Ugandan Opinions and Perspectives

>> Sunday, October 21, 2007

Why Must Lies Irk Museveni?

The Monitor (Kampala) , OPINION , 31 December 2007
By Raymond Otika

The year 2007 seems to be ending in style as President Yoweri Museveni wages war on "lies." A lie is defined as an untrue statement purposely made to deceive, or to be dishonest with the truth.

In most cultures telling lies has to do with deficiency in personal morality, best articulated in the words of Thomas Jefferson: "He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second time and the third time till at length it becomes a habit. He tells lies without attending to it, the truth without the world believing him."

It was therefore interesting to read Museveni's letter to the Kabaka of Buganda (Daily Monitor, December 22), measured against what he has been telling Ugandans since he assumed state power on January 26, 1986.

The president is annoyed by what he perceives as lies and more lies about his government vis-a-vis land grabbing in Buganda. He thinks the opposition is in cahoot with CBS FM radio and Buganda Kingdom officials at Mengo to pervert the public over the land question; he wants the Kabaka Muwenda Mutebi to step in and prevail over his errant subjects.

The president also took the war on lies to Amuru District (Sunday Monitor December 23) where he lambasted Acholi MPs for telling lies in their constituencies that government intended to grab land in Amuru and give it to Madhvani Group for growing sugarcane.

Going to the problem of lies the president is culpable; he has no moral authority to condemn anybody for telling lies. He has lied to Ugandans a thousand times. For example in 1986 the president told Ugandans and the rest of the world that "the problem of Africa is leaders who stay too long in power."

In his 2001 presidential election manifesto Museveni said that it would be his last term to stand for president. But he became a liar when he stood again for the same post in 2006.

The more Museveni finds himself doing the very vice for which he condemned other African leaders, the more he becomes a liar and loses moral credibility to castigate fellow liars.

As if that is not enough our "dear" president also castigated African leaders who flew private jets to attend United Nations summits while their citizens moved barefoot, not to mention bare buttocks (emphasis mine) for being "pathetic spectacles."

Unfortunately our president also got caught in the African leaders' bourgeois decadence web: he now wants to fly G5 Gulf Stream private presidential jet. Mr president telling lies is not good for everybody. A lie is a double-edge sword; it hurts even its master.

In 2008, let us tell the truth. It is what will honestly bring peace and prosperity to all Ugandans, not lies, deception and corruption.

Happy New Year Mr President and all Ugandans.

November 19, 2007 (Monitor, Kampala)

Finally McKinnon replies to my letter, double standards: Beti Kamya

I made a breakthrough to the Commonwealth Secretariat, when I received a response to my letter to the Secretary General Don McKinnon, published in Daily Monitor of 22 October, 2007.

My letter was challenging his commitment to the Commonwealth principles if he could not acknowledge the FDC petition to him, seeking redress to the human rights abuse in Uganda. The letter signed by Mathew Neuhaus, Director of Political Affairs Division, in a typically evasive manner, assured me that “the Commonwealth welcomes such exchange of views…” (ours was a petition, with specific proposals, not an exchange of views).

He also said that FDC concerns had been raised with the Uganda government in various meetings between President Museveni and Mr McKinnon, blah, blah and that “a number of initiatives are already taking place…. to try and address FDC’s concerns...” in other words, singing to us the lullaby “hush-a-by-baby-on-the-tree-top, when the wind blows..the cradle will fall, go to sleep…Mummy will soon be here…)!

I found Mr Neuhaus’ letter patronising as if the petitioners did not know what we wanted and as if discussions between Mr(s) Mackinnon and Museveni were matters too lofty for us to be a part of.

How do we submit a petition against Mr Museveni and you sit with Mr Museveni to resolve the issues raised, without the petitioner? This confirms what I have always feared; that the Commonwealth is a social club of heads of governments whose primary goal is to look out for each other’s interests as long as such interests do not conflict with the interests of the Western super powers, like Robert Mugabe whose interests are contrary to British interests!

The Commonwealth’s indulgence to human rights abuse in Uganda must not be viewed in isolation. Two weeks ago, USA Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said “we are convinced that in the past two years, the government of Uganda has performed excellently in good governance, fight against corruption……..”

This coming close on the heels of British Foreign Secretary David Miliband’s statement in the House of Commons that “...we continue to monitor the People’s Redemption Army (PRA) trial in which Dr Besigye is a defendant and are pushing for a swift and fair conclusion of the legal process… Britain regularly raises this issue through the local Heads of Mission Partners for Democracy and Good Governance group in Uganda….”

If Britain monitors the PRA case, what have they done about the preposterous Shs2m cost of bail levied on the PRA treason suspects, seven (7) of whom have failed to raise it and are still in jail, three months after court granted them bail?

Fellow citizens, the writing is on the wall; there is a grand conspiracy by the super powers to keep us in perpetual bondage by protecting poor countries’ tyrants. They are quick to pour in Africa aid in billions of dollars, knowing that most of it is squandered to keep the regimes in power through governance systems infested with corruption, patronage and grand electoral malpractices.

We have implored them to tie such aid benchmarks to governance and human rights, but they claim that if they did, it is the poor people who would suffer as if there are no poor people in Zimbabwe, where absolute sanctions have been imposed! The Commonwealth Secretariat’s attitude to Africa’s problems forces us to ask hard questions: What common interests can Britain have with former colonies, many of whom shed blood to extricate themselves from British rule?

How can Britain be the champion of democracy when they bulldozed themselves into Africa, brutally destroyed indigenous systems and civilisations, imposing their own and every former colony had to fight for their independence from Britain? Why is the land distribution programme in Zimbabwe of immense interest to Britain, but not the same current programme in Uganda? Could it be that the people who stand to lose their land in Uganda, unlike in Zimbabwe, are not of British origin?

Aren’t we all really in this Commonwealth thing just to help Britain keep the last vestige of influence over her former empire and the British monarch to have some influence outside the UK? Many will argue in favour of the benefits of Chogm in Uganda, which I do not dispute, but do we need the Commonwealth to build roads, hotels, plant flowers and light our city?

What is the relevance of the Commonwealth to Uganda, since surely, it is not to promote good governance, the rule of law and human dignity, all of which have been seriously violated under the indulgence of the Commonwealth, in the two years leading to Chogm in Uganda?

Beti Olive Kamya
MP, Rubaga North

Uganda forgotten by international community


In 2001, the UPC petitioned the Commonwealth, praying that the NRM government of President Museveni be suspended from the Club following the sham personal-merit elections in Uganda in which political parties were debarred. I conveyed the petition.

I was later hosted by Tim Sebastian on BBC television's Hardtalk programme during which we discussed a number of issues in Uganda. My question then was"who are/is the international community?"

Last week, I watched with interest as members of the Commonwealth ministerial action group (CMAG), flanked by the Secretary General Mr Don McKinnon, issue ultimatum to Museveni's other brother General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan.


How I wished I was a member of the Pakistani political opposition! The Group instructed Gen. Musharraf to repeal dictatorial constitutional provisions and restore the rule or law, step down as army general, release prisoners, remove cab on the media, refrain from violence and respect human rights and, move rapidly to create credible and conducive conditions in which free and fair elections can be held and, that the Secretary General was to engage the Pakistani authorities. All this, at the eve of another Commonwealth Summit, this time in Kampala and, 22 years since gen. Museveni stormed into State House with his kadogo soldiers and Uganda hardly a democracy.

Meanwhile, on the same day, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was chief guest of the Lord Mayor of the City of London at Mansion House, to issue traditional foreign policy objectives of his government. The sharp Mr Brown swiftly reminded us that the first duty of any government is the safety and security of its people.

Secondly, he said, governments create economic opportunity for all and, they do not use "threat against innocent people". I was now thinking as usual, about my native Uganda and Luwero, northern and eastern parts in particular.

TO HOST CHOGM: Mr Museveni

On Pakistan, he said the government there needed to reconcile with the opposition as they find a solution to their political quagmire.

Anyhow, that is Gordon Brown, batting for Britain. In July 1986, six months after Museveni came to power and, 11 years before the Labour government of Tony Blair in 1997, unemployment in Britain stood at 3.1million or 10.6 per cent. That was, under the conservative Margaret Thatcher government and a post-war record high.

When the Blairs came in, one of their top priority was to reduce unemployment particularly among the youths using what they called New Deal for Communities. They actually eradicated it, targeting 18-24-year-olds and in the process, created 2.7 million real jobs!


Nine years into the new Labour government (2006), unemployment in Britain stood at less than a million or 3 per cent, a 30-year low. It is estimated that even with these impressive figures, there are still 600,000 unfilled jobs in the economy.

As for Gen. Museveni, with 22 years of uninterrupted rule under his belt and, perhaps not to be outdone, he strikes a dream deal. First, kill the coffee industry and give our Bugolobi coffee processing plant to some strange friend, an "investor" in order to create jobs, in the names of AGOA.

The plant was originally intended to employ 1,000 'girls' ( I dislike the word). But that is exactly how State House and New Vision of March 3, 2002 presented it: They must be at least 18 years old, hold an O'level certificate, single, yes, single and must be in good health! As you know, in Uganda it is a crime to be sick.

Writing in New York Times (November 14, 2003) Marc Lacey best describes our modern day slave labour: "Every time they stitch a pocket, attach a button or hem a shirt, the leaders of the land tell them, they are performing acts of patriotism that will help transform the country's economy". Even when their shoulders ache and their feet swell by quitting time, the bosses extend the departure time at will.

Yet this, according to Mr Museveni, is the best thing ever to have been done to Africa by the imperial global north. When the 'girls' attempted organise labour and complained against their conditions, 400 of them were sacked.

President Museveni himself blessed their firing and blamed them for being a bad influence saying they would scare away his coveted investors. All the bosses had to say was to refer the complainst to State House for a settlement.

The girls were the President's children and he alone could determine their fate. He sealed it and they were sent home unceremoniously. What arrogance!Yet the bosses who are in for the rich pickings are no ordinary Ugandans, but strange Asian 'investors'; heavily subsidised by the state, given free properties built by UPC, taxes waived and even staff training paid for by the government!

According to Gen. Museveni, Uganda is now "at the threshold of modernisation"and people should be encouraged to support the initiative. AGOA, according to him, is proof that "Uganda needs large markets which attract investors who provide employment, especially for the youths."

So having created economic miracles with investor monies in Kampala, Gen. Museveni now wished to extend his industrial conveyor belt to Mabira forest,which according to Achilles Byaruhanga of Nature Uganda, is a 'biodiversity heaven'. But Gen. Museveni had other ideas. Cape Argus of April 13, 2007 quotes him as saying that "conservation is a luxury not afforded by poor countries seeking economic development".

Our man with grand vision had only the previous day asserted that he will not be "deterred by people who do not see where the future of Africa lies.." At this rate, and with Chogm in Kampala only every life time, I wonder how long it will take Ugandans to create 2.7 million jobs which the British Labour government created in only 10 years?

Mr Brown will be in town next week. Shall he have time to give Gen. Museveni some friendly advise on how to create real jobs? Shall he apply quiet diplomacy or talk tough about the truth about Luwero terrorism, northern, easternUganda, the Juba Peace Jokes and Mabira forest as part of a new global scramble for natural resources?

Mr Brown, as you told us in London last week, the 'frontier is that there is no frontier.we must transcend ideology of hatred that tears us apart..a better world is our best security..success requires diversity to live together in tolerance.".

Take a leaf out of these If only our man in Kampala could take a leaf out of these. But after 22 years, the man is now broke and short of ideas. I have said so before and I say it again. It is up to the Ugandans to come together and sort out the mess in which our development is halted by militarism, personal merit and corruption.

For when it comes to Uganda, there is no such thing as "the International Community". After Chogm has returned to London and we pick up the pieces, Ugandan youths must be ready to join UPC in building for the future. We created real jobs before and we shall do it again. For God and My Country.

Joseph Ochieno is UPCs Special Presidential Envoy to the United Kingdom and Ireland. He writes, commentates and campaigns for human rights and multi-party democracy in Africa.


About This Blog

The X.U.G (Xpose Uganda's Genocide) Coalition was created to bring to light the truth about Yoweri Museveni's woefully undemocratic regime and the ongoing secret genocide in northern Uganda, with the aim of the restoration of human rights and peace.

The coalition's secondary goal is to ensure accountability for reconstruction and development funds slated for war-torn N. Uganda by the US and other donors.

A crisis of epic proportions, the genocide being carried out against the Acoli for the last two decades has produced devastating consequences.

For the sake of current and future generations in Uganda, the world must recognize and end the genocide in Uganda. All Ugandans have a right to basic human rights, including the right to health, protection and education.

  © Blogger template Digi-digi by 2008

Back to TOP