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The NRA/UPDF military was never created for multi-party Democracy so Anite was right

Birondwa Frank

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A Ugandan military UPDF officer (L) disperse supporters of Ugandan opposition leader Kizza Besigye who had gathered in large numbers to welcome him back to Kampala from Nairobi on May 12, 2011 where he had gone to seek medical treatment for injuries sustained after he was attacked by state security personnel during an opposition demonstration. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni vowed to stamp out "disrupting schemes" on May 12 as he was sworn in for a fourth term while masses of opposition supporters welcomed home his rival, Kizza Besigye. AFP PHOTO/Tony KARUMBA (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Uganda political elites should stop acting like we’re in a democracy, and address the matter not the periphery. The comments made by Anite, that the “Maggye” read “army” would support (meaning enforce) or crush political/civilian opposition to the amendment of article 102 (b) to remove presidential age limit from the constitution, such comments are not mad or unfounded. In-fact, in fact they are nothing but bitter truths which Ugandan political elites pretend not to know. The NRM government came to power, not by its leader being elected into office but force of arms. It has kept power that way by now turning the arms to the civilians with opposing leadership ideas. So at what point does Anita become the problem.

Ugandan so called elites, either out of cowardice or disillusionment, try and deflect the problem, and pretend not to understand the reality they are in.

The comments are real, bitter truth with countless examples and precedence of using military force as and when the NRM is cornered in debate and politics.

An article last year appeared in Foreign Policy, published under the title: Is the U.S. Military Propping Up Uganda’s ‘Elected’ Autocrat? in which the writer noted clearly that Ugandan security forces totally disregard democratic rules.

So why is local media focusing on calling her out and trying to get her to dismiss her remarks, yet they are backed by facts and Uganda’s army has never left politics?

Ugandans should discuss the subject matter and call out the NRA cum UPDF itself, because its officers are on camera actively engaging in politics in favour of the regime.

Most security organs of the state, including police, intelligence agencies, land forces, air forces, reserve forces are not lacking full-time regime ‘cadres’, doing political work both within the military and with the public. Kakooza mutable, for example a high ranking officer in the army, who was seen on national television, training militias to fight for the regime in the last election, and giving warnings to opposition politicians.

So, please media and elites discussing this matter, it is not Anite the problem. It is that ever since the country fell to the NRA army and it took over government, keeping the power became the new mission of the armed former rebels. They see it as their right to do so because they did not get the power by ballot in the first place. All the resulting, concocted forms of government preferred by the regime have been quasi-military. Stop confusing yourselves. You’re not in a democracy. If you’re going to remove the regime, then you must contend with its military as well. Without a plan for winning over or dealing with the regime’s military, the plans are incomplete and subject to fail, because the regime will call in the military in as if it is a national service, to protect it from civilian takeover.

 

Letter

Letter to Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine)

Birondwa Frank

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Letter to Bobi Wine aka Kyagulanyi Ssenyamu

Dear Kyagulanyi,

A man in chains stands tall and strong, pushing a child up, towards the sky, as symbol of freedom. The man is a concrete monument that stands in the middle of Kampala city; it represents the freedom and independence of Uganda, from colonialism

No one knew, at that time (1962) what Uganda had in its belly. As it turned out, Uganda produced Obote, Amin and Museveni, to name a few who stood most at the helm of things. Between them, they managed to kill millions of Ugandans, buried in unmarked graves, their names forgotten. Misuse of the centralised form of power, as handed down by the colonialist, has been the bedrock of regimes in our new self-ruling republic

And yet before that, by 1908, Uganda had already captured the eyes and minds of visitors,  anyone who came and saw it, described it as the pearl of Africa; indeed Ugandans maintain the title as the most welcoming and friendly people the world has ever seen.

A question begins to form in mind – if the people are the most welcoming and friendly, and the country is the jewel of Africa, why do millions of welcoming, friendly people continue to fall on the sword of their supposed-to-be freedom, since 1962?

It is not easy to find words that reconcile the world which those people saw, and the world we actually live in.

The Banyankole have a saying – “Enda ezaara mwiru na muhima”, the Luganda equivalent is “Enda muwogo, y’azaala abalungi n’ababi”. In context, Uganda is like a stomach which produces the welcoming, friendly people the world knows, and the power-hungry despots who chain them.

It is against these thoughts that the fixture of our Independence monument kept lingering in my mind, until a message came through. That child being lifted, as a symbol of freedom, in the independence monument is beginning to look a lot like Kyagulanyi Robert Sentamu. The monument woman is carrying baby Wine!

Unlike the first liberations, the act of taking political power by mere words, had never happened in this republic. It has always been – power belongs to the bloodiest. Unscrupulous people making designs on the welcoming, friendly people, usurping their power, never engaging in their real problems, and turning against them

So you stand out for taking political power by use of mere words. The reason you’re wrestling with military and ex-military men on the chessboard of political power, is that you have an edge over them, a type of power the people naturally prefer; the oppressors don’t have that, therefore they must put you in military chains, so that you can look like you’re tanned with the same brush as them in politics! They must make you look like a military man, a criminal, a usurper, someone who took power by force. Lucky for you, that image cannot stick. Every crime they have committed, they’ll try to pacify their guilt by making innocent people look like they did it too. Hosea Ballou says that “Those who commit injustice bear the greatest burden

All you have done is stand on the podium and tell the people the truth – and they believed, in Kyadondo, in Buikwe, in Arua

You cracked the pot, Bobby! Neither Obote nor Amin nor Museveni took power by convincing the people. So they must make you like one of them. Being yourself – a fair brained young man with nothing more than a genuine understanding of the problems the people face. They never cared for the real aspirations of the people, because they had their eyes fixed on the seat power.

Right now the whole world has its eyes out, looking for you; they know that you’re hammering at a principle which the criminal leaders of Africa hate the most – “Power to the People”.  Only the greats like Mandela have ever trodden this path

It is not easy to understand by the educated, who make their living as the coward fixers within the strongman problem.

But the peasant, the street kid, the beggar, the dirt poor – these people understand your message, because they are tired of having their face crashed under the military boot, every time they raise a point of order to the regime. And the rest of the world which has genuine interest in Africa, and an wish to see democracy take root in Uganda, these people know exactly what you have done – making the case of Power to the People vs. power of despots, seem like a simple task

In many ways, this upgrades political intellectualism in our land, from mere commentary on the status quo, to changing the status quo.

Your detractors are keeping the flip-flops running in the media. They’re saying it’s wrong to compare you to “our leaders”, that you’re from the Ghetto – a Ghetto President? They’re like the Pharisees

They don’t know that they’re in the Ghetto too, the difference is, they don’t know the name of their Ghetto. At-least for you, you know that you’re from the Ghetto of Kyadondo, Kamwokya, Boom!

Ghetto is not a place, it’s a concept. If you live hand-to-mouth, with no guarantee of financial or social security for yourself or your children, are you not in a Ghetto? If you live in a country where the hospitals have no medicine, are you not in a Ghetto? Less than 20% of people in the country access electricity, that’s not a Ghetto? Unemployment at 88.30%, no? GDP share by Manufacturing 0.002%, no? Country economy is 0.04% of World Economy, not a ghetto? There is room for stupidity among the ‘elites’, because how do you be in Ghetto, and not know?

It’s a pretty accurate description of the majority of Ugandans, that word ghetto; 93,065 square miles of Ghetto is the Republic of Uganda! People don’t want to face reality.

Without military backing, taking political power with just talking radically changes the character of the country. Are you not a seed in taking Uganda from military to civilian rule, by winning with words? People are now used to AK47s being ever present in the management of politics and elections, and they have never asked – why?

The folks holding you only know military politics, they don’t believe in  “Power to the People”, they believe in “power comes out of the barrel of a gun” – that is the basic Marxist rule

You’re pitching a new political chessboard, and they’re not ready, because they’re holding political power like a thief holding a loot. It is guilt playing on their conscious, to make you look like you’re the one who grabbed power. Winning the population with mere words, living up-to the aspirations of Ugandans as at Independence, breaking away the political chains, winning without shedding blood, this is against the political canvas they have laid.

They must put a gun charge, they must put a treason charge, anything that makes the use of guns in the management of everyday politics seem normal to them and whoever sympathizes with them. So many have been accused of the same; the injustice always resulting in the same: human rights abuses and economic waste

For a long time, the regime had deployed their ideology. For you to unpack the contents of their long held ideology; of fake democracy, fake promises, fake services, you unleashed the young population on them. The days you have been in prison have seen the young generation maturing very fast in politics. Kids previously not participating in politics, who are often talked down to as the young and confused, as the so called leaders of tomorrow – but these names have changed in the last few days. They’re now called Terrorists, Bazzukulu all in the same breath;  its a funny mixture of flattery and threats, designed to make the movement of young people interested in “power to the people”, forget what they must do.

I want to thank you for not being just another Kampala MP, who, like Kato Lubwama quips, are there to “Okulya Obulamu”

You have a higher calling, beyond Kyadondo. The Message of power belongs to the people has been heard in other parts of Uganda. It is particularly good at sending regime candidates to the trashcans.

As to the cases brought against you and 33 others, at least the people know better than to “kowtow in their poohoo“, (in the voice of Mbidde). The people know this a malicious political manoeuvre, and have resoundingly pronounced themselves, saying “Free Bobi Wine”, “Free the 33” political prisoners. It only remains to see how the regime fixers will wiggle out of this one (a case against people who have just beat you in an election), without proving that the the whole thing was a circus.

Those who commit injustice bear the greatest burden. Hosea Ballou

A movement is in shifted gears; a political surge is now a matter of when, and anything can trigger it now. The regime will lose the upper hand in its misuse of soldiers to stifle people’s freedoms. Freedom of Association, Freedom of Assembly, Free speech – these are not negotiable. Your assessment was correct – the regime’s greatest fear is: numbers

I wish you a quick recovery

Yours in Struggle,

Frank Birondwa (birondwa@youngrevolution.org)

Pan African

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Global Politics

EAC Integration cannot stand on broken Constitutions

Birondwa Frank

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The geographical expression known as East Africa, has had the big dream of one day becoming an integrated, economic, cultural, and political entity with a single military parade, since the creation of these republics as  independent states in the 1960s. The African cultures and African languages spoken here are not identical, but from the beginning the leaders knew that these republics had real connections among their people – in fact some dreamed of an all-africa republic.

Why is it then, that these dreams have never been realised? Why is is that all the potential of an entity as big as that, lays wasted? All the regimes that come, they make some sort of attempts to form the one republic but fail flat.

The cause of this failure is that the state of politics – when you get down to the nitty-gritty of how governance is practiced  in each of the East African Community intending countries, there in lies the seeds of discord, which have prevented  the region from being a truly unified Geopolitical country. There are not rules the leaders stick to, everyone makes and breaks the rules as and when it fits, no proper rule of entrenched to follow.

Becoming a single-state, under a single political administration, covering six countries (Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan) would be a monumental achievement, but the countries do not share a common and just political philosophy. The architectures and ideology in some of the countries are not based on popular beliefs, neither are they entrenched in human freedoms and rights, the people are ruled over

And yet the most interested countries, by expressions of their leaders, have leaders who have never conformed to civil rule. They have practiced from mild to full bloody military dictatorships. Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan fall in this trap. Tanzania and Kenya have had some basic common sense civilian leadership style, even though Tanzania’s socialist history may a big problem coming around to fly capitalist Kenya. These others, even though the leaders may tolerate each other for the duration of a conference or  a state visit, that is about all, do not read much into it. Any moment the leaders, especially these ex-military, self-crowned generals, even if they put on suits, underneath they have camouflage. They used guns to obtain the power they have, and can only use military platoons to codon off political power here, extinguish competition there, and any form of real competition based on ideas, does not stand a chance.

Moreover it is these same leaders who clamour the most, and potend to love African unity. Maybe in their whitewashed brilliant image, they think they can compete favorably on a wider canvas, but not knowing that in real sense, having failed to compete favorably at home, renders them incapable of competing on a wider canvas for political power.

How then can they participate in a geo-political government, where the people and they system would not tolerate  dictatorship?

Political integration, bringing together people across the cultures and political persuasions, this is the work of stable leaders, who are well practiced in common decency and democratic rule. It is not the work of former rebels or generals.

The countries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan have never known democracy; presidents are propped by military, and run quasi-military governments.

Kenya and Tanzania, with poor their democracy but having managed to de-link military from politics, and better structured intelligence forces, from full time engagement in partisan politics.

As it stands, this dream is unrealistic under the current prop of leaders, owing to the very basic reality of their own leadership styles.

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