Ugandan Diaspora News | Letter from the Editor | August 2015 | Is This UNAA’s Waterloo Moment – Two Conventions In Two Different Cities?

Posted August 1, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Editorial ~ 5,532 views


ronnie editor

It is August and the annual Ugandan convention planning and execution is in high gear in the US! Just like last year we shall see two competing conventions, albeit in different cities, one in New Orleans and other in New York.  The two groups have tried to outdo each other via social media marketing as they compete for a divided Diaspora community.

In New Orleans UNAA have promised to bring King Saha, Mesach Semakula, Hawa A’baale, Lady Zani, Mega Dee, Dizzo, Crane cultural dancers and more, while UNAA Causes in New York has a line-up that includes Jose Chameleon, Eddie Kenzo, Juliana Kanyomozi, Rhema Namakula, GNL Zamba, Karim Saava and a host of other Ugandan celebrities for an event dubbed — The Uganda Festival New York.

Both events will also host business forums and offer river cruises — one on the Mississippi and the other on the Hudson. While the split we saw in UNAA following the Dallas convention was disheartening, the competition and lower convention costs will mean that all convention attendees will choose where to go and perhaps get value for their dollar – the registration fees have now jumped and if you have not yet made up your mind on which event to attend visit the links below to learn more about what is perhaps the biggest gathering of Ugandans outside Uganda. ( and

This being an election year, the outgoing UNAA President indicated that he would not seek re-election however his deputy UNAA President announced his candidature to serve UNAA for another two-year term. Given the polarization we have seen and the constant in-fighting, it would have been prudent to allow a caretaker administration to assume UNAA leadership in preparation for new office bearers and a fresh election. A document authored by the electoral chair Pastor Samuel Mutyaba urging against holding elections and recommending a postponement of the process to allow for healing following the continued disagreements was prevented from reaching members through the UNAA mailing list, a sign perhaps of the interests that control UNAA’s agenda.

The current Massachusetts litigation provides the real inside look inside UNAA politics. The Uganda Festival New York vs New Orleans Convention might be one sure way to prove who has the upper hand and the support of the masses. It should be noted that all this stems from the failure of Mr. Kabagambe to step aside following how he was smuggled through the back door to control the voting rights and maintain a balance of power in the UNAA Council.  This impasse led to the resignation of the UNAA Board of Trustees, a group of elders that included UNAA’s Founding Fathers who were treated to the highest level of humiliation.  See link below —

Having been able to bear witness of the mistakes made prior to the 2010 UNAA Constitution, as a former UNAA board member, I am of the view that we need to revert to the old constitution that had allowed us to function in harmony without the divisions we see today that have increasingly made UNAA toxic.  And so as we head for this year’s Labor Day weekend I hope that those in leadership at the two rival conventions will realize that UNAA is bigger than all of us and do whatever it takes to preserve the identity of this great institution that ably united many Ugandans in North America over the past 28 years!

In 2000 this institution survived a breakup when the convention was taken to Uganda and those members who felt that this was deviation from the organisation’s ideals held rival conventions the following year– one in San Diego and another in Miami. The UNAA Convention that year (2001) was held in Detroit and suffered poor attendance. The elders had to bail it out financially.

Fast-forward to 2009 following the Chicago convention–a new splinter group, Uganda American Development Association (UADA), emerged and this too attempted to break up UNAA but a united UNAA fraternity prevailed.

The latest split in UNAA occurred following the Dallas convention and although Mr. Ssenoga, the incumbent, was gracious in conceding the election, it was the failure of the Council to meet and the Executive’s mishandling of various UNAA issues that sealed the final fate of the new Board, as there was no harmony between the Executive, the UNAA Council and the Board of Trustees. The failure to call meetings and the underhanded tactics of the Executive led one UNAA member, Mr. Joseph Musoke, to sue the organization and in so doing more financial impropriety was exposed. With the current litigation now in the Massachusetts courts it remains to be seen how the two convention bodies will proceed after what has been two tumultuous years.

Back home in Uganda it is that season of dangling carrots as the incumbent seeks yet another term and Members of Parliament campaign to represent their constituencies in party primaries. It is now official that the ex-premier of Uganda, Mbabazi, will be running as an independent after getting blocked by his party and being harassed by the police over supposed illegalities about his bid.  President Museveni picked NRM nomination papers July 31st and will contest unopposed after the Kyakwanzi resolution takes hold. He will also go down as the most cunning politician Uganda has ever had given his ability to outmaneuver his opponents both within and outside his party.

Uganda’s political landscape is slowly changing. Campaigns for FDCs party primaries underway, Mugisha Muntu and Col. Kiiza Besigye were cleared to start their consultations with their party faithfuls ahead of the general election. It should be noted that Col. Besigye, whose three previous bids failed to unseat the incumbent, has been pulling sizable crowds with little resources, a sign perhaps that he still commands a big following. Nigeria’s General Buhari’s three previous failed attempts resulted in an electoral victory the last time he ran this year, defeating Goodluck Jonathan, so persistence can pay off. Some have indicated that a joint ticket between Besigye and Mbabazi could split the NRM and galvanize the opposition into a unified force that would defeat the incumbent with all his state resources. The challenge FDC faces is that Muntu has been described as too gentle while some say Besigye is too angry. However in Mbabazi some see someone who fits the bill but lacks the charisma to connect with the average voter…however if and whether Mbabazi can match Museveni’s purse only time will tell!

A recent New Vision poll–a government-owned and operated newspaper– indicates that NRM, which says it has over 10 million registered voters, is slated for a landslide victory, declaring the President leading by over 71% of the vote if the election were to be held today. One institution to watch carefully will be Uganda’s Electoral Commission which conducts the elections and interprets Uganda’s electoral laws.

One thing is clear–the center of power might not be holding. Museveni’s longest serving Minister, former Bush War comrade and co-founder of the NRM Amama Mbabazi has continued to expose the lack of democracy and the failure of Museveni to honor his pledges, others like General Sejusa have exposed the system and its lack of democracy, the latest being the President’s Press Secretary who was called into a meeting at Statehouse and then sacked — relegated to Presidential Media Adviser. For those with any doubts I refer you to Daniel Kalinaki’s article, Palace Politics —

Another exposé of Statehouse affairs came in the form of President Museveni’s former Press Secretary’s interview following his sacking. This intrigue and infighting at the highest level is a testament perhaps that a change could be good for the country. See link below —

While others look for those that are pro-government we should instead focus on being pro-Uganda for this country belongs to us all and no one individual or group should ever hold anyone hostage or deny them their liberty and the pursuit of happiness for its your constitutional right! During this year’s Diaspora gala in December we shall also be inviting all Presidential candidates to share their Diaspora vision and how they plan to engage this constituency that remits the largest amount of foreign exchange to Uganda.  We too should matter and not only at election time but be used as AGENTS of change for a better Uganda given our training and exposure abroad. Save the date — ( — 30th December 2015)

Finally President Obama’s long-awaited trip to Africa was indeed a true Homecoming. He identified with his own, met his relatives in Nairobi, attended a State banquet dancing to the tunes of Sauti Sol, attended an Entrepreneurship Summit. His visit ended in Ethiopia, the only nation in Africa that was never colonized but has been accused of violating human rights. Ethiopia, described as the Cradle of Humankind and the birthplace of coffee, welcomed Obama and also gave him a tour of one of Africa’s most successful State enterprises — Ethiopian Airlines.

However what was perhaps the most noteworthy moment came during his speech to the African Union General Assembly where President Obama criticized those African leaders who never relinquish power or actually change term limits to suit their personal ambitions. A point of dissension remained the subject of homosexuality and gay rights which few African nations have agreed to embrace, something they say is a practice from the West and alien to many African cultures. See full speech below —

Leadership is not about the next election, its about the next generation — Simon Sinek

God Speed!

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.

One Comment

    Ed Kay

    That was a good cursory view of what is on the ground especially as far as UNAA is concerned. The quagmire maybe longer much longer than anticipated. The Constitution violations are not accidental, rather, elaborately well staged and exploited many gullible UNAA Members and some government officials in Uganda that have come to inanely believe that UNAA CAUSES is comprised of those opposed to the gov. Simply stupid.

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