Friday, October 9, 2009




Today, October 9, we are celebrating 47 years of political independence from Britain. All the 47 years have been dominated by political chaos, tribal enmity, hatred, killings, and destructions of some sections of the economic infrastructure, the destruction of the coffee industry in Buganda and the spreading of abject poverty all over the country.

The people of the northern region have especially endured terrible suffering for over 20 years as a result of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebellion led by Joseph Kony. Thousands of Acholi people have been living in Internally Displaced Peoples camps under unbearable conditions for two decades until relative peace returned to the region recently.

Uganda has been exceptional when it comes to application and practice of democracy compared to other African countries. For example in East and Central Africa, it is only Uganda which has had nine presidents since independence. Kenya has had three, Tanzania four, Zambia four, Zimbabwe two, Malawi three, Mozambique two, post-apartheid South Africa three, Namibia two and Botswana three.

What is even more interesting in Uganda is the way the country’s leadership has been changing from one leader to another. The gun and the bullet have played a big role in leadership changes in this country.

Five presidents out of the nine Uganda has had came into power with gunfire behind them and seven out of the nine presidents went out of power quite unceremoniously with gunfire behind them. The five who came into power by gunfire were: Milton Obote (1966), General Idi Amin (1971), Prof. Yusuf Lule (1979), General Okello Lutwa (1985) and Yoweri Museveni (1986).

The seven who went out of power with gunfire were: Sir Edward Mutesa II (1966), Milton Obote (1971), Gen. Amin (1979), Prof. Lule (1979), Godfrey Binaisa (1980), Milton Obote II (1985) and Gen. Okello Lutwa (1986).

Uganda held general elections in September 1962 and did not hold elections again until December 1980, largely because of military rule which was brought about by Obote attacking the Kabaka’s palace at Mengo on May 24, 1966. That marked the beginning of the political problems this country has witnessed to date.

The 1980 general elections were rigged by Paulo Muwanga who was the Head of State at that time and he gave victory to Obote’s Uganda People’s Congress (UPC). This forced a section of Ugandans to wage five-year guerilla warfare in Luweero and they ultimately achieved victory on January 26, 1986 when the Yoweri Museveni, the current President, took power until and remain ruler till today. From 1986, we have had three general elections but two of them were disputed and matters ended up in the High Court which ruled in favour of Museveni as the winner.

I should mention here that as far as democracy is concerned, our major achievements out of the Luweero Liberation war were:

The restoration of the Buganda Kingdom as well as kingdoms of other ethnic groups, a gesture that united these communities and contributed to peace and tranquillity throughout most of the country except Acholiland where the situation has been different.

The making of a new Constitution (1995) and the restoration of a multi-party system in 2005; although President Museveni and his ruling class have not allowed the people with alternative views to operate freely as is expected of a functioning democracy.

Now, after going through all this for the past 47 years, what is the way forward for the people of Uganda as far as the rule of law is concerned?
First and foremost, Ugandans should do away with military rule through the holding of regular elections that are free and fair. All the laws governing elections must be changed and or reformed to suit the workings of a multi-party political system.
All Members of Parliament should urgently launch a formidable spirited fight to restore the two-term presidential limits so that Ugandans from all walks of life and region will have an opportunity to become president of this country.

Finally, Ugandans must aggressively work out plans for a peaceful and democratic transition from one president to another without bloodshed.

To me, Rubaga North MP Beti Kamya’s plans of the formation of a Ugandan Federal Alliance seems to be the only solution for Uganda, accompanied by the convening of a national conference by the 15 major tribes of Uganda to work out a new federal constitution acceptable to all the tribal groupings in Uganda which will stand the test of time and it must be approved through a referendum, not a constituent Assembly.

As Uganda commemorates Independence Day today, the leadership of this country must reflect on their contribution to this nation and set a conducive atmosphere of stability where tangible economic growth and sustainable development can flourish.