Press Releases

NRM tax proposals will deepen and spread poverty in Uganda

When Museveni launched the ten point program, I saluted NRM, noting that if it were implemented in full Uganda would go a long way in tackling poverty and the long suffering of Ugandans. However, when Museveni launched shock therapy structural adjustment in 1987 thereby abandoning the ten point program, I warned Uganda that Museveni was going to impoverish Ugandans.

This was followed by the 50-Year Master Plan which made it very clear what Museveni was all about: impoverish, dispossess, marginalize and render Ugandans politically and economically powerless and voiceless. Structural adjustment that was imposed by the west gave him the tools to impoverish Ugandans without being blamed since he was doing what structural adjustment was supposed to do but in a short time which has turned out to be 27 years and still counting.

Withdraw of donor funding for corruption and mismanagement of public funds has again given Museveni another opportunity to squeeze Ugandans even more and will likely get away with it because he will argue that as the international community has been suggesting he has planned to mobilize domestic resources and reduce dependence on aid. But who is being squeezed? Museveni has basically increased taxes on consumers and not producers. This is a deeply regressive tax that will hurt the poor especially the poorest. The rich producers who generally evade paying taxes will not feel the pain of increased taxes.

Ugandans and their friends and well wishers should oppose this taxation. The opposition leaders outside and inside parliament should reject the tax proposals in the budget because this taxation will make matters worse particularly for those already trapped in absolute poverty.

Eric Kashambuzi

Secretary General, UDU


Where is Uganda going?

By any measure, Uganda is going in the wrong direction including the recent statement by Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi to transfer land from peasants to large scale private foreign and local developers. Ugandans including those in the NRM government and development partners with their embassies in Uganda know it. In their 2012 report the Foreign Policy magazine and Fund for Peace listed Uganda among failed states with respect inter alia to human rights; uneven development; economic decline; de-legitimization of the state that includes massive corruption and poor governance; group grievances and uprooting of large communities from their homes (as in Luwero Triangle, Northern and Eastern regions and many parts of the rest of Uganda).

The ongoing efforts by some donors to rebrand President Museveni and NRM government whose popularity is sinking very fast and to superficially improve Uganda’s image abroad by inviting Ugandans as speakers in international conferences, using economic growth and per capita income figures that overshadow extreme inequality in income distribution and deepening and spreading poverty as was done in the 2013 UNDP’s Human Development Report and is being done to make Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa (one of the most corrupt, sectarian and poor managers in NRM government) the President of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly will not improve human security in Uganda and will damage the credibility of the United Nations once the international community finds out who Sam Kutesa is. Ugandans including some members of Parliament have verbally and in writing expressed their disapproval of Sam Kutesa who has been endorsed by the African Union as the next President of the United Nations General Assembly.

The militarization of Uganda government and society has gone a critical step further by appointing General Aronda Nyakairima former commander of Uganda armed forces as Minister of Internal Affairs joining General Kale Kayihura who is Inspector General of Police. The ministry of Information and Communication Technology has been placed in Museveni’s trusted John Nasasira who had been demoted as a cabinet minister for mismanaging the Ministry of Works, Transport and Housing. The team has been put together to violate human rights and freedoms of Ugandans as we witnessed last week regarding police occupation of some media offices and crushing the demonstration by journalists.

This brutality occurred the same week Africa was celebrating fifty years of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) and the publication of the report by the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Panel of Eminent Persons co-chaired by the President of Indonesia, the President of Liberia and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on Post-2015 Development Agenda titled “A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies Through Sustainable Development”. The panel has singled out five transformative shifts including building peace and effective, open and accountable institutions for all. It calls for freedom from fear, conflict and violence as well as the rule of law, property rights, freedom of speech and the media, open political choice and access to justice and accountable government as well as public institutions.

President Museveni has stepped up the abuse of his office in many ways. He has transferred responsibility for preparing the national budget from the Ministry of Finance to the ruling NRM political party. He has also transferred responsibility for issuing identity cards to the military which is under his complete control, implying the possibility of issuing identity cards to foreigners illegally residing in Uganda. The dual citizenship act was passed by rubber stamp parliament to enable President Museveni increase the number of foreigners as Uganda citizens who would support him in his domestic and regional ambitions opposed by Ugandans.

Not least, Museveni is frustrating political processes with a view to installing his soldier son Kainerugaba Muhoozi as the next president of Uganda. The people of Uganda have spoken out loud and clear against this project and the continued militarization of Uganda politics and governance. United Democratic Ugandans (UDU), an umbrella organization of political parties and organizations at home and abroad opposed to the NRM government policies, is calling on all Ugandans to keep the pressure on by peaceful means in the first instance.

UDU is also calling on Uganda development partners especially the United States of America and the United Kingdom who cherish human rights and fundamental freedoms; democracy and good governance; the rule of law and administration of justice for all, checks and balances and separation of powers among the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government to extend a helping hand to Ugandans trying to stop NRM government multi-faceted wrongdoing including land grabbing from helpless peasants disguised as willing seller and willing buyer arrangement and suppressing and impoverishing the majority of the people of Uganda to render them vulnerable, voiceless, powerless and easy to govern using broadly defined instruments such as anti-sectarian and anti-terrorism laws.

After many years of suffering, Ugandans want peace, security, equal opportunity, property rights and happiness for present and future generations.

This press statement has been copied to the State Department, United States of America; Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom; African Union; United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and President of the United Nations General Assembly for their necessary action.

Eric Kashambuzi

Secretary General, UDU

Museveni is feeling the rising political heat

The simultaneous clamp down on the press, reshuffle of cabinet and the military has one message for Ugandans at home and abroad, friends and well wishers – Museveni is scared that he might be toppled by popular and nonviolent uprising.

Declaring Uganda a failed state, cracks in the army and police, withdrawal of development partner funds, rising international criticism of NRM government for mismanagement, invading other countries and informative civic education have turned the tables on the president and his NRM party. That the Tutsi have colonized Uganda and are now settling their people on Uganda land and are pushing for a Tutsi Empire initially in the Great Lakes region are no longer in doubt. The termination of paternity tests at the government laboratory facilities though reported as temporary may confirm what many feared – some Uganda men married to Tutsi women have been breaking their backs raising Tutsi children they didn’t father.

All these things happening at the same time have complicated Museveni plan to crown his son as the next president of Uganda. But he hasn’t given up. He has removed from the army people he feared most including David Sejusa (Tinyefuza), Aronda Nyakairima and Ivan Koreta. Promoting Katumba Wamala as Chief of Defense Forces needs to be read with a grain of salt. Museveni is trying to clear the way for his son Muhoozi to become the next president and Katumba may be the right man to help him do it. So we need to know who Katumba really is.

The cabinet reshuffle also conveys some messages. The ministry of internal affairs to which the police, intelligence and prisons are attached has been fully militarized and Tutsified with Gen. Aronda Nyakairima a Tutsi as minister of internal affairs and Gen. Kale Kayihura a Tutsi as inspector general of police. The trusted John Nasasira has bounced back as minister of information and communications technology. Please note that Rose Namayanja is also minister of information (and national guidance). Sam Kutesa who was retained as minister of foreign affairs will soon depart if elected president of the United Nations General Assembly for one year. The elections are scheduled for June 14, 2013. He will be out of the way like Sejusa now in exile and Koreta to become ambassador as well as Nyakairima who becomes minister of internal affairs.

Ruhakana Rugunda is always on the move including more recently from internal affairs chasing Kony, to New York as ambassador, to technology ministry and now to health. Hilary Onek and Karooro Okurut have been demoted while Maria Kiwanuka has been retained as minister of finance and economic planning without power since the ministry’s principal responsibility to prepare and present the budget to parliament has been taken away from her and given to the NRM secretariat run by Amama Mbabazi.

The promotion of Henry Kajura as 1st deputy prime minister a title held by Eriya Kategaya (RIP) should be read with a grain of salt. He comes from Bunyoro which has oil reserves and Banyoro want more revenue than Museveni is willing to give. So what role will Kajura play?

That Eriya Kategaya’s strategic post of minister of East African affairs was not filled means that Museveni hasn’t found a trusted person to drive the Tutsi Empire project by political means. It took a long time to fill the post of minister of state in the same ministry. That shem Bagaine has been retained means he is delivering as instructed. Bright Rwamirima and Rukutana Mwesigwa have respectively retained their strategic portfolios as ministers of state for animal industry (of interest to Tutsi people) and labor, employment and industrial relations (where pensions and trade unions are located).

Given many complaints about the mismanagement of the ministry for Karamoja, Janet Museveni should have been sent somewhere else. Reports that Karamoja people are being forced into settlements, are losing their cattle and land, are involved in human trafficking and are homeless on the streets of Kampala should have served as a warning, even if some of them may not be true, to reassign the minister.

With 32 cabinet members if you add the president and vice president, the cabinet is heavy and very expensive. Museveni should have emulated Uhuru Kenyatta that reduced the cabinet to some 20 members.

One conclusion is inescapable: The wind of political change against tutsification of the country is blowing through Uganda. To slow it down the following steps are being taken by the NRM.

1. The termination of paternal tests at government laboratory facilities;

2. The disappearance of files on vital registration;

3. The missing records or scarce information on refugees and illegal immigrants;

4. The postponement of the population census.

To reverse this trend and avoid regrets later on, Uganda needs a truly patriotic, dedicated, experienced and selfless leadership.

Eric Kashambuzi

Secretary General, UDU


Peaceful and democratic political change virtually impossible in Uganda

Since NRM government came to power in 1986 through the barrel of the gun, it has been disproportionately and favorably treated by development partners, allowing it ten years to prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections in 1996 after it had virtually destroyed independence political parties of UPC and DP.

Parliament passed draconian anti-sectarian and anti-terrorism laws making it virtually impossible to protest against government wrongdoing including sectarianism, corruption, cronyism and mismanagement of public funds.

Under the anti-terrorism law any Ugandan can be arrested and detained indefinitely. The anti-terrorism Act prohibits inter alia “use of violence or threat of violence with intent to promote or achieve political, religious, economic and cultural or social ends in an unlawful manner”(Human Rights Watch 2003). The law covers activities in every field of human endeavor.

Human Rights Watch and other organizations including development partners have reported regularly on violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Yet western governments continue to do business as usual with Museveni government, apart from the recent attempt by some development partners to withdraw support until the situation has improved.

Uganda does not have an independent electoral commission. The Commonwealth Observer team during the 2011 presidential and parliamentary elections reported that the electoral process lacked a level playing field, making it difficult to compete against the ruling NRM political party. Yet some western governments sent congratulatory messages to the president of Uganda for his re-election.

Uganda has been registered in the 2012 report as a failed state by the Foreign Policy magazine in collaboration with the Fund for Peace. The report describes Museveni as a tyrant who has allowed a climate of impunity for serious abuses by the police and the military. Malnutrition and poverty remain among the most difficult challenges. There have been fatal and non-fatal shootings by the security forces and other abuses such as beatings, theft, and rape and no member of the security forces has been held accountable.

The people of Uganda are trying to effect peaceful change of regime but the task is made difficult by the support the Museveni government continues to get from development partners including ongoing attempts to re-brand Uganda, NRM government and the president. Uganda doesn’t need re-branding by external forces. It needs a peaceful change of regime in the first instance.

We appeal to development partners to help create a level playing field including withdrawing support for corrupt candidates seeking international organizations high offices, stopping to receive government officials including the president and/or visiting Uganda by senior officials including ministers, prime ministers and presidents as a demonstration of solidarity with the people of Uganda who are sovereign.

Eric Kashambuzi

Secretary General, UDU

Where did over $30 billion in aid to Uganda go?

As darling of the west because it tenaciously clung to the conditionality embedded in socially harmful shock therapy version of stabilization and structural adjustment program that other countries like Chile and Ghana modified to protect the people from excess suffering and environmental degradation, Uganda under NRM government has received over $30 billion in grant (free) money from western development partners for economic, social and environmental development purposes. Uganda was the first country in the world to get debt relief under the HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) arrangements amounting to $2 billion specifically for investment in education and healthcare.

If you add on grants from NGOs and foundations and soft loans and other loans from multilateral institutions like IMF, World Bank and ADB plus remittances of some $1billion per annum, foreign earning from diversified exports and revenue collected from domestic sources including the regressive VAT, Uganda has enough money to get its people out of the poverty trap. Yet over fifty percent of Ugandans live below the poverty line, over 30 percent of Ugandans go to bed hungry and diseases that had disappeared have returned with a vengeance. Children are dropping out of school in large part for luck of lunch against a decision taken by NEPAD/AU that all children in school should be provided with lunch. President Museveni reported during the last presidential campaign that he had asked the World Bank to study the request and make recommendations. What were the recommendations? And where is the report by the World Bank?

What we are witnessing is decadence in schools, health facilities, housing especially sprawling urban slums, attire still dominated by used imported and largely temperate apparel unsuitable in a tropical climate and in a country that has first class cotton and factories to process it into finished products. Ugandans still walk barefoot in a country that produces large quantities of hides and skins and exports them in raw form while the shoe factory was closed. Ugandans are starving in a country that exports mountains of nutritious foodstuffs to neighboring countries and beyond to earn foreign currency to cater for the rich including the president’s jet and fleets of very expensive vehicles for the president, over 70 ministers, perhaps equal number of presidential advisers, MPs, and heads of districts now over 120 etc.

We appreciate that donors are now demanding an explanation and have withheld funding until acceptable explanation is given. Corrupt officials should be punished and the UN and other intergovernmental bodies should ensure that any Ugandan elected to high office including Security Council, Human Rights Council and General Assembly is cleared of corruption first. That will set a standard for others to follow.

Eric Kashambuzi

Secretary General, UDU


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