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    OPINION: How Uganda Is Caught Between Museveni’s Frying Pan And Bobi Wine’s Fire – Andrew Mwenda Analyses Country’s Political Quagmire…



    Andrew Mwenda (c) inset is President Yoweri Museveni and Bobi Wine

    Renowned journalist Andrew Mwenda, of the Independent Magazine, has dissecting Uganda’s current political situation, explaining how and why the country is caught between President Yoweri Museveni’s ‘Frying Pan’ and Bobi Wine’s ‘Fire’. Here below is his analysis;

    Uganda’s change dilemma.

    Ugandan activists, intellectuals and “intellectuals” hostile to President Yoweri Museveni get scared when one presents evidence that change can produce undesirable outcomes. And so it was that on Thursday February 11, I tweeted an article in the Financial Times. It argued that a decade since a popular uprising toppled long-ruling Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, the country has not improved in anything but retrogressed in everything. This let lose the dogs of intellectual, but mostly emotional, war.

    To these Ugandan elites I was just defending Museveni’s long, corrupt and inept stay in power. The merits of the botched change in Egypt did not register on their mental radar. I find this intriguing even though understandable. Ugandan (and African) elites talk loudest about how our continent’s biggest problem is leadership. Yet when given a chance to select leaders, they do not consider their values, competences or the social forces behind them. They are so married to change that they ignore the quality of change.

    Let me be very clear. I strongly believe and even desire that Museveni and his confederates leave power. This is because the president personally and most of his government generally are physically, intellectually and ideologically exhausted. They have nothing new or novel to offer our country. They are now mired in political intrigues and have resigned themselves to holding power for its own sake. They may represent a great past for our country, but they don’t represent its future.

    Museveni and his confederates are so hopelessly out of depth on what Uganda needs to move forward, so inept at doing the little they plan to do, and so lacking in energy, enthusiasm and moral purpose that the best they can do for this country is to just leave power. I say this without bitterness because I feel privileged. I am an outsider-insider to this government, with good and deep contacts in it. So I know much more about the rot, ineptitude, fatigue and lack of a moral purpose inside the government than its critics do.

    This is where my agreement with our activists, intellectuals and “intellectuals” ends. My disagreement with them begins on the quality of change. As someone who has read Africa’s post-independence history widely and intensely, I am aware that our continent has had many changes of government without much change in governance. From Nigeria, which has had 15 changes of government in 60 years, to Ghana, which has had 13, neither has transformed into anything fundamentally different from a typical African country.

    Our own country perhaps represents the pitfalls of change for its own sake more than the rest of Africa. In 1971 Idi Amin toppled the government of Milton Obote amidst mass celebrations. It led to the worst tragedy in our history. In 1979, Amin was removed by Tanzanian troops who we called liberators. But our country immediately degenerated into state and economic collapse; anarchy and poverty reigned. The return of Obote did not solve the crisis of the state but only led us to civil war. In the 24 years from independence in 1962 to January 1986 when Museveni took power, we have nine governments, an average of 2.6 years per government – and there was nothing to show for those many changes except death and destruction.

    So, it is not true that Uganda has lacked change. What we have always lacked is a qualitative change. That is why my first concern when matters of change are raised is to ask for the values and policies of the change agents and the social forces propelling the party or candidate of the change movement. It is this skepticism that terrifies opposition activists and Ugandan “intellectuals.”

    Some Ugandan intellectuals and our development partners make wrong and even dangerous assumptions regarding our politics. First they assume that the mainstream opposition led previously by Dr. Kizza Besigye and now by Bobi Wine is a democratic alternative to Museveni. Second, that the Museveni government has been such a total failure that any change from it is good and desirable for Uganda. Neither of these assumptions has much merit.

    Defiance (Besigye’s radical extremist wing of the FDC), which changed itself into People Power under Bobi Wine, is composed of individuals and social groups hostile of liberal democratic values. They see those who disagree with them as enemies to destroy not opponents to defeat. They have a lot of power on social media, which they use to cyber bully and psychological terrorize their opponents. Give them state power and you have tyranny.

    Second, the Museveni administration (which they call a regime) has presided over the longest period of fast economic growth by historic and contemporary standards. Although it’s now tired and growth has slowed down, it remains one of the most successful governments in the recent history of the world. So our country is not desperate for change for us to embrace each and every upstart who claims to be a better alternative. In fact most people in the opposition don’t even care to know where the country has come from, where it is now for them to have a clear idea of where it needs to go.

    Consequently, the opposition has invented nonexistent problems for the country. In their propaganda pamphlets, which they call manifestoes, they promise to do things government has already done or things government simply cannot afford to do because of its resource constraints. They are anti statistics, anti-facts, anti-truths, anti-reason and anti-intellectual, in fact worse than Donald Trump activists.

    Locked in their echo chambers, hostile to evidence that disagrees with their infertile imaginations, deaf to facts, blind to reason and focused on one part of a complex reality, Uganda’s mainstream opposition in Defiance and People Power is the ultimate representative of the change this country does not need.

    The real tragedy of Uganda is that our elite class has failed to produce a viable alternative to Museveni – at the level of values (which shape conduct), policies (which can drive qualitative change) and social connection (the social groups that form the political base of the government).

    So Museveni’s NRM remains more liberal-democratic-minded i.e. tolerant of divergent views, with a superior policy program and the largest following of Uganda’s business class, progressive intellectuals and moderate politicians. We have descent people in the opposition, but they do not attract the mass following of the masses that want change – most of them keep retreating to NRM.

    Hence, even though we are rich in human talent and diverse socially, we’re caught between Museveni’s frying pan and the opposition’s fire i.e. between a corrupt, tired and inept government and an angry, empty-headed, violent and intolerant opposition. For a qualitative alternative to emerge, we shall need a leader(s) of a movement that will disavow radical extremism and seek to build a politics of moderation, negotiation and compromise.

    Given Uganda’s diversity, one cannot win an election without building a large and broad coalition. And to build a coalition requires tolerance of divergent ideas and identities. Defiance failed to grow because it was hostile to divergent ideas even though tolerant of different identities.

    People Power is a step backward because it is intolerant of different ideas and different identities.  A third force that is broad in its appeal and tolerant in its conduct has failed to win the heart and minds of mainstream Ugandans. The result is the collapse in voter turnout to 57%, which we just witnessed. The last election was a clear expression of fatigue with Museveni and disapproval of NUP’s brand of politics.


    The writer, Andrew M. Mwenda is a veteran investigative journalist, Political analyst and founder/owner of The Independent News Magazine.



    THE RISE AND FALL OF FEDERO: Why Baganda Have To Abandon The Naivety With Which They Approach Their Relationship With The Rest Of Uganda – Top Makerere Don…



    Dr. Sam Mayanja

    Federo is a unique British concept Created to suit its Ugandan colonial venture, through conferring to a local clique apparent power to enforce law and order and facilitating colonial exploitation.

    The colonial state in return gave gifts in the form of parcels of land measured in square miles to the clique. This system enabled the colonialists to control the Territory with minimum man power and administrative costs.

    The concept was reduced into a write up, notoriously known as ‘Uganda Agreement’ later “Uganda” adjusted to ‘Buganda’. The document transformed a three county chieftainship known as Buganda Kingdom into a Province of twenty counties. The various ethnic groups of varying cultures and languages added to the three counties to form the “Province of the Kingdom of Buganda”, lost their identities in this new formation and adopted Kiganda names and culture.

    This blending of power and gifts resulted into a formidable coalition between the Baganda chiefs and the British colonial administrators. The colonialists treated the Province of the Kingdom of Buganda as a special case and was seen by the rest of the Protectorate as a state within the state of Uganda.

    The federo clique did not regard Buganda as any other province of Uganda on an equal footing with the rest of the protectorate. This became a problem even to the colonialists because as Uganda moved towards independence, the federalists evolved an arrogant intransigent stance, that Buganda go it alone as an independent country in complete disregard of the interests of the other Provinces. Indeed in December 1960 Buganda declared her independence.

    The Governor’s rebuke forced the federo clique to their knees and with profound apologies abandoned their “independence”.

    They however worked out a package which had to be agreed to, if they were to go with the rest of Uganda to independence.

    The package was roughly referred to as ‘Buganda’s things’ or ‘Ebyaffe’. These ‘things’ included the securing of the Kabaka’s position in an independent Uganda; a full federal status for Buganda and the retention of the ‘lost counties’. They formed their own political party to secure these “ebyaffe”. The party formed was Kabaka Yekka (KY-‘Kill Yourself’-as nicknamed by the opponents of the Mengo federo clique).


    The federo Mengo Establishment clique, using KY as the negotiating tool demanded the position of President of Uganda and commander- in- chief of the armed forces, the portfolio of Finance plus separate police and Judiciary for Buganda.

    Milton Obote agreed to all Mengo’s demands, believing that Kabaka Mutesa, the Mengo Establishment supremo, shall simply be the titular Head of State. He hoped that the dignity of that office bestowed upon the Kabaka would gratify Baganda and make them more amenable to the idea of co-operating with the rest of Ugandans. It was a vain hope. Kabaka Mutesa II could not understand the concept of a limited presidency.

    Consequently he started manoeuvres which he hoped would overthrow Milton Obote.

    The British Government declined the Mutesa group’s request for troops. M/s Gail and Roberts also declined to supply the group with guns. However through other means President Mutesa and group managed to smuggle guns and ammunition into the Country.

    On the political side President Mutesa’s clique caused Parliament to pass a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Obote, throwing the country into political darkness and utter confusion. There was a leadership vacuum-the country became leaderless.

    The passing of the vote would have constitutionally entitled President Mutesa to appoint an acting Prime Minister. The plan was however leaked to Milton Obote who acted swiftly by arresting all the top conspirators except President Mutesa who was left alone and isolated at Entebbe State House.

    Inevitably President/Kabaka Mutesa next move was to return to his federo base at Mengo, where the Lukiiko passed a resolution for Buganda’s secession from Uganda, non-recognition of the Obote regime and evicting the central Government from Buganda soil.

    The passing of the resolution was followed by the beating of war drums which began in many parts of Buganda. Roads were broken or damaged, Chaos and anarchy were let loose. Lawlessness was the order of the day.

    At Mengo palace, fighting erupted between Mutesa’s group and a unit of the Uganda army which had been deployed to investigate information on arms stockpile. The Unit was out gunned. Reinforcements were dispatched, surrounded the palace, and took it over. The Kabaka escaped undetected. That was the end of federo.

    The eclipse of federo, is an episode symbolising the tragedy of Buganda which is possessed of highly educated and enlightened people and the best economy in the Country, yet failed to get leaders with the foresight that was required at this crucial time in our country’s history. The 14th January 2020 general elections have shown that no political party can win the Presidency of Uganda with only Buganda support. Imperatively therefore Baganda have to abandon the naivety with which they approach their relationship with the rest of Uganda, and together fight the common enemy of poverty, ignorance and disease. “Obwayise tebuyoleka”.

    Dr. Sam Mayanja

    Senior Partner

    Kampala Associated Advocates


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    The State Is Mandated By Law To Use Violence- Ofwono Opondo  Speaks Out On Abductions, Human Rights Abuses In Uganda Ahead Of IPOD Summit…



    Norbert Mao (L) Ofwono Opondo (C) and Nandala Mafabi

    The government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo, who is also the Executive Director of the Uganda Media Council, has said that the state is mandated by law to use violence on its citizens.

    Opondo, who was giving his remarks about today’s Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD)on NBS TV’s Frontline show last night, asserted that under some circumstances government is allowed to use violence.

    “The State is allowed by law to apply violence. There is no group that President Museveni and the government don’t reach out to,” Opondo said.

    Speaking about the continued abductions of Ugandans by state security agencies, Opondo noted that the matter is being dealt with by the police and Ministry of Internal Affairs and that a list of those arrested had been released by government.

    “The list of the missing persons has been read by Jeje Odongo. We are sure it will be resolved,” Opondo said.

    “We are used to the antics of FDC. I don’t think it will take them far. They will realize the train is moving. The fact that people break the 10 commandments doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go to church. It is the same thing with the IPOD summit,” the government mouthpiece noted, in reply to the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party’s refusal to attend the IPOD summit.

    Opondo challenged the FDC Secretary  General MP Nathan Nandala Mafabi, who claimed that their party leader  Patrick Oboi Amuriat could not sit with his tormentor (President Yoweri Museveni) on the same table, to provide proof that indeed Amuriat has ever been tormented or tortured by Museveni.

    “Let Nandala show us a video of President Museveni shooting a teargas canister. There is a record that this government dialogues. When we fail, we try again. That is how we have managed to build Uganda in the last 35 years and are the longest-serving government through dialogue,” he asserted.

    However, Nandala, who was also a panelist on the show, insisted that Amuriat cannot meet a person who brutalized him.

    “You want Amuriat to go and meet a person who beat him properly,” wondered Nandala, who added that; “The day Ofwono Opondo doesn’t have a  job, I am telling you he will cry like a baby. You are talking of dialogue when people are in prison, kidnapped, and dying. I think we must be realistic in this country.  The dialogue is for who? The kind of dialogue we want is not the one structured at IPOD.”

    Nandala further asserted that; “I thought Mao who has attended summits would be the best person to advise the IPOD.  The reason why they are so desperate to go there is to meet the NRM Chairman who is also the President. IPOD was formed for inter-party dialogue. We hoped that the elections would be free and fair. Those who participated in the unfairness should go and attend the summit.”

    But Democratic Party (DP) president Norbert Mao deferred from Nandala’s opinion, noting that IPOD is not all about President Museveni meeting opposition politicians but aims at forging a way forward for Uganda’s future.

    “I want to assure the public that the IPOD is not a bilateral meeting between Museveni and the opposition. The media is responsible for making it appear so,” Mao said.

    He added that; “A tortoise can’t move forward unless it sticks its head out. It is risky, its head might be cut off but it must. I believe people can talk. What IPOD is doing is trying to build a bridge over stormy waters. Even if you die in the process, let the bridge be built.”

    The DP stalwart explained that; “There must be pressure on all fronts, citizens must be involved. IPOD is not the only way but some people can use it. If one strategy has not worked, you must look for another one. The IPOD members should take IPOD seriously including the NRM. When there is darkness, even a cigarette can provide light. I am not going to exaggerate the importance of IPOD.”

    President Yoweri Museveni is set to hold this IPOD summit later today at Kololo Independence Grounds, which he will preside over as Chairperson.

    However, the FDC party has since been joined by the JEEMA party on refusing to attend the summit, although other parties like the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) of Rtd. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, National Unity Platform (NUP) of Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, have not yet expressed their interest  or disinterest in the summit.


    By Grapevine Reporter


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    OPINION: Ugandan Opposition Is Full Of Misguided Emotional Leaders – DP President Mao Says, Reveals How Vital It Is To Meet Museveni In IPOD…



    DP leader Norbert Mao

    The Democratic Party (DP) president Norbert Mao is of the opinion that Ugandan opposition politicians are a bunch of ‘misguided emotional leaders.’

    Mao, who says that DP had scorpions, crocodiles and snakes hiding within the party before they were exposed, disclosed that some opposition politicians are so sentimental to be leaders.

    Mao stresses that the Ugandan opposition is divided by a common enemy. He believes that opposition parties are being led by individuals who ride on their emotions to reach vital decisions for the very many diverse people they lead.

    To defend his decision, Mao has reproduced details of the Press Conference that started the flurry of activities that lead to the 3rd IPOD Summit to be held this Friday.

    The release contains the call for an IPOD Summit, according to Mao on behalf of the DP.

    Here below is the full Press Statement by DP President Norbert Mao released on the 16th February, 2021;

    The purpose of this press conference is to announce definite and constructive measures to express our ideas, concerns and hopes. Specifically we shall focus on plans for rebuilding our party and saving Uganda from fragmentation due to misrule and parochial differences.

    After an election season filled with frustration and disappointment, we have a choice between wallowing in self-pity and bitterness or picking ourselves up and moving forward with dignity, grace and hope.

    To all our members, supporters and well-wishers, I say there’s no time for licking our wounds. We have to regroup without delay and continue the pursuit of the objectives for which the Democratic Party was set up in 1954.

    Those who watched our efforts from a distance have the luxury of making comments – some well-meaning, some painful and even outright malicious. But only our close friends, family and the true believers of the party know what we invested in the race and how much it cost us physically, emotionally and financially.

    We are very proud of all those who lifted high the banner of our party. We salute your courage. Some of our members succumbed to pressures of propaganda and hate speech from our opponents and ended up betraying the principles enshrined in our party constitution and to which they profess allegiance.

    When circumstances demanded that they lead, they degenerated into blind followers of populism. Instead of fighting and risking to lose with honour and dignity, they instead resorted to forging opportunistic alliances based on the selfish and flimsy excuses. Unfortunately for some, even their resort to opportunism did not save them from defeat. They still lost, only that their losses were full of indignity, shame and dishonor.

    For those of us who stood firm to the end and still lost, our loss did not come at the expense of our dignity and honour. The founders of our party are looking down upon us from the high heavens with great pride. We did not dishonor them. We did not betray the party they sacrificed so much to defend and protect.

    We congratulate those who against all odds were able to win. You swam with sharks and you prevailed over the crimson tide of hatemongering, intimidation and baseless prejudice.

    For those of our candidates who were incumbent office bearers, there must be disappointment. To you I say don’t let your disappointment degenerate into bitterness and paralysis. You sought another term and we backed you because we believe you were doing a great job and deserved reelection.

    We are not going to let our frustrations keep us down. We shall get up, appraise our weaknesses and strengths and act on our findings. We will not imitate the path of others with whom we have no shared values and goals.

    You can’t want to win and at the same time persist in doing the things that can only lead to failure.

    Things haven’t worked out to our expectations but we’ll keep going. We will not focus too much on what has happened but what is possible. We shall be adaptable and study different scenarios.

    We are very proud of the decision we made to field candidates at all levels – presidential, parliamentary and local government. We resisted the pressures to surrender our right to think for ourselves and make decisions based on our values, conscience and convictions. As the saying goes, ‘only dead fish flow with the tide’. DP is alive and as ever will never be afraid to swim against the tide. Like our heroic leaders who stood firmly against prejudice in the 1960s we appeal to history to absolve us and make our tormentors pay a high price for their short-sightedness and misguided ambition and sense of entitlement.

    Everything possible has been done to destroy me and DP. Malicious smear campaigns have been orchestrated by a cabal of tribal enemies of DP. Our structures have been infiltrated and subverted. Our leaders have been blackmailed and intimidated to betray the party and many succumbed.

    But it has failed to destroy me. It has failed to destroy the party. The party is still standing. I’m still standing. We’re still standing. There’s nothing more anyone can do. We’ve hit rock bottom. The only way for us now is up. We can’t sink any lower.

    Call me crazy but one day DP will lead this country. And that day is not far off because Uganda yearns for a government whose foundation is Truth and Justice and only DP can offer that kind of government.

    Many have sought to dismember and destroy DP in order to build monuments to themselves on its ruins but none have yet succeeded and none ever will.

    When the waters in DP were stirred with a turbulent strife, caused by provincialist agitators, many thought that it was just about DP and Norbert Mao. Those of us who believe that DP belongs to the whole of Uganda were in contention with those of our members who believe that DP belongs to a section of Uganda.

    With the benefit of hindsight, we now thank those who troubled the waters in DP. Calm waters can be deceptive. A lot of deadly creatures hide beneath the calm surface. When the waters are troubled you get to see the deadly creatures lurking in the water. With the waters stirred, we were able to see the scorpions, crocodiles and snakes hiding among the fish and turtles.

    If 2021 has done anything, it has been a reality check. We can no longer deceive ourselves or each other. A moment of truth stares us in the face. We have gone through an empty ritual and called it an election.

    On 16th January, 2021 I issued a statement on the elections held on 14th January. The outcome of the presidential elections is now facing a legal challenge in the Supreme Court and as an Advocate I won’t say much today. It is our expectation that the Supreme Court will carry out a thorough inquiry as required by law to determine compliance with electoral laws.  But I will say this: It would be an insult to our constitution and all the electoral laws to say the 2021 elections were free and fair.

    In line with our commitment to rebuild our party, I wish to make the following announcements:

    We shall focus on rejuvenating the Uganda Young Democrats (UYD). Almost 80 percent of Uganda’s population is below the age of 30. This majority is politically silenced, discouraged and marginalized due to pervasive commercialization of politics, nepotism coupled with tribal and cultural prejudice. The youth have been relegated to the role of disposable pawns and sit at the periphery of our political and electoral processes.

    We shall evaluate and appreciate youth contributions towards achieving a better Uganda for all now and in the future. We shall also promote critical thinking on how to include young people in active and meaningful politics. 2021 has made it clear that if you don’t allow young people the space to express themselves within the law, they will find a way to express themselves outside the law.

    We shall focus on the DP Women’s League

    We shall focus on training our leaders and members. Training is the best answer to meal card politics.

    We shall carry out a post-election assessment, put a mirror before our eyes and see ourselves the way we really are and focus on building a better party of true believers.

    We shall carry out an inspection of all our branches to determine their functionality after many of them were cannibalized by enemies of DP

    We shall compile a new membership register as a basis of rebuilding then party structures nationwide

    In terms of our constitutional framework these proposals and ideas will be thoroughly discussed at a party Management Committee meeting this week followed by a session of the National Executive Committee.

    Eventually the National Council will consider the recommendations from these organs and convene a National Policy Conference to facilitate further consultations.

    We shall evaluate and overhaul the administration of the party

    Finally, as DP we are extremely concerned with the reported cases of abductions, kidnaps, unlawful arrests, illegal detentions, torture and disappearances targeting opposition activists. These illegal activities are being blamed on the security organs of the Uganda government.

    To date, scores of opposition activists are in detention and face charges before the court martial which continues to deny them bail without any lawful excuse. As a party committed to non-violence, rule of law and constitutionalism, we condemn these illegal acts of state terrorism in the strongest terms.

    But we will not stop at condemnation. We believe that this is the time that the political parties have to take steps to end these troubling activities that flagrantly violate the rights of citizens.

    We call upon President Yoweri Museveni who is the current the Chairman of the Summit of the Inter-Party Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) to convene an Extraordinary Summit to discuss the reports of unlawful arrests, illegal detentions, malicious prosecutions, disappearances, kidnaps and torture.

    We believe that a frank discussion by responsible representatives of IPOD member party together with other non-member political parties that may be invited as observers will allow for a proper diagnosis of the problem and information sharing that will lead to solutions.

    I have consulted the leaders of three of the IPOD member parties namely; JEEMA, UPC and FDC and they agree that a high level meeting under the aegis of IPOD can be an important forum for dealing with mutual suspicions and ensuring that the armed forces adhere to the rule of law. This approach is definitely better than trading accusations and grandstanding in the media.


    Norbert Mao is a Ugandan politician and lawyer. He has been president of the Democratic Party (DP) since 2010, and he served as the Local Council 5 chairman for Gulu District.


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