Uganda Peoples Congress

UPC petition to CHOGM

Petition To The Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting

Held At Kampala, Uganda

November, 2007

by Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC)

BACKGROUND

  1. On 27th July, 1985 a government elected under multiparty democracy in December 1980, which election was judged free and fair by a team of Commonwealth observers, was overthrown by the Military Junta of Okello and Okello.
    It will be recalled that soon after losing the 1980 general elections Yoweri Museveni went to the bush to wage a destructive war against the elected government without recourse to the established legal process thus setting a dangerous precedent that has bedevilled the governance of Uganda to date.
    The challenge after the unfortunate Coup detat of the junta was how Uganda would be restored to the free community of democratic nations.
  2. However, on 26th January, 1986 the rebel National Resistance Army (NRA) led by Yoweri Museveni took over power from the Okello military junta, again through the barrel of the gun.
    The new National Resistance Movement (NRM) administration promised to restore power to the people of Uganda within four years. Regrettably this promise was not honoured. Instead , the NRM procrastinated and wrote a one-party constitution where other political parties and stakeholders were denied a free voice and held onto power till 1996 when sham "individual-merit" elections were held to confirm the NRM hold on power for another five years. This sham one-party electoral process was repeated with similar predictable results in 2001.
  3. Throughout the NRM military dictatorship, the UPC took leadership to relentlessly challenge the one party-cum- military dictatorship. The UPC and other political parties and stakeholders championed the return of Uganda to multiparty governance.
    All along, the NRM was unwilling to budge to the peoples' demands for freedom. However, owing to sustained pressure, the NRM finally agreed to a return to multiparty democracy. The acceptance was tactical and not genuine and accordingly the NRM manipulated the constitutional reform process to ensure that presidential term limits that had been enshrined in the NRM's supervised 1995 Constitution were removed to enable President Museveni to contest for the presidency for unlimited terms.
  4. The transition to multiparty rule was manipulated by the NRM and as result Uganda, as we shall highlight below, essentially remains a one-party/military dictatorship with the real prospect of degenerating and disintegrating into a failed state.
  5. The UPC has on various occasions drawn the attention of the Commonwealth to the deteriorating state of affairs in Uganda. When CHOGM was held in Brisbane, Australia in 2002, we petitioned the Commonwealth. We did the same when CHOGM convened in Abuja, Nigeria in 2004. On both occasions we requested the Commonwealth to take urgent action to rescue a failed state. All our petitions have not been acknowledged to-date and no tangible action has been taken by the Commonwealth against the rogue state in Uganda.

THE STATE OF AFFAIRS IN UGANDA TODAY

  1. The theme for this year's CHOGM is Transforming Commonwealth societies to achieve political, economic and human development". Measured against this theme, we wish to bring to your attention the current state of affairs obtaining in Uganda as follows:
  2. Political development.
    Although in law Uganda is a multiparty democracy, it remains in practice a one-party/military dictatorship because:-
  3. The administrative structures which underpinned the one-party/military dictatorship have remained in place unchanged to serve the dictates of multiparty governance. These include the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs); the movement indoctrination school at Kyankwanzi, misleadingly called the National Leadership Institute; illegal paramilitary functionaries like Kalangala Action Plan of the infamous Major Kakooza Mutale; the NRA now renamed UPDF and Local Councils (LCs). The coercive activities of these organisations have remained in place to haunt and traumatise the population.
  4. All along, the NRM was funded by the state. Today, it is still funded by the state albeit illegally through diversion of public funds, corruption and patronage.
  5. Wanton disregard of the rule of law and abuse of fundamental human rights and freedoms. Many human rights organisations reports attest to the fact.
  6. The press is routinely harassed and forced to practice self censorship in order to be allowed to operate.
  7. Abuse of state structures and institutions including fragrant disobedience of court decisions and orders. Functions and roles of institutions like the Judiciary, Parliament, the Judicial Service Commission, Public Service Commission, Land Commission have been taken over by the presidency.
  8. The Electoral Commission constituted single-handedly by the President and approved by the NRM dominated Parliament remains openly partisan.
  9. Bad electoral laws continue to stifle the holding of free and fair multiparty elections.
  10. The weak electoral laws have regularly been ignored even in face of adverse court decisions and critical election reports from local and international observers.
  11. Institutions dealing with elections like the Electoral Commission and the Police have deliberately been under-funded. Instead of the police, the army has been involved in providing the so-called "election security" while in reality its role is to coerce voters to vote for NRM.
  12. The military in Uganda led by General Museveni does not submit to civilian authority.
  13. Economic development.
    Although official statistics paint a very rosy picture of Uganda as a fast and steady growing economy, Uganda's economic fundamentals are flawed. The economic reality speaks of instability, misery and poverty. Your Excellencies should be informed that:-
  14. The divesture of public enterprises in Uganda was bedevilled by nepotism, patronage and corruption leading to loss of billions in revenue and putting the former public enterprises into the hands of incompetent local and foreign speculators who continue to survive on state patronage.
  15. Patronage and corruption have undermined the free growth of a real market economy. What is in place are unscrupulous dealers who are connected to the chiefs in State House and who scavenge on tax payers' sweat. These are our "investors".
  16. The NRM government has failed to plan for the economic development of Uganda. All the activities of government are adhoc and not integrated. No attempt has been made to exploit our comparative advantage.
  17. Because of the lack of sound economic policies and practices and the erosion of free competition, productivity in both public and private enterprises is at an all time low. The result is Ugandans are either unemployed or under employed leading to chronic and massive poverty.
  18. The transport, marketing and power infrastructure are all in shambles and disrepair.
  19. Human development
    The real indicator that a country is on a genuine path of growth is the level of its human development. Today, Uganda's human development status is very pathetic. Attempts to splash up the figures by government cannot hide the bitter reality on the ground which interlia is:
  20. Education
  21. Declining quality of education. With the unplanned and hasty introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE) hundreds of thousands of pupils were herded into ill-structured and poorly equipped schools. What exists on ground are thousands of starving and illiterate pupils who, year after year, are "promoted" from one class to another till they abscond from school or complete primary seven without attaining any education or skills . Beginning this very year, these largely illiterate products of UPE, have been recruited enmass into another poorly designed and equipped level of education, the Universal Secondary Education (USE) where a similar fate awaits them!
  22. Although donors have intervened with billions of shillings in support of UPE, just like with the economy, corruption which runs at the core of the NRM system of governance continues to block any tangible improvement of the UPE.
  23. The quality of university education has not been spared either. The poorly under-funded public universities have to cope with the quagmire of rising student numbers. Except for a few well planned private universities, the majority of the private universities are glorified secondary schools out to make some money for their owners. The National Council for Higher Education has miserably failed to supervise private universities to ensure quality control. The majority of our graduates have no skills to enable them get or do gainful work.
  24. The government has also miserably failed to equip and expand tertiary institutions that are desperately needed to equip Ugandans with vocational skills.
  25. Health
  26. The healthcare system in Uganda is equally deplorable. Throughout its two decades in office, the NRM has not built a single new hospital. Although some health centres were renovated and upgraded they stand as white elephants just like the old hospitals, without adequate qualified medical personnel, equipment, and drugs. These are not health facilities but buildings where people go hoping to get a written prescription of unavailable drugs or to die at least in the company of fellow patients. The drugs that donor support would have availed are lost due to corruption, the very hallmark of NRM's administration. In some cases drugs procured with donor funds are invariably left to expire due to poor management in the face of great public demand. The theft of the GAVI and Global Funds are the latest scandals in the health sector.
  27. Employment
  28. The few people who are fortunate to get employment work under pathetic conditions. Wages are generally below the poverty line and even the little is in most cases not paid on time. With no minimum wage and weak labour laws, workers are left at the mercy of employers. Even the government does not take good care of its employees. The NRM government is so inconsiderate that hundred of poor pensioners die each year denied of their terminal benefits and pensions! These pathetic and desperate working conditions continue to fuel corruption, demoralise workers and erode their morals.
  29. Environment
  30. The NRM government has neglected to take measures to protect and preserve the environment. Government actions and policies have actively encouraged encroachment on protected areas and led to the destruction of ecosystems. The latest in these series is the government attempt to give away a big chunk of Uganda's largest rainforest (Mabira) to a private sugar cane planter. A large part of the Queen Elizabeth National Park has been opened up for settlement by pastoralists.
  31. The encroachment on the wetlands has invariably been ignored by the NRM government with dire consequences now being experienced in Kampala and upcountry.
  32. Habitat
  33. The majority of the people in rural and urban Uganda live in squalid settlements without good ventilation, sanitation, water or clean energy. They are thereby exposed to ill-health and vagaries of nature.

PRAYERS

  1. Your Excellencies, we are aware that there are certain basic ideals and principles which the Commonwealth holds dear. We believe that the leaders of the Commonwealth ought to put in place mechanisms to ensure that the community of the Commonwealth abides by these ideals and principles. These ideals and principles should be a common yardstick for all nations constituting the Commonwealth.
  2. It is clear from our exposition above that the actions and practices of the NRM government in Uganda are contrary to the ideals and principles of the Commonwealth including those expounded in the Harare Declarations.
  3. Aware that the Commonwealth is not a mere talking shop we call upon the CHOGM in Kampala to take steps to call to order the government of Uganda to avoid the possibility of implosion and genocide. In particular we call upon the Commonwealth to take all such actions and put pressure on the government of Uganda to negotiate and agree with the opposition on a political roadmap whose objective would be to undertake constitutional, legal and administrative reforms to transform Uganda from a one-party/military dictatorship to a genuine multiparty democracy.

For God and my Country

Miria Kalule Obote

Party President

20TH NOVEMBER, 2007