New York-based Ugandan professor says to understand President Yoweri Museveni’s philosophy and what he wants to achieve ultimately, it’s better to start with the 1959 social revolution in Rwanda that turned the tables upside down.
Eric Kashambuzi, the Principal Advisor on Africa and Least Developed Countries at United Nations Foundation – United Nations Foundation, says the Tutsi who had dominated Hutu as serfs or slaves since the late 15th century (John W. Wright 2005), lost power in the 1959 revolution and many fled the country into the neighbouring countries including Uganda and beyond.
“In 1962 Rwanda became independent with Hutu in charge. Museveni being a Tutsi and believed to have come to Uganda from Rwanda (subject to confirmation) didn’t like that at all,” the professor writes.
He says during the negotiations for Uganda’s 1962 constitution the Tutsi/Bahororo in Ankole were denied a separate district (Victor A. Olorunsola 1972).
“That too upset Museveni. Additionally the Bairu people who had been dominated and treated as serfs or slaves by Tutsi/Hima for centuries won the 1962 elections and ousted Tutsi from power like in Rwanda.”
While at Ntare School during these political changes, Museveni and Rwanda Tutsi refuge students at the same school formed an organisation to regain their dominance in Ankole and Rwanda and then found a Tutsi Empire initially in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region using Uganda as a base, notes Kashambuzi.
“Since to capture power in Uganda democratically was not possible because of Tutsi demographic inferiority Museveni and Tutsi team resorted to capture political and economic power through the barrel of the gun, hence guerrilla training starting in the 1960s in Mozambique jungles.”
They also needed an external hand which they obtained (Peter Phillips 2006) to gain power in Uganda they had to remove three hurdles: Baganda (economically, politically and strategically strong), Northerners (militarily strong) and Bairu (numerically and politically strong).
According to the professor, the guerrilla training was designed to capture power in Uganda first. Military recruitment was concentrated on Tutsi. Others who joined were given political, diplomatic and administrative roles, not to touch the gun.
The disputed 1980 Uganda elections gave Museveni the opportunity he had been waiting for together with his foreign backers who didn’t like the “socialist” regime.
He deliberately started the war in Buganda to cripple Baganda as he fought Obote and get the first hurdle out of the way, argues Kashambuzi, adding, after he captured power, the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) gave him an opportunity to destroy the northern military strength.
“The international community didn’t come in until the area had been devastated. Then structural adjustment program (SAP) gave Museveni the opportunity to cripple Bairu by weakening education, health care, nutrition, grabbing land, destroying cooperatives and marginalising them by denying them high profile jobs in NRM administration.”
With tacit help of external hand, Museveni delayed elections for ten years and rejected multiparty politics (Journal of Democracy April 1994) until later in the game.
The 1995 Constitution recognises Banyarwanda considered to be an attempt to disguise Tutsi refugees whose citizenship suggestion had earlier been overwhelmingly rejected. This matter needs further study, according to the professor.
The constitution also allows people to migrate within Uganda and settle wherever they want and this has allowed the rich, the powerful and well connected to grab land from the powerless and voiceless native peasants who have become landless and jobless and are herded in sprawling urban slums without hope of a better future under the current status quo.
The land issue has therefore become a potentially destabilizing factor in Uganda politics and economics.
After he felt he was strong, having in his view weakened Baganda, Northerners and Bairu, Museveni in 1997 announced that his mission was to create a federation of states in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region under one nation which he didn’t specify leading to speculations that he meant Tutsi nation.
Museveni military engagement in the above two regions are according to some opinions designed to achieve this mission, Kashambuzi notes, clarifying that many people are not happy about what is going on including in Uganda.
Among them is Konare, a former president of Mali and chairman of the African Union. He had this to say about Museveni in a carefully measured way: “I have lots of respect for Museveni, but I am not sure what value the Museveni experience will have for Uganda after Museveni is gone” (Howard W. French 2004).
Many more are increasingly feeling the same as things in Uganda, whatever apologists may say, are moving from bad to worse in politics, economics and all other areas, he further writes.
This is the challenge, not only for Uganda or the region, but for the entire international community.
It has been recommended that before it is too late the entire international community led by UK, UN and USA should exert pressure on Museveni to step down.
Then an all embracing transitional government be established under a collective presidency to inter alia convene a national conference to discuss and agree on how Ugandans want to be governed and then organise free and fair multi-party elections.
Failed NRM policies
According to the professor, the ruling NRM policies haven’t worked; for example, the regular elections demanded by donors have created a big problem.
“NRM is represented in parliament and cabinet by people from a very narrow group. We call for studies to confirm or deny this observation.”
Economic recovery programs began in 1987 have not promoted or sustained acceptable level of growth but promoted vast income inequalities.
Severe attempts to balance the budget have led to near collapse of public education and healthcare. The unemployable graduates and emerging serious diseases like cancer confirm that a lot is wrong.
The environmental damage is staggering especially the biodiversity loss. Droughts, floods, famines etc spring from the desire to vastly exploit natural resources for export purposes.
The development of apartheid that is gathering speed is sowing the seeds of bad things ahead. The lesson of South Africa should not be repeated in Uganda.
Land grabbing, separate schools and hospitals into public and private facilities are apartheid in disguise.
“Ugandans are beginning to wake up to these nasty realities and are fighting back. Their ultimate victory can only be delayed. It certainly can’t and won’t be stopped whatever the level of military strength and the secret service capacity to torture dissenters and the level of external support,” he said.
Professor Kashambuzi who is also the Secretary General of the United Democratic Ugandans (UDU), an umbrella organization of opposition political parties and organisations at home and abroad said that his organization had consistently advised Uganda legislators to go cautiously on the dual citizenship issue too because it could harm Uganda’s national security interests as more non-Ugandans became citizens under the dual citizenship arrangement.