Gen. Museveni–weary dictator has clocked nearly 32 years. Photo: Flickr
[Africa Commentary: Uganda]
Fellow Ugandans, have you noticed whenever there is a heated debate and the dictator Gen. Yoweri Museveni is about to lose it he reminds us that young men and women sacrificed a lot including their lives to save Uganda.
He obviously refers to the war that brought him to power in 1986. Most Ugandans would agree that the conditions that forced many people to support his rebellion exists several-fold today so he sounds like a broken record.
He also doesn’t tell us whom he “saved” Uganda for. It was clearly not for the indigenous populations of the country.
As time passed people began to notice that benefits were going to a particular group of people who have been entering Uganda since 1959. Ugandans are a welcoming people; but not to the extent of having refugees whom they sheltered end up taking over their lands and livestock because a ruler whose own heritage is shrouded in mystery.
When pressed on the issue Gen. Museveni often loses his composure. He has, variously, said that:
1. He went hunting and killed a beast. Therefore he has the right to invite whoever he wants to the dining table; implying that the resources of Ugandan can now be divided as he sees fit amongst his family members, his relatives and close friends.
2. He became a revolutionary for the sake of his family: his children and grand children.
3. He is no one’s servant; certainly not a public servant. That he is “working for myself.” This reeks of inferiority complex. That is why he is contemptuous of voters and has himself declared president even when he does not win elections.
4. As a revolutionary he can’t be kicked out of the house like a chicken thief, implying that he will rule for as long as he desires.
5. If you are stupid you should be enslaved or colonized (Atlantic Monthly Magazine, September 1994). He therefore continues to operate under the assumption that Ugandans are too docile and will never challenge him.
With this mindset, dictator Museveni believes he has conquered Ugandans with the support of his people who are now conducting land-grabs all over the country with the support of the state including armed forces.
Dictator Museveni inserted into the constitution the article about free mobility and settlement anywhere in Uganda. He has used this window to settle his people in all parts of the country, especially on other people’s land.
He treats Uganda and Ugandans like conquered territory and subjects, respectively.
You will notice that appointees or those recruited to influential posts –security forces, ministers, ambassadors, presidential advisers, religious leaders– are all his people.
Parliament is dominated by his people due to patronage and rigging during elections.
As time passed the Ugandans began to realize that they are being severely marginalized by immigrants and refugees in large numbers. Ugandans have always welcomed refugees, but dictator Museveni is changing this attitude and creating tension by actively helping these guests land-grab from their hosts.
The dictator is carrying out the Rwakitura Covenant, named for the location where a meeting was held to discuss his strategy to allow his National Resistance Movement party to rule for at least 50 years. He has been dictator for nearly 32 years now. He wants to remove the article in the constitution which does not allow a person older than 75 to run for president. He is 73 and cannot run in 2021 elections.
The Rwakitura Covenant can be completed by political domination of Ugandans and depriving people of income and wealth by seizing their land. That is why the dictator is simultaneously pushing for life presidency and nationalization of native land.
Now he is facing serious challengers. Because he can’t handle the opposition he is saying they are spreading lies. It’s up to Gen. Museveni to prove with concrete evidence that the opposition is lying about his plans. How can they be lying when his security agents beat opposition members of Parliament, his armed forces kill people who oppose his life-presidency agenda, brutalize those who resist land-grab, and instigate communal violence over land to intentionally displace people?
He is even imposing a police siege on the homes of members of Parliament who oppose his life-presidency scheme.
These are questions every Ugandan should ask dictator Museveni by posting it on the official Facebook page of State House Uganda. When it comes to the following positions in all branches of government how many of the individuals are Ugandans and how many are people who had been welcomed as refugees?:
1. How many of each are NRM Members of Parliament?
2. How many of each are ministers in the government?
3. How many of each are ambassadors?
4. How many of each are presidential advisers?
5. How many of each are religious leaders?
6. How many of each are Local Council (LC 5) chairpersons?
7. How many of each are leaders of the military, police, intelligence, prison services?
8. How many of each get fellowship awards to study in Uganda or abroad?
9. How many of each occupy government ranches and de-gazetted lands?
Uganda land belongs to Ugandans. The British colonial administration confirmed it through legislation.
During the Odoki Commission consultations that set the framework for debates in the Constituent Assembly the overwhelming majority restated that land belongs to indigenous Ugandans. Intentionally it was not included in the constitution.
Do foreigners or non-natives qualify to own native land? Do we need to nationalize Uganda land to be able to construct roads faster as the dictator is insisting? Are we going to have another legislation for industrial sites, dams, large private plantations and ranches or will the current bill being pushed by Gen. Museveni take care of all these demands?
Nationalization of land always creates serious problems. Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is permanently unstable in large part because when Gen. Mobutu nationalized land he gave a large chunk of land to refugees from neighboring countries who fought on his side during the civil war there shortly after independence in 1960. This will surely happen if Uganda native land is seized by Museveni and the guests.
However, Ugandans are now enlightened. They know their rights and freedoms. Their eyes and ears are wide open. If they sense they are cheated they are going to resist.
To avert calamity Ugandans must stop Museveni’s life-presidency scheme and the land bill. We must clearly tell the Members of Parliament that if they act on their own against the will of the people there will be consequences. Let us also remind Ugandans who are greedy and short-sighted not to be duped into giving up their valuable land and only source of income for a few coins. Stand with fellow Ugandans and not Museveni and the guests who has support of his army to seize the land.
Land is life and the only asset and source of livelihood for millions of Ugandans. That is all they have and none should take it away from them.
The concept of willing seller and willing buyer was developed to suit white farmers in Africa (Kenya, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa) so they don’t lose the land they had occupied to Black people after independence.
The rich, powerful guests, supported by dictator Museveni’s armed forces are using force or intimidation to land-grab from powerless and voiceless peasants.
Ugandans cannot afford not to win this struggle.
Eric Kashambuzi is an international economist and human rights activist.