at the highest political level in the land. There is complaint which is getting louder that presidents have come from two regions. During the transitional period every region must be represented at the presidential level. Then during the national convention debate Ugandans should decide how they want to be governed at the central, regional and local levels.

People who have criticized me as sectarian or worse when I express these views are those who want to maintain the status quo because it has disproportionately benefited them. Maintaining the status quo is simply unsustainable.

Let me say a few words about my role as a uniter and not a divider of people and those in doubt can check the record.

To be appointed a prefect reflected quality as a uniter of students. I was appointed a prefect at Butobere School (O Level) and at Ntare School (A Level). At Butobere I was also appointed a Scouts Troop Leader to unite the students in this extra curriculum activity.

While at Butobere School, I was elected president of Rujumbura students association at a time when the association was experiencing serious ethnic rivalries shortly after independence.

At the University of California, Berkeley campus, I was elected president of the African Students Association when members were divided over the Vietnam War.

At UNDP in Lusaka, Zambia I was elected chairperson of UN Staff Association when there were problems between internationally recruited and locally recruited staff.

In Lusaka I was a cofounder of Uganda Unity Group (UUG) of members from all regions of Uganda and we were admitted at the Moshi conference of 1979.

At UNDP in New York, I was a cofounder of Amicale to smoothen relations of African staff members from different regions.

Clearly this is not the profile of a divider of people. In carrying out my uniting responsibilities I have always – without favor or fear – pointed out the real cause of the problem. And this is exactly what I am trying to do as we struggle to unseat a failed NRM government through non-violent resistance in the first instance.

To sum up, we need a balance in the politics of Uganda and leadership that understands the root cause of the problem and how to fix it and then unite the people of Uganda on a sustained basis. Sweeping problems under the carpet for short-term gains isn’t a solution in the long-term. The intra-ethnic politics we have had since independence is unacceptable and has to be addressed without further delay in the interest of all the people of Uganda, not just a few.


Many proposals about post-NRM government

With pressure mounting against Museveni regime, groups are coming up with scenarios about a successor government. Here are some of them for consideration.

1. Regarding leadership: there are those who argue that any leader is better than Museveni. But this group seems to have forgotten or conveniently neglected that we have gone through this without improving the political, economic and social conditions. When a group of Ugandans didn’t like Obote, they said anybody was better than him. We got Amin. A larger group said anybody was better than Amin. In quick succession we got Lule, then Binaisa and ultimately Obote. A group of Ugandans swore to unseat Obote and argued that anybody was better than Obote. We got Okello and within six months a section of Uganda didn’t like him and we got Museveni. Now many are saying anybody is better than Museveni. Given this history what makes this group insist anybody is better than Museveni? To look for a better alternative we need to establish a profile of the next leader (I prefer a presidential team rather than one leader who concentrates power and becomes a dictator) first and then embark on a search.

2. There are those led by Niringiye and implicitly supported by Sejusa and others in the wings arguing that there is no NRM as such. It is Museveni and once Museveni is gone, Ugandans can pick anybody to lead. However, if NRM does not exist, then why is Amama Mbabazi arguing that he is still the Secretary General of NRM? NRM has just concluded its convention in preparation for 2016 elections. How do we describe those who participated in the convention beyond Museveni and his family? This school of thought is probably made up of a group of people in the NRM scattered at home and abroad bent on continuing to govern Uganda and are quietly without trace of record working together to continue with the 50 year master plan.

3. There are Ugandans especially with a military record insisting that military force is the only viable alternative to unseat the NRM government because Uganda is not ready for People Power as we witnessed in the Philippines against Marcos regime; in Iran against the Shah regime; in Tunisia against Ali regime and most recently in Burkina Faso against Compaore. They feel that for Uganda an exception should be made to overthrow the government by military means and form a transitional government led by a current soldier or one with military background. They have ruled out the alternative scenario of soldiers joining hands with civilian population to change the regime by non-violent methods.

4. There are Ugandans who are arguing that we should not waste valuable time discussing a program of action for post-NRM regime. Instead we should focus on changing the regime first and then begin discussion about the next government. The group also insists that it should take on board anybody without bothering to investigate their history and character because for them what is common is regime change. But history has shown unambiguously that when groups with opposed views come together for the sole purpose of removing the regime, once that task is accomplished, the different groups turn against one another to form the next government and a civil war is the result. We have seen that in the French, Mexican, Russian and Ethiopian Revolutions to mention a few. Closer to home we witnessed this in Uganda following the formation of the post-Amin regime in 1979. When Ugandans from home and in the Diaspora met in The Hague in November 2013, it was decided that plans for regime change must be discussed together with plans for governing the country the morning after the regime is removed by non-violent methods. The Hague Process for Peace, Security and Development in Uganda has presented the roadmap to regime change and what to do the morning after. It has been widely circulated.

All of us have ambitions and elements of individualism and selfishness but when we carry them too far ahead of the nation and community we risk destroying the country and her people. Uganda has been like that since independence. Winner-take-all and concentration of power in the hands of one leader since 1966 have proven disastrous. If we don’t change course we shall continue to sink deeper into darkness politically, economically and socially. We should recast short-term goals and the urge to revenge because this path is unsustainable. We must instead embrace tolerance, equitable sharing, reconciliation and liberty with justice.

All Ugandans have a duty to participate in this debate. If you sit on the fence waiting to jump into the winning camp you may end up at the bottom of the pyramid – if you are lucky. Chances are you may end up in exile or worse if you remain passive especially the youth.

Why Uganda is endemically divided and unstable

In my posting of December 31, 2014, I called on Ugandans at home and abroad to exercise tolerance, compromise, sharing and reconciliation. A divided society like Uganda can’t achieve this goal, however much we talk about it. We have to change our mind set and act responsibly.

Since colonial days Uganda has been divided between the rich and the poor; masters and servants; military and civilian populations; growth poles and labor reserves. This dichotomy and the associated inequality has remained basically the same to this day in 2015.

In 1959/60 Baganda who constituted 16 percent of the total population had 46 percent of the total students at Makerere. Bateso, Banyankole and Basoga who constituted 8 percent, 8 percent and 8 percent of the total population respectively had 6 percent, 6 percent and 6 percent students at Makerere University respectively. Kigezi district got senior one in 1957, five years before independence!

In 1961 Baganda constituted 47 percent in higher civil service while Bateso, Banyankole and Basoga constituted 2 percent, 4 percent and 4 percent respectively.

In 1967, 75,000 Baganda were employed in private industry and 34,000 in public sector. The respective figures for Easterners were 34,000 and 25,000; for westerners the respective figures were 32,000 and 22,000. For Northerners the respective numbers were 9,000 and 11,000 (V.A. Olurunsola 1972)..

At the economic level Buganda and to a certain extent Busoga were designated growth poles. Export or cash crops mostly cotton and coffee and later sugar and tea and the associated industries and services were concentrated in this area with all the benefits.

Clearly Buganda was overrepresented in the economy, education and labor market.

The northern and eastern regions dominated the security forces (military, police and prisons). For example in 1961, 15 percent of the police force came from Teso, 16 percent from Acholi and 5 percent were Lugbara(V.A. Olurunsola 1972). Clearly the eastern and northern regions were overrepresented in the security forces.

The western region and West Nile were overrepresented in the supply of cheap and unskilled labor as they were designated labor reserves for Buganda and Busoga. That is why education was slow in coming.

Sadly, the situation has remained the same. Buganda still leads in education, economy and labor market. For example, over 80 percent of Gross National Income (GNI) is generated in Kampala and its vicinity with a total population of less than two million while the rest of the country with 32 million people generates a mere 20 percent of GNI.

Whereas the strength of the security forces has shifted from the northern region to the western region since NRM came to power in 1986, the Nilotic dominance has remained the same because Batutsi (Bahororo and Bahima) are also Nilotic like their cousins in the north – a fact that many people don’t understand.

This situation is unsustainable in the long-term, explaining why Uganda is endemically unstable and insecure. Unless it is corrected, Uganda will remain unstable, insecure, underdeveloped and unequal and engulfed in conflict.

To overcome this impasse we must accept that all Ugandans are born free and equal in rights and dignity. They will not rest until they feel everyone is given space to utilize the God-given potential.

I have resolved to continue with civic education so that Ugandans and our developed partners understand why Uganda with all its endowments is unable to lift millions of its citizens out of poverty which has led to endemic instability and conflict.

Happy New Year


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