Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Besigye asks opposition to unite and take power

The Inter- Party Cooperation presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, has called for unity among the political opposition parties if they want to dislodge the ruling NRM from power.

While addressing a rally at Boma Ground in Kitgum at the weekend, Dr Besigye said unity will enable them to speak with one voice in quest for votes to bring change.

Dr Besigye urged voters to be the rightful engine to drive for change through a vibrant leader like him. “Be wise to elect a leader who will bring the desired change,” he said. If elected to office, Dr Besigye said, his priority would be to reconstruct the north which has lagged behind in development.

The Uganda Peoples Congress Party presidential candidate, Mr Olara Otunnu, withdrew from the IPC citing failure by the Forum for Democratic Change party to follow principles. Mr Norbert Mao’s Democratic Party also did not buy into the idea of a political coalition.

Mr Otunnu said the FDC and other opposition political parties like the Conservative Party and the Social Democratic Party, had not kept the promise to dislodge the Electoral Commission headed by Dr Badru Kiggundu.

On his visit to St. Joseph Hospital Kitgum, Dr Besigye handed over food items like sugar, bread and soap worth about Shs600,000 to patients.

While witnessing the handover, Kitgum Hospital Medical Superintendent Alex Layoo thanked Besigye for his generosity. “This donation does not mean we are partisan, we welcome anybody who wants to help our community,” Dr Layoo said.

While addressing a rally in Kaabong last Friday, the IPC presidential flag bear said if he wins the election, he would get another team to help the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee to re-audit Chogm and Global Fund money which he says has been mismanaged by President Museveni’s friends.

Used elsewhere
He said this money would have helped the country fund priority areas like health, education, transport and agriculture.

“This is a clear sign of segregation, you don’t arrest people because they are your in-laws, friends and yet they have committed crimes but you only order arrests of those who commit crimes and not related to you,” he said.

Dr Besigye, who is contesting for the highest office in the land for the third time, will be in Gulu District on Thursday.

Polls: Besigye hits back at Museveni

Between the two strong bulls in the prevailing presidential campaigns, neither is intimidated by the other, reports Daily Monitor's Steven Ariong & Mercy Nalugo

The Inter-Party Cooperation presidential flag bearer, Dr Kizza Besigye, yesterday said he will not be intimidated by President Museveni.

Dr Besigye’s rebuttal follows the President’s warning on Tuesday that Dr Besigye, a retired army Colonel, would be jailed if he dared announce his own version of the 2011 election results.

“Whether President Museveni wants or not, I will make sure we announce our own result before the Electoral Commission announces its final results,” he said, “I will not tolerate this business of intimidating me.”

Dr Besigye, who was Mr Museveni’s former personal physician during the 1981-6 NRA bush war, re-affirmed his stand on declaring election results during a rally at Morulem Trading Centre in the new Abim District, Karamoja region.

He said his campaign is more organised and prepared this time, unlike in 2005/6 when he had to juggle between courts and campaigns, and “we are determined to ensure our vote is not stolen again”. At another rally in Abim Town Council, Dr Besigye said: ”Museveni has been good at stealing my votes”.

“In 2006, he stole my votes when I was in Luzira Prison but this time I will not allow that. I am much more prepared to fight malpractices than in 2006.”

In 2006, Dr Besigye was detained and charged with treason and rape upon returning to the country from exile in October 2005. He only joined the presidential race after being nominated in jail.

The High Court would later throw out the rape charge which it denounced as a scurrilous attempt to slur the reputation of an honourable man who had chosen to run for the highest office in the land.

Five years later, the Constitutional Court also ruled in the colonel’s favour on the treason allegations, which he had always insisted were politically-motivated.

President Museveni told a news conference in Jinja on Tuesday that if Dr Besigye announced his own results, he would be arrested. The contention about the results appears to have shaken the campaigns with Dr Besigye, who is running against President Museveni for the third consecutive time, maintaining that he will not be cheated again.

The opposition has accused the current Electoral Commission of being partisan, saying they cannot deliver free and fair elections. The Supreme Court also found in its ruling on Dr Besigye’s 2006 petition against Mr Museveni’s re-election that the EC incompetently presided over that poll.

Yesterday, the Forum for Democratic Change, which Dr Besigye leads, remained defiant. They told journalists in Kampala that Mr Museveni is free to petition the EC.

Be educated
Campaign spokesperson Margaret Wokuri said: “I need to be educated under what law a candidate can really arrest another. But if President Museveni is aggrieved by our plan, let him petition the electoral body.”
She said the results shall be relayed as they come in. FDC vice president (eastern region), Ms Salaamu Musumba, told Daily Monitor that the President is being irrational.

“What is the substance and content of his anger? His anger is fear but for us we have committed ourselves to democracy and constitutional rule even under the (current)apartheid-like rule. The law is very clear because we have to have two polling agents at each station to deliver the results to us which we are to tally and announce,” she said.

Ms Musumba added that they have set up one with a back-up in Kenya and the UK and have acquired software which will automate the tallying.

Besigye to organise three-week prayer session

God knows Uganda needs prayers! In this Daily Monitor article, Steven Ariong reports that Dr. Kizza Besigye will petition God to rescue our country...

The Inter-Party Cooperation presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, has said he will organise a three-week prayer session countrywide to ask God to save the country from the NRM’s alleged mismanagement.

Addressing a rally in Kaabong on Friday, Dr Besigye said God is unhappy with the way Ugandans are allegedly suffering under President Museveni’s government, which he claimed caters only for a few individuals while the rest of population are living in abject poverty.

Dr Besigye told Kaabong residents to accept bribes presented by NRM supporters but not to vote NRM candidates.

“When they bring the money to you, please eat that money and clean your lips and ask for more because that is your tax money that goes to Kampala and never comes back to help you but don’t vote for them. If you vote for them, you will pay that money 10 times,” he said.

“Museveni’s time has come for him to go back to his Ruwakitura village,” he said

The media has a duty to accord all candidates same exposure

In this convincing commentary published in today's Daily Monitor, Mr. Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba, argues that in the spirit of democracy and fairness, all candidates should be accorded equal airtime on radio and other reportage

I was appalled by recent reports in the media that nine radio stations had refused to run Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC) presidential candidate Kizza Besigye’s campaign adverts because the stations are owned by NRM “big boys’’.

The banning of Dr Besigye’s radio adverts on some private FM stations has been a typical NRM character since 1990s, and in all fairness, this should not be part of us anymore as a growing democracy. As some of you may be aware, 1n 1993, the government stopped government offices from giving any advertisement business to the Monitor newspaper, just because they wanted to run it down, which some in the NRM call ‘dying naturally due to mismanagement’.

The Monitor lost about 70 per cent of its advertisement revenue until this decision was reversed in 1997. So, saying it is ‘free will’ for private radio stations to reject Besigye’s adverts is a nonstarter. We should encourage radio owners to contribute to the fairness of these elections by according all candidates the same level of exposure to the voters as much as possible.

There is no harm in this as long as they are not breaking any laws in the process. Radio discrimination by private owners has no place in a genuine democracy. What these radio stations are doing is unacceptable. It’s like opening up a shop and deciding to sell goods only to a specific ethnic group or individuals.

All these forms of discriminations by private enterprises should not appear to be promoted by the political elite in our country as the head of NRM campaign Communications Bureau, Ofwono Opondo, was doing in an NTV YouTube video released recently. Even the chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr Badru Kiggundu, appears to disagree with what these private stations are doing. The fact is that we should cherish and guard the right of free speech in Uganda. We must always be willing to defend people’s right to say things we deplore to the ultimate degree. That is the way forward!

In USA, they have got the “fairness doctrine’’ introduced, I believe, in the 1940s and it requires broadcasters to cover important controversial issues and to provide an opportunity for contrasting views on those issues. The rules state that radio or TV stations that sell airtime to a political advocate must give free airtime to an opponent to respond. This was rectified by the ‘’Cullman Doctrine’’ in 1960s which holds that a station broadcasting a sponsored advertisement or programme on one side of a controversial issue, thereafter may not refuse to present the opposing viewpoint merely because the station could not obtain paid sponsorship for the opposition presentation. The Americans have also got the ‘equal time’ rule which requires radios and TVs to give equal time to qualified candidates for public office.

What Ofwono Opondo was talking about in the video, of radios or newspapers endorsing candidates in developed nations, is true, but it has no relevance to the radio discrimination going on in Uganda at the moment. By the way, even newspapers that have endorsed candidates are required by law to give space to the opposing views in these countries. For instance, in the UK, the Daily Mail is a known Conservative newspaper but it always finds space for the Labour candidates because the law requires them to do so.
Finally, the State should start taking their Access to Information Act (2005) seriously to help bridge the gap between the government and Ugandans. Any information from government and non-governmental organisations should be made public to avoid more surprises.

This encourages openness and transparency in public institutions. For instance, here in the UK, we have got the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Data Protection Act 1998 under the office of the Information Commissioner who reports directly to the Parliament, and it is helping everybody.

I have got as much right to know how any ministry is being run as anybody else in the country. Of course, they are some exemptions, but most of this information is not concealed to anybody in the UK. This should be the same in Uganda as it will also help in reducing the levels of corruption in the state system.

There is no point carrying out all this public inquiries into the deaths of big personalities and now we are doing the same with the burning of the Kasubi Tombs, but the public never gets to know the findings. We should have transparency in government dealings.

Mr Semuwemba lives in the United Kingdom

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Besigye to punish soldiers who torture Karimojong

The Inter-Party Cooperation presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, has promised to punish soldiers accused of involvement in gross human rights violations during the disarmament exercise in Karamoja region.

Dr Besigye, who is campaigning in the region that has been riddled with armed conflict among the warrior cattle rustling tribes and government efforts to pacify the area over several decades, said he would punish soldiers involved in killing of innocent civilians and other gross abuses like castration and other torture.

“Yes I am aware that the UPDF soldiers killed and tortured people while conducting disarmament but I can promise you that I will deal with these so-called commanders to bring them to book,” he told a rally at Kosiroi, Katikekile Sub-county in Moroto District.

Dr Besigye said this after the residents lamented how they were tortured and killed and asked what he would do if he is elected president. But in a statement, the 3rd Division army spokesperson, Lt. Deo Tambwe Akiiki, reacting to a related story attributed to Dr Besigye, accused the opposition politician of being out of touch with the reality on the benefits of the disamarment exercise in Karamoja.

Lt. Akiiki said the fact that Besigye and other candidates have been able to freely canvass support in the area without being moved in armoured vehicles is testimony to the tremendous progress made to pacify the region.

“With due respect to a retired senior officer, I think the IPC flagger bearer should have used the notion of being “briefed and debriefed” treasured in the military by whoever is his aide in this area about how Karamoja was, how it is today and where it is going,” Lt. Akiiki said.

“If this did not happen, then I am afraid the retired senior officer could have lost touch with facts about an area which is a point of focus for all Ugandans and the international community since the defeat of LRA in northern Uganda.”

The place where Besigye held a rally was where the army allegedly killed unarmed civilians in a recent standoff.

In his campaign, Dr Besigye also promised to construct a cement factory in Karamoja, saying the region is rich in minerals but the current government has failed to make good use of that potential to benefit the people.
Dr Besigye also said President Museveni is copying his manifesto. Citing yesterday’s story in one of the dailies’ that stated the government will give loans to university students, Dr Besigye said Museveni is not following what is in his NRM manifesto.

“These are the points I have been making and Museveni is moving around also duplicating them because he has nothing to tell the country for last 24 years he has been in power,” he said.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Government encouraged cattle rustling – Besigye

Observer's Edris Kiggundi writes about how Dr. Kizza Besigye while campaigning in northe-eastern Uganda, he found things in a mess and promised fix the mess once elected the next president.  

Bukwo –The IPC flag bearer, Dr Kizza Besigye, said last week that the NRM government encouraged cattle rustling by allowing the Karimojong a free rein to invade neighbouring communities.

Campaigning in Sebei last week, Besigye said if government had offered protection to the weak communities and looked into the grievances of the Karimojong, the security situation in north-eastern Uganda would have been better.

“Government did nothing when you were being attacked. They have just woken up today, but even then they have failed to disarm the Karimojong,“ Besigye said.

He was responding to queries raised by some people during a rally at Kween district headquarters, eager to know what his government will do to ensure that Karimojong raids and cattle rustling end.

First, Besigye said, government should empower vulnerable communities by providing them with sufficient security.

Secondly, there should be a buffer zone between Karamoja and Kenya, to stem attacks from the Pokot and other Kenyan groups. Lastly, Besigye said, the government should ensure that Karamoja has enough water because that’s one reason forcing them to invade other communities.

If all these are fulfilled, Besigye argued, disarmament of the Karimojong would be easier. However, the government has proclaimed the disarmament exercise a success, saying a number of Karimojong have turned in their guns.

In Kaserem sub-county, Kapchorwa district, Besigye toured a health centre and a police post. At the health centre III which has no doctor, Besigye was taken aback by the deplorable conditions.

“This cannot be described as a health centre. It is something else, maybe a death chamber,” Besigye said.
A nurse reported that there were no drugs; so, their operations were limited. The facility lacks electricity yet the sub-county got onto the power grid five years ago. The single ambulance which the health centre had, a Suzuki, broke down seven years ago and there has been no replacement.

Kaserem health centre was opened by Dr Crispus Kiyonga, then minister of Health, in 1993. The FDC leader urged the people to elect him next year, if they want to see change in their lives. He promised to uplift education, increase salaries of teachers and other public workers, and to support farmers.

Genital Mutilation

About female genital mutilation, which has become a dicey issue in the sub-region, Besigye said it had been mishandled by the government which preferred to use force to enforce the anti-FGM law enacted last year, instead of dialogue.

He said that communities in Sebei sub-region needed to be listened to and their views considered. The practice continues to be practised in the sub-region despite being outlawed.

Besigye’s campaigns in the sub-region, ending on Friday last week, were hampered by the mountainous nature of the terrain and the poor state of roads.

For instance, the journey between Kapchorwa and Bukwo (a distance of about 60km) that would ordinarily take just an hour, took more than three hours. Besigye told the people not to expect better roads and other services if they vote for President Museveni.

“Are you part of Uganda? There is nothing that shows that government has done anything for you,” Besigye said during a campaign stop-over at Giriki River, Kween district.

Some of the people in the district of Bukwo, which borders Kenya, said they rely on Uganda’s neighbour for many services, including health and trade because it was easier to travel to Kenya.

Compared to when he campaigned here in 2006, there is a big change in the sub-region. In 2006, not many people paid attention to him. This time, his rallies attracted sizeable crowds and in some districts like Bukwo, his convoy was blocked at various trading centres as people demanded that he speaks to them.

Also this time round, the FDC is fielding parliamentary candidates in all constituencies here, an indication that the party has developed grassroots structures to rally its supporters.

Karamoja next

On Saturday, Besigye headed to Karamoja where he will spend one week. He was scheduled to start with Amudat before moving on to Nakapiripirit, Moroto, Napak, Kotido and Kaabong. Besigye did not campaign in this sub-region in 2006 partly because of the insecurity there.

Due to this and other factors, the sub-region remains a domain of the NRM and the IPC will have to work hard to gain a political footprint here. The pertinent issues which Besigye will have to address here are the disarmament exercise, poverty and the lack of water.

No war 

Earlier, while campaigning in Pallisa, Besigye assured the nation that there is no need for violence after the 2011 elections.

“Going to the bush will not be necessary. We shall defeat them (NRM) comprehensively. That (taking up arms) will, therefore, not be necessary,” he said when prodded to say whether he will rally his supporters to take up arms in case the vote is stolen.

Besigye, who was on December 11 addressing several rallies in Pallisa district as he wound up his campaign tour of Bukedi region, said his campaign team had engaged a higher gear and gained more momentum. Campaign messages, he said, are now running in both the electronic and print media.

The next step, he said, will be to equip IPC and FDC cadres with ample skills to protect the loose coalition’s vote come February 2011.

Besigye reiterated his and the loose coalition’s commitment to announcing their own results, saying they will not wait for the Electoral Commission to doctor the results.

He said ballots are cast at the ballot box, counted at the polling station and declared at the same polling station, which makes sense for anyone who has the declared results to make his own tally and make the computation public.

Holes in 2010 Afrobarometer election poll

A recent poll putting President Museveni far ahead of Dr. Kizza Besigye has generated controversy everywhere. In today's Daily Monitor, Timothy Kalyegira exposes the gaping holes in the said poll.

In 2006 a few weeks before that year’s general election, the Daily Monitor commissioned the public opinion survey firm AfroBarometer and their Kampala partner Wilsken Agencies, to conduct a poll on the popularity of the presidential candidates.

The results showed NRM candidate Yoweri Museveni in the lead. I sent an sms to the then Daily Monitor Executive Editor Peter Mwesigye warning that he should have taken better care in selecting which company to conduct a survey on behalf of the Daily Monitor.
I worked at Wilsken Agencies for a few months in late 1999 and over something as vital as a tense general election, I could not vouch for the integrity of the findings. The latest AfroBarometer opinion poll of the standings of the 2011 presidential candidates -- published across the front pages of Uganda’s two leading daily newspapers Daily Monitor and New Vision on Friday, December 17, 2010 to much public anger -- has not only vindicated the reservations I expressed to Peter Mwesige in 2006 but, I think, damaged the reputation of AfroBarometer beyond repair.

Early glitch
The poll was conducted between November 18 and December 6, 2010 in 71 of Uganda’s 112 districts and sampled 2,000 Ugandan adults. The result were that, as the New Vision put it in its lead story, “If Ugandans were to vote today” NRM candidate Yoweri Museveni would score 66 percent of the vote, FDC/IPC candidate Kiiza Besigye would get 12 percent, DP-1 candidate Norbert Mao 3 percent, UPC candidate Olara Otunnu 3 percent, Uganda Federal Alliance candidate Beti Kamya 1 percent and DP-2/independent candidate Samuel Lubega, PPP candidate Jaberi Bidandi-Ssali, and PDP candidate Abed Bwanika would all get 0 percent.

Let us start off with the most obvious and suspicious facts of this AfroBarometer poll. The first is that the numbers are all complete numbers --- 66, 12, 3, 3, 1, 0, 0, and 0. What sort of opinion poll would that be that would return perfect numbers without mathematical fractions? Notice that in Friday’s same edition, the New Vision stated that in its survey of June to July 2010, Museveni stood at 52.72 percent, Besigye at 16.06 percent, Olara Otunnu at 3.14 percent.

The truthfulness and impartiality of a survey by a newspaper such as the New Vision that has, since nomination day, insisted on publishing the campaign photos of only NRM candidate Yoweri Museveni, can be questioned. But it at least looks like a proper survey, with regular and fractional numbers.

The second and much more glaring flaw about the 2010 AfroBarometer opinion poll --- one that I am surprised has not been pointed out amid the public outcry on Friday and all weekend against the results -- was the total percentage number.

If the AfroBarometer poll is credible, how come it does not add up to 100 percent (if the Latin expression per cent means “out of a hundred”) in some cases? NRM is, for instance, said to command 72 per cent of the people’s love, FDC 28 per cent and UPC 15 per cent! That is more than 100 per cent. I suspect a deeper look at the finer details will reveal more of such inconsistencies.

This Afrobarometer poll reminded me of the heated 2002 phone exchange on Monitor FM (predecessor to KFM) between the then exiled FDC president Col. Kizza Besigye in South Africa and the then Chief of Military Intelligence, the late Brig. Noble Mayombo. Mayombo narrated to the listening audience specific days and times at which Besigye had allegedly made phone calls to the rebels of the LRA, ADF, and a new, mysterious rebel group called the PRA. Somehow, Mayombo’s intelligence report showed that all Besigye’s phone calls always fell at the top of the hour. It was “On July 12, at 3:00p.m., you called Vincent Otti. On October 7, at 11:00a.m., you called James Opoka.” The calls were never as irregular as 12:23p.m, 6:38a.m, 9:19p.m. They were all perfectly rounded numbers.

The immediate and obvious conclusion: the AfroBarometer opinion poll was in professional social sciences and even primary school mathematical terms, wrong.

This leads to the next question: what was the intention behind this poll that is calculated in percentages but is not quite 100 percent? Once again it is obvious: while the western donors who commissioned it had intended it to be an opinion poll in the professional, informative sense of the word, somebody might have got wind of it and possibly pressured or threatened AfroBarometer to falsify the results, which we now see do not even add up to 100 per cent.

Destroyed credibility
What this suspected fraud is going to do, apart from forever destroying AfroBarometer’ credibility in Uganda and future business prospects, it will if anything harden public anger and determination against any rigging during the February 18, 2011 general election.

It will make the donors and news media not only less gullible about whom they commission to conduct opinion polls, but also bring greater alertness to the reality of rigging and manipulation of final results at the Election Commission computer and tallying rooms in Kampala.

It will be a most interesting irony that what started out as a poll intended to create the impression of an inevitable Museveni victory and have a demoralising effect on the millions of opposition voters will turn out to be the very catalyst not only to greater watchfulness during the voting and counting. It could be one of many sparks for violence that might erupt should such obvious efforts at fraud happen on and after February 18.

Would unity in opposition do the trick?

Daily Monitor's Allan Ssekamatte looks at the need for the opposition to stay together

If President Museveni wins his fourth term in office next February, it will be as much an endorsement of his leadership, as it will be an indictment on the opposition for their failure to provide evidence that they can be better governors of this country.

US Ambassador Jerry Lanier was literally speaking for most apolitical Ugandans when he delivered a stunning indictment about the political opposition in a cable recently released by whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.

The diplomat was shooting from the hip when he wrote: “Opposition political parties, however, are fractured, politically immature and greatly outnumbered in Parliament. They control no government ministries (no surprise there); and are not skillful using either press or protest, their primary political tools. Nor can the opposition provide a coherent and attractive platform of proposals to counter the NRM. And it is by no means clear the opposition would improve governance in Uganda in anyway.”

Inter-Party Cooperation spokesperson, Ms Margaret Wokuri, is shocked the American diplomat has a very low opinion of the opposition. “That is his assessment but we are politically mature. You can go to our website and see our manifesto. We have concrete proposals. We are emphasising five key issues; which are the economy and job creation, education, healthcare, infrastructure and agriculture. These issues are affecting all Ugandans,” she said.

By-elections held after the 2006 presidential and parliamentary polls were the best opportunity for the opposition to eat into the National Resistance Movement’s “near total accumulation of power”, as Lanier put it, but they blew it. On more than one occasion, failure to field a joint candidate, or to support the strongest candidate resulted in defeat. The opposition won 4 out of the 18 by-elections held after the 2006 polls, but squandered an opportunity to eat into NRM’s absolute majority in at least 5 more constituencies.

Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri, FDC), Dr Michael Lulume Bayiga (Buikwe South, DP), Betty Nambooze (Mukono North,DP) and Jack Wamanga Wamai (Mbale Municipality, FDC) were the legislators who enabled the opposition to capture 22 per cent of the available seats.

Democratic Party strategists were openly furious that Forum for Democratic Change colleagues in the opposition failed to back their stronger candidates in Kyadondo North and Kalungu East. Regina Bakitte Nakazzi’s loss by 60 votes (8,123 compared to 8,183) to NRM’s Robert Ssebunya Kasule was particularly painful to DP because FDC’s Pollyne Grace Nakabuye took 1,900 of the opposition vote.

Following the death of Winnie Makumbi, DP, the former Rubaga Division chairman, the opposition failed to rally around a single candidate, handing victory to NRM’s Peter Sematimba. It is instructive that the former radio deejay won 15,799 or 47 per cent of the ballots cast beating DP’s Moses Makumbi with 9,807 (29 per cent). FDC’s Joyce Ssebugwawo meanwhile took away 4,969 or 15 per cent of the opposition vote, with Justin Ssendikadiwa of the Social Democratic Party picking up 1,748 votes or 5 per cent. DP once again had the stronger candidate but failed to get opposition backing.

DP legal secretary Fred Mukasa Mbidde, who lost the Kalungu East by-election to NRM’s Umaru Lule Mawiya by 922 votes, is however adamant that rigging is a bigger threat to opposition candidates than cross-party bickering. He says the FDC candidate in his constituency got less than 100 votes, which could not have altered the overall outcome of the poll. “It is imperative that you look at the total votes of opposition candidates.

The character of the candidate and quality of elections is more important. Rigging can deny you even though you have the right support. More often, results announced are not the real results and this requires different action,” he told Uganda Decides. He said that when Bakitte went to court, she was challenging the validity of the announced results, rather than decrying Nakabuye’s spoiling role.

Mbidde also denied that DP refused to join IPC in retaliation against FDC for their failure to back them in various by-elections. He described any perceived differences with FDC as clashes of personalities.

“We refused to join IPC for the very reason Olara Otunnu (UPC leader) withdrew. We desire to establish a firm opposition with solid and robust organisations called political parties, so that we can win power as institutions, not as individuals. Our calculations are to deny the winner (of presidential elections) 51 per cent of the vote and force a rerun so that we have a coalition government,” Mbidde said.

FDC vice president Salaamu Musumba, who lost by-elections for the Kamuli district chairmanship to NRM’s Steven Mubiru by less than 2,000 votes due to the presence of a certain Moses Paul Lubowa who collected 7,171 votes, later showed her disappointment when she said they didn’t really need DP. “Let them go to hell. We already have an established protocol and arrangement to follow and if they (DP) accept to join, they will have to abide by it,” she said.

Another feature of the by-elections was the low voter turnout which pointed to a lack of mobilisation. For example, Rubaga Division had over 170,000 registered voters at the time of the by-election Sematimba won.

How IPC will deal with public education system

Margaret Wokuri examines how the IPC government will empower the masses and change society through provision of quality education.

There is no doubt that education is one of the key sectors but again one of those neglected sectors in Uganda. With an enrollment of about eight million children in Universal Primary Education (UPE), Uganda had a golden opportunity to emerge as one of the leading countries with well trained human resource development in the next few years. Unfortunately, this chance has been thrown to waste as the entire public education system is being handled by the current government.

Achievements in education can be measured in terms of enrollment, persistence and attainment. There has been a lot of emphasis on enrollment while totally neglecting the other equally important attributes of persistence and attainment. The various studies done on UPE indicate that out of every 100 children that enter P1, only 23 will finish P7.

Ugandan children are also attaining very little in terms of literary skills. In 2009, only 6% of the children who sat PLE exams passed in grade 1. Twenty four (24) percent) passed in third grade majority failed their PLE. The Uwezo annual learning assessment report 2010 entitled “Are our Children Learning?” revealed that 85% of all children sampled in P7 in the 27 districts surveyed across the country couldn’t adequately solve at least two numerical division sums of primary two; about 72% of the sampled P7 children could hardly understand a story text of P2!

Other challenges in UPE include teacher absenteeism, crowding in classes, high pupil teacher ratio, and hunger while at school and lack of basic reading materials. At a higher level, many children who would have attained university education are left out because they cannot afford the high cost of university education.

The IPC government recognises that education is a key component in development as it empowers citizens to increase their productivity and attain high stands of living. IPC government will therefore put in place remedies aimed at motivating and enabling both teachers and learners to achieve the desired teaching and learning goals respectively.

IPC government will provide a motivation pack to our teachers by paying Shs. 400,000 per month as minimum for a primary school teacher to match the rising costs of living. In addition, there will be provision of housing or housing allowance where actual housing is not practical. Housing of teachers will start with areas that need affirmative action like Northern Uganda and Karamoja and revisit the role of parents in the education of children.

IPC proposes to set an enabling learning environment through improvement of school sanitation and hygiene facilities, provide quality learning materials and subsidize exercise books, pencils and pens for pupils in primary schools as well as compulsory school feeding funded for all primary and secondary schools.

To reduce congestion in classes, IPC government will upgrade and expand school infrastructure and keep the teacher pupil ratio at a maximum of teacher pupil ratio of 45:1. IPC government will also increase the number of quality of modern technical schools across the country to cater for those who drop out of post primary schools.

The IPC government will set up a student loan scheme to help those that are not able to afford tuition at higher levels of learning. State house scholarships that are a reserve for the privileged few will be abolished and replaced with a one that will be competed for at regional levels to allow children from poor families to access higher education. Finally, IPC government will review and reform of our educational system to make school leavers’ qualification more relevant to the job market and the real needs of society.

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

BARE KNUCKLES: Museveni, Besigye on salaries for teachers

In this Sunday Monitor article, Fredrick M. Masiga analyzes what it means when opposition leading candidate, Dr. Kizza Besigye comes up with ideas and promises that evoke the incumbent to respond

This week, talk on the presidential campaign trail got closer to things that touch the hearts of most ordinary Ugandans. When presidential candidate Kizza Besigye says he will increase teachers’ salaries by 100 per cent when elected and then President Museveni retorts that teachers’ pay raise is not a priority, it creates a good feeling of hope that finally some fire is being stoked up on matters that affect those who build this nation at the grassroots. Ideally, it also means that those whose lives are being talked about will decide to vote for a candidate on the basis of how he or she vouches in their interests.
The variance of policy from the two vote seekers is interesting. The same could also be asked of the fate of nurses, the Police and Prison officers who form the bulk of civil servants in Uganda.

More than a week ago, Besigye said teachers deserve a pay raise of up to Shs400,000 per month from Shs200,000 they earn today. He said the resources are bountiful and should be released to the ‘proletariats’. Indeed both men agree that there is money – and a lot of it around - but differ on whether it is time for teachers to be invited to the dining table. Besigye also said school children under the Universal Primary Education will get free lunch under his leadership.

Over the years, teachers, nurses, the army and police officers have been victims of ridiculously low wage increments. Their lot has, for as long as I can remember, lived the same old lifestyle. Most of these teachers, for example, dress almost like the village pupils they teach, live in congested quarters that are deplorable and their off-springs are more likely than not to follow in the footsteps of their parents’ careers. Those who have fared better than the rest have moonlighted in several schools or established side enterprises to generate extra income. I know of a police officer whose main occupation is money lending rather than policing.

For long, Ugandans have been fed on political promises made during times like these by individuals vying for political positions. What most of us take for granted though is that these promises are made on the premise that voters – we Ugandans - will pay taxes that will then be used to fulfil the same promises. That is why Museveni’s response to Besigye’s call should be of interest to those who will be voting next February.
Museveni reportedly said “Besigye claims he is going to pay teachers…because he knows that there is money. But this is my money. I am the one who has worked for it, not Besigye”.

These words must be understood in their proper context. The last two decades of Museveni’s reign have been the most successful for the country in terms of economic recovery and political stability. The level of economic investment has shifted scores higher than ever before and become more inclusive with more Ugandans engaged in business. The private sector has blossomed on the back of some ground-breaking international industry entrants into the economy providing jobs and revenue to government. In short, we have become more modernised.

That said, however, it doesn’t give Museveni a right to claim ownership of the resources created during his regime or even deny other leaders the right to use the same resources to provide a service to Ugandans. Leaders who personalise national wealth have a tendency to treat other citizens as beggars which also culminates into a false belief that their leadership is a favour and a sacrifice to the country. Such leaders are unlikely to relinquish State power in a clean democratic process.

Look at Daniel arap Moi, he became a cult personality in Kenya. His praises were sung in the same breath as the Lord’s Prayer Our Father, who art in Heaven…” But after two decades in power, even he took note of a rising wave of national disaffection towards him and grudgingly bent over backwards to give way to others.
Kibaki and his government are adding on Moi’s gains and using the same resources to run the country. So far, all is well for them: Kenyans still pay taxes, foreign investors still flock into the country, and tourists keep knocking at tourist sites in Kenya with no bother of who the president is.

Museveni doesn’t need such a wave of discontent to dislodge him, the Constitution guarantees his desire for another term and if he gets it, it will come with the right to spend our money on our behalf for national interests. But in the unlikely event that that mandate is given, say to Mr Samuel Lubega, President Museveni will have no reason to resist a popular democratic decision to hand over to Lubega to whom the right to spend the same money will have been passed to.

It makes sense that Prof. Gilbert Bukenya, as he said in his article in the New Vision on Thursday, will vote for Museveni because according to him, only Museveni has a report card worth considering. Of course Bukenya knows that Museveni has been on the national stage for 24 years and together, they have sat at the dining table which makes it pointless for the VP to try and bite the hand that feeds him.

So the point shouldn’t be lost that political campaigns in Uganda have become so commercialised in the ‘spirit of privatisation’ that for the teacher and the school pupil, the salary and the lunch are really the price that politicians have to pay for their vote. It is pathetic but the reality of life has been reduced to the belief that “what you have swallowed is what is rightly yours”.

These same teacher and pupil have heard promises made to them before most of which have been fulfilled during the next round of presidential campaigns. Even though some teachers are unhappy with Museveni’s proposition – that they have had enough for now - it makes little difference. These kinds of teachers and others need to understand that their vote must count for a substantial interest that will improve their welfare in the long run and not for piece meal campaign promises.

Mr Masiga is the managing editor - Weekend editions of the Monitor Publications Ltd.

Besigye, Museveni fight over pledges

The blame game is on between the giant bulls. But who's copying the other, writes Michael Mubangizi in today's Observer

The two leading candidates in the race for State House are fighting over campaign promises. Coalition candidate Kizza Besigye has promised to provide free lunch for primary school children, and cut taxes, but the incumbent, Yoweri Museveni, has now made it a point to caution that Besigye’s promises are unrealistic.

Museveni told his supporters at Namayingo Primary School in Bukooli South last week that Besigye was duping people into believing that he could develop their communities and deliver services at the same time.
Citing Besigye’s other promises - to raise salaries of public servants, tarmac all roads and overhaul the health sector, while reducing taxes, Museveni told his audience that this was unachievable at once.

“That is not how to manage government. Where will he get all the money to do those things at a go? We have planned and we have been achieving them one at a time,” the President said.

But Besigye argues that the problem is not money; rather, how the little available is utilised. However, of all the promises, free lunch to primary school children appears to have ruffled NRM the most. This is because the promise, while ambitious, is very tempting to the millions of parents whose children currently stay at school on empty stomachs.

The NRM’s argument is that the government is paying the fees and, therefore, the parents should shoulder the lesser burden of feeding.

But Besigye’s promise has sent the party into a rethink of their position. Even as Museveni continues to tell his supporters that Besigye can’t pull it off, it was recently revealed that the ministry of Education and Sports has prepared a cabinet memo proposing different ways through which lunch can be provided.

In case government fails to meet the cost of feeding the children, the ministry is proposing that classes end at 1:50pm so that children can have lunch at home. Another option is for parents to pack lunch for their children, which has worked for some but not for others.

During a campaign in Namutumba recently, President Museveni put his position into perspective: “We have offered to teach your children free of charge up to advanced level starting next year, however many they will be. It will not be fair for anyone to say we feed their children. There are roads, schools, hospitals, electricity, water and other sorts of social services to provide. That is where this money will go, not feeding school children.”

Whereas the President sounds persuasive, it is debatable whether his supporters - the peasants who are used to free things - will buy into his argument and dismiss Besigye’s free lunch.

With the elections around the corner, and the opposition digging in, it remains to be seen how long President Museveni can maintain his principled position.

In the past, Museveni has reacted to some of the opposition’s populist promises by delivering on them. In 2001, Besigye promised to abolish graduated tax. Museveni reacted by doing exactly that.

Besigye also promised to double the number of government sponsored students at public universities from the then 2,000, but Museveni got it done. Besigye promised to restore the Kasese cultural institution, Obusinga bwa Rwenzururu, and got rewarded with a victory over Museveni in the 2006 elections.

The NRM, which had initially opposed the restoration, was forced to change its mind after the voters’ statement, and now the Rwenzururu Kingdom is back to life.

The Ntungamo-Rukungiri road was nicknamed ‘Besigye road’ because he promised to tarmac it during the 2001 election campaigns, forcing the government to take it up.

The free lunch proposal strikes a chord with Museveni’s core supporters - the peasants and rural poor - who are the major beneficiaries of the UPE programme. Unlike federalism, whose support hardly goes beyond one region, free lunch for school children would be popular across the country.

Political watchers say that with the ministry of Education and Sports fronting proposals, the government might soon announce a u-turn on the issue, thus pulling a rag from under Besigye’s feet.

Dr. Frederick Mutebi Golooba of Makerere University agrees that Besigye’s promise of free lunch is popular.
He says the President might end up offering free meals too.

“If the parents continue to support Besigye and the President realises that it is likely to win him support, I will be surprised if he doesn’t change his position,” Golooba told The Observer by telephone.

However, Fagil Mandy, an education consultant and former commissioner in the ministry of Education, doesn’t agree. He says there are other more pressing issues that have to be addressed in the education sector, other than offering free meals.

Mandy cites the strengthening of school management committees, district educational institutions, retraining of teachers and stemming teacher absenteeism. He adds that even before UPE (when the quality of education was said to be good), schools weren’t providing lunch.

According to Mandy, there are other reasons to blame for the high school dropout rates other than lack of meals for learners.

Besigye’s other promise is reducing taxes, which has prompted some to ask from where he will get the money to implement his generous proposals. He has, however, been talking of fighting corruption and reducing on the cost of public administration.

Yet free lunch is not the only bone of contention between these two. They have accused each other of manifesto copying.

President Museveni’s younger brother, Gen Salim Saleh, recently accused Besigye of riding on the NRM promise of restoring cooperatives which he says government has already restored.

Besigye’s promise of doubling primary school teachers’ salaries to Shs 400,000 was also not well received by NRM. Earlier on, Trade and Tourism minister, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, had described the promise as unrealistic.

Do manifestos reflect people aspirations?

Michael Mubangizi of Observer asks the ultimate question in this article. And we answer, yes, IPC's manifesto reflects people's aspirations!

A lot of promises are being made by different political aspirants in next year’s general election. Some of these promises are feasible while others are empty and can’t be achieved. But an important question is whether these promises meet the needs and demands of the electorate who are meant to be the beneficiaries.

While it may not be possible to tell the actual needs of the people because they differ, depending on who you talk to, groups like the Uganda National NGO Forum and Uganda Governance Monitoring Platform have come up with a document dubbed the ‘Citizen Manifesto’ that summarises what the authors believe are the aspirations of ordinary citizens.

The document also contains what its architects define as the concerns of the ordinary people, the kind of Uganda they desire, key national values, interests and demands in the economy, society, politics and policy.
In it, Ugandans have proposed eight national values upon which governance and development should be based: Reverence for God, equity, tolerance, constitutionalism, hard work, moral uprightness, national solidarity and discipline.

Arthur Larok, the focal person for Uganda Governance Monitoring Platform, who initiated the manifesto, says the different manifestos on show during this electoral season have significant convergence with the citizen’s manifesto. He personally puts the convergence at 70%.

“We all live in the same country and face the same problems,” he explains. He cites proposals to institute a truth and reconciliation commission, a constitutional review on major issues and guaranteeing federalism, which he says are in line with the views in the citizen manifesto.

Larok, however, adds that some parties make glossy promises without serious commitment or track record on delivery. He, for instance, says NRM’s promise of fighting corruption can no longer be believed. Larok also points out that most manifestos lack detail on how their promises will be implemented. He cites transformation of agriculture, a promise made by all political parties but with no details on how they plan to deliver on it.

According to Larok, NRM’s NAADS programme “is not a strategy for agricultural transformation.”
The electoral promises of presidential candidates on managing the economy, Larok says, are also wanting.
He says most political parties focus on private sector-led growth and economy, yet the citizens want a balance between private and state ownership. Citing agriculture, roads, railway, education, health and security, Larok argues that certain sectors can’t be left to the private sector.

He says the country is facing disparities in the quality of services offered in the private and government institutions because the state has abandoned some sectors to the private sector.

Larok notes that now there are excellent health and education facilities in private schools and hospitals, but very deplorable services in public institutions.

Citizen manifesto

According to the citizen manifesto, Ugandans want a review of the country’s economic model to restore state ownership and shepherd critical areas that drive the economy.

Other demands include subsidising critical agro-based industries and where necessary protecting them from harmful external competition; investment in agriculture and revival of cooperatives; massive investments in economic infrastructure, like energy, roads, rail and water transport; reduction in the costs of production and making the Ugandan economy more competitive, plus ending corruption.

The citizen manifesto lists ten concerns that citizens want addressed: fighting corruption and poverty, investing in agriculture, stemming population growth, improving the transport system, health services, education system and intensifying civic consciousness and environmental degradation.

The document also lists key demands that people want addressed in politics, society and economy.
In politics, it says people want strengthening of state institutions, a review and amendment of the constitution to take care of unresolved historical questions and an end to the creation of districts, the establishment of an inclusive government and a truth and reconciliation commission.

The citizens also want a fully fledged ministry of people and culture to help Ugandans appreciate their history, culture and identity, reclaim and conserve positive cultural resources for development.

Others are implementation of Kiswahili as the second official language to forge unity ahead of the EAC full integration and strengthening of the Equal Opportunities Commission to end development imbalances.

The document says the citizens want 15% of the national budget to go into the agriculture sector. They also want cooperatives revived.

While most parties promise to revive cooperatives, PDP’s Dr Abed Bwanika’s manifesto promises to invest 15% in agriculture. The FDC/IPC manifesto promises a 12% increase.

Bwanika’s manifesto also promises to revolutionalise the agriculture sector to turn Uganda into a food basket and raise productivity through improved farming practices and better access to markets.

In a bid to shift from subsistence to commercial farming and raise household incomes to a minimum Shs 20 million per household annually, NRM also promises to increase investments in agriculture in the next five years.

The party, however, does not specify the exact amount but says NRM will do this by increasing investments in several areas. It cites investing in NAADS, commercialization of agricultural, agriculture research, value addition and post-harvest management, pest and disease control.

Bidandi Ssali’s manifesto promises to review the operations of programmes such as NAADS, Prosperity for All and the Plan for Modernization of Agriculture. It promises to ease the process of accessing credit. The party doesn’t talk of increasing funding to agriculture. It instead talks of targeting small-scale farmers to boost their productivity.

However, Bidandi Ssali urges voters not to vote for candidates basing on their promises because some of them have a history of not delivering on them. Larok agrees with him on this and advises voters to consider the track record of both individuals and the parties they represent.

“It is not all about the promises but delivering also,” he says, though stressing that promises are a good starting point.

The citizen manifesto arose from findings contained in a 104-page document titled, “Our idea of a peaceful and prosperous Uganda with happy people, a National Citizen’s Manifesto Synthesis report.”

According to that report, the process of developing the citizen manifesto was very consultative. Information was collected from at least three districts from each of the 13 sub-regions. The sub-regions are Ankole, Acholi, Buganda, Bunyoro, Karamoja, Kigezi, Lango, Bukedi. Others are Busoga, West Nile, Sebei, Teso and Toro.

Women, teachers, farmers, youth and cultural organizations were among those consulted. The methods of data collection included citizen dialogues, radio talk shows and interviews with key informants such as spiritual, political and opinion leaders.

Others were desk reviews and analysis of governance issues from different government and non-governmental reports, the media and inter-agency processes, as well as the national youth essay competition which attracted 200 entries.

Two hundred citizen consultative meetings and dialogues were held across the country. The citizen manifesto is an initiative of the Uganda Governance Monitoring Platform, a civil society governance and monitoring group comprising 17 Ugandan and five Dutch NGOs.

Over 90% of its budget was funded by the Democracy Monitoring Programme. The participating NGOs included Anti- Corruption Coalition of Uganda, Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, Uganda Debt Network, Uganda Joint Christian Council, Uganda Women’s Network, Uganda National NGO Forum and Caritas Uganda. 

Besigye promises factory in Karamoja

Conan Bisinge reports in today's New Vision about Dr. Kizza Besigye's determination to economically empower the people of Karamoja

INFRASTRUCTURE, piped water, schools and a cement factory. Col. Kizza Besigye's key projects in Karamoja.

Campaigning in Amudat on Saturday, Besigye said the road infrastructure in Karamoja needed improvement.

"Apart from roads, we need to quickly make sure the area has access to adequate piped water," he said.

Besigye, the Inter-Party Cooperation's presidential candidate, arrived at about 2:00pm from Bugishu before holding the two rallies on his maiden visit to Karamoja while seeking votes for the 2011 general election.

The Karamoja sub-region has seven districts Abim, Amudat, Kaabong, Kotido, Moroto, Nakapiripirit and Napak. The main economic activities in Amudat are cattle keeping, subsistence farming and limestone quarrying.

When he comes to power next year, Besigye said, Karamoja will get more secondary schools.

"We will make sure the region gets quality education. Not mere education. That will be one of our priorities," he added.

He said the limestone mined in Amudat and taken to Tororo Cement Factory could as well have been processed in Amudat if the Government had set up a factory.

"By having a cement factory here, people's standards of living would be higher and the region would develop faster," Besigye said.

He also promised to improve food production and create of national food stores as a way of averting famine hitting the country.

"When we come to power, we will make sure agriculture in the region is given the right funding to grow fast."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Besigye makes big statement in Mbale

In today's Observer, Edris Kiggundu reports about Dr. Kizza Besigye's electrifying reception in Mbale and it's neighbourhood.

The IPC flag bearer, Dr Kizza Besigye, has made a good impression on Bugisu sub-region, with what has been described as his biggest rally so far held in Mbale municipality on Monday.

Traffic flow into the town was paralysed for several hours as supporters of the FDC leader sealed off three major roads leading in and out of Mbale town centre.

Since the early morning hours, a group of Kadodi dancers had been making rounds within the municipality, sweeping the roads as they warmed up the atmosphere in preparation for Besigye’s arrival.

When it clocked 4pm, this group was joined by other FDC enthusiasts who camped at the clock tower roundabout – one of the major landmarks in Mbale town- to clear the way for their candidate’s convoy. For about one hour, this group scrutinised each vehicle that passed by.

The password was to simply flash FDC’s V sign, or chant any of the FDC slogans. Drivers that broke the rules, like the driver of a pick-up truck pasted with President Museveni’s posters, faced harassment at the hands of the FDC supporters.

At the main rally at Mbale Secondary School playground, Besigye was moved by this show of support and the mammoth crowd that turned up to receive him.

“Whenever I come to Mbale, I feel at home,” he told the crowd. “I am the president of Mbale and when Museveni comes here, he is a visitor.”

Besigye’s Bugisu campaign strategy here seems to have been designed to negate any gains that the NRM could have made.

Throughout his campaigns here, he was accompanied by Mbale municipality MP Jack Wamai and Budadiri West legislator Nandala Mafabi. The FDC Vice President for Western Uganda, Nuwe Amanya Mushega, also re-joined the trail in Bugisu, having earlier made an appearance in Busoga.

In Bududa, Mushega asked those who had benefitted from the ‘Prosperity for All Programme’ to raise their hand, but no one did.

“This government has taken you for granted. It promises things it cannot deliver. If you want an efficient and effective government, vote for the IPC and you will see change in your life,” said Mushega, who for long served as education minister under the NRM.

Besigye said Mafabi had performed better than government, in his role as chairman of the Parliament Accounts Committee, by working towards a graft free country.

“You show me anyone who has been prosecuted after being pinned by the CHOGM report,” Besigye said in Bududa Town Council on Tuesday.

At Bulucheke sub-country headquarters, still in Bududa, Besigye criticised government’s response to the Bududa mudslides which occurred early in the year and claimed more than 200 lives.

His campaign message was largely the same wherever he went, emphasising what his government shall do if elected, while at the same time criticising some of the government policies which he said have not helped the people.

On his part, Mafabi scoffed at attempts by government to arrest him over claims that he mismanaged the Bugisu Cooperative Union (BCU) which he chairs. He said ever since he started fighting graft in Parliament, government has tried to look for ways of curtailing him, hence the latest false accusations.

“I am ready to face the President and tell him off. There is nothing for me to fear because I know I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

Despite the good reception, FDC’s work is still well cut out, particularly deep in the rural areas. The NRM enjoys support at the lowest levels of administration (LC) where IPC have failed to field candidates.

Mafabi told The Observer that the performance of the FDC will greatly improve in the 2011 elections, adding that they hope to wrestle the whole sub-region from the NRM.

“Even you can see there is a big change here. People have abandoned the NRM because of its lies. They know that when it promises to do something, it will not deliver,” Mafabi said in Manafwa on Tuesday.

Besigye: Two flag bearers to defect to NRM

Observer's Edris Kiggundu reports about Dr. Kizza Besigye's prediction of some opposition candidates that might cross to the ruling NRM. 

The Inter-Party Cooperation candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, has said in a critical indictment of opposition candidates that some presidential flag bearers may defect to the ruling NRM sometime before or after the February general elections.

Besigye used Aggrey Awori, a former UPC stalwart and presidential candidate who is now ICT minister in the NRM government, to demonstrate that he (Besigye) has been more consistent in his opposition to NRM than any other politician.

He said that in 2001 when Awori first stood for the presidency, he went round the country saying that Besigye and Museveni were one and the same.

“Now he [Awori] is in the same bed with Museveni,” Besigye noted. Then he asked, “Do you know who Awori’s campaign manager was?” It was Norbert Mao, who is now DP’s presidential candidate.
In an exclusive interview with The Observer on Tuesday, Besigye offered to substantiate more on his remarks.

“I know there are at least two presidential candidates in the opposition that are likely to be fifth columnists of the NRM,” Besigye stated.

Asked to name the two candidates that he thinks might be working for and may soon defect to the NRM, he said: “I don’t want to go into names but the ordinary people are not stupid; they know who the genuine opposition candidate is.”

The Observer has however learnt that the colonel is implicitly referring to Mao and the Uganda Federal Alliance flag bearer, Beti Kamya.

Mao led DP in resisting the now Besigye-led IPC alliance and has since then had a fractured relationship with the most prominent opposition leader, Besigye.

On her part, Kamya once belonged to Besigye’s FDC but quit after the party denied her the post of national chairman following the death of Sulaiman Kiggundu. She told The Observer in an interview recently that Besigye would be worse than Museveni as president. Kamya added that she’s not keen on joining anyone’s government.

“The only thing that I can discuss with Museveni or with anybody [who wins] is moving the federalism agenda forward. But I despise power sharing for the sake of it,” she said.

Mao has been a strong critic of President Museveni’s 24-year rule, but he is not perceived negatively, as much as Besigye for instance, in the NRM.

When he visited the New Vision offices at the weekend, he said Museveni is leading the presidential race, followed by himself. This seemed to imply that candidate Mao believes Museveni will win the election.
The highlight of this year’s presidential campaign so far has been defections of major political figures to the ruling NRM.

Kampala Mayor Nasser Ntege Sebaggala led the pack, followed by former UPC national chairman Badru Wegulo, Henry Peter Mayega and Osinde Wangor.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Besigye rules out rigging in polls

Even the  Supreme Court ruled that Museveni rigged the last presidential election. But now Dr.Besigye has said Museveni will rig no more because all his tricks are known, reports Daily Monitor's David Mafabi

Unlike previous ones, next year’s elections will not be rigged, the Inter Party Co-operation flag bearer, Dr Kizza Besigye, has said. Addressing a rally in Bufumbo Sub-county in Mbale District yesterday, Dr Besigye said he has spent the past five years understanding how the ruling party has always stolen the vote from him.

Learnt tricks
Dr Besigye, who is also leader of the Forum for Democratic Change party, in 2001 and 2006 unsuccessfully contested the presidential election results in the Supreme Court which, on both occasions, found that while there was non-compliance with electoral laws including rigging, its combined effect was not enough to affect the result.
This time, he said, the FDC has been preparing for the 2011 elections for the last five years and his party now knows what to do, where to deploy and how to overcome rigging that has been characterising Uganda’s elections since 1996.

“In 2001, I just shot into the race to contest as a president without planning and preparing for the rigging. This is what gave them an opportunity to rig. In 2006, I was in prison most of the time and this provided them with another avenue for the massive rigging,” he said.

“I did not even have enough time to move to all villages. But now we have been preparing for these elections for five years, nobody will rig them and go free, nobody, we are ready for anything.” He added: “I heard reports that while addressing people in Teso, President Museveni said he is going nowhere. If he has the power to stay then why does he go around the country making empty promises after 25 years? He will go and he won’t rig this time.”

New strategy
The IPC flag bearer, who has changed strategy, canvassing for votes deep in the villages unlike previously stopping in the urban areas, addressed crowds on the sticking issues of widespread poverty, poor education and how to improve production and income from agriculture in the relatively remote villages of Bufumbo, Buukonde, Wanale, Bubyangu on the remote slopes of Wanale ridge of Mt. Elgon.

He also traversed the villages of Bushiende, Busiu, and Busoba before addressing a rally at Mbale Municipality at Mbale SS Grounds. He said the IPC is riding on the declining support of President Museveni and his NRM with election statistics from the last three polls indicating that the support for the party was dwindling.

Game of numbers
“In 1996 President Museveni under Movement scored 75 per cent of the total vote, in 2001, he dropped to 69 per cent and in 2006 he came down to 57 per cent. “With this consistent decline in support, it indicates IPC is heading to State House in 2011 and nobody will rig for NRM even the army cannot do this because we are ready to retain some of them who will behave well,” said Dr Besigye.

Last night, President Museveni’s political assistant Mr Moses Byaruhanga denied the accusations of rigging. “We have never rigged an election, and we shall beat Besigye hands down. We do not need to rig in order to beat Besigye,” he said.

Additional reporting by Isaac Imaka

The plan is to revamp the health sector

In this Daily Monitor article published yesterday, Margaret Wokuri shows how the IPC government is determined to resurrect the health situation in our land.

Uganda’s health sector has been in steady decline over the last several years. The first Health Sector Strategic Plan (2000-2004) was poorly implemented and the second (2005-2010), was plagued by gross theft of funds, mismanagement, and poor service delivery. Health Sector Strategic Plan III will commence in a context of chaotic and ill-planned fragmentation in the name of decentralisation, a grossly deficient and demoralised health work force, and reckless under-resourcing.

A recent study by the ministries of Health and Finance, and the World Bank, estimated health sector losses at Shs36.7 billion annually due to waste through staff absenteeism, expired drugs and poor payroll management (ghost workers). Absenteeism is the single largest waste factor in the public health sector in the country. The government seems to be puzzled by this. But the treatment of health workers – a nurse earns $100 a month – should shed light on this.

Most health workers cannot afford health care for their families. A severe illness of a nurse’s child means serious impoverishment. A single room in a slum, with no running water and no electricity, costs about Shs70,000. This is one third of the nurse’s income per month.

Over the years more money has shifted from districts to MOH headquarters. From being 54per cent district and 18per cent MOH/HQ in 2005/6, it is now 45per cent district and 27per cent MOH/HQ (2009). This trend can only mean worsening delivery, even as government claims it is taking services closer to the people. The results for such undertaking have been malnutrition for under-fives hovers around 40per cent; 20.4per cent of Ugandan children go to bed hungry; 13.7per cent of children die before their fifth birthday; of every 100 babies born, only 41 are delivered by a skilled health worker; for every 100,000 new mothers, 435 die while giving birth.

Twenty women die of pregnancy-related causes every day. Between now and tomorrow when you read the Daily Monitor again, 20 families in this country will be preparing to bury their mothers/daughters as a result of a pregnancy. Only a small fraction of these mothers will have been seen by a doctor.

6.4per cent of the Ugandan population is infected with HIV/AIDS, and most of these people continue to suffer without the necessary medicines (ARVs) because of theft of the money supposed to buy the medicines, and because the health care system is not able to provide the care and monitor the patients. The Health Centres which have been baptised hospitals lack doctors and equipment. The present number of health staff including those in the private sector, amount to about 40,000. This is far below the recommended WHO minimum standard, which considers countries with less than 1 doctor, nurse or midwife per 439 people, in critical shortage of health workers. Uganda’s population is 86per cent rural. But the positions which are mostly vacant, and where the bulk of the health problems are, are in precisely those same places. The poor health outcomes are predictable.

The IPC government is committed to delivering a health care system that works. Dr Kizza Besigye’s government will recruit and motivate the workforce, and equip the health facilities. The IPC government will construct and equip four more regional hospitals, and will revamp the infrastructure in existing hospitals at all levels.

The professionals working in relevant authorities and agencies have been unable to assure Ugandans of the quantities and quality of medicines in the country. The IPC government will, as part of the zero tolerance to corruption, let competent professionals implement the National Drug Policy, in order to ensure that health facilities across the country have essential medicines at all times.

Households spend about 9per cent of their consumption expenditure on health although no user fees are paid in lower level government health units. 28per cent of the households in Uganda are experiencing catastrophic health payments; many are kept under the poverty line by these medical bills. Private health insurance, which is largely subsidised by employers on behalf of employees, is for a few. Government’s allocation to health is between 8.3per cent and 9.6per cent of the national budget. The IPC government is committed to achieving the recommended 15per cent Abuja target over the next 5 years.

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

Opposition should read ‘The Prince’ by Nicolo Machiavelli

In this interesting piece published in Daily Monitor, yesterday, Mr. Sam Akaki argues that reading 'The Prince' could greatly benefit IPC

Your story, “IPC says government training militia”, published on December 7, has prompted me to send Dr Kizza Besigye a special Christmas gift in the form of The Prince by Nicolo Machiavelli. I hope he will find time to read and pass it to all presidential candidates, given his proven determination to build opposition co-operation.

You would be forgiven for thinking that Machiavelli had dedicated Chapter 14 of The Prince to Uganda’s opposition presidential candidates in the 2011 election, when he said: “To exercise the intellect the prospective prince should read histories, and study there the actions of illustrious men, to examine the causes of their victories and defeat, so as to avoid the latter and imitate the former; and above all, do as an illustrious man (like Museveni) did to become a prince!”

Machiavelli told the Ugandan opposition presidential candidates: “Among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised, and this is one of those ignominies against which a prince ought to guard himself, because there is nothing proportionate between the armed and the unarmed; and it is not reasonable that he who is armed should yield obedience willingly to him who is unarmed, or that the unarmed man should be secure among armed servants.”

Of course Ms Margaret Wokuri, director for publicity and communication at the IPC campaign bureau, was right to issue a statement on the “militia in different places in the country”. However, she should also be realistic and recognise that Machiavelli may have written his book in 1505, but its basic message is relevant to the 2011 election. She should get hold of the book, photocopy and distribute to all IPC leaders. For any presidential candidate to ignore Machiavelli’s message is to engage in a monumental self delusion.

Sam Akaki,FDC International Envoy to the UK and the European Union, London

Monday, December 13, 2010

Besigye campaigns in divided NRM-land

In 2001, Museveni got 78 percent of the Busoga vote and 70 percent in 2006. However, the omens are not good for Museveni and the NRM this time, writes The Independent's Eriasa Mukiibi in this December article.

To get to Nawankandulo village in Buzaaya County, just slightly off the Jinja-Kamuli highway, one must take a narrow, bumpy road whose Busoga reddish-brown earth surface sends the cars in our convoy skidding.
I took this road on Nov.26 with retired Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye, who was on the campaign trail in the area.  Nawankandulo is the village of the prominent Foreign Affairs Minister of State and area MP, Isaac Musumba. In Besigye’s convoy was Mukasa Sowed, the man who wants to kick Musumba off the Buzaaya County MP seat in the elections next year. Ironically, Besigye’s guide in the area was Salamu Musumba, who – you guessed it, is Mrs Musumba.

They took different political paths; Musumba remaining in President Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) party camp and Salamu joining the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) of Besigye. However, their relative did not change and Salamu did not miss the opportunity to arrange a tantalizing meeting between Besigye and her uncle-in-law, Musumba’s uncle.

 The venue of Besigye’s rally was an open place about 150 meters away from Musumba’s home and overlooked a couple of matchbox, sugar and tea-selling tiny shops and a ministry of Health dispensary that formed what passes for a trading centre in rural Kamuli.

 Mzee Musumba, Salamu’s uncle-in-law, lived a short distance nearby. He was perched on a stone, next to what appeared to be his kitchen doing a round of sunbathing and appeared startled when Besigye’s cars parked in his compound. He moved hesitantly towards the car, curiosity written all over his face. Clad in a faded blue denim shirt, black trousers and red slippers, the old man looked your typical village folk. His house was also typically small, rusty-brown iron-sheet roof and walls that would do with a fresh coat of paint.

Salamu introduced Besigye and the old man embraced him. Seats were hastily arranged and a motley crowd of about twenty people gathered around the compound that was covered in parched greenery. Besigye, who is the presidential candidate for a loose grouping of five political entities, the Inter-party Cooperation (IPC), dived right into campaigning.

I was among the original founders of the NRM, he told the crowd, but I jumped ship once the party started serving the interests of a few. He delved into the poor state of health care, saying there are no essential drugs in government facilities to the extent that 20 women die in labour every day, many due to lack of basic drugs like those that stop bleeding. 

“Iffe tusekula miti,” interjected Mzee Musumba - meaning “We have resorted to local herbs”.   It was a one-liner packed with all the frustration people in the area feel about the poorly-run health sector. Besigye, who has couched the February 18 general election as a referendum on President Yoweri Museveni’s failure to eradicate poverty, especially in the Busoga sub-region, jumped on it.

The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) on Oct. 26 announced that the number of absolute poor Ugandans had not only reduced by an impressive 7.8 percent since 2006 to 23 percent, but that the poor’s absolute figure had actually reduced from 8.4 million to 7.1 million to date, seemed to provide ammunition for Museveni’s campaign. 

But Besigye spoke adamantly about how the common man’s lot has worsened and how Museveni’s continued stay in government will further worsen matters. It will be even worse for Busoga, he said, a region he said holds the crown as the “headquarters of poverty” under the NRM government.  

Soon it was time for the rally proper and off we scampered. Besigye spent eight days in Busoga and spoke at numerous rallies and stopovers and home visits. 

At all venues he stuck to the same message: “You know all about the prevailing situation and I needn’t waste time elaborating on it,” he would start out before making a quick wrap up of the situation, carefully picking on issues that touch the locals. “I have been made to understand that a kilogram of maize grain goes for Shs 100 here,” he said as he sought to connect with the audience. At Nawankandulo, the crowd roared back that a kilo sometimes sells at Shs 50.

“That means that after six months of hard work, a farmer gets paid Shs 10,000 for a sack of maize grain,” he said before launching into the hook, “How many fish can one buy for Shs 10,000?”

Two, one, shouted the crowd in anger. “So six months’ hard work earns you a fish or two to eat in one meal!”

Besigye would then plunge into the rosy Uganda, the Basoga would enjoy if they elected him on February 18, 2011. He would establish national food reserve stores to buy produce from farmers at predetermined prices.

“We shall set prices before the start of the season at which the stores shall be buying produce, but on harvesting, you will be free to sell to those who offer higher prices and only sell to the stores as a last resort,” he said to applause. 

His government will support irrigation and institute tractor hire services where farmers will use the tractors and pay for the services after selling their produce. “This system was working here in the 1960s, it is neither new nor non-practicable,” he assured voters.  
 Forget the angry Besigye of 2001, 2006. This one is calm, smiling, dancing and jovial. He continually seeks to engage the audience before reeling off more promises. He promised a uniform minimum sum for whoever qualifies for university and a student loan scheme from which students will borrow to pay the balance of their fees. 

“You will no longer have to sell off your land for your children to go to university,” he declared to excited audiences. 

Busoga region has always voted overwhelmingly for Museveni and the NRM in past elections.  In 2001, Museveni got 78 percent of the Busoga vote and 70 percent in 2006. However, the omens are not good for Museveni and the NRM this time.

As Besigye campaigned in Buzaaya, Musumba was up to some business that could not have been music to his boss, Museveni’s ear. 

A day earlier, on Nov. 25, he had been nominated to try and retain his Buzaaya County MP seat, but this time as an independent candidate.  The area NRM party members had kicked him off the party ticket in favour of Martin Muzaale. Two NRM candidates on the ticket could favour FDC’s Sowed Mukasa.

A similar situation is playing out in Salamu’s Bugabula South. Lands state minister Asuman Kiyingi also defied his party and got nominated to run again, despite having lost to former Makerere University guild president Morris Kibalya in the race for NRM flag bearer. Kiyingi is displaying his campaign posters alongside Museveni’s. That could favour Salamu.

Salamu is FDC’s point woman in Kamuli district, which she says is the capital of Busoga politics. She combines eloquence, a quick wit and powerful mobilisation capacity. On Nov. 25, the day she got nominated to run for Bugabula South MP on an FDC ticket, her house in Namwendwa village in Kamuli district was a centre of intense activity. 

Booked for nomination at 10:00 am, she showed up six hours later. “I couldn’t leave home because I kept receiving delegation after delegation,” she later told The Independent. Seated on steps in her tiled-floor living room close to mid-night, she said there is a big possibility that they will this time deliver Busoga to FDC. 

“We have ensured that we work closely together and not undermine one another as FDC leaders in Busoga,” she says as she tries to contrast the situation with NRM leaders within the sub-region whose wrangles over who has more influence have been widely documented. 

Dr. Frank Nabwiso, the administrator at IPC headquarters who is running for Kagoma County MP in Jinja district, told The Independent that FDC’s campaigns in Busoga are coordinated by an eight-officer strong team that works closely with the FDC national mobilisation secretary, Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu. Salam and Nabwiso are part of this team. 

Nabwiso, like Musumba, relishes his chances in Kagoma County, where he is facing nine NRM-leaning candidates. He believes NRM’s failure to unify its support behind one candidate in each constituency is a pointer that it is ready to surrender Busoga to FDC.  

He says FDC has fronted candidates in all constituencies in the sub-region except Bukooli Central in Bugiri district, which they agreed to leave for Jeema president Asuman Basalirwa. Since none of the other IPC partner parties has fronted a single parliamentary candidate in Busoga, the race is very much between FDC and NRM.

Salam, who is fondly referred to as Maama Busoga, feels her party’s support has grown phenomenally in the region, especially due to what she calls the neglect of the sub-region by the current government and incessant mobilisation on their part. She predicts that intimidation and voter bribery will this time play an insignificant role in swaying the Busoga vote. 

This is the third time Salamu is trying to resurrect her electoral fortunes in a period of five years. She lost the Bugabula South seat to Lands state minister Asuman Kiyingi in 2006 after Museveni promised the voters that he would appoint Kiyingi minister.

Less than five years later, the voters turned against Kiyingi, probably as a signal that his being a minister had not delivered what they had expected. Salamu vied for the Kamuli district chair in 2007 still with no success, in a battle that heavily drew in President Museveni. 

After her nomination on Nov. 25, Salamu told her party supporters in Kamuli township that there is a lot to look forward to since the ground has shifted from under NRM’s feet. And she seemed to speak on firm ground. Her entry into the township had caused paralysis as people run in droves to receive her, which was not exactly the case with the candidates that had been nominated earlier, including Deputy Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga. 

Flanked by the contestant for the Kamuli Woman MP seat on FDC ticket, Prossy Naikoba, Salamu braved a heavy downpour punctuated with hailstorm on her way from the district council hall where the nomination took place. 

Naikoba, who is challenging Kadaga for the second time, is an administrator at FDC headquarters at Najjanankumbi in Kampala. 

She fancies her chances this time round, claiming her challenger has been panicked into spreading rumours that she has bribed her out of the race. Naikoba is thankful to Salamu, who she says has mentored her politically. She believes the anti-incumbency tendency in Kamuli, which saw two ministers lose primaries, will spillover countrywide. 

But Musumba and Kiyingi don’t think so. Alfred Waiswa, Kiyingi’s supporter, told The Independent at Namwendwa in Bugabula South that his candidate and President Museveni will win and the NRM primaries were not a good indicator of what is to come. 

“We have learnt that there are many FDC supporters who voted in the NRM primaries and their objective was to vote for candidates they would easily beat in the parliamentary elections,” claimed Waiswa.
One of Musumba’s assistants told The Independent that the voters could have wanted to punish his boss but now that he had “repented”, they are likely to return him to parliament. 

Kadaga, on her part, has a trump card she hopes shall help her keep her seat. Alongside her campaign poster hanging in the Kamuli town council roundabout, is that of Prince William Gabula Nadiope IV, one of the candidates for the post of Kyabazinga (King). Kadaga backs Nadiope while most NRM-leaning politicians back Prince Edward Wambuzi, the son of the most recent Kyabazinga, Henry Wako Muloki. 

Since Prince Nadiope of Bugabula hails from Kamuli district, the local voters are expected to back whoever backs him for the contested seat and Kadaga argues she is best placed to ensure Nadiope’s enthronement because she has the clout in government. 

The electoral fortunes of party parliamentary flag bearers could swing the same way as those of their presidential candidates; another reason for President Museveni to not only fight for his political life but that of his lieutenants’ in Busoga too.     

When Museveni starts his campaigns in Busoga sub-region beginning Dec. 13, erasing what Besigye told the voters will be crucial. 

Besigye seemed aware of this whenever he spoke: “They (NRM and Museveni) will come here and try to lie and even bribe you,” he reminded the voters, “take the bribes but you have an even more important duty -ensuring that those who try to bribe you do not win because if they do, you will pay back the bribe ten thousand times.” 

Salamu thinks the voters have taken Besigye’s message to heart and points at the many NRM people who dished out money in the NRM primaries but were defeated. 

But FDC could come under pressure over candidates it is fielding who have not been in active politics and were convinced to run just days to nominations. 

Two of them said their party had paid their nomination fees, was in the process of printing campaign posters for them, and get them vehicles, and fuel to run campaigns. Where is the commitment?   
Although Besigye’s support in Busoga grew by 12 percentage points from 2001 to 29 percent in 2006, President Yoweri Museveni still beat him by 40 percentage points. Besigye believes that is now in the past. He says better organisation and NRM’s poor performance in the poverty eradication drive punctuated by corruption gives his party a clear edge in Busoga. In two months, we will know if he is right.