Uganda Peoples Congress
PArty Headquarters, Uganda House,
Plot 8-10 Kampala Road, P. O. Box 9206, Kampala
UPC Memorandum to President Museveni
04 August 2006MEMORANDUM Submitted to H. E. THE PRESIDENT OF UGANDA YOWERI KAGUTA MUSEVENI By THE UGANDA PEOPLES CONGRESS At State House, Nakasero, Kampala On 28th July, 2006 TABLE OF CONTENTS
a) Building and rebuilding political parties.
b) Demilitarization of politics
c) De-commercialization of politics
d) Need for an independent Electoral Commission
e) Electoral Reform
f) Devolution of power and resources
g) Limitations to Presidential powers
1.1 Better late than never
The Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) strongly believes that no single organization or individual, howsoever endowed, has a monopoly of ideas or a vision on any subject. In our view, there is always a multiplicity of complimenting and competing ideas on any matter and especially on affairs of an entire nation like Uganda. It is this belief that has over the two decades of the NRM administration guided us in our constant demand for serious dialogue among the political stakeholders in Uganda. There has been no such dialogue. Although this meeting is twenty years late, we welcome it in the hope that it is the beginning of patriotic dialogue among Uganda's political parties, in this country of ours torn apart by strife, war, hate and burdened by poverty, diseases and ignorance.
1.2 Dialogue among Political Parties
The UPC believes that the best way to aggregate ideas and articulate and champion those ideas and interests is through formal organizations. We believe in collective and not individual wisdom. Mortal individuals may initiate, lead and champion, but ideas can only serve the individual and grow if they are owned by an organization. Accordingly, we firmly believe and jealously proclaim and protect the right of political parties to be the main actors in political and public administration the world over.
Accordingly, this memorandum is not that of Mrs. Miria Kalule Obote, whom incorrespondences for this meeting you variously refer to as "Former Presidential Candidate", "Chairperson of UPC" or "President, Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPC)"! This is the memorandum of the UPC of which Miria Kalule Obote is the Party President. The UPC would request that all future dialogue be understood to be between political parties.
1.3 Little time for dialogue
Given the agenda for today's meeting, the four political parties involved, the time available is too little for serious and focused discussion. We hope that at the end of today's meeting, a programe will be drawn for a series of meetings to seriously discuss the memoranda presented today.
2.0 PEACE AND SECURITY
2.1 Peace and Security, a national and political concern
The incessant civil wars and other forms of insecurity that have pervaded Uganda during the two decades of NRM administration have not been isolated or accidental acts of criminals or terrorists. In the view of the UPC, these civil wars, rebellions and insurgencies have been the result of the militant and undemocratic politics pursued by the NRM. The resulting insecurity, loss of life, destruction of infrastructure and property and bleeding of the national economy are a national shame and catastrophe. They require a national response and not bi-partisan agreement the kind we have seen, between government and "rebels".
2.2 The Juba Peace talks
The UPC has made its position on the Juba peace talks clear. Our view most recently articulated in our press statement of 19th July 2006 and titled "Refocus the Juba Peace Talks" is that:
- The participation in the talks should go beyond the LRA and government of Uganda to include the political parties in opposition, and other stakeholders with international bodies attending as observers.
- The agenda of the talks should be expanded to reflect the political and economic background to this conflict.
- There must be an immediate ceasefire and other confidence building measures.
- There must be a multipartisan implementation mechanism for the peace process.
A copy of the statement is attached as annexture No. 1 .
3.0 DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE
3.1 No peace or development without democracy
Although there have been isolated and peculiar cases of nations developing under dictatorship, the more established trend is that enduring national and human development is underpinned by peace and democracy. The creative energies of people to think and work for themselves and their national development can only be fully realized in a peaceful and democratic environment. It is free people and not those in bondage that can be the engines of sustainable development.
Uganda has for the two decades been under a military cum one party dictatorship. This has undermined development and any prospect of sustainability.
3.2 Challenges of democratic governance
- Building and rebuilding political parities
The 20 years ban on political party activities has left very ugly marks on the body politic of Uganda. There is need for national dialogue on how to realistically assist the process of building and rebuilding political parties as the only viable organizations for peaceful political competition. The UPC has its views on the matter, which it shall present if this issue is embraced, for example, on the continued political and military indoctrination, commonly known are Mchaka Muchaka.
- De-militarization of politics
The NRM legacy on politics is one of fostering militarism as a pillar of politics. All attempts at holding violence- free elections in Uganda in the last 20 years have failed. As a nation, we must discuss practical means to de-militaries our politics once and for all.
- De-commercialization of politic
The other painful legacy of the NRM administration is the senseless commercialization of politics and the erosion of any ethical conduct in political competition especially at election time. Voters and votes have become the subject of abuse and purchase. No meaningful campaign on issues can be conducted in this commercialised environment. The net result is moral decay in politics and public life. The UPC would welcome serious dialogue on how to tackle this cancer of commercialization of politics.
- Need for an independent Electoral Commission
Although the Constitution guarantees the independence of the Electoral Commission, this is only on paper. The shameful reality since the 1994 Constituent Assembly elections has been one of a compromised and inefficient commission that has even failed to maintain a respectable electoral register. The reports by political parties, local and international election observers, the press and the judgments of the Courts all conclude that the Electoral Commission has miserably failed to conduct free and fair elections.
The UPC calls for dialogue on how to disband the current Electoral Commission and set up a truly independent commission as one of the badly needed reforms to move the nation back to a democratic path.
- Electoral Reform
The experience from elections since 1994 has left no doubt about the inadequacy of our electoral laws and processes to deliver free and fair elections even at village level. The UPC calls for serious discussion on the issue of reform of the electoral laws and system.
- Devolution of power and resources
The policy of decentralization of management of centrally collected funds and that management of public service to the districts that was hurriedly conceived and implemented to defeat the clamour for federal governance during the Constituent Assembly elections has been a total failure. Instead, it has led to decentralization of corruption and patronage and a clamour for new districts by those who desire to benefit from the corruption and patronage. The resultant wasteful public expenditure is there for all to see.
The experiment with the regional tier system was a stillbirth. The UPC in its press statement of 5th July, 2006 headed "Involve opposition and all stakeholders in governance and peace building" (especially paragraph 1(c) 10-12) points to the best way forward on how real power and resources can be devolved. A nation cannot achieve anything through secretive negotiations between government and one community alone.
A copy of the statement is attached as annexture No. "2".
UPC demands that the entire country be involved in negotiating the forms of devolution of power and resources.
- Limitations to Presidential powers
The history of the world has demonstrated the great evil that can befall a nation when too much power is concentrated in one leader for a long period. In Uganda the Presidency has too many powers which can be abused especially in absence of term limits.
UPC demands that Presidential term limits be reinstated. Secondly, the powers of the Presidency be reviewed to safeguard the country against the abuse of absolute power.
4.0 MANAGEMENT OF NATIONAL ECONOMY AND RESOURCES
4.1 The reality of abject poverty
Although NRM government statistics on good economic management, positive economic indicators and growth abound, the sad reality is that Ugandans are becoming poorer in real terms. Although those who have benefited from corruption, plunder of national resources (including the plunder of Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan) have created their own class that resides in palaces complete with swimming pools, gymnasiums and all luxuries enjoyed by millionaires in the first world, the majority of Ugandans live in abject poverty.
Any denial of the following indicators of abject poverty is a senseless and insulting response to those in want. The ugly picture shows:
- 65% (officially) of all people in employment age in Uganda loitering without work and therefore without an income.
- 39% of the population (at the reduced official level) is living below the poverty line.
- The unemployed and all living below the poverty line have no access to even one descent meal a day, proper clothing, sanitation, basic health care and their children attend UPE school to pass time as the rich send their children to private schools to acquire proper education. The unemployed, underemployed and those who share abject poverty with them, form the army of beggars who are abused and bribed with a pittance during elections and involved in electoral violence Thousands move on to join criminal gangs for survival.
4.2 Corruption as a pillar of government
The effects of inefficient management of the economy under disjointed sectoral projects devoid of even a poorly written development plan have been compounded by debilitating corruption which has grown to the level of a pillar of governance under the NRM.
All appointments to public offices, public procurements, public expenditures, privatization of state enterprises, leasing or donation of public land are bathed in the dirty and murky waters of state sponsored and supervised corruption and patronage.
4.3 The challenge of proper economic management
The UPC calls for urgent national dialogue on the management of the economy with special emphasis on:
- How to fight the ugly head of corruption. The NRM rhetoric of building institutions and reforming laws to fight corruption has not worked.
- Building physical infrastructure including that of power generation and distribution.
- Building and maintaining affordable, accessible and equipped educational and medical facilities.
- Creating jobs for the unemployed millions.
- Paying a living wage for workers and reducing glaring inequalities in salary structures especially of public enterprises. We need a Salaries Review Commission.
- Accountability for proceeds of sale of public enterprises.
- Reform of the Social Security System to stop misuse of workers savings by NSSF management and government.
- Reduction of the crippling expenditure on public administration.
- Proper management and reduction of public debt. The non-payment of the domestic debt or its payment on discriminatory terms has ruined many businesses and families.
- Establishing a fair, transparent and equitable tax regime where there is no discriminatory treatment and enforcement.
- Establishing the Ugandan petroleum commission as argued in our press statement of 12th July 2006 . A copy of the statement is attached as annexure No. 3
- Revival of organized production and marketing of both food and cash crops.
5.0 THE RULE OF LAW AND HUMAN RIGHTS
5.1 Rule of law is the cornerstone of peace and development
A nation that does not make just laws and enforce them is doomed to chaos, criminality, insecurity and economic backwardness. The Uganda of today has many unjust laws while especially those in authority do not follow the good laws.
Abuses of human rights, including murder, torture, illegal detention in illegal facilities and all other abuses still abound and are documented although routinely denied by the government.
5.2 The human rights/rule of law challenge
The UPC calls for informed and serious dialogue on the measures to be taken to return Uganda to the rule of law and observance of fundamental human rights and freedoms. In particular there is urgent need to discuss:
- Capacity building of the police force, prisons service, ministry of justice and the judiciary to reduce the shameful levels of case backlog.
- The practical measures to stop state violation of people's rights and freedoms. The impunity with which State agents abuse people's rights and freedoms needs to be addressed.
6.0 TRUTH, RECONCILIATION AND JUSTICE
6.1 The UPC demand for TRC
Partly in response to unsubstantiated allegations of violation of fundamental rights and freedoms against the UPC, and the failure of the NRM government to set up an impartial investigation of alleged human rights violations, the UPC, took lead and in its public statement of 16/3/2005 titled , Northern politics is also a transition matter, demanded for the setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to cover the period from independence up to the date of appointment of the Commission. A copy of our statement is attached as annexture No. 4. This demand, which we repeated in our election manifesto, was not answered. On 16th May 2006 we wrote and circulated an open letter to your Excellency urging you to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The letter is attached as annexture No. 5. Again no reply or response has been forthcoming.
6.2 Incomplete first steps of NRM/UPC reconciliation
In the aftermath of the death of our leader and father of the nation Dr. Apollo Milton Obote, and as part of his funeral there was tentative agreement that UPC and NRM should start a reconciliation process. This led to the eventual declaration of the well-deserved state funeral for Dr. A. M. Obote for which the party is grateful.
However, promises to pay for government occupation and vandalization of his two properties in Kampala and Lira and to renovate them have not been fulfilled. The promise to pay to his family his entitlements as former President has not been honoured for now 9 months. The UPC looks forward to government's implementation of these promises as a goodwill gesture that future agreements on reconciliation will be respected.
6.3 Compensation for vandalized UPC property
When the NRM/NRA took over power on 26th January, 1986 the NRA broke into the UPC headquarters at Uganda house and vandalized, looted and stole Party properties including Party uniforms, vehicles, valuable books, furniture files etc. UPC demands due compensation from government.
6.4 Truth, Reconciliation, Justice and Juba talks
The ongoing peace talks in Juba, which will hopefully end the war in Northern Uganda, underscore the urgent need to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to handle the challenge of reconciliation and justice when, against hopefully, our last civil war is over. That would be the time for soul searching, national reconciliation and justice to the victims of violations and abuses. Our open letter is in our view a good working document for dialogue, which we urge, should start immediately.
7.O NATIONAL CONFERENCE
Most of the issues raised in this memorandum and those of our sister parties call for far reaching discussions and decisions that transcend even the parties represented at this meeting. Even the National Parliament elected under the unfair circumstances that we all know cannot handle them. The UPC proposes that a national conference composed of leaders of political parties, communities, religious leaders and agreed leaders from civil society should be urgently convened to deal with our critical problems which in reality amount to a national crisis. There can be no shortcut to this solution that embraces views from all stakeholders.
8.0 CONCLUDING REMARKS
The UPC reiterates its desire for continued and focused dialogue leading to a national conference. This is the only way to salvage this country from further movement to the path of confrontation. Let all of us leaders gathered here humble ourselves and be guided by our conscience to sacrifice our personal or partisan interests for the long suffering people of Uganda. Today's dialogue can only bear fruit if we commit ourselves to a two-way interaction and communication where all correspondences are taken seriously and responded to. If we let the people of this country down, we shall be the subjects of very harsh judgment by history.
I present this memorandum on behalf of my party and the people of Uganda.
For God and my Country
Miria Kalule Obote