Thursday, March 8, 2012

Attack on the media practitioners is an attack on all of us

The Mouthpiece — 25 May 2011

Both local and international journalists have been gravely attacked during the walk-to-work protests in Uganda. During the protests we have witnessed journalists beaten and having their cameras smashed. We have also seen some journalists being shot with stray bullets all because they are covering protests involving the opposition. This is a travesty of democracy and an affront on fundamental rights not only of the affected journalists but all Ugandans and other stakeholders in Uganda. The media are the eyes and ears of the public. Journalists are obligated to act as a mirror to society. If one looks at him/herself into a mirror, the mirror will show exactly what one looks like. Accordingly, the media houses mirror exactly what takes place in Uganda. Sadly, even the number one citizen has branded some media houses enemies of Uganda’s economic recovery and that they will be treated as such. That President Museveni has branded some media houses “enemies of Uganda’s economic recovery” is something many if not all of us should be worried about.

When I was young, my grandmother used to tell me of a story of two girls. One who was beautiful and another one who was ugly. Both of them were staying with one woman who happened to be a mother to the ugly girl and stepmother to the beautiful one. The woman woke up one day, smeared her stepdaughter with dirt and dressed her in rugs but she washed her daughter and dressed her in magnificent attire and took them for display on the street. All the people that passed said the one who had been smeared with dirt was beautiful and the one smartly dressed was ugly. Thus, if the government is sure that it is clean, no amount of tarnishing by what Museveni calls enemies of economic recovery or economic saboteurs will taint its good image. Likewise, if the opposition is beautiful, no amount of smear campaign by the government will make it look ugly. So, let the journalists do their work.

The media houses have done a lot in exposing corruption, famine, disease out-breaks, human rights violations but also promoting the government programmes. It is because of the cardinal role played by the media that it is rightly called the “Fourth Estate”. Edmund Burke said ,”There were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters’ Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate, more important far than they all.” The implication is that while ordinarily there are three arms of the state, the legislature, judiciary and executive, the media is another unofficial arm of the state much more important because of its critical role. News stories by our media houses highlighting the plight of very many people have ended up saving some people’s lives. At least I know of some people who had serious ailments that could not be treated in Uganda but ended up getting money for treatment outside Uganda courtesy of the media houses. The attack on the media should become a preoccupation of human rights defenders because media practitioners are human rights defenders but also help to ease the work of human rights defenders. If journalists are muzzled then the right of access to information will be muzzled. Lack of information gives rise to impunity. Assuming the corruption scandals in public offices were not reported about how many Ugandans would still get social services?

Independent media and free press are good for human rights defenders; good for politicians; good for the academia; good for religious leaders; good for business men; good for everyone. Thomas Jefferson once said given to choose between the two – government and the newspapers he would rather have the newspapers without the government than government without the newspapers. Definitely, I understand that we have some media houses that practice yellow journalism. Yellow journalism is the type of journalism which flouts the basic principles and rules of journalism. Journalists are merely messengers and not the message. Surprisingly, the president knows the cause for what he calls negative publicity. There is a Swahili saying which goes, “Chema cha jiuza, kibaya cha jitembeza” meaning a good thing sells itself and a bad one is advertised. I don’t know how our dear president wants the local and international media to advertise police brutality. I have for long heard the president and other public officials argue that they cannot do anything on the price of fuel and that if they reduce taxes, there will not be money for government programmes. This is paradoxical. There are hardly any drugs in health centres and we have seen innocent Ugandans die out of neglect; university education is now a preserve of a few because of exorbitant fees; civil servants don’t earn a living wage; no jobs are created for our graduates, among others. So, one wonders what Ugandans benefit from the taxes. The truth of the matter is that government wants taxes to pay Members of Parliament handsomely so that they can become subservient to the executive; it wants enough money to gratify the top military officers so that they keep their blind allegiance to the president; it wants enough money to continue bailing out NRM-leaning businessmen so that they generate more funds to keep the party in power; it wants enough money to sustain countless presidential assistants and advisors, ever increasing districts and a bloated cabinet. Contrary to some commentators who say the president is driven by altruism, President Museveni has perfected the art of transactional leadership whereby he transacts patronage for elite support. There are some ordinary Ugandans who have told me that the president doesn’t want many people to become rich because they will be ungovernable and maybe they are right.

In Uganda, the media plays a much more significant watchdog and oversight function than the parliamentarians. Like I have stated in the foregoing, the media are akin to a mirror which shows one the way they look. If you look yourself into a mirror and find you have blemishes on your face, should you break the mirror? No. instead you cleanse yourself of the blemishes. Instead of blaming the mosquitoes, it is better to clean the bushes. Instead of cursing darkness, light the candle. The government can clean the bushes and light the candle by doing exactly what it was elected to do. In contract law, if one party fails to deliver on the terms of the contract, we call it repudiation. We have seen a breach of the social contract and some Ugandans may not be wrong to call for the withdrawal of that contract.

Vincent Nuwagaba

Bukenya was tested and found wanting

The Mouthpiece — 27 May 2011

Gilbert Bukenya is a Professor who fell into the trap of Machiavellian politics – yet genuinely at heart is not a believer in Machiavellianism. Bukenya is not part of the Mafia whom he at one point in time complained about that they were trying to PhD him – I mean pull him down. Most likely the mafia succeeded this time round to pull him down. I am convinced that Professor Bukenya went contrary to the principles and objectives of the NRM which some people call National Resource Mismanagement but interchangeably used with National Resource Misallocation.

This can be seen through his upland rice scheme and other poverty alleviation initiatives. Most probably Professor Bukenya was not properly oriented on the superficial and the inner – real interests of the party. Many pundits believe that Museveni and the NRM use poverty eradication programmes as mere catchy and populist slogans but in an actual sense they don’t believe in making people rich because it doesn’t serve their interests.

This argument is corroborated by the failure of all the poverty alleviation initiatives that the government has adopted since it captured power. The constant change of names is purely aimed at duping the gullible that the government is always focused on poverty eradication. For instance, we have seen and heard of anti-poverty initiatives with different names such as Poverty Eradication Action Programme (PEAP); Poverty Action Fund (PAF), Entandikwa Scheme, PMA, NAADS and now Prosperity for All.

All these are aimed at the same thing – while the stated or superficial objective is fighting poverty, the inner hidden objective is to keep many people poor so as to make them remain vulnerable and dependent on the politicians for handouts. Otherwise, how many poor people have been lifted out of poverty by these schemes? Bukenya’s mistake was being pragmatic on fighting poverty. This must have not gone down well with him before his boss not only because he meant genuine transformation but because Bukenya’s modus operandi endeared him to many people who looked at him as a suitable if not a better alternative to Museveni!

I have not done thorough research on these anti-poverty initiatives but I believe one doesn’t have to be an expert of Professor Nuwagaba’s stature to discern that these initiatives have abysmally failed. One also doesn’t have to be an expert to know that these initiatives have failed largely because of lack of political will. I, for instance, have incontrovertible evidence that money whose amount I cannot reveal from the Micro Finance Support centre was siphoned to fund NRM campaigns. Can you imagine donors’ and taxpayers’ money meant for supporting the SACCOs whose job is ostensibly to ensure Prosperity for All being used to finance a ruling party campaigns? Cry the beloved country!

One other reason why Bukenya had to be shown the exit door is that he is a John come lately in the establishment. He is not one of “the liberators”. While “the liberators” were fighting, he was enjoying the comfort in academia. One can rightly argue that he even spent too long at the helm. If you are a typical Machiavellian politician, you don’t keep people such as Bukenya closer to yourself for so long. I must state, Bukenya is so good at marketing himself. I am sure, had it not been issues bordering on moral turpitude which include philandering and having cited in a shrine, Professor Mahogany would be having too many admirers.

It must also be pointed out that Bukenya was shown the exit partly because he no longer commanded influence in the Catholic Church because of his moral standing. Maybe, his interest in position of the NRM secretary general might have been perceived as scheming for the bigger post – his boss’s job. Of course, Bukenya has not been as loyal as Mbabazi when it comes to the boss.

Finally, I am compelled to surmise that being a John Come Lately, Bukenya didn’t know what his boss wanted. Being a perfect student of Machiavelli, Museveni’s interest is to consolidate and retain power by all means at any cost. Museveni must have discerned that to effectively do that money has to be concentrated in the hands of a few trusted cadres who directly or indirectly depend on him courtesy of the spoils system.

Here comes Bukenya who believes that many people should be uplifted out of poverty failing to understand that when people become rich, they attain quality education which ultimately makes them understand and assert their rights thereby becoming ungovernable as they make independent decisions because they are largely self-reliant. To Machiavellian politicians we have here, if accidentally those who are not part of them attain education, they should be condemned to eternal poverty which will frustrate them from exerting influence on a large section of the people. Of course, there have been exceptions but they also toe a careful path for the sake of their businesses’ survival. In my view, Bukenya was tested and found wanting.

Vincent Nuwagaba

Why NRM is a cadre not a mass party

The Mouthpiece — 29 May 2011

On Thursday, 26 May at the launch of former Democratic President Dr Paul Ssemogerere’s book, titled “Reality Check: Political Party Financing in Uganda”, a statehouse official, Hippo Twebaze said NRM is a mass party meaning it needs more funding than any other party because it has to reach out to its vast membership. Hippo is a political scientist who described himself as the only Marxist left in Uganda. Those who have read political science know very well that Karl Marx the father of Marxism ideology foresaw and worked for an egalitarian society. Marxism is diametrically opposed to ultra capitalism exhibited by the ruling NRM.

In fact, Marxists and capitalists are like oil and water. Accordingly, if Hippo is a Marxist, he had a place in the NRM party up to 1987 when the party experienced an ideological shift to neoliberalism and adopted Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs). I will not labour to explain what Marxism is for lack of space. Rather, I wish to state what a mass party should be. Political Scientists classify political parties into various classes. However, this article focuses on mass and cadre parties. For the benefit of all readers, I will not raise technical terms lest many readers fail to understand me.

Mass parties are not defined by the number of members they have in the register rather on the programmes that aim to improve the lives of the masses. The NRM leaders and cadres can call their party a mass party only if their party has programmes that are appealing to the masses. I know the NRM cadres will rush to remind us of UPE, USE, “Prosperity for All” (PFA) and so forth. I am hesitant to believe that these programmes were intended to uplift the masses. While in principle, they sound good, in practice they were introduced for political expediency – remember UPE was promised because Museveni feared Ssemo as he is fondly called was about to trounce him on polls. Otherwise, why would he wait for the campaign time to adopt programmes? UPE which started in 1997 is supposed to have its products in the first year at the university, I urge whoever is capable to go to Makerere University and establish how many of the 1st year Medicine or Pharmacy or Law students went through UPE schools. A mass party should empower its members economically, intellectually and otherwise.

How many of the NRM MPs have the wherewithal to oppose the NRM chairman on any anti-people programme? How many NRM MPs have opposed the proliferation of districts, ministries or even the appointment of people implicated in corruption scandals to public offices? Wait a moment – you will hear that the proposed constitutional amendments have been passed into law by our MPs who in practice are Museveni’s Parliamentarians – thus the label MPs. A few days ago, we saw the appointment of a person that was implicated in the Chogm saga to a de facto number two position? How many sons and daughters of the peasants can ably access jobs in URA, NPA or how many of the sons of the peasants can head projects in ministry of finance? How many of the masses are able to make independent decisions when it comes to voting?

I know virtually all NRM voters practice what is called pocket-book voting as opposed to phototropic voting. Pocket-book voting is where the goodies or freebies one gets during the campaign period determine how and for whom they cast their vote. This is opposed to socio-tropic voting which is influenced by the issues raised by the candidates. This is not the case with the NRM.

I hear in the yellow book, there are 8 or 9 million. How many of the mass membership turned to vote the NRM during the February election? How come with evidence of pre-ticked ballot stuffing presented by Ssekikubo and Dr Besigye, the NRM got only 5million votes? By the way, my mother is also in the register of the “Mass Party”. How does the party account to her if when she was suffering from fibroids she couldn’t get treatment in Mulago. I surmise that NRM is a cadre party because only the party cadres benefit from being its members because they have access to state resources – thanks to the spoils system.

Vincent Nuwagaba

Vincent Nuwagaba is a human rights defender

Dear MPs, we shall not look on as our country is raped

Dear MPs, we shall not look on as our country is raped The Mouthpiece — 02 June 2011 The 9th Parliament has started on a wrong note. Wrong because instead of members preoccupying themselves with the problems affecting us as a nation, the first preoccupation was self-aggrandisement. I was appalled that when it came to their emoluments and demand for vehicles, both the opposition and NRM members sailed in the same boat. What appalls me so much is that Elijah Okupa an opposition MP is the one who called for the locking out the media from covering the parliament proceedings. This makes me surmise that MPs are just that – Money Parasites. I am enraged that the Parliament Public Relations Officer could have the audacity to invoke the rules that allow the eviction of journalists if the matter under discussion threatens national security. Who defines national security? Does the matter of MPs emoluments threaten national security? We may be fooled to think that the issues that were being discussed were concerned with national security threats, let the MPs tell us when they are going to debate their emoluments. To begin with, although the law allows MPs to determine their own pay, that law is both immoral and illegitimate. It contradicts the rules of natural justice that no man can be a judge in his own case. Accordingly, I call upon you to support me to challenge the constitutionality of this bad law. We have come to understand that MPs will now get 19million per month and if we are to go by the press reports each MP is going to be paid 190million for a vehicle. What amazes me is that many of these MPs make negative contribution to Uganda. I am cock-sure that out of 375 less than 100 MPs will make some contribution albeit minor. A lecturer at Makerere University is given a gross pay of shillings 1.9million and takes home not more than 1.3. Do those MPs think that they play a more effective role than university lecturers? Tarsis Kabwegyere in his book, People’s Choice, People’s Choice says that “Wealth built by majority but enjoyed by the few is very vulnerable”. Kabwegyere further argues that, “Deprivation leads to violence and extreme deprivation leads to extreme violence”. Because of the poor reading culture, many Ugandans including MPs have not read Kabwegyere’s book so as to be guided. But also, because of intellectual dishonesty, Kabwegyere has since somersaulted from his views which incidentally he put in black and white in 2000. I would encourage all of you to read Professor Kabwegyere’s book and Museveni’s, “What is Africa’s Problem?” At the end of it all we should examine what could have been the cause of the mismatch. Ugandans pay a plethora of taxes which include, 30% of Pay As You Earn (which Mwenda used to call Pay As Yoweri Enjoys), 18% of Value Added Tax, Local Service Tax, Trading Licenses, Import and Export duties and so forth. It is clear then that we are deprived of our hard earned money to cater for a few. Personally, before I was maliciously thrown into jail in Luzira, I had declared my intentions to join Parliament. However, I had made it clear that I would fight the practice of having MPs determine their own pay or fight to ensure that the pay for an MP shouldn’t go beyond Sh 5million. I know many people would ask me how I would do that. I would first debate the matter from the floor of parliament and if defeated because of the mob in the house, I would take the matter to the court of public opinion. I would bring the matter in the media and call upon the people to organise themselves into a social movement to demand that MPs and ministers don’t fleece the taxpayers. I know the NRM is not ashamed to confront with guns people demanding accountability for their taxes. I also wanted to fight the practice of having MPs appointed ministers to ensure the doctrines of separation of powers and checks and balances work. Hon Banyanzaki, was for instance critical as a backbencher. But I am pretty sure that since he is a cabinet member, he will be bound by collective responsibility and I am sure that the NRM has succeeded in gagging him. Finally, I will not tire to call upon all of you to strongly demand accountability from the leaders that we have for our taxes. There is no way we can continue to be fleeced by the people who for many years promised to ensure our dignity. As a human rights defender I understand that rights and freedoms are not given on a silver platter. Let me end with Kabwegyere’s words, “The people must have sufficient power and strength to collectively say no to leaders who don’t uphold their promises after receiving the people’s mandate”. This power, he adds, “must be exercised under provisions of a constitution and if there’s a blockage in these areas, the people have a natural right to rebel”. There is glaring evidence that the government has violated the constitution and I am wondering whether we have no right to rebel. Dear MPs, we shall not look on as our country is raped. For God and my country! Mr Nuwagaba is a human rights defender

Moral poverty is the root of all forms of poverty in Uganda

Moral poverty is the root of all forms of poverty in Uganda
The Mouthpiece — 06 June 2011

In 2009, the press reported that Uganda’s poverty reduction/ eradication strategies have failed. From the outset, it was a figment of our own imagination that we thought of eradicating poverty. Hence Poverty Eradication Action Programme (PEAP) was bound to fail and Prosperity for All (Bona bagagawale) was merely an election catchword. I strongly believe, though, that poverty reduction is within the reach of any country with a visionary political leadership and many hitherto third world countries have done it.

At independence, Uganda was at the same economic footing with South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore. Today, South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia are economic power houses courtesy of the visionary transformational leadership of General Park, Lee Kuan Yew and Mahathir Mohammed respectively.

That said, we have two categories of citizens in Africa generally and Uganda in particular: those that live in colossal opulence and those that live in stark destitution, misery, hopelessness, frustration and normlessness. The former category comprises of the tiny minority while the latter category comprises of the vast majority. Both categories have been man-made. They have been created by the powers that be. It is not that the opulent category is more industrious or more talented than the destitute category for I believe and I am sure all of us do believe that God gives talents randomly.

Unless one wants to tell us that the opulent in this country are God-chosen people and the rest are cursed in which case personally I will vehemently deny that assertion because Uganda’s King of Kings has recently confessed that witchcraft worked for him when he was in the bush and didn’t tell us whether it doesn’t work for him now. Accordingly, I strongly believe that people who embrace witchcraft and demonic practices in utter disregard of the country’s motto, “For God and my country” cannot be God-chosen people. That’s why for me I cannot even be captivated by the primitively accumulated wealth they have for I know that is phantom as opposed to real wealth.

It is now crystal clear that poverty is engineered; that Mr. Museveni had it as his grand plan to seriously, rigorously, strenuously, assiduously and vehemently work on the impoverishment of the masses, the major drive being that when the masses become rich they will be ungovernable. This explains why sham organisations like Caring for Orphans, Widows and the Elderly (COWE) were started with the mere aim of draining the wretched of the earth of the meagre financial resources they had and hence leaving them bloodless, and therefore unable to oppose the powers that be. It is almost axiomatic that poverty is synonymous with worthlessness. Accordingly, the Museveni regime has always and still wants to push Ugandans into such a direction where they will be dependent on and subservient to the government. Yet, in a democracy, it is the government that should be subordinate to the citizens. This explains why I have always wondered whether or not Museveni has reduced us into subjects rather than citizens.

In a society where the masses have been impoverished, there are no such things as rights and every good thing the government does is looked at as a favour and not a right. Poverty-stricken people cannot assert their rights because they in an actual sense don’t have the tools to assert them. It is clear that there are many forms of poverty which include mental poverty, material poverty and moral poverty. All these forms of poverty reinforce one another. As such, material poverty leads to mental poverty and moral poverty. Moral poverty also catalyses and catapults mental poverty which also breeds material poverty. From the foregoing, it is clear that virtually all Ugandans are suffering from one form of poverty or the other. Personally, I must confess I suffer from material poverty but I don’t in the least suffer from mental and moral poverty and I am always on my knees praying to God that I never suffer from the mental and material poverty for I believe they are the worst forms of poverty.

The corrupt in this country are seriously suffering from the worst form of poverty, namely moral poverty. The majority of our people on the other hand suffer from mental poverty. Mental poverty is as a result of lack of information, knowledge and conscience. In short mental poverty is synonymous with ignorance and sometimes manifests itself into the dearth of critical thought. Moral poverty on the other hand is as a result of doing things that one knows are fundamentally wrong but all the same one goes ahead to do them. The Anglican common book of prayer says, “We have left what we are supposed to do and we have done what we are not supposed to do. Therefore, in us there’s nothing good at all”. This phrase dovetails so well and resonates well with moral poverty.

In my view moral poverty is the most inexcusable form of poverty. Moral poverty can be termed as moral perversion. People suffering from moral poverty need no sympathy but serious reprimands at best and at worst ostracism. Mental poverty on the other hand can be cured through sensitization and education. It may not be easy to eradicate in the short run but in the long run it is surmountable.

It is my considered view that moral poverty is the root cause of all forms of poverty. It is because of moral poverty or moral perversion that we have people pilfering money meant to buy drugs for the citizens. It is because of moral perversion that our engineers do shoddy work on our roads because they expect a difference which in the Ugandan parlance has been accepted as njawulo. It is because of moral poverty and intellectual peasantry that the children from poor families can be blocked from accessing higher education hence condemning them to perpetual poverty. It is morally poor people in Uganda who steal to buy large chunks of land yet they cannot utilize them after depriving the poor their means of livelihood.

I firmly believe that our society has enough to satisfy all our needs but not all our greed. This we can only do if we extricate ourselves from moral poverty. Otherwise, it is possible to primitively accumulate inexplicable wealth and die the most poverty-stricken human being for there’s real wealth and phantom wealth. Real wealth benefits the entire community as it is devoid of selfishness, hate and malice. Real wealth focuses on compassion, love, selflessness, empathy and sympathy.

It is a manifestation of the African philosophy of Ubuntu. Accordingly, with real wealth if one attained material or financial wealth, it will benefit society in a way or another. Real wealth emphasises the significance of the Christian principles of receiving, sharing and giving. Phantom wealth on the other hand brings forth selfishness, pride and greed. Believers in phantom wealth suffer from moral poverty and will never have any slight iota of satisfaction. Finally, poverty and destitution are as a result of the actions of human beings and can be stopped by actions of human beings. Thus, all of us ought to concentrate on fighting moral and mental poverty in our society. For God and my country!

Vincent Nuwagaba is a human rights defender and can be reached via email on

Uganda’s USE is a pipe-dream

Uganda’s USE is a pipe-dream
The Mouthpiece — 16 June 2011

President Museveni promised to introduce Universal Secondary Education (USE) during the 2001 campaigns. His initial promise was that USE was to begin in 2003. However, it was promised again during the 2006 campaigns as he was facing his stiffest challenge from Dr Kizza Besigye for the second time. In 2007, “USE” began albeit without proper preparation by the government.

If one hears the term, they think, it is secondary education for all. This, however, is a fallacy. Recently, I took time to interview staff and parents of Kigarama Secondary School in Bitereko Sub County, Mitooma District about USE. The findings are appalling.
Kigarama SS is a government-aided school implementing USE. It has 28 staff members comprising 18 teachers and 10 non-teaching staff.

None of the support staff is on the government payroll and only 9 of the 18 teaching staff members are on government payroll. The school, I was told, should ordinarily have a lab attendant, librarian, matron, nurse, messenger, security guards, cooks, store keeper and at least two secretaries. The school has 1 secretary, 1 storekeeper, 1 laboratory assistant and 1 librarian all of whom are paid by the parents.

What I found revealing is that the government disburses a paltry 41,000 on each USE student. Yet feeding alone, if a meal is estimated at Sh 1000 costs 65,000 in a term. There are 13 weeks in a term and each week comprises of 5 days which is 1000 multiplied by 5 times 13 which makes a sum of 65000. Both the teachers and parents revealed to me that government reimbursement is less than 10% of the school’s basic needs per term. In fact, some schools have withdrawn from USE and many others had applied for withdrawal but the government refused because the number of the applicants was enormous. While the government occasionally gives boom for laboratory equipment (which it only did last year worth 4m) – the school spends so much on laboratory equipment – 10 million at a minimum annually this is only when the school does fewer practicals otherwise the school spends Shs 15m annually.

As for the salaries, the school pays 3.2m monthly to staff members that are not on the government payroll. Since USE started in 2007, it is only in 2010 that the school got a textbook and laboratory equipment boom of 7m and 4m respectively. This raises a question as to whether or not this government works in the interest of the masses. This is a party which says is a mass party.

The non-USE schools are often granted huge sums of money from the government budgetary allocations. The reason given is that the people dividing the national cake are products of such topnotch schools. The solution to that should be for the down-trodden schools to demand for affirmative action in the allocation of jobs to their alumni. Shockingly, the school has less than five alumni positioned in influential government departments and most of those there are underdogs.

As for textbook, I was told that government gave textbook boom worth Sh 7million to the school only in 2010 yet the school spends 12 million annually on textbooks. The school also spends on sports – taking students for interschool matches, uniform, coaches, etc. Term one has sports gala while term two has athletics. The annual school vote for sports alone is Sh 4million.

In all the school, I was told spends 120,000/= on each student yet students pay Sh 70,000 and government remits only Shillings 41,000 per student. This means the school operates in losses. Schools being church-founded have to remit certain funds to the diocese – chaplaincy funds at 1000 per student, education fund at 2000 each student, church projects -1000 for the hospital and 1000 for the university project. It is vital to note that government owns very few schools as most schools are church-founded and are on church land and the church built structures. In fact, many church-founded schools applied to withdraw from USE but were denied because the applicants became too many.

What do stakeholders suggest?

The stakeholders suggest that government must employ more teachers; build libraries, laboratories, staff houses; recruit more support staff –librarians, security guards, lab attendants. They also suggest that the curriculum shouldn’t be book-centred but should reflect societal needs. They also suggest that the government should appoint school administration. Many Head Teachers and Deputies are in the acting capacity and they cannot give all to the school because like Nikita Krushchev said, “incentives are what get people work harder”.

Motivate workers by raising their pay and other fringe benefits such as medical insurance, housing allowances and prioritise career development through scholarships for upgrading and promote those who upgrade to encourage others.
Build classrooms to reduce congestion and provide hostel facilities to cater for students from a distance. Prioritise physical education for physical fitness and mental relaxation for the students; reintroduce civic education and political education in primary schools and secondary schools respectively to inculcate values of patriotism, democracy and human rights and fight ills such as corruption. It’s amazing that schools teach more about North America and too little about their motherland Uganda and Africa.

Improve sanitation by introducing water-harvesting systems – build tanks to forestall the fetching of water full of impurities from the valleys and encourage projects for community participation such as field work and burungi bwansi. This will help students mingle with the public hence stopping them from being hostile to the public.

Increase vocational schools. With technical schools even a person who leaves school with 9 throughout is capable of getting skills. Finally, while planning, stakeholders should be involved so that views flow from below and not be imposed from above. He who wears the shoe knows how it pinches. The schools should be allowed the latitude to draw budgets and government should fund budgets. Short of that, USE is destined to remain a pipedream.

Vincent Nuwagaba is a human rights defender

NRM using UPE and USE to mock Ugandans

NRM using UPE and USE to mock Ugandans
The Mouthpiece — 18 June 2011

Uganda is an interesting country. Interesting in a sense that many Ugandans are docile and have chosen to adopt an I don’t care attitude even when they pay taxes through the nose. They have chosen to leave Museveni and his cronies mismanage their country. The political leaders who ordinarily are supposed to be servants have turned themselves into masters and the other citizens who ordinarily are supposed to be masters have been turned into subjects.

One of the reasons why I like my area MP Maj. Gen Kahinda Otafire is because he has no pretence. He tells exactly what is on the ground. On the popular KFM Hot-seat hosted by Charles Mwanguhya, I listened to Otafire sing praises for the NRM regime over Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE). Through the host, I informed the General that government remits less than Shs 2000 for each pupil under UPE and that parents top up not less than Shs 10,000 and that government again remits a paltry Shs 41,000 for a student under USE and I added, this is foolery. In response, Gen Otafire said, “If that gentleman has money, let him take his children to private schools”. He said, UPE and USE were introduced to help those who cannot afford. The General further said, there was a time when government didn’t pay a penny for USE and UPE crowning his argument with the common cliché “half a loaf is better than none at all”.

First, for the information of Otafire and his ilk, Obote II regime used to give free exercise and textbooks, pens, pencils, mathematical sets and chalk all of them labeled “Property of the Government of Uganda, Not for Sale”. All we have seen with the current regime is mere lip service to the education sector – be it primary education, secondary education or higher education.

When the host asked him whether they were not creating an aristocracy, he asked whether the Queen takes her children to the same schools with the commoners. This is exactly why I like Otafire. If UPE and USE work, let the ministers take their children to the UPE and USE schools. Otherwise the truth of the matter is UPE and UPE schemes are Bona bakone. True, Ugandans have become intellectually stunted with UPE and USE. In fact, a senior lecturer in one of Ugandan universities said, University students cannot express themselves in English.

As we moan and groan UPE and USE, it has emerged that Primary Teachers Colleges have been closed because the government has not disbursed operational funds to these colleges. Who are the losers? Ordinary Ugandans. Why is the money to sponsor students on the statehouse scholarship scheme always available? Who qualifies for the statehouse scholarship scheme? If Ugandans don’t wake up from their slumber and demand what rightfully belongs to them, then we are destined for doom.

Why, in a multiparty dispensation, should one party use taxpayers’ money to build capacity for the political party cadres through statehouse scholarship schemes? To make matters worse, not all NRM card-holding members have access to such opportunities. Ultimately, you find that the beneficiaries are from the same party, same region, same ethnic group and sometimes same district or same clan. I am quite sure that speaking about these issues raises many people’s body hairs but as the Anglican Common Book of Prayer says, we are enjoined to constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice and patiently suffer for the truths’ sake.

The right to education is enshrined in Article 30 of the 1995 Uganda constitution. But also the international human rights instruments that Uganda has ratified stress the right to education and emphasise that higher education shall be accessible on the basis of merit. These include inter alia Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR, 1948), Article 13 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR, 1966), Articles 28 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC, 1989), Article 10 of the Convention on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, 1979), Articles 1, 2 and 5 of the International Covenant on Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination, 1969) and UNESCO Convention Against Discrimination in Education.

It is understood that the international human rights instruments stipulate that elementary education shall be free and higher education accessible on the basis of merit. Today, merit doesn’t work. Museveni is building a plutocracy other than a democracy. With UPE and USE, the NRM is simply mocking Ugandans.

Meanwhile, I have learnt that after failing to exterminate me physically through all the dirty tricks they have used against me in the past since 2008, the NRM is determined to frustrate me by even denying me employment opportunities including in the private sector. But I have told them that if that happens, I will go to the village, start a retail shop, start a community-based organisation and study properly the problems the people on the grassroots suffer. This will actually broaden my relevance because I will step into the people’s shoes and under no circumstances shall I be gagged. Whether I am in Kampala or upcountry, I will continue speaking and writing. The most precious asset I have is my conscience and I state without any fear of contradiction that I would rather die than divorce my conscience.

University graduates in Police a disgrace to our society

The Mouthpiece — 07 July 2011

I have spent relatively some time without posting on my column and I recently found many messages in my inbox asking me as to why I have not been doing so. Many of you who have been my friend s on face book may wonder whether I am in a place where internet is inaccessible because I am sure you no longer meet me online or read my face book comments. The truth of the matter is that my face book account was blocked by people whose intentions I didn’t know. However, I have never stopped my struggle for human rights, social justice and real not imaginary liberation of our continent but most particularly our country Uganda. Those of you who could have read political science, philosophy, law or human rights must have read about the English philosopher known as Edmund Burke. Edmund Burke said,

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

Our public assets have been raided left, right and centre sadly by the people who should be holding them in trust for all of us the citizens. Because of the constitutional viruses that Museveni and his ruling oligarchy have introduced in Uganda, I decided on Monday 27, June to launch my non-violent hunger strike from the constitutional square. For the benefit of those who don’t stay in Uganda, our constitutional square, a square from which ordinarily Ugandans should exercise their constitutional and God-given rights has been alienated and ring-fenced from the Ugandan citizens. I have so many times passed there and asked the Police as to why they guard the constitutional square from Ugandans and I have not been given a compelling argument. Sometimes, I have been told that terrorists from civil society organisations and the opposition parties intend to use the constitutional square to launch their terror attacks.

Sadly, on the lower side of the square, the commander for those guarding the constitutional square ASP Benon Byamukama is my friend and former classmate in the political science class at Makerere University but also a fellow elephant in the only surviving empire – the Lumbox empire. The person I first told that I was launching a civil protest from the constitutional square aimed at addressing not only the dearth but also the death of constitutionalism in this country is Vincent Ssekatte, my namesake but also my former classmate in the political science class in Makerere University . Mr. Ssekatte told me, “Nuwagaba, you have remained revolutionary when some of us have changed” he added, “I will be the one to shoot you should you demonstrate from the constitutional square”.

I have known Ssekatte’s name after he was appointed Deputy Public Relations Officer of the Uganda Police Force. Otherwise, I knew his face as a person who sat in the same lecture halls with me. For Ssekate, Byamukama, Azoora, Kabeera Sunday, Kituuma Rusoke (the IGP Personal Assistant), among others, I was their leader at the university in various categories. I was elected the secretary general for all the non-residents’ community when I was still a fresher because students knew I would ably defend their rights. At least, those who used to read the Daily Monitor know quite well how I decried the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment students were subjected to. The government used to pay only Shillings 350 for a meal for each non-resident student. I consistently told Mr. Ekuddu that attending lectures on empty stomachs without taking breakfast was responsible for the students’ poor academic performance but nothing was done. I remember one day telling Mr Ekuddu that if he cannot prioritise students’ welfare, he should quit office. On 17th November 2003 when Nsibambi was installed as Makerere University Chancellor, Mr. Ekuddu was tied with a rope from the constitutional square.

I wish to warn the police that if they cannot protect my rights, let them refrain from interfering with my God-given rights.

“He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD” (Proverbs 17:150)

The Bible again says Luke 12:48 that "To whom much is given; much is expected". Museveni and company have been given more than quarter a decade. Thus, we expect very much from Museveni. What we see instead is shillings 41,000 per student under USE; and shillings 1,600 under UPE. I have learnt that this a ploy to keep the majority Ugandans poor and as sure as day follows night, we shall reject that. We are all enjoined to fight for social justice in our society. Finally, Makerere University graduates in the police force who abet lawlessness are a disgrace and the university would do better withdrawing its degrees from them.

Vincent Nuwagaba is a human rights defender

“Meet the New Boss same as the Old Boss!” shifting from One Regime to A Multiparty System: experiences from Uganda: A Ugandan perspective

Meet the New Boss same as the Old Boss!
The Mouthpiece — 10 July 2011
Meet the New Boss same as the Old Boss!


For two decades, Uganda has been operating without political parties as they were suspended when President Museveni captured state power. As such, we have been having a no-party system. The key players in this arrangement baptized it the no-party democracy, which was later to be called the movement system during the constitution making process. On the other hand critics believed that this was a monolithic de facto one party system. The proponents of the so-called no-party system/ movement system succeeded in deliberately manipulating the gullible population that political parties were synonymous with mayhem and thus it was in the best interest of the country to do away with them. In my view, this was meant to entrench the new leaders as they felt they were not credible enough since they had been rejected in the 1980 election – an election that was followed by a protracted bush war that brought Museveni and his comrades into power.

After two decades, the crusade to hold a referendum to revert to a multiparty dispensation was ironically championed by the number one person that had hitherto demonized and vilified political parties. The reasons for his crusade were however misleading as he reportedly only bowed to donor pressure and his argument was, “let’s get rid of them (tubegyeko) and let them go (mubaleke bagende)”. Accordingly, initially, the movement was not meant to become a political party but to get rid of “pig-headed” dissenters so the movement could remain “pure.” The reintroduction of political parties therefore was not out of principle but expediency. The president has never been comfortable with parties and he prefers calling NRM an organisation to a party. Because of the above situation, FHRI deemed it prudent and imperative to participate in the first “multiparty” elections in twenty years.

The system changed but the players and the modus operandi remained the same.

The July 28 2005 referendum ushered in a new era of multiparty politics. Surprisingly, I have not seen anything multiparty since then. Multiparty politics calls for fair competition which sadly has not been the case. The police are still directly controlled by the president and have assumed unlimited powers to grant permission to political parties on whether or not to hold meetings. President Museveni still has that patronizing attitude. Shortly after the 2006 elections the President called the other parties that participated in the 2006 elections including the independent candidate Dr. Bwanika for talks, when Forum for Democratic Change refused the president said he had saved his tea. One wonders whether the president was using his personal monies to run the talks or not.

The new Boss or the extension of the old Boss?

i) For more than two decades, President Museveni has remained the key actor in the politics of Uganda despite the cosmetic change of the political system. The president has made it abundantly clear that he is not about to let go of state power as he feels he is the only person with the vision. He erroneously thinks that even when he doesn’t share his vision with his Ministers, that is a sign of strength.

ii) Since 1986, the country has been undergoing a transition. The old boss promised he would be here for only four years thereafter pave way for multiparty democracy. This surprisingly has taken twenty years after his firm grip onto power. It is abundantly clear to me that Mr. Museveni wouldn’t hand over power within only four years before he could popularize himself among the citizens and before he could firmly control all the state institutions responsible for his hold onto power.

iii) The shift from the “movement” political dispensation to the “multiparty” political dispensation was a tradeoff for Museveni’s kisanja (third term). Many Museveni adherents argued that Museveni is an indispensable resource in a new political dispensation.

iv) It is vital to note that during the era of Museveni, Uganda has had two referenda on political systems with the first one held in June 2000 and the second held in 2005. The multiparty activists boycotted both referenda on grounds that political parties are avenues via which fundamental freedoms and rights are exercised and enjoyed and as such there should never be a referendum on one’s rights. In regard to the above argument, former Gulu Municipality Member of Parliament Norbert Mao had this to say’

“Fundamental human rights are enjoyed not because you are many but because you are human”. Surprisingly though, the 2000 referendum was largely rigged even when the movement was practically running against itself

v) President Museveni is partly responsible for the current dilemma (intraparty wrangles) within the old political parties- Democratic Party (DP), Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) and the Conservative Party (CP). As soon as he captured power, he vilified them, demonized them and embarked on the chakamchaka (politicization programmes what others have called brainwashing programmes) programme wherein political where largely discredited.

vi) Whereas I don’t support the discriminatory nature of our past political parties, notably Democratic Party and Uganda People’s Congress, I wish to aver that in my opinion the political parties were far less discriminative compared to the Movement. This is because even though parties were largely founded on the basis of religion, religion cut across the entire nation. The movement however, largely remained dominated by the “freedom fighters”, friends and relatives. At the end of the day, one region and one ethnic group dominated. The system that was meant to be inclusive became more and more exclusive as time went. Ironically, the person who used to bash political parties because of discrimination presided over the largely discriminatory movement. This may partly explain why many people who ordinarily would have been deemed to be the movement pillars had to jump off the movement boat- Bidandi Ssali, Kiiza Besigye, Augustine Ruzindana, Eriya Kategaya (although he later made a one eighty degree turn), Mugisha Muntu, Winnie Byanyima, Amanya Mushega, Richard Kaijuka, Salaam Musumba, David Pulkol, Henry Tumukunde, the list is endless.

vii) The former movement only metamorphosed in name (from Movement to National Resistance movement) but has actually remained the same. It is vital to note that since its inception the movement was but a party. Uganda operated as a de facto one party state for two decades. More so, the National Resistance Movement Party built on the existing structures of the “movement” system. The award of free membership cards was meant to ensure that majority of Ugandans subscribe to the National Resistance Movement Organisation (NRM-O)

viii) The new Boss just like the old Boss has kept all the critical state institutions (the Police, the Judiciary, the Electoral Commission, and the Uganda Human Rights Commission etc) under his armpits. It is not uncommon to find that the Police, the Electoral Commission, the Judiciary and the Military are occupied by the NRM cadres.

ix) Uganda is faced with the problem of personalization of political parties. The movement and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) now revolves around the personality of Museveni. This has had a spillover onto other parties such as Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) which revolves around the personality of Dr. Besigye and Uganda People’s congress that revolves around the Obote family.

x) Political parties are not supposed to be treated like electric switches that one can be put on and off at will. They are indispensable institutions in the democratic process. They are engines through which fundamental freedoms of expression, association, assembly, choice and so forth are enjoyed.

From the foregoing, it is imperative to note, that there is nothing like a new boss. We only have an extension of the old boss adorned in new clothes. Like earlier mentioned, the actor is the same, the acts are the same, the method of work is the same possibly what has changed is that the one-party system has been formalized by registering the NRM as a party. Otherwise I personally see nothing multiparty in the new political dispensation in this country.

There are a few questions that we need to ponder about;

a) What should be the role of opposition parties in critical institutions like the judiciary, electoral commission, and the police and human rights commission in a multiparty setting?

b) Won’t the ruling party dominate these institutions to the disadvantage of other parties?

c) How should political party activities be funded? If they are to be funded by the government won’t the ruling wish to set a pace for these parties? If parties are to be funded by the government won’t that compromise their independence whereby the old boss will continue with his patronizing attitude?

d) If that be the case, what does such a situation portend for our fledgling democracy?


The change of the system from the “movement system” to the multiparty political dispensation in Uganda has not been conceived. Apart from being told that we are in a multiparty setting, the practice on the ground shows otherwise. Political parties are not free to hold rallies, demonstrations and/ or political meetings without let or hindrance from the police. Tear gas has remained a tool of taming the “stubborn opposition” akin to how it used to be prior to the July 2005 referendum. That FHRI has made an indelible mark on the Ugandan politics because of her participation in observing of the 2006 is axiomatic. The FHRI report raised a lot of concern as to what direction the country is heading in this new political dispensation. The struggle for democracy and human rights continues and all of us must join the struggle for it calls for concerted efforts. All of us must not fold our hands because it is in our best interest that we work not only to realize free and fair elections but genuine elections. Allow me end with three quotations from celebrated thinkers;

i. The necessary condition for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing. (Edmund Burke)

ii. We must be the change we wish to see in this world (Mahatma Gandhi)

iii. No matter whether my contribution is a drop in the ocean, it is important I make it (Sr. Mother Theresa)

iv. At first they came for Jews, I didn’t speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for trade unionists, I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for Catholics, I did not speak out because I was a protestant, finally, when they came for me there was nobody left to speak out for me. (Pastor Martin Niemoller, commenting on the Nazi Regime in Germany)

Mzee F.D.R Gureme told this writer that he parted company with president Museveni because of the 2000 referendum, which was rigged.

By Vincent Nuwagaba

Ugandans are yearning for equitable distribution of the national cake in the W2W campaign

The Mouthpiece — 22 May 2011

Andrew Mwenda one of the leading Ugandan journalists calls the Walk-to-Work campaign Besigye’s protests. Me thinks the protests in Uganda don’t have to be viewed as Besigye’s protests. They are people’s protests. In fact, Besigye, Mao, Otunnu, Mathias Mpuga and many others are doing what personally I would have done. Unfortunately, I have no following. I have often heard Mwenda argue that Besigye is like Amin which argument I think is utterly unfair and implausible.

I am a firm believer in social democracy which aims at promoting social justice and social welfare. In the wake of the walk-to-work protests, Minister Matia Kasaija confessed that when it comes to privatisation, the government overdid it. A functional state cannot privatise and liberalise the provision of all services. Professor Robert Rotberg who happens to be an expert on state weakness; state failure and state collapse argues that “nation-states fail because they can no longer deliver political goods to their people”.

Many Ugandans are largely concerned with bread and butter issues and not the economic growth Museveni and some other commentators often tout. How many Ugandans have been transformed by the impressive economic growth? From my basic economics, I know economic growth doesn’t necessarily translate into economic development. It is like using per capita income figures as a yardstick for standards of living.

Ugandans are yearning for equitable distribution of the national cake and nothing more.

Like Mwenda, the president often boasts of collecting huge sums of taxes. In whose benefit are they collected if the healthcare system has collapsed; if there are virtually no jobs created for our graduates; if the peasants’ children can no longer ably attain higher education and if by mistake their parents sell their property to have their children study, they cannot get jobs because of patronage and clientelism?

In fact, those of us who have had an opportunity to study and can analyse get annoyed when the President says they now collect trillions of shillings in taxes because we see no value for that money on the ground. The money is concentrated in few hands.

I would also like to surmise that the removal of term limits in our constitution and the continued stay in office by Museveni promotes impunity. There are people who are working with him and do all sorts of funny stuff but get away with it because they are his right hand men. Ofwono Opondo the other day killed a petty thief suspect in broad day light. Nothing has ever been done to him. We have people who default taxes and run to him; we have people whose businesses are bailed out by taxpayers’ money, etc. I am sure, if we had a new leadership, we would have new faces in public offices and those that have misused and abused public offices would be brought to book.

I have often heard Mwenda say Besigye was asked on TV what solution he had for the current fuel and commodity price hikes and he waffled and gave no solution. Granted, some of us can propose solutions if the leadership can listen. For instance, assuming the government waived taxes on fuel, would the state collapse? In whose benefit are the taxes?

Two, if Kagame has been able to fight corruption, why can’t Museveni do so? Many people affected by this crisis are the unemployed and I am convinced the money squandered by government could create jobs for our graduates. It is vital to note that people suffering from unemployment are the educated. Those that are not educated are happily employed as shoe shiners, barbers, wheelbarrow pushers, fruit vendors, boda-boda cyclists, houseboys and maids and some of them make some profit.

Of course, you wouldn’t expect a Vincent Nuwagaba to do any of the above jobs. I would want to access white collar jobs on merit just like the sons and daughters of politicians and other top executives do.

Therefore, some of us warmly welcomed the A4C campaign and we shall not relent in demanding accountability. At least, we are aware that we are citizens not subjects. We are also aware that our leaders are not our masters but our servants. We are also aware that elections per se are not the only legitimate means of changing leadership. If leaders are not comporting themselves in the best interest of the citizens, citizens must be empowered to withdraw the social contract.

Do you know that if 1.8trillion that was misappropriated to buy fighter jets was distributed to unemployed graduates assuming the number is 100,000 each would get 18million to start life for him/herself? If it was invested in creating jobs, how many jobs could it have created? If that money was invested in higher education, the government would sponsor 10,000 students annually for ten years.

The problem we have is that some people erroneously take themselves to be the Alpha and Omega of ideas which is precarious. Personally, I will be satisfied with the president if he accounts for Ugandan taxpayers’ money. I believe that while the opposition politicians may aim at ouster of the regime, their scheme has been given credence by the insensitivity and intransigence of the ruling party. If the government addressed the issues raised, the opposition would be disarmed. Incidentally, now the problem is no longer commodity and fuel prices but a plethora of issues.

Finally, Mwenda, has often stated that in the recent election Museveni won “clean and square”. This puzzles me. Mwenda acknowledged that Museveni used about shillings 1 trillion from taxpayers and part of that money from his friends. Is that what he calls winning clean and square? So, now Andrew, believes we should be under a plutocracy instead of democracy? Okay, let’s assume he won “clean and square”, did we give him a licence to abuse taxpayers’ money at his whims? Uganda has enough to satisfy all our appetite but not enough to satisfy our greed. I hate, I despise and I abhor greed. Anybody who is greedy should excuse himself from public offices.

Mr. Nuwagaba is a human rights defender

Good bye Comrade Taju

On the 25th may 2009, Africa and the word generally lost one of the topmost Pan Africanists of our time Comrade Dr Abdhul-Raheem Tajudeen in a car accident in Nairobi. The death of Comrade Tajudeen has inevitably left a vacuum in the Pan African Movement but the movement stays and has to be accelerated. That he died on the African liberation day could have been designed by God so that we reflect on the current status quo of the Global Pan African Movement. Comrade Tajudeen has since 1994 been a General Secretary of the Global Pan African Movement. Apart from him (who ironically was rarely seen at the secretariat), the secretariat has been Ugandanised and many argue that it has been reduced to the arm/branch of the NRM Party. Mr. David Mafabi who was then a director for political affairs at the secretariat, took charge of the secretariat during the absence of Dr Tajudeen. Since Mafabi’s appointment as an Assistant to the President, the secretariat fell in the hands of Stephen Othieno and Grace Kabayo both Ugandans. Ironically, they still call it the Global Pan African Movement Secretariat may be this is the reason as to why no other country remits funds to run the secretariat.

The Ugandan tax payers’ money foots the bills of the daily running of the Global Pan African secretariat without the latter giving accountability to the former. It is my considered view that as we mourn the untimely demise of Comrade Tajudeen, we also rethink the future of the Global Pan African Movement. Fifteen years after the seventh pan African congress, it remains unclear as to when the 8th Pan African Congress will be held. It is also debatable whether the current Global Pan African secretariat has the wherewithal to organise the 8th Pan African Congress. I am highly skeptical and my skepticism is not unfounded. Some of us believe that as long as the secretariat remains in Uganda in the current shape with the current personnel, it will remain a money-making project for a few individuals at the detriment of the Global Pan African Movement and its ideals, values, objectives and aspirations. Some other doubting Thomases believe that it will continue to be used as an appendage of the NRM party. Clearly, it is virtually impossible to hold a position at the Pan African Movement secretariat unless one is a movementist. That vindicates what our local media attributed to Hon Kigyagi that even the sweepers on the streets will be NRM card holding members!

Yet, pan Africanism predates and transcends our trivial political leanings. It is a movement aimed at the unity, liberation, welfare and love of the African people and the entire black race. It is a movement that was started to combat slavery, colonialism, marginalisation and all forms of injustice inflicted on the black race. We are still confronted with injustices emanating from neocolonialism and globalization and as such I feel the Pan African Movement has a lot to do than preoccupy itself with trial, petty self-aggrandizement.

It is a paradox that since the secretariat came to Kampala, it has been hogged by Uganda and while here in Uganda it has been hogged by the NRM. This is but a sad commentary indeed. I hope no other country reads from Uganda’s script in case the secretariat shifts from Uganda. I have been calling upon some civil servants to join the pan African movement and many have told me they cannot because they are not politicians! May be it has been projected as a club of politicians and I feel it should be made attractive to all people regardless of their professions, social standing, and political inclinations. It must be a mass movement comprising of all that wish the best for Africa, Africans and the entire black race. Otherwise, the manner in which the Pan African Movement is being run is antithetical to Pan Africanism and is a test to Uganda as to whether it should be entrusted with the stewardship of any other regional or international organisation.

We must extend the movement beyond Uganda to include other nationals in the running of secretariat affairs. We must debunk the notion that the pan African movement is an extension of the NRM or state house. There is need to organise the 8th Pan African Congress which will help us go back on the drawing board and make self-appraisal. The Ugandan government should facilitate the national chapter so that it can have a secretariat that is up and running. It should also resolve the current stalemate in which the Global secretariat and the national chapter headed by comrade JP Mwesigwa Karooro are locked. The death of comrade Tajudeen can teach us that we should build institutions that outlive individuals. The demise of an individual should not leave an institution in disarray. Let us not agonise. Let us organise!

Vincent Nuwagaba, Political Scientist, Pan Africanist cum Human Rights Defender