With Museveni and Kagame recent announcement that national borders should be eliminated, the race to ‘tutsify’ Uganda and the Great Lakes region within the context of the East African community has entered the final phase. What are the views of Burundi, Kenya and Tanzania on this decision?
Museveni and Kagame have worked together on this project for a long time. Since Museveni came to power he has repeatedly talked about vision, metamorphosis or fundamental change for Uganda. Many of us thought he meant commercialization of agriculture, industrialization of the economy, social development, national unity, democracy and good governance and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. But 26 years have passed and none of this has happened. But Museveni keeps talking and we keep listening and giving him the vote or he steals it. While Museveni is talking and we are listening he is very busy albeit quietly doing something fundamentally different.
Those of us who know Museveni from his early days are not surprised. I can tell you with full confidence that Museveni didn’t come to power to develop Uganda. He came to power to weaken Ugandans and cripple Uganda institutions, militarize and tutsify the country and then use it as a spring board to create a Tutsi empire in the Great Lakes region. The timing of regional geopolitics, structural adjustment program and decentralization strategy gave him the tools he needed together with strong backing of some powerful western and other governments, corporations and international institutions to embark on his project.
To use Uganda as a base for his imperial adventure, Ugandans had to be rendered powerless and voiceless economically and politically. He used balanced budget, regressive taxation (VAT), controlling inflation and diversification of exports. He privatized the economy, allowed labor flexibility and liberalized the economy and exchange rate. He drove the state out of the economy and introduced the invisible hand of market forces as the engine of economic growth, leaving distribution of economic growth benefits to trickledown economics which Museveni knew (as he claims to have studied economics) had never worked anywhere in the world. He imported young expatriates to run the economy and barred experienced Ugandans in the diaspora from returning home. He diverted development funds to build military and a presidential jet, police and intelligence forces, torture houses and prisons. He froze political activities and refused to hold elections for ten years (others hold elections within less than two years of coming to power by military means). Ugandans became poor, jobless, hungry, sick and homeless. People in this condition don’t have much resistance unless they have strong leadership which they didn’t have since political parties were not allowed to function. Then Museveni began his grand design of fundamental change.
Museveni packed the National Resistance Council or constituent assembly with Batutsi people (used generically to include Batutsi, Bahima, Bahororo and Banyamulenge but who use different names and speak local languages) to draw up the constitution on Museveni terms. In disguise for Batutsi who are nomadic and are more mobile than any other group, Ugandans were granted the right to settle anywhere in the country including on other people’s land as it turned out in practice. This allowed Batutsi to scatter to all corners of Uganda and speak Kinyarwanda which is similar to Kifumbira (a Uganda version of Kinyarwanda). Bus loads of people and cows were driven from one corner mostly Kabale district where a majority of Batutsi reside to another corner of Uganda. Then as Joe Magandazi advised an act of parliament was passed empowering parents to give their children any (Uganda) name. Batutsi therefore were given Baganda, Bakiga, Banyoro, Bacholi, Bateso names etc to confuse the public about Batutsi identity. Batutsi are also encouraged to learn local languages once they settle in a new place.
From the start Museveni was concerned about finding land for his landless tribe’s people and he used Uganda once he captured power. He tried to make them citizens after he captured power but it didn’t work out. So, he started the indirect and silent method being discussed here. These are facts and there are many Ugandans who know what I am talking about. Those who oppose me should do so on facts, not emotions and/or threats. Second, I am among those arguing for peaceful resolution of our differences so that all people can live together in peace and happiness. Those who accuse me of trying to incite genocide have no basis for that claim except to try and silence me (so that dispossession of Ugandans continues) which isn’t going to happen as long as the problems remain or I am still alive.
Museveni has repeatedly stated that Uganda has plenty of unutilized arable land, implying that Uganda can accommodate more people (at the same time compelling Ugandans to limit family size because there is an acute shortage of land). As a complement, Museveni has repeatedly stated that Uganda must adopt a liberal immigration policy so that outsiders can enter Uganda and propel development without impediments. It is important to note that since 1994 Bahutu in general don’t come to Uganda which is considered hostile and would be returned to Rwanda to face allegations of genocide charges, so people coming to Uganda are Batutsi who occasionally register as Bafumbira and Banyamulege who register as Congolese.
Uganda has the most liberal refuge policy allowing refugees mostly Batutsi to settle with kin and kith or are allocated land sometimes by evicting indigenous owners. Consequently, “The Rwandese are the best known of all strangers in Uganda. They have settled in Kigezi, the most overpopulated district of Uganda and either have retained their ethnicity or have claimed to be [Ba]Kiga. In the 1920s land shortages began to force Rwandese and Rundi to migrate to Buganda province as agricultural laborers [shamba boys or herders]. … The number of men migrating far outnumbered women”(Shack and Skinner1979).
Since 1959 Uganda became a major recipient of Tutsi refugees (some have argued that these are Bahororo including Kagame whose ancestors returned to Rwanda when Mpororo kingdom disintegrated but tenaciously clung to their Bahororo identity and were warmly received in Kigezi and Ankole although the two districts were heavily populated). Kangaho a member of LEGCO from Ankole argued strongly that Ankole was able to accommodate the refugees and their cattle against objections of others and in the end got his way. From there some filtered with their cattle to all parts of Uganda especially in Masaka as the British administration didn’t want its plans for Uganda independence to be delayed by refugee problems. Consequently unlike other groups, Batutsi are found in all parts of Uganda especially in Buganda where they have adopted local names and local languages but rarely integrated socially say through intermarriage with local women, retaining their Nilotic Batutsi identity and working in the interest of their kin and kith who still need land, education, healthcare and jobs, not in the interest of indigenous people they live among. That is why pure Baganda are complaining that despite well representation in parliament and cabinet, Buganda is getting impoverished and marginalized. These are not pleasant stories to tell but they are facts.
This scattering of Batutsi (and Museveni knows where they are) is the main reason why Museveni has created so many districts so that well funded Batutsi are being elected to district councils and parliament, wielding enormous political and economic power. To help him identify Batutsi in Uganda and elsewhere Museveni hired the best historians as his presidential advisers to compile a list of all Batutsi and where they live. So when Museveni appoints someone to a high office from Eastern, Western, Buganda or Northern regions that person will most likely be a Mututsi who has registered as an Itesot, Muganda, Munyankole or Mucholi or Mulango. To confuse the public most Batutsi (there could be a few non-Batutsi) have dropped their religious or first names. Consequently, key and strategic positions have gone to Batutsi, so don’t be fooled when Museveni gives you a distribution of posts by names. They may carry Kiganda or Kinyankole names when they are Batutsi. Ambassadors and/or their staff especially to the United States, United Kingdom and United Nations in New York are mostly Batutsi but carry different regional names.
Apparently NRM thinks it has monopoly over interacting with foreign governments and no one else. When another organ does so you hear stories that plans are underway to sell the country or resources to foreign countries forgetting how NRM got into power in the first place.
To prevent people from complaining about blatant sectarian practice, parliament passed a law forbidding complaints of a sectarian nature, failure to do would land one in jail for a long time. Therefore the anti-sectarian law is not about preventing sectarian practice but about preventing complaint against sectarian practice. Museveni also made sure there are no records on immigration. The 2010 Uganda Population report observed that migration information is scarce except census reports compiled every ten years during which time many things have happened like loss of migration records. The sketchy information available shows that the volume of internal migration was highest towards Kampala. Kabale district which is the entry point for Rwandese was the biggest loser of people, meaning that they have scattered to all parts of Uganda. Creation of Greater Kampala which has taken a big chunk of Buganda land is designed to accommodate this influx in a no-man’s land. Also expanding municipality boundaries deep into rural areas is to open up land for Batutsi settlement because they have access to credit and political cover to purchase land. Creating new parliamentary seats is a cover which greedy politicians swallowed without chewing.
In the absence of migration information, one could extract useful information from vital registration on births, deaths and marriages. But the files got lost or they are kept out of public reach. Consequently we don’t know (except a few people in the government that have up-to-date information) how many Batutsi are in Uganda or for that matter other migrants. Someone in the government who has accurate data on the settlement of Batutsi is using that information to demarcate new districts fully aware that there are Batutsi living there who can be facilitated with funds and logistics to win district and parliamentary elections giving them enormous power to control those districts and in the end the whole country.
With economic and political power in Batutsi hands under the leadership of Bahororo, two things on the final stage of tutsifying Uganda are under way. First, upon arrival from Israel, the prime minister announced at the airport that the government was going to redistribute land from small holder to large scale farmers. Why he chose this moment to make the announcement is unclear. Who are these large scale farmers: mostly Batutsi and other foreigners who have access to credit and political cover? There are reports that the World Bank which we thought supported small holder farmers is allocating money to enable purchase of land by the rich from the poor. Yet the World Bank claims to be an institution to eradicate poverty. You don’t end poverty by dispossessing the poor. This goes against G8 and United Nations agreement to support funding for small scale farmers including in Uganda. To deprive Ugandans of their land, Museveni has been advocating that future economic growth prospects are in urban areas (wrongly using UK industrial revolution experience), not in agriculture. Many peasants have either been pushed into loans they could not pay and have lost their land or have sold and ended up in urban slums without any means of sustenance. That is why slums in Kampala are spreading at breakneck speed. Already, about 70 per cent of Ugandans in towns live in slums.
Second, Museveni and Kagame have agreed to begin a process of eliminating the border between Uganda and Rwanda, reasoning that these are colonial borders and post-independence governments are not bound by colonial decisions. The reason behind this decision is to open Uganda gates for Batutsi in Rwanda, Burundi and DRC to enter Uganda and grab land paid for with World Bank money.
To thwart opposition to this grand design, Museveni made sure that the major opposition parties are filled with Batutsi or Ugandans aligned with them through marriage or in some other ways. Batutsi influence in parliament and district councils is growing. That is why these institutions are quiet about land grabbing and eliminating Uganda border with Rwanda. Museveni has also refused a federal system of government and issuing of ID cards to prevent identification of Batutsi.
In short, this is Museveni’s vision for Uganda. This is Museveni’s idea of metamorphosis or fundamental change for Uganda. He has had tremendous support from within and without Uganda by people and institutions that stand to gain through this fundamental change. That is why Museveni has insisted he is the only person with a vision for Uganda and he is running again until he has joined Uganda and Rwanda into one country with one flag, one national anthem and one president (there might be a fight between Kagame and Museveni over who becomes president first, remember Kisangani war over Congo minerals). Then he will grab Kenya and Tanzania and DRC whole or in part and declare his Tutsi Empire.
That is why Museveni refuses to appoint an independent electoral commission so he doesn’t lose the election and his supporters keep quiet. That is why he has refused a federal system of government so that he keeps all power in his hands and no meaningful objection is raised by the donor community. That is why he can afford to use public funds for his re-election and his sponsors keep quiet. That is why he can afford to appoint over 70 ministers and donors who contribute much to the budget keep quiet. That is why he can divide the country from some 30 districts to over 100 and the donors keep quiet. That is why he can divert money from development to the military and the donor community is quiet. That is why he can refuse to fund school lunches and the donor community keeps quiet. That is why Museveni can invade other countries and the international community keeps quiet. That is why corruption, sectarianism and mismanagement are rampant and the donors are quiet. The complaints donors make are not strong to shake Museveni into corrective action. Museveni hasn’t budged because he is doing what many of the donors are interested in and they have turned a blind eye to rising levels of poverty, unemployment, disease, hunger, functional illiteracy, slums and other excesses that have reduced Ugandans to voiceless and powerless onlookers.
A true and patriotic Ugandan would not accept policies like these. Is it too late to fight back? No. Ugandans still have a chance. To succeed, however, we need to understand who true Ugandans are. This is everyone’s responsibility. In our communities we know who is who. We need to work together and defeat NRM. We need to avoid being corrupted with temporary inducements from NRM. We need dedicated leaders based on merit, not parochial considerations. We don’t need leaders who get elected and then hibernate when the house is ‘burning’ and then campaign to be re-elected in order to rebuild a new house. The ball is in our court. Let the word go out about Museveni and Kagame grand design. These two leaders may be in good books in some quarters today and can do what they want with impunity. Tomorrow could be a different day. We have seen it happen in our lifetime.
In his swearing-in address in 1986, Museveni advised that Ugandans must “get to the heart of the matter and find out what the problem is. Being a leader is like being a medical doctor. A medical doctor must diagnose his patient’s disease before he can prescribe treatment. Similarly, a political leader must diagnose correctly the ills of society” Y. K. Museveni 1989). In the above paragraphs, we have identified the problem which must be treated by peaceful dialogue for equitable benefit to all stakeholders.
So fellow Ugandans, say a prayer and try by non-violent means in the first instance to regain our rights and freedoms. No one else will do it for us: others can only extend a helping hand if they realize we are serious, organized and well led. UDU is with you all the way.