Below is my petition to World Bank and IMF Chief.
The Political Situation in Uganda and the Need for Corrective Measures
The President of the World Bank (WB)
The IMF Chief
The Directors of Respective Departments
Colleagues from Different Parliaments Across the Globe
Ladies and gentlemen,
Yesterday 9th October 2017, Uganda celebrated its 55th independence anniversary. All the 55years have been characterized by either political instability, economic uncertainty and/or social turmoil. I would want to state right away that out of the 55 years, 31 years have been under the rule of one head of state; Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. And out of the previous 24 years, Mr. Museveni spent 14 years – 1972 to 1986 – fighting the previous governments.
In 1962, the Union Jack was lowered and the Uganda flag went up, however, this celebration was short lived when in 1966, a disagreement between the Kabaka (king) of Buganda, then the President, disagreed with the Prime Minister the late Dr. Apollo Milton Obote. The disagreement led to the army loyal to the Prime Minister led by Idi Amin to the storming of the King’s palace on Mengo hill and the king was forced to flee out of the country to exile.
In 1967, Dr. Milton Obote changed the constitution to what is referred to as the pigeon hall Constitution because, without any debate, legislators found copies of the constitution in their pigeon halls. A few years later, as the country prepared for an election in 1971, the late Idi Amin Dada ousted Dr. Apollo Milton Obote in a military coup and ruled the country under a military dictatorship for nine years.
Under Idi Amin’s regime, the country went through a lot of hardships such as lack of basic commodities, repression and life of exile to many Ugandans. There was no human resource to do both businesses and run the country as Idi Amin had expelled all Asians who previously provided this human resource out of the country. It took a combined force of the Tanzanian forces, Ugandan exiles, international condemnation, and economic sanctions that Amin was ousted in 1979.
The country was then led by the Uganda National Liberation Force (UNLA) for one year until 1980 when the first election was held since independence time. While campaigning in the 1980 elections as a candidate, Mr. Museveni told Ugandans that he would wage a war if elections were rigged. Indeed, Mr. Museveni launched a guerrilla warfare from 1981 to 1986. According to analysts, this war claimed over 500,000 lives.
When Mr. Museveni assumed power in 1986, he had a lot of goodwill because through propaganda, he made Ugandans believe that previous presidents were responsible for the turmoil the country had gone through and therefore he was a political messiah who would now set the country on a positive path.
3. The 1995 Constitution
Against the previous political and socio-economic turmoil, Ugandans wrote a constitution that has previously been described as one of the best in the world. The Constitution guaranteed independence of the three arms of government, it enshrined the rights and freedoms of all citizens including previously marginalized groups like women and People with disabilities. It provided for checks and balances on institutions and individuals, for example, to ensure a peaceful transfer of power, the framers of the constitution put both the term and age limit. Importantly, Article 1 of the 1995 constitution proclaims the supremacy of “The People” in the governance of the country.
4. Mr. Museveni’s rule
When Mr. Museveni came into power in 1986, he said that he would lead the country for four years and give back leadership to civilians. In 1989 however, he sought an extension of his leadership to purportedly write the constitution. In 1995, the constitution was promulgated and Mr. Museveni offered himself in the 1996 presidential race under the new constitution.
When he sensed the end of his rule, because of the constitutional term limits, he launched a campaign in 2003 and bribed the MPs to remove term limits from the constitution making him eligible to run in 2006.
Under Mr. Museveni, five elections have been held, two under the movement system and three under multiparty democracy. However, while the constitution says elections must be regular, free and fair, all the five elections have been below international standards. Both the Ugandan courts and the International Election Observer Missions have attested to this.
In 2016, realizing that his opponent Dr. Kizza Besigye had overwhelming evidence to have the election results overturned, Mr. Museveni put his opponent Dr. Kizza Besigye under house arrest a day after the February 2016 election. He was neither allowed to go out of his home nor access his lawyers. Later, Dr. Besigye was picked, taken to Karamoja and finally Luzira prisons where he was held for three months. Again, the court ruled that this was illegal.
Mr. Museveni has eroded the independence of all institutions in the country. Under his leadership, soldiers attached the courts like they attacked parliament recently. The police is headed by a soldier Gen Kale Kayihura whom Mr. Museveni has severally praised as a good cadre and indeed his cadre ship is to ensure that the opposition does not carry out any political mobilization.
5. The attack on Parliament
The amendment of Uganda’s 1995 Constitution to lift age limit started in 2013, when Bufumbira East MP from National Resistance Movement (NRM), Eddie Kwizera, stunned the nation after he proposed to table either a private member’s Bill or motion to amend the Constitution to raise the retirement age of Judiciary from 60 to 75 years. The Constitution provides that Chief Justice, Supreme Court judges, and Court of Appeal Judges retire at 70 years. Those of High Court and public service, retire at 60.
It resurfaced again this year when the Nakifuma county MP, Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko came up with a proposal seeking to amend the Constitution to increase the retirement age for judges, and also remove term limits for commissioners of the Electoral Commission (EC). Among the proposals in the bill included raising the retirement age for the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice, and Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal from 70 years to 75 years and creating an open-ended term for electoral commissioners.
Honorable Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko’s motion was overruled by the speaker of Parliament of Uganda Right Honorable Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga citing that if she allowed this motion, she would have no reason not to allow other motions for many amendments to the constitution. Although his attempt was overruled, it set precedence for the current age limit and constitution amendment fracas we are witnessing today.
After a few weeks the then former Deputy Chief Justice Steven Kavuma swung into action, he was clocking 70 and attempted to change his age saying that he will be making 70 years on June 15, 2020. This would allow him to serve for more three years as a Deputy Chief Justice. Reports were made claiming that Justice Kavuma had sworn an affidavit contesting his birthday, his move was unsuccessful but many saw it as an attempt to pave way for Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to amend the constitution to remove age limit as he was also reaching the retirement age for President as per 1995 Uganda Constitution.
It was evident that these attempts had hit a dead end, now it was no longer necessary for Mr. Museveni and his agents to hide into other people to try to sneak in their known agenda of amending the constitution to lift the presidential age limit to pave way for his life President Project. NRM MPs like Simeo Nsubuga (Kasanda South), Ibrahim Abiriga (Arua Municipality) and Evelyn Anite (Koboko Municipality) and State Minister of Finance for Investment and Privatization, started popularizing their agenda and trying to justify the need to amend the constitution and lift the presidential age limit.
This did not go well with the public, anger started brewing with the population who were not happy with the constitutional amendment, a campaign called ‘KOJIKWATAKO’ was started by the Democratic Party to put pressure on the NRM not to amend the constitution. In fact, one voter from Kasanda South commonly known as Kyuma kya Yesu manhandled Hon Simeo Nsubuga at a public function and warned him not to tamper with the constitution.
Then people from different parts of the country were organized to start demonstrating in support of the lifting of age limit and openly showing their support for Museveni to rule for life. They were allowed to do this without interruption, on many occasions we saw Police escorting them to take petitions to districts leaders and RDC’s asking for the amendment of Article 102(b).
The real fracas started when the Member of Parliament from Bushenyi District representing Igara West Constituency came up with a motion seeking leave to prepare a private members bill to amend the constitution and specifically Article 102(b) to lift presidential age limit. The motion was to be tabled on 21st September 2017; the opposition biggest party Forum for Democratic Change declared a national wide demonstration against the lifting of age limit and its leaders called their supporters to escort them in numbers to deliver the petition to the speaker of parliament on the same day.
The police was expected to give security to all Ugandans opposed to the amendment as it did to those in support, but this did not happen because the police and the army were deployed heavily in Kampala and other parts of the country to foil any attempt for people to show their opposition to the amendment through a peaceful marching to Parliament. Over 300 people were arrested from different parts of the country.
On the same 21st of September, the army occupied the parliament and the constitutional square, this was last witnessed during the Obote 1 regime when the army attacked the parliament and abrogated the 1962 constitution and a pigeonhole constitution was put in place.
The parliament business didn’t convene that day, it was adjourned to Tuesday 25th September 2017 by the Deputy Speaker Right Honorable Jacob Oulanya, he clearly stated that he wasn’t ready to Chair Parliament and Members weren’t ready to debate. His ruling attracted jubilation from the opposition MPs, they started dancing and got red ribbons from their pockets and put them on their heads. Since then, the red ribbon has become the symbol of opposition to the amendment.
On Tuesday of 25th September 2017, the opposition planned differently, When the Hon. Raphael Magyezi was asked to table his motion they immediately put on their red ribbons and started singing the National Anthem for more than 30 minutes, this prompted the Speaker to unceremoniously adjourn the parliament to the following day Wednesday 26th September 2017.
On Wednesday 26th September 2017, Uganda Communication Commission stopped all media houses from live broadcasting of what was taking place in parliament. The Speaker suspended 25 members who are opposed to the amendment and adjourned parliament for 30 minutes to allow them vacates the chambers. Within two minutes, the Special Force Command was already inside the parliament to force them out.
Opposition members of parliament were brutally beaten and manhandled out of the parliament chambers it almost took one hour for all members to be forced out. Other remaining opposition members also walked out in protest, Hon. Raphael Magyezi was allowed to table the motion and he was given leave to prepare the bill to amend the constitution to lift the age limit.
Outside Parliament, there were more arrests of civilians who tried to demonstrate against the proposed amendment. Over 300 people were arrested that day and many continue to be arrested across the country. (Attached here is a list of people arrested on that day)
Some of the MPs that were brutally pulled out of Parliament are still hospitalized and those include Honorable Namboze Bakireke MP Mukono Municipality, and Hon Zaake Butebi Francis, MP Mityana Municipality.
6. Conclusion and Way Forward
From the few highlights above, the world and Uganda are dealing with an outright dictator and must henceforth be handled that way. Because of unconventional means of leadership, the country continues to be plunged from one crisis to another.
The central bank was raided in 2011 to finance elections. The overuse of money plunged the country into high inflation and the related effects. The continued use of the military has become a disincentive to FDIs as well as causing capital flight from the country. Unemployment amongst youth is now 82%.
There is less regard and attention to social services, the latest survey carried out by Uganda Bureau of statistics indicates that 11m out of 35million Ugandans are now living below the poverty line; Uganda’s children are the second worst in literacy levels and maternal mortality has increased from 16 to 19 women per day.
I wish to draw the attention of my colleagues that some of the money being misused, being used to fund such political illegalities, being used to buy a section of politicians to remove the age limit and entrench Mr. Museveni’s life presidency is coming from World Bank and IMF.
I. World Bank must henceforth be very cautious while taking decisions to fund the countries projects.
II. The money that has been already disbursed must be strictly followed to ensure that it is used for purposes it was requested for.
III. We call upon the international bodies to isolate the people perpetuating injustices against the people of Uganda.
IV. These people must not be allowed to travel to your countries and there must be interest in their properties acquired and saved offshore.
Thank you for listening to me.
Nathan Nandala- Mafabi
Board Member World Bank Parliamentary Network
Secretary-General Forum for Democratic Change
Chair Person Bugisu Cooperative Union
Budadiri West MP
Here below those who were arrested out of Parliament and across the country as opposed to the amendment of the Constitution.
1. Different leaders were arrested including Ingrid Turinawe, the Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and Lord Councillor Nyanjura Doreen.
2. Hon Patrick Amuriat Oboi was arrested with three activists but released later without any charge against them
3. Ndejje students demonstrated against age limit, 6 were arrested and taken to Old Kampala police station and an arrest warrant against their Guild President has been issued.
4. Two people were arrested in Kyenjonjo District including the FDC district chairman Mr. Kalija James.
5. Six people were arrested in Mbale district.
6. Eighteen people were arrested from Luweero district.
7. Four people were arrested from Bugiri.
8. Two people were arrested from Buwama in Mpigi district.
9. Three people were arrested in Lira.
10. One person was arrested in Iganga.
11. Eight people were arrested in Masaka.
12. Seventeen Gulu University students were arrested for protesting against age limit lifting.
13. Thirty Makerere students were arrested together with their Guild President Kato Paul, one was short and badly injured.
14. Seven people were arrested in Karamoja.
15. Two people were arrested in Soroti.
16. Seveni people were arrested in Arua district.
17. One person was arrested in Kamuli district.
18. One person was arrested in Ngora district.
19. Six people were arrested in Mbuya a Kampala suburb
20. Seven students were arrested from Kyambogo University.
Uncountable numbers of people were arrested from different parts of Kampala and many more who were not reported from other parts of the country.