NRM risks walking the UPC road  
Guest Writers
Written by James Magode Ikuya   
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 21:39
When A.M. Obote, the UPC leader, and by then a consummate rising star in Uganda’s opposition politics, returned from the London Lancaster House Conference over Uganda’s independence, he was already buoyed with a sure UPC victory in the pre-independence elections.

The conference had hammered out a constitutional arrangement granting a special status to the Buganda monarchy and for the nomination by Buganda’s Lukiiko of the region’s representatives to the national Parliament instead of direct elections. This endeared the Mengo zealots to UPC.

The DP was fiercely opposed to ceding political or electoral power to the Mengo establishment, daubing it undemocratic. UPC was careful to leave out ticklish demands such as from Buganda’s old rival, Bunyoro Kingdom, over its claim to territories previously donated to Buganda by the British authorities.

The matter was tactically couched for a future referendum to decide where the electorate would desire to belong. This kept the issue from spoiling the momentary UPC calculations.

So much fired was UPC of its having outmaneuvered the DP, that Obote used every forum to assure UPC supporters that the DP was destined to die a natural death. He cited a number of reasons for his prediction. He said that while in London for the independence talks, the DP leaders were all the time sleeping.

He poked fun that the only occasion the DP leaders woke up, was during the discussion of Buganda’s status from which they walked out, smarting in anger. This was the beginning of Obote’s sonorous song and mockery of the DP as a “Dead Party” that had no ability to lead Uganda to nationhood. Obote’s bragging was however, not the real reasons why the DP steeply declined.

The foundation of the DP itself had been superficial. It arose from the clamour of the Catholic clergy against the known discrimination of the Catholics during the colonial period. Colonialism practised oppression and discrimination of the blacks, Indians, peasants, workers and the colonised country as a whole.

With decolonisation as UPC assumed power, the prospect for DP’s Catholic texture faltered. The exigency of establishing a stable neo-colonial regime in the country brought a new configuration of forces. The bulk of DP leadership in Parliament led by the official leader of opposition, Basil Bataringaya, crossed en-masse to join greener pastures in the UPC.

They were promptly rewarded with ministerial powers and offices. Only sprinklings of devout DP armbands like Gasper Oda, Obonyo and the like got stuck in occupying forlorn DP benches. In 1980, the DP went back to embrace the hitherto unfamiliar constituency of the remnants of KY, which it had been spiritedly opposed to.

Although the UPC on its part had always claimed to be a party of ideas different from the DP, it too followed the DP sunset, more especially in drastically collapsing out of power. With the ascendancy of the NRM to power, UPC now finds itself cornered only in a few spots in Dr. Obote’s home district.

The excuse for the demise of these parties is often ascribed to the authoritarianism of Idi Amin and NRM’s stifling of opposition parties. Although the curtailment of rights by the state can handicap political expression, it cannot deter genuine aspirations from taking root in society. This is why despite the proscribing of political thought by the fascist reign of Idi Amin, public resentment continued to rise.

The NRM may boast that the more than 20 years of undisputed political dominance demonstrates its unique viability. Yet the same fiasco can be seen repeating itself. Our NRM hardly any longer relies on the strength of our convictions to garner political support from the masses.

Traditional and cultural institutions are also courted as the handiest vehicle for political support. Loyalty to them keeps on shifting as new allies are found to dislodge and dismember the old ones. The Buganda monarchy is grumbling of having been used to abandonment. 

Our tested method of building the NRM is to maintain a cohesive and clear-cut image of principles around which the party mobilises the country. It is only out of tenacity and truthfulness towards our people that we can win admiration and guarantee continuous level of quality of political leadership to move this country to greater heights for generations to come. We in the NRM risk walking down UPC’s road if we continue to ignore securing and building our ranks in preference to engagement in political antics.

The author is a member of NEC (NRM) representing historicals 


About ekitibwakyabuganda

Ba Ssebo ne ba Nyabo, Twebaza Abaganda bonna abulumulirwa Obuganda . Era twebaza ne mikwano gya Buganda gyonna wonna wegiri munsi yonna. Omukutu guno gwatandikibwawo nga e’kigendererwa kwe kuyigiriza abantu ebintu ebikwatagana no’Buganda era nokuwanyisiganya ebilowozo nebanaffe abatali Baganda. Abaganda ne mikwano gya Buganda mukozese omukisa guno muwereze ebirowozo byamwe no’bubaka bwona obunaagasa Abaganda na’baana Buganda berizala mu maaso eyo. Obumu ku bubaka obuwerezebwa ku mukutu guno bugyibwa mukuwanyisiganya ebirowozo okubera kumukutu gwa Ugandan’s at Heart (UAH) Forum ogwatandikibwawo Mwami Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba. Era twebaza muzukulu wa Kintu ne Nnambi ono olw’omulimu gwakoledde bana Uganda bonna abali e’bunayira mungeri yo kubagatta mu byempuliziganya no’kutumbula okukolaganira awamu.

4 responses »

  1. It is 45 years on.

    The year is 1964:

    The issues then were:

    1. Un-armed civilians were shot at Nakulabye suburb, at the beginning of Hoima road. All future politicians, including M7, talked about this “Crime against humanity” for decades.

    2. The other two issues were:
    One, which portrait should hang above the which: That of the Executive Prime minister [Obote] or that of the C-i-C and head of Sate {Sir Edward}?
    Two and now replaying itself in Uganda today: Why does Mutesa, with his Nabagereka [His Queen] draw bigger crowds in Buganda [and sometimes outside Uganda] than the “elected leader” of Uganda {Obote}?
    3. What followed soon after, in ’66, is not history yet. Today, we hear complaints: “he has refused to take my calls [of all accusations] for TWO years!!!! Brrrrrrrr. He must come and meet me at my house. So, people who sweep the streets and prostrate before H.H the Kabaka, Chairman Mao [not Tse Tung] style you are pocking the “Lion” in the eye.
    4. 24 have been executed without trial by military and Kiboko [whip squads]. About 1, 000 in are lnguishing in concentration camps but, unlike back in ’66, the state of emergency , now in force for three weeks, has not been declared. This is not a country but someone’s own farm, where the populace are animals to be treated by the owner, as he may wish.
    Who said history does not repeat itself???
    Christopher Muwanga,

  2. State-of-Emergency is Illegal.

    Uganda is now under Martial Law, as declared by the IGP and his C-i-C, whereby individual freedoms are trampted upon, on the pretext of “showing the MIGHT”. Investors are watching.
    Read on..
    1/2. Mzee Byanyima of the DP fame once said that, different from Obote, Museveni was/is not a Parliamentarian. The current pouring of tens of thousands of soldiers on the streets and upcountry is enough proof of this. How?
    2/2. When Obote wanted to limit the freedoms of the Citizens as Museveni is doing, he had the temerity to ask Parliament. This time, the president deploys and institutes a “state of emergency without telling/asking anybody”, as though he is the law and the country is his property. He rounds up 1, 600 souls under emergency laws without bothering to declare the Sate of emergency. What impunity!!!!!!
    Christopher Muwanga,

  3. On April 15th, 1966, self appointed President Milton Obote addressed
    an emergency session of parliament to present a new constitution and
    explain why he had suspended Kabaka Edward Mutesa II as President of
    Uganda. On September 10th 2009, President Yoweri Museveni addressed
    the nation on the stand-off between his government and Mengo. Perhaps
    surprisingly there are striking similarities in the nature and tone of
    address given by Obote in 1966 and Museveni in 2009. Although Museveni
    has touted his opposition to Obote’s 1966 decision to revoke the
    Constitution, a point he reiterated last week, a re-reading of their
    speeches places the two men far closer together on Buganda issues than
    many commentators have previously thought.

    On violence and plotting:

    Milton Obote (MO): I can now tell those who talked in this House and
    those who listened, that a lot of things happened, and by God’s grace
    this country received the bounty of the creator and was, therefore,
    not plunged into bloodshed.

    Most of us have been thinking very seriously what to do in order to
    give to this country a basis that they will understand, and to rid
    this country of irresponsible ambitions and the desire that, because
    of the accident of birth, somebody must direct as of right the affairs
    of State and the lives of our citizens who elected us to this place.

    Yoweri Museveni (YM): I would like to conclude by condemning the
    criminals, hired by Mengo that caused damage in Kampala and the
    suburbs. Initially, the Police acted slowly. Now, however, the
    Police has been re-enforced by elements of the UPDF. All areas where
    the hooligans are will be covered and, stern action will be taken
    against them according to the Police procedures. Looters will be shot
    on sight as will those who attack other civilians.

    On constitutional matters:

    MO: I want to say now that the Constitution was worked out by
    representatives of this country, and for the good of this country.
    Behind it there was the idea, the hope, and the belief, that no one
    would try to use that Constitution to serve himself. Admittedly, when
    that Constitution was being framed, there were disagreements, and one
    can say that it was a compromise on behalf of all of us to have that

    YM: I have come to address you about the sustained unconstitutional
    behaviour of His Highness Kabaka Mutebi, the Mengo Kingdom officials
    and the Kabaka’s Radio CBS.

    MO: The Constitution was abused first here in this House on the 4th of
    February, again it was abused repeatedly on Makindye Hill – it was
    abused – and we have now acted and today I am not begging Members of
    Parliament for anything.

    YM: I sought guarantees from them that the monarchies, when restored,
    will never meddle in politics again, as happened in the 1960s and
    before. They all agreed and swore that they would never allow their
    monarchy to meddle in politics. That is how that principle was
    captured in article 246 (3 e). The same article (3 f) provides that
    cultural leaders will not ‘wield Legislative, Executive or
    Administrative powers’. Article 178 reiterates the same principles
    and goes into details. Unfortunately, however, no sooner had we
    promulgated the Constitution of 1995, than I started hearing that
    Mengo was undermining the NRM. I could not believe this.

    MO: I find that some of the correspondence does not take account of
    the fact that in so far as the Constitution of Uganda is concerned the
    office of the Kabaka is not the same as the office of the President of

    YM: Meanwhile, I have been consulting some of the influential Baganda
    about this. I told them that we can no longer tolerate this
    unconstitutional behaviour of Mengo with the apparent connivance of
    the Kabaka. The progressive forces will definitely take decisive
    actions soon. During those consultations it transpired that the
    Lukiiko is now dominated by opposition political activists especially
    the ones that lost elections. Most of the balanced voices have been
    removed from the Lukiiko.

    MO: We must, therefore, offer the country some kind of document, but
    how do we do it when the old document is in existence? Yet we must do
    it, I want therefore, to tell hon. Members that as from this moment
    the Constitution we had from October 9th, 1962, is hereby abrogated.
    With that sentence let us recall that the 1962 Constitution was worked
    out by citizens of Uganda, but in a large measure was also worked out
    by the British Government.

    YM: It was the paralysis in the constitutional arrangements of the
    1962 Ugandan Constitution plus UPC’s lack of straight forwardness and
    their double standards that, eventually, caused the 1966 crisis and
    all the subsequent tragic events. By 1986, about 800,000 Ugandans had
    died through the extra-judicial violence that followed those mistakes.

    On the role of foreign elements:

    MO: Here I was without knowing anything, finding that I would have
    been saddled with a military mission from a foreign state coming
    probably with the express purpose that happened in Stanleyville in the
    Congo, when paratroopers were dropped there. We are not in need of any
    foreign troops at all.

    YM: I also got information that Mengo elements got foreign funds to
    further their aims of fighting the NRM and undermining the
    Constitution. We are following these reports very closely and we
    shall defeat all those elements involved. I encourage my friend His
    Highness Kabaka Mutebi to distance himself from the Judases. The NRM
    fought many battles; we shall win this one also.

    On the press:

    MO: I was accused not only by individuals, but I was accused also by
    foreign press. I was accused by two Kenya papers – the Kenya Weekly
    News – sometimes they call it Uganda Weekly News, there is very little
    about Uganda in it – and another paper called the Reporter. They tried
    to paint those who were trying to cause chaos in this country as those
    who are trying to defend the Constitiution…Some of the gentlemen who
    wrote the articles are now out of the country, and let me assure the
    country that the others who still remain will also leave this country.
    I have said from time to time that when it comes to deciding whether
    one should have the press, or should have a country, I at least, and I
    urge the peoples of Uganda to vote for having the country and to
    forget about the Press.

    YM: Additionally, the Kabaka’s Radio, CBS, launched a campaign against
    the [land] amendment. His Highness the Kabaka commissioned a group of
    people led by Nambooze to travel around Buganda and incite people,
    with all sorts of incredible lies, against the proposed land bill
    amendment and the Government. Museveni ayagala kubba ettaka lyamwe –
    Museveni wants to steal your land, etc. CBS promoted sectarianism, at
    one time talking of people with long noses (ab’enyindo mpanvu). It is
    not our duty to measure people’s noses – long or short.

    YM (Setting conditions for the Kabaka’s visit to Kayunga): CBS stops
    forthwith their campaign against NRM, including what they have been
    doing recently, inciting the public to storm the Police who are
    peacefully carrying out their duties…Decisive action will be taken on
    any media house that continues the practice of incitement.

    On their relationship with the Mengo leadership:

    MO: To be fair to the Katikiro, I got a letter yesterday from him.
    Once again here it does not talk about whether we should meet or not;
    he tells me the Lukiiko is right and everybody else is wrong. I have,
    therefore, carried out what I said I wanted to do; I think it can be a
    very easy thing to talk about people being dictators, but I have made
    not request to any foreign government to come and assist me in trying
    to rule privately.

    YM: Again, he [the Kabaka] persistently refused to answer my calls; I
    kept trying. At one time I was told that he was abroad. That should
    not be a problem. There are telephones abroad…Anyway, last evening,
    about 8pm, I again asked Ameria to try and ring the Kabaka one more
    time. This time the Kabaka responded…We arranged to talk at 10.30
    p.m. Indeed, we talked at 10.30 p.m. I asked him: “Your Highness,
    why have you been refusing to answer my telephone calls for the last 2
    years?” He answered that he was not “aware” that I had been ringing.
    I asked him: Why does your CBS abuse and demonize us?” He answered:
    “I do not believe that is true.”

    On their view of Mengo’s role in governing the country:

    MO: Uganda is composed of definite traditional organisations and on
    the 4th of February, 1966, Uganda witnessed something that many of us
    hoped would never be a reality – that was the open and public
    exposition of the relation between master and servant, when the
    servant sits in this house, for the servant to deliver goods to the
    master. Innocent civilians would have suffered merely because an
    ambitious man, who was brought into this House through friendship, who
    was brought into this House on a promise that he would deliver Uganda
    on a silver platter to his master, wanted to turn the whole of this
    country into the domain of one man.

    YM: When we triumphed in 1986, the subject of restoring the
    traditional leaders started coming up. Even in the bush, opportunists
    like the late Kayiira started bringing it up. In the bush, however,
    especially during the Kikunyu conference of 1982, the NRM openly
    rejected Kayiira’s position of talking about monarchies. We said that
    we were fighting for the freedom of Ugandans; once the Ugandans had
    got their freedom they would decide on what to do. Our major points
    were captured in the 10-Point Programme. Therefore, those liars who
    say that we committed ourselves to monarchism in the bush should be

    MO: In the old document [Constitution] the message was that Parliament
    of Uganda was never to be supreme, but that Parliament of Uganda must
    bow to some other assemblies and abide by the reasonings of those
    other assemblies. In this document, the proposal is that Uganda
    Parliament must be supreme.

    YM: In my talk with the Kabaka last night, he referred to the
    difference between political and cultural matters. That is a good
    point. That is what we have been telling Mengo all along. Then, in
    that case we should not discuss with the Katikkiro because he is not
    political; instead we should discuss with the hundreds of the elected
    leaders in Buganda: MPs, LCV-Chairmen, LCIII-Chairmen, etc. Anyway,
    I will discuss all this with His Highness the Kabaka, when we meet
    soon, now that he has answered my telephones after two years.

    On an “ungrateful” Buganda:

    MO: There are many people in this country who did a lot for the
    welfare of our citizens, and who did a lot for the independence of
    this country. Many of them are not Members of this House, but let no
    one think he can use short cuts in order to gain popularity… Some of
    us in this House had to struggle with voters in order to come here.
    Some, of course, came the easy way.

    YM: His Highness the Kabaka could not take the calls of the President
    of Uganda; moreover, the President that led the struggle for democracy
    and the monarchies. I hear that the Baganda have two proverbs:
    ‘gwowonya eggere yalikusambya’ (if you help a person to treat a wound
    on his leg, he will use that particular leg you treated to kick you).
    Another one says: ‘oguggwa tegubamuka (a forgetful person will not
    recall that the old beer he drank, is sweeter than the new beer he is
    currently drinking).’ Anyway, given my work methods, I did not give
    up. Whenever any controversy came up involving Mengo, I would
    telephone His Highness the Kabaka; he would, however, not answer my
    telephones as usual. When the controversy over Buruuli came up, I
    telephoned him; but he refused to answer my telephone.

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