Ugandan Diaspora News | Letter from the Editor | September 2015 | Presidential Debates Should Determine Elections in Uganda

Posted September 1, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Editorial ~ 4,739 views


ronnie editor

Greetings folks,

And welcome to the biggest diaspora convention weekend in the Northern Hemisphere. This year is unique because unlike last year, when Ugandans converged on the same city (San Diego) with conventions in two different hotels, this year the competition is in two different cities for the Labor Day weekend, 4th – 6th September.

UNAA as we know it seems to be in a hard place or better still fallen on difficult times — the main UNAA Convention will go to New Orleans, a city that was also chosen under unclear circumstances, bypassing the usual bidding and presentations process that follow the selection process–these days a city with no local chapters, one that can easily deliver election victories is always preferred. And that is why rumor has it that the next convention might be headed to Boston ofcourse after an election year you need a city with the numbers.  However the latest blow to hit UNAA has been the resignation of the UNAA Electoral Chair, Pastor Mutyaba, who decided to throw in the towel after increasingly getting frustrated by the internal forces that seemed to undermine his position and were pushing a particular agenda in an electoral process that has seen alot divisions and fractured relationships.

And so come Friday UNAA Causes in New York will kick off with a great line up of big name entertainers and entrepreneurs while the New Orleans group has focused more on a good business forum with a line-up led by Uganda government CEOs, at least on paper. Opinion is divided however on the continued big government delegations that attend UNAA, yet hardly any resolutions affecting UNAA members ever get implemented. Word through the grapevine is that officials who attend these UNAA conventions on tax payer money merely do so as a holiday shopping spree that allows them to escape the dust in Kampala and pocket a hefty per diem allowances but once back home in Kampala those in the diaspora who might seek follow up meetings upon their return hardly ever get to see these VIPs.

After 28 years UNAA is in dire need of effective leadership and its incumbent on the new leaders to avoid  the smear politics and demonizing of others, defining one group as fighting government and the other as supporting government, which seems to have been the only tactic used to ensure continued government support. The failure of our government to arbitrate this impasse has alienated one group over the other, even with all the politicking and intrigue we have witnessed — a missed opportunity to unify Ugandans abroad in my view. It is now clear that the importation of Uganda’s political culture has largely infiltrated UNAA, exacerbating the current differences. The government pledge and financial support should have been rescinded until differences were aired out but instead this money and the $100,000 pledge made by the President has also resulted in more divisions, as there is no clear understanding who accounts for these funds and how UNAA benefits.

As a long-standing paid up member of UNAA my hope was that cool heads would prevail to help get UNAA back on track, out of court and help constitute the oversight needed to check on excesses among our leaders. But instead our UNAA constitution has continued to be violated and more resignations have followed – with a flawed election already in the offing. The split we saw within the once popular Clear Direction team has continued resulting in further splits within ranks of the real power brokers or call them UNAA grand Ayatollahs! As we wait to see which UNAA group will answer with the numbers and the public goodwill — I would like to pose this question how did we get here that we can be so many miles away from home and remain so divided yet other diaspora communities are busy impacting their economies through good ideas and great causes!

Back home in Uganda — The FDC Presidential debate between Candidate Mugisha Muntu and Kiiza Besigye was a positive development for democratic action in Uganda.  For a first both candidates showed political maturity by subjecting themselves to such scrutiny. However senior retired FDC elder Amanya Mushega’s opinion piece/open letter in one of the local dailies has exposed Besigye especially his back-tracking and failure to support Muntu after stepping down from the FDC party leadership.

A Presidential debate involving our dear leader and how the historical members of the movement urged him to seek yet another term in office would be a good debate to watch.  Instead of the President buying votes at whatever cost and sending robocalls/messages using tax payers money,  a debate that would have all Presidential candidates on the same stage is something that would serve our nation well in helping to bring our leaders to account. Today opinion polls speak of a 3 way presidential race between Museveni, Besigye Mbabazi although latter seems to have kept supporters guessing resulting in divided opinions about JPAMs presidential bid.

As election fever builds it is extremely troubling to see crime preventers or vigilante groups who are equipped and financed outside the regular police force of Uganda get paraded on television whether its a fear mongering campaign or meant to galvanize the President’s support is another sign of what has gone wrong with the Museveni we knew back in 1986 . Attempts to explain their role have angered Ugandans who see an Interehamwe-like paramilitary force ready to cause harm to whoever opposes the system. Is the State trying to create a state within a state? Watching NTV news online and seeing the return of Major Kakooza Mutale and the vigilante groups could be signs that change in Uganda will have to be wrested from those who feel they own Uganda!

Let us pray that Uganda will not go the way of Zimbabwe, whose economy is now on its knees thanks in part to Mugabe who nationalized enterprises and rewarded many of his cronies with juicy contracts that have bankrupted this once vibrant economy. The continued parceling out of prime land to so-called investors is a simmering issue that will soon boil over as some look at the players as  “fronted” to serve the interests of those in government.  In the past these land grabbers and factory give-aways read Dura Cement, Diary Corporation have left people speechless in the past. Not sure who is fooling who but as they say we wait for time and history to be the judge!  Below is Sudhir’s rebuttal on the Namulonge land acquisition —

On a positive note the long awaited reconstruction and expansion of Entebbe International Airport is now underway and we have been promised this will happen in 3 phases at an estimated soft loan cost by the Chinese of $200 million dollars. For many frequent fliers Entebbe was a big embarrassment especially the uncoordinated billboards, the lack of air conditioning and functional monitors plus amenities a modern International airport should have. Our hope is that this process unlike the many gone before will not end up a debt burden to our children owing to the culture of kick backs and influence peddling we have witnessed in our procurement system over the years.

Hopefully the efforts of my friend and Tourism guru Amos Wekesa and those marketing Uganda will continue to yield some good now that Patrick Kluivert and his team mates have their eyes on Uganda! But equally important our government needs to inject resources, money and bring those in the private sector that have Uganda at heart on board only then shall we we begin to realize tangible results in this sector…road shows and the use of Diaspora in their new adopted homes is always a great start!

Wishing you all happy Labor Day weekend and a great start to those embarking on new academic journeys. As for me I will be heading to New York to attend a Ugandan Festival meet!

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. — Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ronnie Mayanja

Ugandan Diaspora News | | Ugandan Diaspora Network | Event website | | US | +1-978-235-2459 | UG +256-773-212-007 | +256- 794-999-898 | +256-703-999-898 Skype | ronnie.mayanja | Twitter | @rmayanja |

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.


    Mumbejja Barbarah Kibirige

    For some of us who have never attended any of the conventions despite the fact that we have been here for quite sometime, hearing what’s going on with one of the largest crowding pulling events is indeed saddening for lack of a better word!! This event according to my reasoning should be the most unifying medium of the Ugandans in the diaspora and yet it has turned out to be a dividing factor! One wonders what on earth is haunting US as fellow Ugandans?! My expectation would be that with the exposure that we have been lucky to acquire here the supposed “unity” should be a launching pad for us to effect change back from where we hail!! I don’t want to subscribe to the belief that taking Uganda out of us is the cancer eating up what was ideally a good effort and arrangement by the founders of this honorable convention= UNAA.

    My humble contribution is actually in form of a question that says Is it possible at all to backtrack and find out where this August body was steered off course and with that done is it possible to return to the original intention of this otherwise well- intentioned organization gone wrong? !

    With that said, we continue to pray for unity especially amongst us fellow country men which if achieved could be a big voice for us where we are at, because sincerely speaking that disunity is working against us in this foreign land. Anybody ever wondered what are the United force of Ugandans in the USA would be are tb le to achieve? !

    Many of us are yearning to come in but year’s event and divisions we are pushed further away and just keep lamenting ‘ Cry the beloved country’. My plea to all my fellow Ugandans is ‘ Let’s drop off the little bickering and sacrifice our egos for the sake of our offspring and the legacy they are about to inherit from us. Let’s make them proud and lay firm foundation for further unity in the generations to come, we can do this. I am convinced and fully persuaded that we have what it takes to do better than our best for the sake of our children. WITH all due respect Am ASKING ALL Of Us To Jump Onto The Band Wagon OF Unity And Togetherness TO Harness Harmony Amongst us!!! Together we can Yesssss Together we can and the time is now!!! Let’s empower ourselves for greatness!!!
    Thank you so much my fellow Ugandans


    Well said nnyabbo Unaa needs its all members, friends & supporters to stand up and speak up, something is very wrong. Respect and enpowerment of all members needs to return and great things will indeed happen through UNAA. Start with that old bone of contention The Constitution. The U.S. Constitution seems to serve the U.S. Until now without need to question the original document by the founders, why?
    Osanga naba UNAA baali kukintu it stood working for well over 20 years and it reads well ie makes sense to me and kept the peace, so why change it to this extent. Our UG is case in point, should know better than to tamper with constitutions. fore fathers and founders I guess bear passions no one after them would quite understand the way they did at time of formulating. Why rewrite history books when u weren’t there and claim to know and understand it better unless of course u respectful enough to verify the facts with some elders and war veterans still surviving!
    Unity to UNAA for the people by the people and of the people. (Sorry folks for rambling ooon)

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