Ugandan Diaspora News | Letter from the Editor | November 2014 | Africa’s Spring & the Lessons Learned

Posted November 1, 2014 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Editorial ~ 2,789 views



Dear Folks,

Greetings from Boston,

It’s officially November and a recent surge of reporting to do with Africa has evolved from the coverage of war, disease and famine to the demand for change in leadership this time in the West African state of Burkina Faso.

Recent unrest has seen Ouagadougou the capital of Burkina Faso engulfed into a revolution of sorts, the people revolted and said no after Parliament was set to vote on the lifting of Presidential term limits at the urging of Blaise Compaoré, the man at the helm of the presidency for the past 27 years. The Burkinabes were not having any of it, feeling betrayed by their legislators they stormed Parliament. Riots engulfed the capital and Parliament was set ablaze and as the popular revolt spread Blaise Campoare was later deposed and fled Burkina Faso to neighboring Ivory Coast. However in rather a bizarre state of affairs after the President of Burkina Faso was deposed 2 military rulers all claiming to be President emerged first was General Troure later came statement from the military that Lt. Col. Isaac Zida had been unanimously chosen to lead the transitional government. (Events in Burkina Faso should scare Uganda because of the similarity and longevity of the Burkina Faso President in power.)

In a different twist of events in Uganda, what started as joke in the so-called Kyankwanzi resolution is apparently becoming reality and gaining traction as more government resources are used to market/popularize the so-called sole candidate agenda.

Since February one candidate (Amama Mbabazi) has been demonized and accused of eyeing the presidency while on the other hand the NRM party caucus saw no issue in openly campaigning for the sole candidacy of President Museveni outside the party structures like the delegates conference. More recently, after total humiliation, Mbabazi was forced to go on a leave of absence as party Secretary General and  a delegates conference planned for December 15 2014 is expected to clip his wings and perhaps announce his replacement. Pundits also expect a resolution to amend the NRM constitution allowing the President to appoint the party secretary general.  To say that Ugandan politics is immoral is an understatement but this double standard and the so-called ring fencing of the position of the presidency is another example of how far the NRM party has deviated from its original 10-point political program.

Some analysts as a way to put things into perspective have gone on to say that if perhaps the Museveni they knew in 1986 met the Museveni of 2014 the former would arrest the latter based on the fundamental change he has undergone over the past 30 years.

Some in Uganda have now resorted to blaming our intellectual leaders and opposition politicians for this state of affairs. Many influential Ugandans are simply inclined to put food on their tables and cater for their own survival. Uganda today is up for sale to the highest bidder and those who enjoy connections with the center of power are the ones that carry the day.

A political insight into our President’s mind is better presented by a recent BBC audio interview, President Museveni, when asked why he fired Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi and long time confidante replied, “I did not fire Mbabazi–I simply appointed another Prime Minister.” Were it not such a travesty, this response to why he sacked his one time blue-eyed boy would be amusing. However Ugandans are now beginning to realize the true character of their leader and the true colors of the regime.

More recently the in-fighting within Statehouse has also spilled over to the public exposing the intrigue within the President’s quarters. Sarah Kagingo, the Presidential Assistant on Social Media who set up the President’s Twitter and Facebook accounts had been edged out of course after her competition set up rival accounts that failed to generate traffic. Media reports also indicate that her woes started when she intimated to the President that hosting his social media presence would cost only UGX 4 million as opposed to UGX 400 million as proposed by some Statehouse insiders. How can one fail to notice the poor grammar the new handlers of the President’s twitter and Facebook accounts are using in sharing his messages. Weeks ago we also witnessed Cabinet Ministers serving in the present government attack each other in the local press without recourse to their cabinet room were such disputes should have been better handled. Honorable  Nasasira, Tumwebaze and Byandala’s openly traded jabs in Uganda’s media outlets and this was further proof perhaps of the brewing political atmosphere within NRM government. This state of affairs has only increased speculation among the public that very soon the movement will implode.

Ugandans and opposition politicians today have expressed an interest in seeing electoral reforms implemented ahead of 2016. When you have one person controlling the presidency, appointing the electoral commission, judiciary, police chief (IGP) and the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) you have what could be fittingly called a presidential monarchy– no amount of resources can uproot such a leader, especially if he also controls state coffers. A level playing field is long overdue in our political landscape, even as our opposition looks weaker that many believe it can not defeat the incumbent unless of-course they united under one umbrella the way ODM did in Kenya during the run up to their elections in 2005.

Uganda’s military is now involved in partisan politics. We all listened in on Kaihura’s leaked tapes and attempts by the state for a closed door trial of those accused of complicity in the matter. But reading the army spokesman’s press release on not involving the army in partisan politics when they now sit in Parliament and also vote on contentious issues in a partisan fashion is nothing less of hypocrisy. UPDF should be a national army with the sole purpose of protecting and defending Ugandans but we have seen it deployed in the DRC, Somalia and now Southern Sudan without parliamentary approval, making the UPDF more of a personal army than a national one even though we applaud its efforts in stabilizing the region its clearly evident that this has been done outside legislative branches of government with the mandate to sanction such actions.

As we approach 2016 and the rapidly changing political landscape, Ugandans should expect some big surprises in our political arena. Of course President Museveni, being the astute, shrewd politician he is, has already begun campaigning– this time at the Vatican were he extended an invitation to the Pope to officiate during the Centenary Anniversary of Uganda Martyrs. This event that is now canonized among the Catholic community worldwide should deliver a sizable number of votes among the catholic constituency in Uganda. Patronage and emoluments are part of the weapons in use by our dear leader as we approach another election year.

Down South in Zimbabwe, the First Lady Grace Mugabe formally declared her intentions to succeed the 90-year old President Mugabe as leader of post-independence Zimbabwe. A sign of the times and a trend increasing gaining popularity among Africa’s longest serving rulers.

To those regime apologists who try to justify presidential monarchies across Africa by citing Hilary Clinton’s bid to for the presidency it should be pointed out that Bill Clinton served his two elected terms and stepped aside. Since then we have seen George Bush Jr and Barack Obama serve out their two terms and Hillary’s bid cannot be equated or used as a justification for rulers whose sons or relatives are being groomed to succeed them. In the case of Uganda, attempts at governance by those who feel they have the monopoly to lead us by force should be a wake-up call.

Local press in Uganda is also awash with the mantra — ‘we fought’ or ‘twalwana’  without belittling their sacrifice it’s about time that some NRM historicals move beyond such talk since since we are seeing a new generation emerge.  After almost 30 years in power we are now due for the same kind of fundamental change that ushered in their liberation movement years ago. As we prepare for 2016 let us focus on service delivery, rebuilding democratic institutions and use this time to hold accountable many of our politicians that have made politics a career at the expense of service delivery.

The West African spring witnessed in Burkina Faso and the fall of some longest serving African leaders like Col. Gaddafi should be a wake up call that when you suppress democratic principles for so long they can come back to bite you. Hopefully our leaders will be able to learn from history and do the right thing or risk the fate of what led to the collapse of many powerful kingdoms and empires like that of the Romans.

As I conclude I wish you all a happy thanksgiving holiday and for those planning to be in Kampala over the Christmas holidays. Plan to attend our fourth Ugandan Diaspora Social Networking Gala. Our theme will be Diaspora Home Coming 2014, And this year in a break with tradition we shall also host the very first Diaspora Business Breakfast Meeting on Monday 29th December at Kampala Serena’s Katonga’s Hall from 9am – 12pm. On Tuesday 30th December 2014 we shall host our main event at Serena Victoria Ballroom with the official After-party at Guvnor. Visit our event website for details —

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” — Author.  Nelson Mandela

“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” — Author.  Nelson Mandela

Managing Editor — Ronnie Mayanja

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About the Author

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.


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