Ugandan Diaspora News | Letter from the Editor | September 2014 | Will a Divided UNAA Endure?

Posted September 3, 2014 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Featured ~ 7,140 views


ronnie editor

Greetings From Kampala,

It has been one roller coaster month for me here in Uganda as I have been in and out of hospital together with family members attending to my sick mother. We continue to request your prayers, especially now that my old lady’s health has not been the best lately. We continue to thank all those that have visited and prayed with us during our hour of need. I will never forget the kindness and financial support you all have shown us God bless!

While Kampala has been experiencing heavy rains lately, it has also been buzzing with the scandal of the year as nearly $10 million dollars of taxpayer money was advanced to the shadowy Eutaw company that sub-contracted a Chinese firm to build the Mukono – Katosi Road. The US company in question has since disowned any affiliation with their Ugandan operation, claiming they have never signed anything with anyone. The bond the company presented guarantee came several months after releasing the advance payment for the nearly 165 billion shilling – Uganda National Roads Authority (UNRA) deal. And then comes the media circus with the Minister of Works implicating his fellow-cabinet members for trying to destroy him mafia style. With this kind of rot where is Uganda headed? I am tempted to think that given the depth of this scandal, whoever leaked or exposed this latest scam was left out of the lucrative deal, since an advance payment and a fake bond were already in play. How long must we be taken for a ride? How many such deals have gone unnoticed?

I refuse to give up on Uganda but shall we ever live to see an end to such sophisticated corruption and impunity, where contracts are awarded to companies that do not even exist? My prediction is that the contract will be terminated by Parliament and the Chinese sub-contractor will sue and probably be awarded damages for breach of contract since construction is ongoing, albeit dubiously–what a shame and disgrace! And do not be surprised if this like many other deals gone bad involves some top government leadership. Recently I also got to learn that the land title on which Entebbe International Airport sits is now property of a private citizen if this is indeed true I am not sure what is left of Uganda today!

The other big story making the rounds, as many have seen and read, is what continues to be a widely circulated soap-opera involving UNAA politics. In its 26 years the organisation has been been rocked by scandal after scandal and wanton corruption that threatens its very existence, the UNAA conventions are now gone and a thing of the PAST however we need to assess what was achieved by the feuding forces that were determined to stand their ground in the year long impasse!

Here is my take on things (personal opinion):

For starters, I do not think that the UNAA Board of Trustees (BOT) made a wise decision to resign even though they had been the subject of constant attacks, malicious talk and infiltration by moles who kept leaking their discussions to the public. A petition had been submitted on ‘Change.Org’ by supporters of the “good judgement for change” calling for the UNAA BOT to resign due to their handling of some UNAA petitions and the attitude they believed was biased against the youthful UNAA leaders.

Interestingly this particular Labor Day convention weekend, in a break with tradition, the UNAA executive announced that next year’s convention will be held in New Orleans, understandably perhaps because its an election year in UNAA even though the 2013 Convention was in Dallas a Southern state we are headed back to the South to sort out the election and ensure continuity to this good judgement agenda. As a UNAA member I would have appreciated a note on how this decision was arrived at since the BOT resigned and the UNAA Council meant to approve such decisions has not met in a while. According to those present at the Hyatt there was not even a mention of what hotel would host UNAA in New Orleans or any early bird registrations.

Traditionally bids are submitted earlier in the year and in the past the UNAA board of Directors would review and select the best bid city of-course in conformity with the geographical representations of UNAA and which region hosted the convention last. Earlier this year an email had been sent out inviting bids and someone or a group in Boston had submitted a bid at Copley Marriott were UNAA held its convention in 2003.  However on further scrutiny and inquiry by the UNAA Boston chapter revealed a private group was behind the bid submitted in the name of UNAA. Attempts to reach out to the  UNAA Executive for more details to collaborate this bid were futile.

I have nothing personal against Mr. Brian Kwesiga but it seems UNAA is slowly becoming an exclusive club for a few who at all costs will never give up the reigns of UNAA power. The expulsion of paid up members deemed hostile on UNAA forums has been a calculated attempt to muzzle dissenting voices. What is even more troubling is that we have a UNAA with three categories of people;  those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who never have a clue about — what is happening — they simply come to enjoy the party!

It was therefore interesting to hear that when a special UNAA meeting was called at the Hyatt to discuss UNAA affairs it lacked the 1/3 majority needed for their recommendations to take hold according to our source. Some representatives from Government and Kampala politicians also participated in this meeting meant for UNAA members (no offence here but how about the majority of UNAA membership). There were also attempts to broker a mediation deal between the warring UNAA factions by some proposing a 5 member team from each group to help mediate but this motion was defeated by the two former UNAA Presidents present. According to my source it was also evident that the UNAA President as CEO of this organisation was not in charge of these deliberations. Some attendees left feeling disappointed that no clear outcome had been achieved out of San Diego to help end this impasse! I know some might disagree with me measuring a successful convention differently especially since the Prime Minister of Uganda and the Speaker of Parliament were in attendance. I would be more interested in hearing what efforts they made to help reconcile these warring factions and prevent a future split up of UNAA!

As I said when the organisation fault lines first appeared — UNAA is bigger than all our individual egos and a divided UNAA cannot endure but the question remains: how much longer can these divisions last?

We have just seen two groups emerge out of San Diego while the main official UNAA enjoyed the bulk of the UNAA sponsors and Government support including a large delegation of more than 20 ministers, MPs and attendees from Uganda. The other group UNAA Causes that organised the Uganda Festival had the bulk of members from the BOT and UNAA Council and some old timers attending their Marriott event in protest to the ongoing style of leadership of the Mr. Kwesiga and his team of advisers. It’s noteworthy that this group held their convention with lower registration fees, lower hotel room rates at the Marriott and had a bigger  boat at a lesser cost from the same horn-blower cruise company. How they managed to to negotiate lower terms for their members with no sponsors in the same city on the same weekend is food for thought about the hidden costs associated with convention planning. If however these two groups had reconciled prior to San Diego this would perhaps have been the biggest UNAA gathering/convention in terms of numbers.

I wrote an OP-ED on this issue titled a house divided cannot stand and I will share it again. During my time in active UNAA politics I recall people who made every attempt to force me out of UNAA because of my critical independent views. Then I refused to embrace UADA, the Dream Team and Clear Direction but the recent fall out of latter and implosion among Clear Direction Supporters and the viscious attacks among members who once shared a common slogan/ideas is another testament of the deep seated divisions within our community. In my view part of the problem has been created by untested leaders with little or no experience in the running of UNAA affairs. The other problem has been created in-part by the new constitution that created positions in regions that are hardly populated making it easy to manipulate the UNAA voting system.  As a UNAA board of 13 members then we always had trouble finding consensus or agreeing in principle as committee – just imagine a group of 30 with different view points and egos.  The current impasse plus the creation of the BOT and UNAA Council seem to have validated my fears based on what we are witnessing in UNAA today.

We waited 11 months to see UNAA financials and an article by Mr. Musoke has presented us with a look inside our tax returns as a 501c company. There are people like myself who will never leave UNAA because the solution does not lie in splitting up this great institution that has brought many together. However the financial rot and cronyism exhibited in UNAA needs to end and those who refuse to let go and attempt to control UNAA by PROXY or through surrogates must excuse themselves from the process since they are now part of the problem.  UNAA needs a set of new eyes to provide new direction and a review of contracts that have now seen some operations within UNAA privatized and awarded rather dubiously to would be supporters or consultants!

On another note our fellow Diaspora in Canada — Bulungi Bwansi recently hosted Her Royal Highness, The Nabagereka of Buganda to Toronto. She was also accompanied by Buganda Kingdom Prime Minister, Owekiitibwa Charles Peter Mayiga. The Katikiiro heads to Boston were he will be hosted by Gwanga Mujje Boston Chapter.  I applaud the Katikiiro (a fellow Mutiima clan member) for reviving the Kingdom’s fundraising efforts as his ETOFAALI campaign has now yielded over a million dollars in contributions to the Buganda Kindgom.

In other news ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ Robbin Williams a famous Hollywood actor committed suicide last month another grim reminder of how lonely it can get at the top even for those we look to and also admire. After spending a month in Kampala and attending functions here you cannot miss but notice that people love status, material things and associating with those who have. While in America society spends money they don’t have on things they don’t need to further suck themselves into credit card debt!  But how then can we define happiness?

Ebola vaccine that was recently tested on Monkeys seems to have provided a cure and brought some ray of hope to those afflicted by the deadly disease. But in West Africa the death toll has continued to rise. Our Western neighbor the DRC has now registered some cases and given the vectors through which the disease is spread Uganda’s health workers need to be prepared given our poverty levels in populated areas!

Finally as we all end the summer and the kids return to school be sure to enjoy whatever remains of the year counting each blessing the lord brings your way!

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.” – Mark Twain

Mark 3:25 — If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

Editor In Chief — Ronnie Mayanja

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.



    When I asked members of UNAA causes why they split from UNAA, and they said that they have not left UNAA. They are unaa members who stand by the constitution. That the problem is Moses Wilson and Rosette Serwanga and a clique of friends who have taken the organization for their financial benefit. I will pray that both camps reconcile. I love both camps and Unaa causes put on a great party. Pray everyone.

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