Peace or Conflict:
The future of Uganda is hanging in the balance
Uganda, located in the heart of East Africa is a country blessed with natural beauty. Laying directly on the Equator it is lush, with thick tropical rainforest forests that provide a habitat for Mountain gorillas and chimpanzees. Uganda’s forest is the primate capital of the world. The country has mountains with permanent snow and ice as well as valleys that blossom with multitudes of wildlife. It is covered by lakes, rivers, and swamps that provide an habitat for numerous spectacular bird species. It is said that half of Africa’s bird species can be found in Uganda. All year round, it receives enough rainfall and a warm climate which makes Uganda’s soil very fertile. This makes it possible for Ugandans to eat fresh and organic foods, fruits, and vegetables all year round (Sights & Sounds of Africa Safaris, 2019).
The beauty of Uganda extends beyond her natural resources to the beauty found in its people and culture. Ugandans are of diverse origin with 56 ethnic groups. Each group speaks a different ethnic language (Third schedule, Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995). Ugandans live a very active and vibrant life characterized by joyful celebrations and parties. This vibrancy has
caught the attention of people from all over the world who enjoy Uganda’s 24-hour clubs and bars and who fly to Uganda annually to attend a four-day music festival at the shores of River Nile (Ritchie & Roser, 2018). This festival, known as the Nyege Nyege festival, features 300 plus performers from over 30 different countries (Nyege Nyege Festival, 2019).
Amidst all of this beauty, Uganda is also the bearer of a dark and painful history characterized by a number of conflicts, wars, death, and poverty. In this article, I will analyze the future of a peaceful Uganda. But in order to do justice to this topic, we have to start from the beginning. Though there is a lot to learn from the pre-colonial and colonial period, for purposes of this article, I will start from the post-colonial era.
Post Colonial Uganda
October 9, 1962 was a historic day for Uganda. On this day for the last time, the British Flag, known as Union Jack, was lowered; and, for the first time the Uganda flag was raised, making Uganda an independent country (Uganda, 2020). Kabaka Mutesa of Buganda Kingdom became the first elected President of post-colonial Uganda in 1963 with nomination and support from Dr. Apollo Milton Obote, the president of one of Uganda’s three political parties at the time, the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC). His presidency was solely ceremonial because most functions and executive powers were actually enacted by Obote, who in addition to serving as the president of the UPC was also the first Prime Minister of independent Uganda (Kanyeihamba, 2010). Kabaka’s government lasted until 1966 when he was overthrown. On May 24th, 1966 the Uganda Army under the command of Colonel and Army commander Idi Amin Dada, on the order of Milton Obote, attacked Kabaka’s palace (The Uganda Crisis, 1966). Many people loyal
to Kabaka were killed, arrested, and imprisoned without trial. Obote declared a state of emergency in Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. As a result, Kabaka fled into exile in Britain where he died under suspicious circumstances three years later. The attack and the overthrow of Kabaka’s government are commonly known as the Uganda Crisis of 1966.
Obote government (1966-1971, 1980-1985)
Following the exile of Kabaka to Britain, Obote declared himself the president of Uganda without an election. This period became commonly known as “Obote One” as he would later go on to lead the country again from 1980 to 1985. To consolidate his power, Obote overthrew the 1962 constitution and introduced a new constitution, known as the Pigeonhole constitution, to the floor of the parliament (Uganda Constitution, 1967). The promulgated constitution came into force in 1967 and abolished kingdoms and other cultural and traditional institutions and vested executive power to the president (Article 118 of the constitution, 1967). The Obote One government was short-lived. In 1971, it was overthrown in a military coup d’etat led by Idi Amin. The reason for the downfall of Obote One government includes.
1. Identity politics (Tribalism)
Uganda People Congress (UPC) which was formed as a result of coalitions with smaller parties under the leadership of Obote, as mentioned above, was a political party that existed during pre-independent Uganda alongside the Democratic Party (DP) (Kanyeihamba, 2010). The Kabaka Yekka (KY) party was formed shortly before the 1962 election. KY’s main objective was to advance the interests of the Buganda kingdom in the new independent Uganda. In hopes of defeating the DP party during the forthcoming 1962 election, UPC formed a coalition with the
KY party. This alliance remained strong and a coalition government was formed between UPC and KY shortly after the elections. The Kabaka of Buganda, of the KY party, won the presidential election and appointed Obote, of the UPC party, to be the first Prime Minister of independent Uganda. Kabaka’s role was ceremonial and Obote maintained all executive power as the Prime Minister.
The KY party believed Obote was bound by the terms of the coalition. However, Obote believed coalition was just a necessary move for him to achieve national government status (Andy, 2012). Soon after the coalition was formed, he began preaching for unifying Uganda into a single nation where the dignity of every inhabitant was recognized. He wanted Uganda to become one nation in which tribal differences would ultimately disappear. However, this was not the intention of the KY party whose exclusive aim was to protect the interests and maintain the autonomy of the Buganda kingdom. That ideological difference drove Obote to believe that Buganda’s monarchy would be a threat to national unity until it was abolished.
Slowly, Obote began executing his conviction of destroying Buganda’s institutions and dismantling its advantageous position over every other kingdom in Uganda. For example, Obote championed a bill in 1964 that would return the counties of Buyaga and Bungangazzi that had been awarded to the Buganda Kingdom by the British colonizers back to their original kingdom of Bunyoro. The bill eventually resulted in those counties seceding from Buganda and returning to Bunyoro (Andy, 2012). Obote then terminated the UPC coalition with the KY party and declared Uganda a single-party state with UPC as the sole party and himself as the leader. With this power, he abolished kingdoms and other cultural institutions, expelled Kabaka of Buganda
into exile, and established a sectarian government in Kampala, a city on Buganda Kingdom land. This government was dominated by people from his birthplace in Northern Uganda.
To this day, Obote is praised for having led Uganda to independence. However, soon after Uganda attained its independence, UPC government leaders began trying to consolidate power and using what was meant to be public resources for individual benefit. The issue of corruption was rampant in all sectors and levels of government. In fact, Obote himself was implicated for his alleged involvement in the smuggling of gold, ivory, and coffee from Zaire (now known as Congo Kinshasa) with the collaboration of Colonel Idi Amin. A motion moved by a member of Parliament from the KY party called upon the Commissioner of Inquiry to investigate those allegations and to suspend Colonel Amin while the investigation was ongoing. Before that investigation could commence, Obote reacted to the allegations by promoting Amin to an Army commander position. Corruption was baked into the newly independent Uganda.
During both periods of Obote’s governance, from 1966-1971 and 1980-1985, Obote was widely accused of being dictatorial. His governance was characterized by the violation of human rights, reliance on military forces, jailing those who disagreed with him, and election rigging specifically during Obote 2 government.
A few examples of this include the following: On February 22, 1966, while Obote was still a prime minister, he ordered the arrest and detention without trial of five cabinet ministers during a
cabinet meeting. He dismissed and exiled the sitting President (Kabaka) and the Vice-President and he assumed the functions of the presidency and all executive powers. While the parliament was in session, Obote ordered the Uganda army to storm the parliament. Troops surrounded the parliament and its members were forced to abrogate the 1962 constitution and enact a new constitution which is known as the Pigeonhole constitution. Under this threat of military force, the constitution was adopted by members of Parliament who had neither seen it before nor debated its contents (Kanyeihamba, 2010). He dismissed all other existing political parties and Uganda became a one-party-rule under the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) with himself as the leader. Obote established a policy that mandated every citizen, after graduating from primary school, must participate in national service with the exception of those proceeding to secondary school (Global Black History, 2016). Under his nationalization plan, the state would assume control of all import and export trade and would have a majority stake in banks, insurance companies, and the Kilembe copper mines (Global Black History, 2016).
Idi Amin Dada government regime
The worsened relationship between the Obote 1 government and the kingdom of Buganda made Obote rely exclusively on the forces of the military. The promotion of Amin to Army commander can be traced to his desire to win military favors. While Obote was confident in his army that was dominated by the people from Teso, Acholi, and his own Langi tribe (Kaplan, 1987). Amin on the other hand took advantage of his position as Army commander, and the worsened relationship between Obote and Buganda Kingdom. He recruited into the army people from his ethnic group Kakwa that would bring down the government of Obote. In 1971, While
Obote was out of the country for a state mission, General Idi Amin overthrew his (Obote) government and declared himself president of Uganda(History, 2019).
The 8 years of Amin’s government was the darkest history of Uganda. Amin ruled the country by a military decree. He performed the task of President, judge, and parliament. Estimates have it that over 300,000 civilians mostly from the Langi and Acholi ethnic were murdered. Key personalities killed by Amin include religious leaders, e.g., Archbishop Janani Luwum (Westminster Abbey, 2021). He (Amin) expelled Indian and Pakistani (he referred to them as Asians) citizens operating in different businesses in Uganda. They were required to leave the country within 48 hours. Those found in Uganda passed the 48 hours they were executed. Amin established unique internal security forces with the interest to eliminate whoever opposed Amin’s governments, policies and those loyal to Obote. Those security forces include; State Research Bureau (SRB) and Public Safety Unit (PSU). Expulsion of those experienced businessmen and women from Uganda and increased military expenditure brought Uganda’s economy to the ground.
Amin was the most tribalistic ruler Uganda has ever known. 8 years after seizing power, Amin’s government was brought down by a joint military operation by the Tanzanian Army and exiled Ugandans in Tanzania. The invasion of Kampala by anti-Amin’s exiled Ugandans and Tanzanian soldiers was a result of Amin’s failed attack on Tanzania in October 1978(Nayenga, 1984). In 1980, the election was organized and Museveni lost to Obote who became elected president of Uganda for the second time.
However, the president-elect, Obote did exactly the things tribalism fought against during Amin’s regime. He ruled through a tense alliance with the people from Teso, Acholi, and his own Langi ethnic groups within the army (Kaplan, 1987). Those people from the favored ethnic groups lacked program and political ideologies and yet, they were being appointed to prominent offices within Obote’s government. The internal fight between the Acholi and Langi leaders was considered to be a factor that triggered the overthrow of the Obote II government (Human Right Watch, 1971). The disputes arose from issues relating to promotions in the army, pay increase, and deployments. Those issues eventually caused the Acholis, plural for Acholi, in Obote’s government (Armies) to revolt. An Acholi brigadier, Basilio Olaro Okello, marched into Kampala on July 27, 1985, forcing Obote to go into exile in Zambia(Kaplan, 1987).
General Tito Okello Lutwa became the president of Uganda. He led Uganda under the Uganda National Liberation Front (Army) (UNLA). His term in office was short-lived. He ruled Uganda from July 29, 1985, to January 26, 1986. Tito’s coup brought Ugandan tribalism to its logical extreme. One tribe, the Acholis, was now attempting to dominate the other tribes. Anarchy prevailed in the capital, as large numbers of non-Acholi troops deserted to the NRA, the current Uganda People Defense Forces. Thus marked his downfall and the beginning of success for the current NRM government ( State House Uganda, Press.).
Museveni and NRA government.
In the 1980s following Obote’s election victory in a widely contested election on grounds of vote-rigging, Museveni and his fellow 20 plus men under the umbrella of the National Resistance Army picked guns and waged war against president-elect Milton Obote. The NRA
war, which is commonly known as the Bush War, or Resistance war prevailed over Obote’s government. Museveni and his fellow armed men victoriously matched in the street of Kampala. On January 26, 1986, Museveni declared himself president of Uganda(Encyclopaedia, 2021).
Museveni and his bushmen’s victory was largely attributed to the overwhelming support materially, accommodating, and shielding them from Obote’s Army Ugandans gave them. Ugandans thought he was the change Uganda yearned-for (Encyclopaedia, 2021). Whereas Obote warned Ugandans that Museveni is not he was betraying himself tobe, the 10 point agenda preached by Museveni was too good to be doubted by any Ugandans. Those agenda includes; 1) true democracy. From village level up to a national level; 2) introduce a non-partisan, disciplined national army, and police forces; 3) dismantle any form of sectarianism to promote national unity by removing politics base on Region, language, and ethnicity; 4) lead Uganda out of dependency by developing an independent priority base economy in accordance with Ugandan interests; 5) stopping Uganda’s wealth leakage abroad by building an independent, integrated, and self-sustaining national economy; 6) provision of basic social services, e.g., clean water, healthcare, literacy, and housing; 7) fighting economic distortion by eliminating all forms of corruption in public sectors; 8) return back individual land that Amin’s government exercised eminent domain over to their lawful owners; 9) creation of a larger markets and rational use of resources through cooperation with other African countries, especially East African countries; and 10) maintain mixed economy, such as Capitalist & Socialist. I.e., small businesses to be in the hands of private entrepreneurs, and heaving licensing work to be under the control of the government (Kanyeihamba, 2010).
In 1986, during president Museveni’s swear-in ceremony, he made a revelation speech that not only attracted the attention and support of Ugandans but the whole world. During his swear-in speech, he had this to say, “Africa’s problem was not the people but leaders who overstay in power”. He made a four years commitment to reorganize the country before handing over power to a civilian government, Ugandans welcomed the commitment with gratitude because it was necessary. Then, he started getting used to the trapping of power and looking at himself as the only savior for Ugandans. 35 years later, Ugandans have never seen a change in government. There is a sense in which one can conclude the reason why Uganda has never seen a peaceful transition of power was because of overreliance on soldiers. And yet, it is hard to say President Museveni handed control of power to the civilian government as promised in 1986.
What is not hard to say, is that Uganda is a military country and the governmental tasks are performed by one arm of the government, i.e., the executive through military and/or police forces even though the involvement of those forces offense constitutional provision on the Rule of Law which protects the doctrine of: 1) separation of powers in the three branches of the government, e.g., Executive, Legislature, and Judiciary; and 2) checks and balances (Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 ). A vivid example can be traced back to 2005 when security forces known as “Black Mamba” invaded high court. Again on September 26 & 27, 2017, joint security forces of special forces command and Police invaded the Parliament and forcefully evicted members of Parliament and to intimidate members of Parliament into passing a constitutional amendment to benefit one person, i.e., president Museveni (Makerere University School of Law,). With heavy involvement of security forces comprising Uganda Police and the Armies, Uganda Parliament amended the constitutions to limit any barrier to continued presidency of the
current president. Some crucial amendments in the constitution include: 1) the removal of the presidential term limit in 2005; and 2) the recent one was the removal of the presidential age limit.
Through NRM 10 points gender, president Museveni made the impression of himself as being all for democracy. 35 years later, it’s hard to conclude that he is a democratic person Ugandans thought of. In fact, most Ugandans and the rest of the world refer to him as a dictator. Planet Rulers listed President Museveni among current political leaders who are dictators. According to Robert, a political leader who is a dictator is he who ruled over a country with limited and absolute power (Robert, 2019). Dictators possess the following characteristic: 1) they are cruel, oppressive and violate human rights; 2) they maintain their power by jailing and executing their political opponents; 3) most dictators come to power by use of military forces, political deceit, and they systematically limit or deny basic civil liberties; and 4) They maintain the abusive power of their people, they hold absolute power over the armed forces. But since this article is not about whether or not President Museveni is a dictator, I will not expound further. This year 2021, president Museveni is running for another term in office under the slogan “Securing the Future”. But really how has 35 years of NRA leadership been like for Ugandans? Is Uganda heading toward peace or conflict? To answer these questions, I will examine practices that underline NRM government and Museveni’s rulership.
35 years of NRA, now NRM being in power, it’s proved that the government has failed to fight corruption. Studies have shown that cases of corruption in Uganda involving public officials are
at all levels high. Corruption cases are categorized as grand-scale theft of public funds and petty corruption. Transparency International Ranked Uganda in position 137/189 with a score of 28/100 in 2019 (Transparency International, 2019). The most corrupt Uganda’s public sectors include: 1) law enforcement sectors, i.e., judiciary and police; and 2) procurement (Risk & Compliance Portal, 2020).
According to Halima, Corruption constitutes a major challenge for businesses operating or planning to invest in Uganda. It is estimated that Annually, Uganda is losing Billions of U.S. Dollars due to corruption. Statistics have shown that between 2006-2015, 6.7 billion U.S dollars meant for public benefit, went into individuals’ pockets due to corruption (Halima, 2018). The common forms of corruption in Uganda include: bribery, extortion, illegal use of public assets for private gain, over-invoicing and under-invoicing, payment of salaries and wages to nonexistent workers, i.e., ghost workers, embezzlement of national funds, devious court decisions, nepotism and patronage (Wamara, 2017).
Annually, a large amount of money meant to benefit taxpayers and Ugandans end up in individual packets, which has resulted in poor service delivery by the governments in critical areas such as: Health sectors, education sectors, transport, and communication sectors. Most Ugandan government hospitals lack beds, enough medicine, and medical staff. These limits access to necessary medical care and hence high mortality rates. As mentioned earlier, education is another sector that is greatly affected by corruption. Most government schools lack enough furniture, i.e., classrooms and school desks, scholastic materials, i.e., books, and much more. Government teachers on the other hand, on top of their low pay, sometimes spend months
without receiving their salaries. They are constantly protesting against their condition. Even when they are not protesting, they lack the motivation to teach. The people who suffer the most are the children, i.e., students who receive a poor quality education. (Wamara, 2017)
My earlier years of studies were in government schools. I finished primary school without knowing how to read and write. By the time I finished the ordinary high school level, i.e., senior four, I could barely speak or read and write. I knew after enrolling in a private school in Kampala that the quality of education I got prior in government schools was not good enough to position me in the same level academically with other students nationally. Poor Ugandans have no other option other than government hospitals or schools. Whereas the majority of Ugandans depend on those poor government services, the corrupt government officials run away from government institutions. Whenever those corrupt government officials fall sick, they either fly out of the country for treatment or go to expensive international private hospitals in the country. They enroll their children in expensive private schools in the country, or send their kids to study outside the country.
Corruption has drawn a very thick line between the haves and the have not. Something has to be done to bridge that gap. Failure thereof might cause violent resistance between the haves and the have-nots. Some people termed this violence as “genocide” because the issue of haves and the have-nots have become an ethnic one since most of the richest people in the country, who obtain their wealth from government are from the west and the central region, and the poorest people in the country come from the east and the north(International Anti Corruption Media, 2018).
2. Identity politics (Tribalism).
NRA (current NRM) Ten-point program number 3 talked about dismantling the tribalistic government. 30 years later, most people occupying different government ministries in the ruling government come from one region of the country(Uganda Parliament Press, 2018). Even when a particular ministry is headed by an individual from other regions, he/she is always deputized by a person from the “favored” region, i.e., Western and/or central Region. A visible example can be seen in the distribution of permanent secretaries. The favoritism runs from ministerial position to rankings in the security forces,i.e., Police & Military forces, and to all other public sectors. There is hardly any public office in Uganda that does not have a person from the west or central region which is not the case for northerners and easterners.
Furthermore, in Uganda’s national budget allocation, a large percentage of it goes into one region, i.e., Western Region. It has made it possible for better provision of social services in the Western Region compared to North or Eastern Regions. For example, schools in the North and East are doing very badly compared to those in the Central and West. I completed my high school and university studies in Kampala. In all the schools I attended in Kampala, the majority of students were from Western Uganda and most of them were in some sort of government sponsorship or loan. I remember when I was in the University, A university private security guard got into a fight with a student from the West (Bunyankole to be specific), and I heard very clearly that student said, “I can have you fired from this University. What are you “Acholi” good for other than being a security guard”?. There is no problem being a security guard, but the context in which he used those words was belittling, and not worthy of respect. Any words that lower the dignity of a person is normally the beginning of a bad thing. Case in point, Rwanda
Genocide wherein the Hutus refers to Tutsis as Cocroces, Racial conflicts where people of color were referred to as Nigro and the story goes on and on just like that.
Much as the government denies being tribalistic, Ugandans are seeing it. Ugandans are living it every day and this is very bad. Something has to be done to bridge that gap. If not, it might cause violent resistance between the favored and the least favored.
3. Violation of the rights of people to own properties.
History taught me that prior to seizing power by NRA governments, Uganda had a lot of public or government properties and programs that benefited lots of Ugandans ranging from: 1) transport to hospitalities; 2) manufacturing to farmers cooperatives; 3) natural resources to man made. When the NRM government took over power, most of those public properties were privatized (Daily Monitor, 2011). Large chunk of them went to the first family as well as other key pioneer members of the ruling party.
35 years later there is hardly any public property owned exclusively by the government of Uganda. Driven by greed, those same key figures in the government are now going after private properties owned by citizens of Uganda (Housing & Land Right Network, 2016). Individuals are constantly being kicked out of their land even though the right to own property, which includes land, is considered a constitutional right (Article 26 (1) & (2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 ). The majority of those victimized by the fraudulent, forceful land grabbing by the government officials are: 1) the poor and vulnerable; 2) the least informed citizens about land laws. Those poor and unemployed Ugandans, their land is everything for them. They rely on
their land for means of livelihood. Grabbing and/or stealing land from them means taking away their livelihood and survival. Example of such unlawful land grabbing was aired on NTV news on February 28, 2018. In the show, government officials were accused of aiding Land grabbing in Kasese.
Whereas, the rich and powerful government officials are concentrating on the forceful, fraudulent and unfair acquisition of land from the poor, the unemployed, least educated and the poor Ugandans population are increasing. They constitute the large percentage of persons with large families in a small piece of land. They are dominant in urban ghettos and rural Uganda. Unless something is done, eventually those poor, redundant, and employed Ugandans are going to continue producing and there will come a time when they and their children have nowhere else to go to or no land for their livelihood and they will turn around and violently claim back their land from those rich and powerful government officials.
4. Lack of free and fair elections characterized by arrest, torture, and detention of political opposition leaders.
Recently during an interview with Christiane Amanpour, she read back to the President his words he said during his swearing-in ceremony in 1986 that “Africa’s problem was not the people but leaders who overstay in power”. His response was that he meant “staying in power for a long time without democracy”. The president constantly made clear he is in power because Ugandans want him to continue leading them but not because he wants to continue being in power for there is nothing that would make him want to continue being in power. After all, he is a very rich and successful businessman.
Whereas it is true about President Museveni being among the richest people in Uganda, and NRM being the richest political party in Uganda, there is no doubt that he and his NRM party have used their wealth to bribe poor citizens to vote for them (BlackMonday, 2015). It is hard to conclude that there is a democracy when a leader secures votes through voter bribery(Independent, 2020). It’s also hard to conclude that there is democracy when voters are denied chances to vote. This is done by opening polling stations hours late and closing them before the official closing time (The New York Times, 2016). In 2016, polling stations in Kampala, Mukono, and other parts of Uganda opened hours late because of delays in delivering voting materials by the Uganda Electoral Commission(Welle,2016).
The 35 years of NRM leadership is not only known for election irregularities but also for the brutality & torture, arrest & detention, and state-sanctioned murder of those who oppose the government. To be specific, on August 14, 2018, while on a parliamentary campaign in Arue district, Police rounded up the pacific Hotel where the opposition leader Robert Kyagunyi AKA Bobi wine and his team were staying. His driver got shot dead that fateful night, he got arrested, tortured, and remanded to Gulu prior to being charged before the military court. Again on November 3, 2020, Bobi Wine, a presidential candidate and National Unity Platform flagbearer immediately after his nomination got arrested and tortured by police(Aljazeera, 2020). That same day, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, another presidential candidate from Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) was also arrested on his way to the nomination, tortured in a police car, and he arrived shoeless and disheveled to file his candidacy after being intercepted en route to party headquarters and bundled into a police van (Aljazeera, 2020). Furthermore, on Wednesday,
October 14, 2020, joint security forces comprising Ugandan police and military forces heavily armed with door cutters, AK-47 guns, tear gas canisters, and batons stormed and forced open offices of the National Unity Platform party in Kampala and took items from inside(Halima, 2020). Opposition leader Bobi wine also accused security forces of maintaining constant surveillance on him, his home and their offices.
Furthermore, the government also threaten[ing] the use of force on oppositions and their supporters(Halima, 2020Uganda’s). Specific examples can be seen in the case of another former presidential candidate Dr. Kiiza Besigye who frequently (more than 10 times) teargassed, arrested & jailed, charged with several criminal counts among which includes: treason and rape. He got beaten, and hospitalized of injuries obtained in the hand of the government forces during the course of his 3 times failed presidential contest (The New York Times, 2016).
The violence, threat, and brutality that characterized 35 years of NRM leadership extend beyond opposition leaders. It stretched to journalists, private citizens that support opposition leaders or parties, and to those who disagree with the government. The cost of disagreeing with the government is high, sometimes it involves loss of life. Specific examples can be seen in the case of Francis Senteza. He was Bobi wine’s bodyguard. As alleged by Kyagulanyi, Francis’s death in December 2020 was a result of being run over by a military patrol truck(Daily Monitor, 2021). Kyagulany also in his end of year (2020) press release, talked about States suctioned killing that has claimed more than 100 Ugandans lives. He further continues that more than 100 People Power campaigning teams are incarcerated, others charged before a military court while others’ whereabouts are not known up to now. He also alleges that over 1000 supporters of oppositions have been abducted (BEST SHOOTS Official, 2021). Specific example of brutality against
journalists was seen on August 14, 2018, when journalists covering the campaign got arrested and detained in Gulu before being released on bail a day later. Saif-llah Ashraf Kasirye, a Radio One journalist and an online Ghetto TV cameraman obtained bad injuries from bullets alleged to have been intentionally fired at them by security forces during the campaign. Other Journalists that got injured include Daniel Lutaaya, NBS TV senior Reporter (Daily Monitor, 2020).
At the time of writing this, the 2021 Presidential and Parliamentary election is right around the corner. During this time, Ugandans have witnessed unprecedented pre-election events such as the heavy deployment of joint security forces including Military, Police, and Uganda Prison forces. We have seen the arrest of a presidential candidate within sight of the electoral commission at the nomination ground; extreme torture of presidential candidates to the extent that one candidate showed up for his nomination without shoes, looking like he had just survived from a lion’s mouth; intentional live bullets were fired into a presidential candidate’s car; journalists and opposition supporters have experienced beating, arrest, torture, and murder.
In this election (2021), there is a lot at stake. Not even the unprecedented level of police brutality could deter people from expressing their views, support, and/or exercising their rights. It has been made clear in this election that together, the 35 years of NRM leadership could come to an end. Unity to bring down the NRM government in a free and fair election has been excited by the youth from East to West, North to South that took to the streets amidst extreme brutality from security forces to demand the immediate release of a presidential candidate Robert Kyagulani.
Ugandans have woken up to a realization that what the government sells as “peace” and praises itself for, for silencing the guns, is not good enough. Ugandans have realized that they deserve to live in a country that has or is fighting for achieving not only an absence of war, but a positive peace where all citizens have the right to live with dignity, rights, happiness, and without fear that their opinions will cost them their lives.
Unemployed youth realize that education, that the current government praises itself for providing, is meaningless if they cannot get jobs with that education and instead continue to live in joblessness, desperation, and poverty. Those graduated youth are tired of hearing employers say “they are not employable material”. They are tired of hearing that the government does not have jobs for them.
NRM presidential candidate’s slogan for the 2021 election is “securing the future”. That slogan has aroused the moral conscience of Ugandan youth to a realization that they have entrusted their future to the current government, and the government paid them by putting Ugandan in debt that they will die paying, their children too will die paying those debts.
In 2017 Uganda’s constitution was amended, removing the presidential age limit, an attempt at assuring that Museveni will remain in the office of the president for life. Whereas the 35 years of NRM leadership has been successful in making lots of Ugandan very poor, it has already been very successful in making president Museveni wealthy. He has made known that he can change the lives of other Ugandans with his wealth. That impression has inspired lots of Ugandans to pursue a career in politics as a shortcut to success. It has also made lots of Ugandans dependent
on him to the extent that whatever they do for the nation, is a favor to the president and he should pay them accordingly.
The president has positioned himself as the savior of Uganda. There is nobody else mentored to take over the leadership of Uganda after President Museveni. I pray nature to be kind to Uganda because should anything happen, Uganda will be in a mess by all army commanders (the bush war veterans) trying to succeed the president.
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