I salute the people of Uganda for, again, giving a strong mandate to the National Resistance Movement (NRM). Although there were organisational problems, such as, poor civic education, which led to 4% of â€œspoiltâ€ votes, the clear margin of the NRMâ€™s win is unmistakable for those who are serio
I salute the people of Uganda for, again, giving a strong mandate to the National Resistance Movement (NRM). Although there were organisational problems, such as, poor civic education, which led to 4% of â€œspoiltâ€ votes, the clear margin of the NRMâ€™s win is unmistakable for those who are serious.
The recent victory of the NRM in the just concluded Presidential and Parliamentary elections is the latest in the 40 yearsâ€™ struggle against sectarianism, subservience to foreign interests, criminality and backwardness.
Ever since the emergence of DP in 1956, the nascent Nationalist Movement led by the Uganda National Congress (UNC) that had been formed in 1952, under the leadership of Ignatius Musaazi, had become polarised along denominational lines. UPC, eventually, emerged in 1960. One of the parties (DP) was for the Catholics and the other one (UPC) was for the Protestants. Then there was the Kabaka Yekka (KY) that made the cardinal mistake of involving the Kabaka in the politics but also used vicious intimidation to suppress divergent views. This polarisation generated inter-denominational tensions amongst the people, to the extent of neighbours poisoning one another or cutting one anotherâ€™s crops. Social evils such as defecating in churches by opposing factions was not unknown.
In 1965, a group of students at Ntare School belonging to both DP and UPC got fed up with this disorientation. As the Prayer-book says (in the general confession prayer from the Runyankore/Rukiga Prayer-book1, page 18): â€œthey had left undone things they ought to have done and, had done things they ought not to have done and there was no truth in them.â€ We, then, decided to form a third force. That is how the Movement was born. Right from the beginning, the Movement was based on the principles of non-sectarianism, nationalism, Pan-Africanism, modernisation and democracy. We despised and completely disregarded ideas to the contrary. Throughout the remaining part of the 1960s, we propagated these ideas in the East African Universities. By the time Idi Amin assumed power in 1971, our group was quite an active, articulate and ideological one.
As Front for National Salvation (FRONASA), we participated in the eight-year anti-Amin struggle. Later, together with others, we joined the UNLF at Moshi. The UNLF was a united front comprising of all the previously known political factions of Uganda. This would have been a good beginning. However, it was torpedoed by the old factions of UPC and DP just as they have been trying to torpedo the NRM ever since 1996 when competitive politics resumed in Uganda using sectarian campaigns and utilising foreign support. After the disintegration of UNLF, we went through the farce of the elections of 1980 that were thoroughly rigged by the UPC. The elections were rigged because of the following reasons: -Multiple ballot boxes (with each party having its own box); -Multiple ballot papers; -An enclosed polling booth (the voter would disappear alone inside a small shelter and that is where the box would be - that was good opportunity for â€˜pouring acidâ€™ into the â€œenemyâ€™sâ€ ballot box); lNo counting immediately after voting (they would take boxes overnight to the district headquarters) and; -The constituencies had no fixed boundaries (they would just make ad-hoc constituencies by pulling sub-counties from different counties and grouping them into constituencies). This is called gerrymandering;, etc. This was a system structurally designed to rig the 1980 elections. During the inter-party discussions we had before the 1980 elections, we demanded for the reform of this discredited 1961-1962 electoral law which was put in place by the British. But the UPC refused!
The most dangerous phenomenon, however, was extra-judicial killings - i.e. security forces killing people for political, personal or economic reasons. Of all the mistakes of the past dictatorships, this was the greatest! Between 1966 and 1986 a total of 800,000 Ugandans were killed extra-judicially. We have preserved 70,000 skulls in 33 mass-graves in the Luwero Triangle being victims of UNLF during Obote II regime.
We, in the NRM, resolutely stood our ground and defeated these backward killers using the armed struggle lasting for a total of 13 years. Why would you kill people in cold blood - captives, non-combatants, etc? It is only a criminal mind that thinks like that. The NRA/UPDF has fought a 20-years insurgency in northern Uganda. Apart from some few mistakes on the Armyâ€™s side (Bucoro, Mukula, etc.), let the critics of our record show us the record of extra-judicial killings by our Army. Even the few incidents such as those of Mukula and Bucoro were investigated and action was taken against the wrong-doers. On the whole the NRA/UPDF has been able to show that a revolutionary army can fight and defeat an insurgency without targeting non-combatants. On the contrary it is the Army that has been rescuing abducted children from the terrorists. LRA commanders like Banya from Konyâ€™s group were captured by UPDF unharmed.
The elections that have been held ever since 1994 continue to throw up this contest - between the NRM pro-people line and the line of the fascists, killers, sectarianists, etc. The difference is that this time, this is through elections. We saw this in 1994 for Constituency Assembly (CA), in both 1996 and 2001 for Presidential elections and now 2006 for Presidential and Parliamentary elections. The Movement has triumphed through all these battles. Why does the NRM win all these battles in spite of the vicious campaigns and lies by the opposition? It is because all the progressive-minded people support us. Those who want peace, want no killings, want schools, factories, health centres, roads, modernisation of agriculture, etc. support the Movement. Those who oppose the Movement are the ones with nostalgia for the bad old days. It is those forces that were prospering in murders, rapes, lootings that resent the good NRM record.
Since 1986, the killers of Uganda found regional allies to support them in Sudan and Congo (Mobutu). We had to combat them also. In the military field, we have defeated all the terrorist groups. Given the evolution of the Army, there is no possibility of such terrorist groups disturbing Uganda again. Although some of the opposition groups still use intimidating language, slander and subterfuge, it is good that they are now concentrating on politics and other legal channels of struggle. That is good limited evolution for the opposition, especially FDC. The Movement people should also use all legal instruments to discipline FDC - especially court action against intimidation, abuse, etc.
We are ready to reconcile with the forces that had ranged themselves against us in the past, through principled dialogue. I was pleased by the statesman-like actions of Mrs. Miria Obote, Mr. Abed Bwanika and Mzee Sebaana Kizito in conceding victory to the one who won the 2006 Presidential elections. Now that we have a multi-party Parliament, we are going to initiate dialogue on a minimum national platform that all parties should support. This is a new chance for all Ugandans.
I have seen comments in the newspapers speculating that the Movement support has declined from 75% in 1996, to 69% in 2001 and to 59% now (2006). I do not share this view. Yes, there was a shift in the voting pattern in Teso region from 52.1% (128,389) in 1996 to 61.7% (169,452) in 2001 to 23.8% (75,942) in 2006. In a separate article I will analyse the political behaviour of some of the areas where the majority voted against NRM. The other decline in support was in Kasese district. Kasese district used to vote overwhelmingly for the Movement and for myself. This time the support declined because of some impatience for our supporting them to get a king called Omusinga. I met the Kasese former Rwenzururu group and told them that I did not like the blackmailing way of working. We have to follow correct procedures in order to get durable positions. However, the decline in Teso and Kasese was more than compensated for, by the consolidation in Busoga, Buganda and the Western region by expelling those that had betrayed the Movement in those regions. These were the likes of Salaamu Musumba, Frank Nabwiso, John Kazoora, Miria Matembe, Jack Sabiti, Augustine Ruzindana, Abdu Katuntu, etc.
Superficially, Kampala looked to have been anti-Movement. In fact we had started dealing with Kampala in a scientific way of mobilisation. We have been dealing with water distribution to the poor bringing the cost of kidomola (jerry-can) from sh100-sh200 ) to sh20, micro-finance and improving the work sites in the form of artisan sheds, markets, etc. In spite of the biased election officials in Kampala, we got 170,000 votes from this area. These are clean votes in spite of the schemes of the election officials who are anti-Movement. There were also organisational problems like holding Presidential and Parliamentary elections at the same time for the first time. Many of the Parliamentary candidates were campaigning for themselves in addition to campaigning for the President.
Biased election officials were removing the names of the Movement supporters from the votersâ€™ registers, or putting their names at wrong polling stations. Poor voter education meant that a lot of votes were spoilt. Therefore, overall, the apparent â€œdeclineâ€ in Movement support is, in fact, a product of distortions that are purely organisational as cited above.
During the campaigns I was very pleased to notice that social-economic issues are dominating the debates: micro-finance, taxes, jobs, corruption, service delivery, medicine in hospitals, roads, etc. Although the opposition was telling a lot of lies (the Movement has sold Lake Victoria, â€œbonna basome, is bonna bakoneâ€ - education for all means damnation for all, etc), the people were more concerned with the above social-economic issues. The Movement has long had a stand on these issues. Sometimes, however, implementation by bureaucrats is slow. This weakness is being rectified. I salute you all.
The 40-year NRM struggle is now paying off