Monday, November 29, 2010

We shall deal with the issues which cause unrest

In today's analysis in Daily Monitor, Margaret Wokuri presents a solid case on the readiness of the IPC government to reconstruct and develop nothern Uganda, and the rest of the country as well. 

Scholars have written that unlike famine, war has taken place in modern democracies when irresponsible leaders exploit grievances for political and economic gain, or when the lure of ‘simple solutions overwhelm common sense’.

In retrospect, either because of personal ambition, or irresponsibility, leaders took advantage of people’s grievances and plunged Northern and North Eastern parts of Uganda into 21 years of armed conflict.

Additionally, because of the allure of simple solutions, a problem that could have been sorted out politically dragged on, partly, as a result of the current leadership’s obsession with military conquests.

War and conflict certainly destroys national economies, deepens poverty and sows seeds of future violence. Indeed, the economic life of the people of Northern and North Eastern parts of Uganda has been destroyed, the once fertile areas like Teso that were food baskets have been reduced to perpetual hunger and famine, and poverty looms highest in this particular region.

While whole communities are destroyed by war and conflict, it is worse for women who often find themselves taking on new roles of fending for the family while subjected to unique vulnerabilities such as mass rape. HIV/Aids prevalence rates in parts of northern Uganda range between 9% and 14%, compared to a national average of 6.4%. The region has the lowest life expectancy and literacy rates. These factors translate into an inability to participate meaningfully in the national economy, even if this were growing.

Predictably, once all these factors are not ably addressed, they remain a powder- keg for future conflict. To borrow the words of former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan’s words, humanity cannot enjoy development without security and at the same time cannot enjoy security without development. Northern Uganda has missed out on both security and development.

It is against this background that the Inter-Party Cooperation has designed a comprehensive framework to deal with reconstruction and development of Northern Uganda. The IPC-led government intends to address the economic imbalance faced by the people of Northern Uganda by implementing a deliberate affirmative action policy that will target focused investment such as increasing access to clean water, quality education, and a health care system that works.

The IPC government will also avail tractors to farmers to open up their land. IPC government will compensate all those people who lost their properties and family members during the war.

IPC will take gender focused considerations such as insolvency of women in peace and resettlement; women shall be given legal aid services as well as psycho-social support services to help those that have been traumatised by the war recover.

In the north east, Karamoja has its unique challenges which therefore call for unique solutions. The Karimojong peoples have long been perceived by neighbouring tribes as hostile neighbours because of their armed cattle rustling practices. The policy and practice of the current government to forcefully disarm the Karimojong has resulted in untold suffering, and has not solved the problem of armed violence and cattle rustling in the region.

The IPC government shall therefore engage in dialogue and negotiation with both the Karimojong and their neighbours to end cattle rustling, conduct a peaceful disarmament policy and work with communities to enable them change their life style. All Karimojong people need to begin to see the armed forces of the country as forces in place for their protection, and not violent invaders.

The people of Karamoja will be actively involved in the development of their sub-region. Intensive and sustained investment will be applied to the following key areas: water for drinking, livestock and agriculture, education, healthcare, and security.

Ms Margaret Wokuri, director for communication and publicity at the IPC campaign bureau wrote this article in consultation with her organisation’s leadership

Opposition protest LC1 bicycle deal

Daily Monitor's Emanuel Mulondo today reports about one of the tricks government is using to bribe voters, and how the opposition is saying no.

A Shs8 billion government project to provide each of the 70,000 LC1 chairpersons with a bicycle is a scheme to bribe voters, the opposition have said.
The government will beginning January 9, 2011, give out the bicycles and the exercise will end on January 30.
Opposition politicians say the scheme, which begins ahead of elections in February next year, is a plan by the government to grease voters’ hands.

Mr Wafula Ogutu, the FDC spokesperson, argued that LC1 chairpersons are existing illegally.
“As far as we are concerned, there are no LCs. We went to court and court ruled that those LCs are existing illegally and ordered elections of new ones elected under multiparty system, which government has not done. They can’t use our (public) money to pay people existing illegally,” Mr Ogutu said.
Mr John Kashaka, the permanent secretary ministry of Local government, on Friday signed the supply agreement for the bicycles.
Local government minister Pereza Ahabwe, who witnessed the contract signing, said the scheme was not targeted at manipulating the leaders ahead of the elections, adding that the bicycles are meant to “equip the local leaders in monitoring government projects and serving their people.

Last year, we provided all LC3 chairpersons with motorcycles. The money was not enough to facilitate all the local leaders at once. So we are doing it progressively and in phases. Where there elections when we gave out motorcycles to LC3 chairpersons?” Mr Kashaka asked.

But Robert Kanusu, the UPC party spokesman, said: “This is the highest level of election malpractice. And that the Badru Kiggundu-led commission is quiet about it shows how ineffective it is.”
Mr Kanusu and Mr Ogutu said they would petition court.
The Justice Forum Party president, Mr Asumani Basalirwa, said the scheme was an abuse of state resources and was not in good faith.

“They are using this to boost the candidature of President Museveni. NRM is desperate. It could also be a trick to facilitate their NRM campaigns,” he said.

Why Besigye Will Make M7 Sweat

An unnamed Red Pepper reporter gives his reasons as why Dr. Kizza Besigye will give Museveni a run for his money!

As the presidential elections gain momentum, all candidates are using every trick in the book to attract the attention of potential voters. When Museveni decided to recite an old Runyankole folk tale, no one knew that it would turn out to be a big hit during his campaign rallies. Later on, all other candidates have adopted the art of dancing their legs lame as if dancing is part and parcel of what affects Uganda. In today’s briefing, intelligence presents the current miscalculations that may cost Museveni and the NRM the required percentage in the forthcoming polls.

If one was to judge from the crowds that the incumbent has been pulling in Lira, Gulu and Kitgum districts, then it would be automatic that the President this time will win by the same margin he won in 1996 in the whole country. In the past elections when Joseph Kony was still active in northern Uganda, very few people, if any, would identify with Museveni and his government at a local level. Those who supported him were a few families who lived in Kampala and would only go back to northern Uganda and stay in hotels, but wouldn’t dare visit their homes in the villages. In addition, all their relatives were staying in Internally Displaced Peoples’ Camps (IDPs). So, for the last 25 years, the NRM never gained any political ground in northern Uganda.

With Kony defeated, Museveni and the NRM think now is the time to make inroads into the north and win the vote there which had been denied by the long LRA war. But to achieve this Museveni needs five more years in power, not just a few months of presidential campaigning. He has pulled the crowds, but some have never had a chance of seeing the President live because of the insecurity that has characterised the area. In addition, the majority of incumbent MPs from Lango and Acholi sub-regions are FDC and UPC. So the NRM has not yet got strong structures at the grassroots to help the party defeat these incumbents politically. Therefore, the new converts to Museveni’s camp will have an uphill task to consolidate short-term NRM support when Museveni leaves the region for other areas on his campaign trail. It should also be remembered that Dr. Kizza Besigye had been getting 80 per cent support from northern Uganda even when there was war. Now that people are settled, what if the percentage goes higher? Despite the presence of two candidates from northern Uganda in the race (Mao and Otunnu), it is only FDC which still has the majority of MPs on the ground in these two regions and, if they work hard, Besigye’s support may still remain high compared to other candidates’. Therefore Museveni’s taskforce has to work hard to convert the new found love in northern Uganda into actual votes; otherwise, if Museveni leaves the north, the crowds will wait for Besigye, Mao, Otunnu and others.

When DP’s Nobert Mao and UPC’s Olara Otunnu refused to join the Besigye- initiated IPC, many NRM diehards celebrated on the grounds that Besigye was politically finished. But this was a total miscalculation because the duo’s refusal to join Besigye has helped the opposition open many fronts against Museveni during the presidential campaigns.

First, the electorate has been perceiving Dr. Besigye as someone driven by personal anger against Museveni, but, as Mao attacks Museveni from the East, Otunnu is busy doing the same in Central; Betty Kamya is doing so on the northern front as Bidandi Ssali does the damage on the south-western. But if all these candidates had chosen just one amongst themselves, the Electoral Commission would have given them one campaign programme and time wouldn’t have been on their side to traverse the country for votes. This division of labour has boosted Besigye because people have come to realise that he is not alone in the struggle. So after listening to many voices calling for change, the electorate might choose the best alternative among the many options presented, and this is where Besigye will sweep up the undecided voters at the last hour.

Second, although the opposition failed to front a joint candidate, an alliance is more probable between Besigye, Mao and Otunnu if Museveni fails to get the required 51 per cent and there is a re-run. In the middle of all this, the issue of incumbency is working against Museveni’s camp. Much as he is traversing the countryside for votes, his main taskforce is just relaxing in Kampala hotels and all they do is wait around for television newscasts to see how their candidate is doing on the ground. This arrogance of incumbency will cost Museveni more votes if the taskforce doesn’t get on the ground to consolidate his supporters. The false confidence that Museveni has already won will backfire when those behind him wake up to realise that the number of votes they expected is not what they had hoped.

BUGANDA’S VOTE: Unlike in past elections, there is an anticipation of a protest vote against Museveni from Buganda because of the current disagreement between Mengo and the central government. Intelligence can confirm this by the fact that there was high voter registration turn-out in all districts of Buganda for next year’s elections. But despite this turn-up, there hasn’t been much momentum at rallies, meaning people are just waiting for the voting day to express their feelings. This protest voter strategy is aimed at denying Museveni the required percentage to win the election, so that he must negotiate for Buganda’s vote in case there is need for a re-run. The only miscalculation Museveni made on the Buganda region vote was the re-opening of CBS because it played very well into the hands of his archrival Dr. Besigye. Besigye had already promised that he would re-open the station unconditionally if Buganda elected him to power. His pledge had not been taken seriously because many peasants in Buganda region still hope Museveni and the Kabaka will come to terms - no matter how long it takes.

But the re-opening of the radio station has made Besigye more of a hero in Buganda. Political analysts had predicted that, whether or not CBS was re-opened, Museveni would still win another term in office. Intelligence can reveal that even the National Security Council had wanted the president to re-open the station after the elections. It is believed that a group of pro-Besigye Mengo officials infiltrated the circles of former PPS Amelia Kyambadde because she was a new entrant to politics as aspiring MP for Mawokota constituency. They put her under pressure that if she wanted to become an MP, then she should convince her former boss (Museveni) to re-open CBS. Much as the President endeavoured to avoid questions regarding the re-opening of the station publicly during his tour of Buganda on the Prosperity for All programme, Amelia and other NRM MPs from Buganda lobbied until the station was hesitantly re-opened. Ironically, it is the same station that the opposition is going to use to de-campaign all incumbent NRM MPs in the region. Much as NRM mobilisers from Buganda region have tried to praise Museveni for the re-opening of CBS radio, the population has not responded in the same way. This was evident during the Kabaka’s tour of Kampala markets where his subjects were saying “tukyabanja” meaning that, despite the re-opening of CBS, they still have some other demands from Museveni’s government. In short, Amelia Kyambadde might have succeeded in lobbying for the re-opening of CBS for the sake of just one constituency - Mawokota; little did she know that she had put other NRM MPs in Buganda in the line of fire. It has also again put Museveni’s negotiating team with Mengo against the wall. Why?

The team scored an own goal and now it is difficult to score at the opponents’ end because Mengo is playing defensively and looking for more goals on the government side. It is from this hide-and-seek game that Museveni’s strategists have opted to concentrate on winning other regions by a bigger margin, in order to balance what is anticipated from Buganda region. But, all things considered, Museveni still has an edge on the Buganda vote.

What is left of the Buganda block vote is expected in the districts of Masaka, Mpigi, Wakiso, Mukono and a few constituencies in the districts of Rakai, Mityana, Mubende, Luwero, Nakaseke, Nakasongola and Kiboga. In districts like Lyantonde, Gomba, Kiboga, Kibaale, Sembabule and other newly created ones, Museveni will win highly because of the dominance of immigrants who are the majority and have nothing to lose whether or not Mengo exists.

By virtue of the fact that Besigye comes from Western Uganda, supporters from other regions of the country have always criticised him for not giving Museveni a spirited fight in a region where the two come from. In fact, the western region has remained the life support for the ruling NRM for the last 25 years. For the last two presidential elections, Besigye had always recruited violent youths in townships and they would beat up any one they came across wearing a Museveni T-shirt. But since the campaigns started, it is evident things have changed and his supporters are more composed and calm. They don’t even attack those who attend their rallies in NRM T-shirts. Even after rallies, they go back to their homes peacefully. So allowing NRM supporters to listen to their candidate is a good development and may be the reason why they are getting defectors from NRM during their campaign trail.

Being an incumbent, President Museveni has always found it easy to get a winning team by picking the taskforce from the composition of cabinet. But in the recent party primaries, his own supporters made a reshuffle by denying a good number of them their votes. Those who survived, such as Vice President Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, Security Minister Amama Mbabazi, Sam Kutesa, John Nasasira and Hope Mwesigye, have been struggling to blow away the CHOGM scandal report. Other veteran mobilisers like Jim Muhwezi and Capt. Mike Mukula have been demoralised by the way they were treated during the GAVI and Global fund probes. It is therefore evident that Museveni does not have a coordinated cabinet to deliver him victory until after the elections. And any attempt to make a reshuffle might swing some of the NRM bigwigs the wrong way.

Intelligence further confirms that the past Namboole election for the position of party secretary general has been another big thorn in the neck for the ruling NRM party. After beating his older rivals, Mbabazi and his group have tried to show that those who supported Otafire and Bukenya that “Big is Big.” Strategically, the secretary general has shifted from the official party offices on plot 10 Kyaddondo Road to plot 18 Akii Bua Road, where he officially sits as the Minister for Security. Any NRM mobiliser suspected of being from either the Otafire or Bukenya camps may not easily access these premises. The offices at Kyaddondo have been left for the NRM electoral commission to handle complaints from losers in the NRM primaries.

Amidst all this confusion, Museveni is busy consolidating his up-country votes, but it will be an uphill task for NRM as a party to help him win the required percentage if internal problems are not solved. Analysts say Museveni might be tempted to turn to most of his trusted young cadres in the UPDF and other security forces for assistance to put things in order. Though they are constitutionally prohibited from being partisan, there is a big role such cadres play behind the scenes during elections; otherwise a reshuffle after the NRM primaries could have helped Museveni organise a vote-winning cabinet. With the problem of sleeping icons in cabinet, the NRM has to think twice before early celebrations of victory in 2011.

In conclusion, Museveni’s main challenger, Dr. Besigye, has lost twice to the same man though he has always complained of vote rigging. The reality has been that he has never assembled an election team that can be seen as the next government. This is why his big crowds of supporters have never been the actual voters on counting day. This is likely to happen again because of cracks within his IPC. He will only be helped if other candidates perform well enough to deny Museveni the required 51 per cent of the count, so that he faces Museveni alone in the re-run. But with the new momentum the President Museveni has set, it is obvious that when all is said and done, he will get at least 56 per cent of the total vote and the other candidatess will share the rest of the spoils.

Otunnu’s brother supports Besigye

Every interesting interview in today's Observer in which the brother of presidential candidate Olara Otunnu says Dr. Kizza Besigye is the right man  for the job!

Prof. Ogenga Otunnu, a younger brother to UPC presidential candidate, Olara Otunnu, and former guild president at Makerere University, says in an interview with a correspondent in Chicago, USA. 
He says that the IPC under Dr Kizza Besigye is the most credible opposition to President Museveni’s regime. He says that when Olara Otunnu left the IPC, he weakened the opposition, the UPC and his message of change.

How do you assess your brother Olara Otunnu’s campaign?

I respect my brother a lot. He is one of the brightest, most competent and most dedicated minds anybody will ever encounter. His decision to return to politics in Uganda was a personal decision. It was not a family decision.

Although some of us had published on the genocide in Acholiland and raised the issue with policy makers, humanitarian and human rights organizations, scholars and the public in the Western democracies for over a decade, Olara, given his outstanding international credentials, has, since 2001, been one of the most credible and eloquent voices on the issue. As well, he has successfully, together with Dr. Besigye and others, exposed the myths of the NRM democracy.

His close focus on the Museveni corruption and reign of terror has forced the international community to openly entertain discussions on a post-Museveni Uganda. His singular demand on truth-telling, naming and shaming, and national reconciliation, is another huge contribution to the country.

My own view, which he knows, is that he should operate under the IPC. By leaving the IPC, he has weakened the opposition, the UPC and his message of change.

So, which political party do you support in the forthcoming elections?

I support the FDC and the IPC, under Dr Besigye, as the most credible and most principled opposition to the Museveni regime. The IPC stands for all the things that UPC, DP, UFA, and PPP claim to stand for. There is no inherent contradiction between each party promoting its interests and working together under the IPC and Dr Besigye.

So you are choosing Dr. Besigye over your brother?

This is the problem of Uganda where the current regime has driven us and the way we think. You do not support someone just because he/she is your kin. There is a multitude of issues to consider.
I maintain that the IPC, the coming together of all opposition groups, is the only way to uproot the diabolic system established in Uganda for the last 24 years.

When you were the guild president some people claimed you were UPC. Yet, during the guild elections and your presidency you enjoyed very close ties with the leadership of the DP.  So, which political party did you support then?

When I declared my intention to run for the guild, I received a note inviting me to the UPC Secretariat at the Uganda House. Upon arrival, I was received by Cecilia Ogwal and the late Dent Lakidi. I was taken to a conference room, where seven other students from Makerere were seated.

We were asked to vote for a candidate for the party. I told Ogwal and Lakidi that I was standing as an independent candidate and did not need the anointment or support of any political party. When Ogwal and Lakidi realized that I was not willing to abide by the decision of the secretariat, they took me to an office and tried to “persuade” me by telling me that my decision would affect Olara Otunnu’s position at the UN.

However, I stood by my decision and left for Makerere. That same evening, the UPC branch at Makerere, which was divided into two warring factions: the progressive and democratic faction (“forces of light”) and the undemocratic and violent faction (“forces of darkness”), met to pick a candidate for the party.
After a prolonged deliberation, the “forces of light”, which constituted the majority of the leadership of the party at Makerere, endorsed me as their candidate. Although I was running as an independent, the support of the progressive wing of the party created the appearance that I was a member of the UPC.

This appearance was reinforced by the fact that I met regularly with the progressive wing of the UPC national leadership, including Dr Adonia Tiberonda, Dr Picho Owiny, Prof Isaac Ojok, Dr J.J. Otim, Vice President Paulo Muwanga, and Prime Minister Otema Alimadi.

Our meetings focused on students’ needs and security, and human rights issues in Buganda, western Uganda and West Nile. I raised the same issues in my meetings with President Obote.

In fact, it was during one of my meetings with President Obote that he endorsed my proposal to raise these issues nationally during our tour of the country. Dr Obote personally directed all DCs and security officers to facilitate our national tour.

Although most of our criticism during the tour targeted the Obote government, because it had the sole responsibility to protect every member of our country, we criticized the NRA for the atrocities it committed against unarmed civilians in the Luwero Triangle and in western Uganda.

In fact, the NRA responded to our criticism by trying to disrupt our rallies in Hoima and Kisoro.
The claim that I was a DP member was first popularized by the “forces of darkness’ at Makerere on the eve of the guild elections.

The claim received new life when some leaders of the DP at Makerere, including [professor] Ebil Otto’s campaign manager, Oruni Oloya (brother of the former guild president, Dr Opiyo Oloya), actively campaigned for me.

The appearance that I was a DP member was reinforced by the fact that I travelled to two campaign venues in the same car with my opponent, Ebil Otto. A number of other developments tended to support the claim as well:
  • When the “forces of darkness” learnt that we were planning a strike against them and the university administration, the university outlawed public assembly. We responded by organizing my “birthday party,” which was addressed by the most visible leader of DP: Ebil Otto.
  • I held a number of meetings with the DP national leadership on the situation in the country and the role the guild could play in challenging violations of human rights, especially violations of the rights of our people in the Luwero Triangle, West Nile and western Uganda.
  • We appealed to embassies of Western governments to exert pressure on the government to protect and promote human rights in the country. In fact, a number of governments responded by withholding or withdrawing financial support to the government.
  • During our national tour, which took the leadership of the guild to every district in the country, we publicly named and shamed those government ministers, security organizations and administrators who were terrorizing people.
  • When we went on strike (and three of us spent nearly a week in detention at the CPS), some government supporters erroneously declared that I was a member of DP and that I was collaborating with Gen. Basilio Okello to overthrow the government.
But didn’t you work with the DP when Tito Okello was in power?

The day I completed my final paper at Makerere, I fled the country on the same flight with Dr Adonia Tiberondwa and Mrs Tiberondwa. I sought refuge in Oxford, where my brother, Professor Amii-Omara Otunnu, resided.

When my uncle Gen. Tito “seized” power, his ADC, Col. Kapuchu, called me and said that the leadership of DP had approached my uncle to invite me to return and work with them on an important project.
However, when I returned to Uganda and met with the late Evaristo Nyanzi and some DP leaders, I declined the request to facilitate the demobilization and reintegration of DP leaning armed groups. I told the leadership of the DP and Gen.

Tito that I did not want to work for the government. My uncle supported my decision not to work for the government. I spent a few months in Uganda with my cousin [minister] Oryem Henry Okello and then returned to the UK two months before the NRA seized power.

Why did you flee the country?

Our campaign against the abuse of human rights did not endear me and some of my colleagues at Makerere to the Obote regime. We were very critical of the government conduct in the country which led to disappearances of people.

We were concerned about the civilians that were caught in the crossfire between the rebels and the government forces. Those in government thought that we would only condemn the rebels; we blamed both for the plight of the masses, because both sides failed to adhere to the international rules of war and attacked civilian targets.

So you have never been a member of DP or UPC?

I thought my answer was clear on this; I have never been a member of UPC or DP. I might have sympathized with DP, but this was purely because of its stand on issues of human rights in Uganda. I personally think that there is need for us now to come together and deal with those abusing people’s rights and institute a government that cares about the people of Uganda. I think IPC is one viable vehicle we can effectively utilize to achieve this goal.

Meet Mugumya, Besigye’s loyal lieutenant

In today's Observer, Edris Kiggundu writes about a diehard Besigye fan (pictured) that has risked everything to make sure his hero is safe.

 He is thin, talkative and unrelenting when he wants to be heard. And above all, his love for his boss borders on madness.

If you want to incur the wrath of Sam Mugumya (pictured), an FDC activist, try to do anything that jeopardizes the safety of his boss, Dr Kizza Besigye, the IPC flag bearer and FDC president. His love for Besigye has even led him to mimic his boss.

“Besigye espouses the values I stand for,” Mugumya explains why he likes the retired colonel. “He is an activist.”

During his days at Makerere University in the early 2000s, Mugumya, who was already an opposition activist and a member of the Reform Agenda, Besigye’s 2001 campaign platform, would set public debates alight. He was nicknamed Besigye at the time the FDC leader was exiled in South Africa.

On the campaign trail, Mugumya has been by Besigye’s side to ensure that he is comfortable. He is often the one who buys newspapers early in the morning for Besigye to read before he sets off for rallies. Mugumya, who sits in Besigye’s car and opens the door for him, carries the portable public address system which the candidate uses during brief campaign stops.

He basically does anything to ensure that his boss is comfortable. On a typical campaign day, Mugumya is up by five in the morning and he retires to bed past midnight after ensuring that everything is fine.

Mugumya was born in Rukungiri in 1979 to the late Emmanuel Turyomurugyendo and Edinat in a family of five siblings. He had an eventful childhood, growing up in Kasese where he had his primary education.

“We used to jump on fast moving vehicles for free rides to town,” he says in a tone that suggests he does not regret this dangerous stunt. Later, he joined Muntuyera High School in Ntungamo district for his secondary education.

His closeness to Besigye and activism have landed him in trouble a number of times. Once, he was arrested as he tried to make his way into Bombo army barracks to deliver a Christmas message from his boss.

Growing up, he says, he was stubborn and would at times hide in the ceiling of the dormitories to dodge lessons. But he was also passionate about several causes.

Can Besigye break NRM’s hold on Tooro?

In this Daily Monitor analysis of November 24, writer Felix Basiime notes that inspite of the hudles, Dr. Kizza Besigye continues to infiltrate what used to be Museveni's strongholds upcountry and the response has been amazing. 

Inter Party Cooperation (IPC) presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye’s 2010 campaign strategy is different: he is penetrating deep into the countryside, seeking out voters where he is speaking to them more intimately at the mini-rallies he is addressing daily.

In Tooro, that style appears to have shaken the authorities a little and according to some could explain why the opposition candidate has found it impossible to get onto any radio talk show here.

Blocked convoysDr Besigye spent four days campaigning in Tooro’s Kyegegwa, Kyenjojo, Kamwenge and Kabarole districts, areas long known to be predominantly NRM. On arrival, last Thursday, he headed for hard-to-reach areas like Hapuyo sub-county and Kyaka travelling over almost impassable roads. That his cars had to be pushed out of the mud many times never seemed to shake his resolve. He has been addressing between nine and 10 rallies (he does not stop for lunch, saying he munches on biscuits and sips water in between stops) every day in this bid to find out whether he can win the voters to his side.

In the 2001 and 2006 campaigns, one hardly found Dr Besigye posters pinned on buildings in the rural areas, or even found people standing on the roadsides waiting for him. This was only for the incumbent, President Museveni.

But these past four days were something of a revelation. People blocked Besigye’s convoy deep in the villages, sang and danced for him. Gave him gifts at rallies, and flashed the ‘V’ symbol without fear; a thing that was never there before in the western region. This time some area councilors have attended Besigye rallies and are at times given the opportunity to talk and welcome him.

At Kakinga, Rwimi in Kabarole District, the area LC2 chairman, Mr Elias Byarugaba, on Monday welcomed Dr Besigye at the rally and said, “I know you have several supporters in my area, so I allow you to campaign but don’t take away all the votes at least reserve some for me.” This new accommodation may provide food for speculation as to how the political mood has changed in the last five years.

Dr Besigye visited health centres, schools, homes, stopping along the way to address the people on their social problems like lack of safe water, bad roads, lack of drugs in hospitals and health centres, poverty, corruption, education. He always ended with an explanation about how he would address these problems if they elected him.

“We thought to start in areas of high intimidation, empower the people with information, become assertive vis-a-vis other areas where we are strong, the NRM chairmen, RDCs, Gisos, some of them are terrorists of the people,” the IPC candidate told journalist on Sunday. “Blocking me from appearing on radio talk shows, shows that the NRM fears our message and do not want it to reach the people, this shows the desperation the incumbent is seeing in our campaign.” 

“In the past two elections there was a lot of intimidation which was effective, people were not empowered, they feared RDCs and Gisos … Secondly, we had less activity by ourselves then, we had no time. We had no structures then, no time to canvass the rural communities, but in the last five years, we have tried to explain the issues to the rural folk, they now have more information than before.”

The opposition leader believes that his party’s support has grown in the last five years as people in the villages get to appreciate what they are all about. Nevertheless, people like Mr Rogers Nkoba of Rwimi in Kabarole District believe “people are now are more interested and more aware.”

The ruling party primary polls which dragged on between August to November, attracting several petitions along the way, may also explain the change in fortunes. There is a lot of hurt from NRM politicians who feel they were unfairly treated by their party. That anger and frustration would as well be channeled to work with their former opponents.

Also, government programmes like NAADs where farmers were supposed to be grouped into demonstration, lead, model and nucleus associations for better targeting never worked as planned.
Dr Besigye has repeatedly pointed out that it was wrong to select few people to benefit from public money, especially in a region where agriculture the main activity.

The people who have attended IPC rallies have spoken about these things even as the memory of President Museveni’s 97 percent sweep of the votes cast in Tooro in 1996, and 87 per cent in 2006 lingers.

Not a single MP from the sub-region is from the opposition. But in the recent local council nominations, the Forum for Democratic Change got hundreds of flag bearers at almost all completive positions save for the district chairmen in Kabarole, Kyenjojo, Kamwenge and Kyegegwa. This had never happened before under NRM rule. Next stop Kasese, Bundibugyo, Ntoroko.

Women and youth will taste fruit of Uganda’s oil first

In this dexterous analysis which was published in Daily Monitor, November 22, Margaret Wokuri writes that sure enough as long as Dr. Kizza Besigye is in power, Ugandans will enjoy the fruits of the natural resources! 

The management of oil cannot be isolated from the wider framework of resource management i.e how natural resources can be effectively managed to translate into the welfare of the ordinary person. But again, this is also linked to the wider question of governance. More often, oil has been described as a curse to a particular place because dictators use the oil revenues to entrench themselves in power rather than look after the welfare of a country’s citizens.

In Africa for example, the majority of people in neighbouring DR Congo remain poor even when it is one of the mineral-rich countries. In Nigeria, oil has turned out as an environmental hazard. In worst-case scenarios, a resource like oil can be an attraction to foreign powers that often turn a country into a battle zone.

It is, therefore, important that while we address the question of oil resource and revenue management, the bigger question is how to ensure that there is the overall good governance framework in place. A corrupt regime where people who are culpable of graft are instead shielded by the system can never accord its citizens the proceeds of oil because all the revenues will be used to maintain the kleptocracy.

The IPC government has a comprehensive policy against corruption. Under the IPC government, corruption will be a risky venture because all implicated officials will be dealt with decisively. In addition, all watch dog organs shall be strengthened and facilitated to fight graft.

The IPC government shall respect the independence of the Civil Society by doing away with the restrictive laws that the current regime has pushed for. With strong institutions to check graft, IPC will then establish a transparent and equitable legal policy framework for the management of oil revenue in the country.

The current system has denied the public access to almost all information about oil agreements signed with foreign entities which is cause for suspicion. Moreover, the UK-based civil society group Global Witness, recently revealed that the first family was too close to Uganda’s oil. IPC will ensure that the oil resource is managed by Ugandans and for Ugandans.

In terms of allocation, priority will be given to those areas that have direct impact to disadvantaged groups like women and youth. Today, health is one such sector that needs serious consideration; only 40 per cent of the health care equipment is working, only 1/3 of the health facilities have basic equipment and supplies for conducting normal delivery while only a few health facilities have all the equipment for basic antenatal care.
The oil revenue shall be used to boost the health sector with special emphasis on antenatal care to reduce the 5,760 women who die every year because of child-birth related complications.

Secondly, many women are engaged in small scale business, most of them have been defrauded by money lending institutions that charge high interest rates. IPC will therefore use the oil revenue to set up soft loan schemes that are affordable to the many struggling mothers all over the country.

The other important aspect about oil is that it is a resource that must be shared by the existing and future generations. IPC believes in sustainable resource management. The oil revenue will be used for extensive research in environmental protection, support of afforestation and protection of affected communities from hazards that come with oil exploration. IPC will also save some of the oil revenue by setting up a national Oil Fund separate from the Consolidated Fund for posterity.

Ms Margaret Wokuri, director for communication and publicity at the IPC campaign bureau wrote this article in consultation with her organisation’s leadership

Besigye promises tractors for every Sub County, Uganda

In this November 18 Daily Monitor article, Ronald Tumusiime reports from Kibaale about Dr. Kizza Besigye's determination to invigorate Uganda's agriculture as soon as he enters State House

The opposition coalition presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, has pegged his election campaign on a promise to undertake an agricultural revolution by providing tractors to every sub-county in order to promote commercial farming.

Speaking at various rallies in the mid-western Kibaale District, the Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC) flag bearer, announced plans to build silos in Uganda’s different regions to stabilise supply and prices of food commodities during scarcity and surplus, respectively, if elected president. 

“I will establish reserve stores for farmers to address issues concerning hunger and food security in the country,” he said, before revealing other plans to construct irrigation dams to serve during drought.

This is the first time that Dr Besigye, who has previously promised his government would allocate 15 per cent of the national budget to agriculture, has offered finer details on turning things around in a sector providing livelihood for the majority Ugandans.

“During my tour of Bunyoro,” he said, “I have discovered that the food produced by farmers lack markets due to the low market prices. I want, if elected, to invest in factories and revive tractors at sub counties for hire services by farmers.”

The main agricultural commodities produced in Bunyoro region include maize, rice and ground nuts.
Candidate Besigye said his government will establish a National Bank of Agriculture to provide soft loans to spur commercial farming. He asked voters in Bunyoro region not to cast their ballot for President Museveni whom he said has “deliberately impoverished” the Banyoro by denying them vital public services, citing the broken road infrastructure and lack of market access.

The IPC candidate said Busoga, which is infested with jiggers, holds the “headquarters” of poverty in the country while the mid-western enclave, where vast quantities of oil were recently discovered, is the “vice headquarter”.

Dr Besigye added that the broken road infrastructure and lack of market access impair otherwise vibrant commercial farmers in Bunyoro from progressing.

Vandals destroy Besigye billboards worth Shs30m

The bad elements will do anything to frustrate leading opposition candidate. As Daily Monitor's John Njoroge writes in this November 10 article, vandal's are on rampage defacing Dr. Kizza Besigye's campaign posters.

The Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC) says it has lost Shs30 million following the destruction of their candidates’ billboards. The IPC says campaign billboards were vandalised and removed in separate and unclear circumstances.

Acting Police spokesperson Vicent Ssekate said the police was concerned after receiving similar complaints from other political parties over the defacing of campaign posters.

In the last week, Kizza Besigye’s billboard in Masaka Town worth Shs15m and another on Bombo Road worth Shs11m were torn to pieces.

“It is not an isolated IPC incident,” Ssekate said last evening. “All the parties have issued complaints to us from all over the country about their campaign materials being vandalised.”

Mr Ssekate said the police will deal with the vandals. IPC communication bureau coordinator Margaret Wokuri said the coalition had not yet established whether they were isolated incidences or coordinated occurrences.

“We are told that the billboard in Wandegeya was torn by taxi touts who used it as a tent. They are still using it even now,” she said, adding that the one in Masaka was yesterday put back up. She said someone misinformed the service providers that they had not paid.

Efforts to contact the service provider were fruitless as the number availed by Ms Wokuri was out of service. Another billboard of Dr Besigye in the city centre was removed by the service provider just two days after it was erected.
The IPC faced resistance in Sembabule at the weekend when its supporters attempted to erect a Dr Besigye’s banner next to that of President Museveni hours before he arrived to address a rally.

During the presidential nomination exercise, two people were arrested; one at Namboole National Stadium and another in Kawempe after they were caught defacing posters of President Museveni.

Government denying Besigye access to radios, says opposition coalition

There's no doubt that the state media coverage of presidential campaigns favours the incumbent, Yoweri K. Museveni. In this Daily Monitor article published on November 19, Francis Mugerwa and Gerald Bareebe report about Dr. Kizza Besigye being denied radio airtime in Bunyoro

The Inter-Party Cooperation has issued a statement protesting what they said were deliberate moves by the government to deny their presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, access to voters by blocking him from local radio stations.

“This is a deliberate effort to deny Dr Besigye opportunities to address issues that affect the general public. Radio stations should be compelled by the regulator to offer fair coverage to all candidates vying for public office,” the statement issued yesterday, said.

Fundamental role: The statement notes that radio plays a fundamental role in informing and educating the public about the issues that affect them.

“Majority of Ugandans live in rural areas where radio is the only source of information. Denying them information … takes away their fundamental rights of freedom to make their own choices … Ugandans needs all the information about presidential candidates so that they make an informed decision come 2011,” the statement reads in part.
This comes less than 24 hours after Dr Besigye’s talk-show on Kagadi-Kibaale Community Radio (KKCR) ended prematurely when the station was switched off 20 minutes into the programme.

It also comes three days after six radio stations in Bunyoro denied Dr Besigye access to their airwaves, citing fear of retribution from the State. These stations include Bunyoro Broadcasting Services, King’s Broadcasting Services, Kitara FM, Spice FM, Radio Hoima and Liberty Broadcasting Services.

The Electoral Commission yesterday condemned the Kagadi incident with deputy spokesman Paul Bukenya, saying he was surprised that such an incident has again happened.

Mr Bukenya said the EC met officials from the Media Council, the Media Centre and the Broadcasting Council last week and urged them to guarantee access to media to all the candidates.

The spokesperson of Dr Besigye’s campaign, Ms Margaret Wokuri, yesterday said the move to block Dr Besigye from speaking on rural radio stations is done deliberately by the ruling NRM party to derail his presidential campaign. 

FDC officials yesterday said Dr Besigye’s show on KKCR Radio started at 9pm and was supposed to end at 10pm but at about 9:19pm the management allegedly switched off the radio claiming that the generator had developed technical problems.

The IPC secretariat accused Mr Julius Mwalimu Musheshe, the chairman of Uganda Rural Development and Training Programme, an organisation that owns the station, of ordering the management to switch off the radio.

For about one-and-a half hours, Dr Besigye and other FDC officials remained around the station premises waiting for the radio to get back on air. As it approached 11pm, they left following a communication from management that it would lock the premises by midnight.

The Hoima FDC chairman, Mr Jackson Wabyoona, said the party had paid Shs1 million for the show adding that they have instructed the Kibaale FDC district chairman, Mr Muhereza Ayebale Kanyarutooke to recover the money from the station management. 

Mr Anthony Lwanga, the station manager, confirmed the incident but dismissed reports linking the matter to government sabotage.

“The station went off air 20 minutes after Dr Besigye has started talking but that was due to a technical problem. When the generator went off, we tried our best and I was constantly updating Dr Besiye who was still seated in our studio that things will get better,” Mr Lwanga said. “By the time the generator was repaired, he had already gone and we tried to get him back but it was late.” 

The Uganda Media Council yesterday issued a statement warning private and public media houses against denying candidate airwaves.

“The Media Council reminds proprietors of radio and television that public airwaves are held in trust and so, if one is entrusted with a frequency ….should not hold it as a private property,” the statement read in part.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Besigye: Bunyoro will get oil money

As as the campaign trail gets hotter, the voters have their ears flapped to capture how each of the presidential candidates will handle oil after winning the election. In this Daily Monitor article, Francis Mugerwa and Gerald Bareebe write that IPC flag bearer Dr. Kizza Besigye has promised Bunyoro a share of the oil revenues.

Dr Kizza Besigye yesterday promised oil-rich Bunyoro region a share of revenues from the resource if elected president. Dr Besigye, the IPC opposition coalition candidate, told a rally at Masindi’s Boma Grounds that Bunyoro, one of the poorest regions of the country, would directly benefit from oil sales.

The proposal is a policy departure from the ruling NRM party, which considers the oil as a national resource and offers no affirmative action for Bunyoro. NRM officials said the IPC proposal was untenable.

Divide and rule?
Attributing local ethnic tensions between indigenous Banyoro and immigrant populations (loosely referred to as Bafuruki) to State machinations, Dr Besigye warned the people against what he called President Museveni’s “divide and rule policy”.

“The NRM government is dividing you so as to steal the newly-discovered oil without your attention … you might be aware that the oil blocks were recently sold at a cost of over $1.5 billion,” Dr Besigye said. “The FDC government will manage the oil resources transparently and efficiently. Bunyoro will have its due share of oil revenues.” But the spokesperson of President Museveni’s campaign, Mr Ofwono Opondo, yesterday said Dr Besigye’s ideas were not viable.

“Revenue collected by this government has been used very well though we have had some hitches here and there,” Mr Opondo said. “Let Dr Besigye give us a formula of how he will distribute oil proceeds. What if other regions like Kasese and Kanungu that produce copper and wolfram also demand their share? What will he do?”

Dr Besigye observed that as tribal unrest simmered, a company that was contracted to explore for oil sold its concession to another company for $1.5 billion after spending about $300 million. This company made a profit of $1.2b without the people of Bunyoro asking questions because, according to him, they were busy fighting each other with each seeking favour with Mr Museveni. However, President Museveni’s spokesman, Tamale Mirundi, accused the opposition politician of playing dirty.

“Dr Besigye is trying to incite the public against the President. The Banyoro will benefit just like other tribes in Uganda and they will not be given any special status because oil is Uganda’s asset though found in Bunyoro,” he said yesterday.

Dr Besigye’s comments follow last week’s report released by Global Witness, an international organisation that investigates the role of natural resources in funding conflict and corruption worldwide.

Voiced concern
The organisation voiced concern over the role of the army Special Forces Group, commanded by First Son Lt. Col. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, and Saracen, a private security firm owned by the President’s brother, Gen. Salim Saleh, in guarding the country’s oil wells in the Albertine area.

Although Dr Besigye did not say what percentage of oil proceeds his government would devote to Bunyoro, he insisted that under the current administration it is likely that oil revenue will be used to entrench President Museveni and “the corrupt NRM system”. It is up to the people of Bunyoro, the IPC candidate said, to save the country from the looming ‘oil curse’ by voting out President Museveni.

In Bujenje County, Dr Besigye said one of his first assignments as Head of State will be to tarmac the Masindi-Hoima-Fort Portal road and to set up affirmative action for Bunyoro and Busoga sub-regions.