Does Federo require 2 days of prayers, eh?

Opinions July 24, 2006

Two days of national prayers show the absurdity of African thinking
Matsiko wa Mucoori

It started as a joke, then progressed into a circus and now it has matured into a laughable reality. When honourable members of a national Parliament, who have attained formal education, resort to fatalism to determine the country’s destiny, you know danger is lurking.
When Ruhama County MP and First Lady Ms Janet Museveni made her maiden contribution in Parliament by declaring that she had examined Uganda’s problems with microscopic exactness and discovered that the cure lies in “two days of national prayers, I laughed to breaking point. I was resting in the belief that no person of modern and scientific learning would lend any slightest attention to such.

That evening I and my pals at our local drinking joint, mentioned Janet’s motion in the House. We all burst into explosive laughter and declined to comment on it because we believed it was an obvious joke.

Shock came the following day upon hearing that the MPs had overwhelmingly endorsed that “two days of national prayer” was a critical and logical solution to Uganda’s prevailing problems. By endorsing the motion, the MPs confirmed their firm belief that Janet had discovered such a great cure, which had eluded them for all these years.

So Uganda’s problems; rising poverty, electricity crisis and the dropping of Lake Victoria’s water level, robbers, killers, defilers, drought, corrupt government officials who swindle money meant to buy drugs for the sick, the poor roads, rising HIV infection, will be best addressed by two days of praying!

Did Janet consult God and so did He tell her that He is not satisfied with the regular Friday, Saturday and Sunday prayers Christians and Muslims hold every week? Could it be the reason why God had been reluctant to help Uganda?

This just shows the inside of the brain of a typical Black African. Africans are not guided by scientific thinking. They survive on belief in a supernatural being because they don’t believe that solutions to their problems are within their means or knowledge. That’s why Africa will remain the most backward continent for centuries. We are so stuck in fatalism that we firmly (but falsely) believe we cannot determine our destiny by ourselves. There must be a divine intervention.

That’s why from Cairo in the north, down to Cape Town in the south, no single Black African has made a discovery of world standard.

When HIV/Aids cases were first detected in Uganda in 1980s, most people first called it a curse from God. Others said it was witchcraft. They had resigned to fate until a non-Black African discovered that actually Aids was caused by a virus called HIV.

This warped Black African thinking is what has ruined and continues to ruin Africa and its populace. Otherwise how would a progressive brain in this 21st century suggest that a country’s material problems are curable by mere prayers? That is why in Africa, we can still have a vice president who engages in live sex with an HIV infected woman and after he has enjoyed his fill, he runs to bathe with soap thinking he will not catch the virus.

When other countries were busy engaged in advance tactical and strategic planning on how to win the World Cup in Germany, Togolese were busy soliciting services of a witchdoctor to help them win the world trophy. Though the witchdoctor was denied a visa to travel.

Recently in Niger, the world’s poorest country whose 60 per cent of the population survives on less than one dollar a day, the President Mamadou Tandja, joined national prayers, like Janet’s, to pray for the seasonal rains to come. All people who went to school know what causes rain and definitely prayers are not among the factors. So if Africa is blessed with such leaders, who seek solutions to their countries’ problems from the divine world, not their brains, how will this continent and its people develop?

Resorting to prayers is an indelible admission of desperation. People go for prayers when they have lost all hope of finding any pragmatic redress to their plight. In Uganda, the problems we have are not spiritual and therefore their solutions do not lie in the prayers. We have government officials who have swindled public money. I would have expected Janet to call for tougher penalties to such fraudsters. She would call for their arrest and prosecution and probably say that upon conviction such criminals should be retired without benefits or should be forced to pay back the stolen money. Do such people need prayers or jail?

If we were to engage in marathon prayers to fight crime, wouldn’t we wake up one day to find the country besieged by criminals? But perhaps Janet and her fellow MPs can help me understand this: How will prayers for instance help raise the water level of Lake Victoria and solve our power crisis? How will prayers solve our poverty? How will they repair our roads? How will the prayers solve cattle rustling in Karamoja? This thinking is just embedded in the Black African mind. Africans always want to blame someone for their dilemma and they will find colonialism their easy target even when what colonialists left behind has been wasted or destroyed by the African pseudo-liberators/revolutionaries.

You will attend a conference presided over by professors and other intellectuals purportedly to tackle Africa’s problems. But speaker after speaker, will be blaming colonialists for Africa’s backwardness. Most present day developed nations were also one time colonised. America, the world’s super power today, was colonised by the British until 1783.

So was Japan, Korea, China, Russia, India etc. But how come they have developed and Africa has not? If colonialism was the cause, how come Ethiopia and Liberia which were never colonised are not Africa’s super powers or the world’s developed economies?

The logical question is: For how long shall we lament about colonialism? The colonialists had no obligation to develop Africa. It’s like blaming the Pope for not promoting Islam. If Africans had colonised Europe, they would have done the same.

The author is a journalist

Kony wants federo

By Henry Mukasa

THE Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has demanded federalism and self determination for the north and east as a solution to political marginalisation. The rebel group, at the ongoing talks in Juba, Southern Sudan, came short to calling for secession.

The LRA yesterday demanded in its position paper on “Participation in National Politics and Institutions; Economic and Social Development of Northern and Eastern Uganda” that the Uganda Constitution be amended to provide for federal states. “Since we are ‘primitive’, ‘backward’ and ‘uncivilised’, and nobody within the present political dispensation wants to civilise us, we opt for self determination so that we are free to civilise ourselves and develop our own institutions within our capabilities in partnership with any nations of the world,” the LRA stated.

Led by Joseph Kony, the LRA which has been fighting to establish a government run on the basis of the Biblical commandments seems to have abandoned the spiritual path and is making real political demands. Kony claims to operate on the directives of the ‘Holy Spirit’. Last year, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Kony and four of his commanders for crimes against humanity. This is the second statement the LRA is issuing attacking the Government since the talks opened on July 5.

However, the Government delegation has said it will not be diverted from the talks by unfounded allegations. “Since the Government seems to be so unapologetic about its bad politics of marginalisation of the north and the east, LRA’s demand in respect of participation in our national politics and institutions is an overhaul of the Constitution to provide for, among others, federalism,” the rebel group stated in its paper.

Every federal state, they said, may cultivate its best energies and synergies for its own development. They argued that the states would exploit resources within their boundaries for the good of its people first, and only contribute to the central government as a secondary beneficiary. They said donors shall deal directly with the federal states “to avoid dissipation of funds by corrupt central government officials covered by State immunity”.

The rebels also demanded the re-introduction of presidential term limits lifted by Parliament during the amendment of the Constitution last year. They said they wanted a political dispensation that guarantees the unity and stability of the country through fair sharing of the national cake.

“The north and the east should not be politically persecuted and marginalised for any perceived wrong committed by any past regime. We demand a proportionate power sharing arrangement that takes care of regional and population balance of the country,” they said. Each delegation is supposed to present a stand on participation in national politics and tackle matters to do with political marginalisation, imbalance in participation in national institutions, inequitable and unbalanced economic development and disparity in the provision of social infrastructure. Sources say that while presenting the LRA paper at a closed meeting at Juba Raha Hotel, Obonyo Olweny, the spokesman for the LRA team, told chief mediator Dr. Riek Machar, the Southern Sudan Vice President, that his team was concerned that the Government team seemed not to have “mandate to negotiate with us but to demand terms of surrender”. He reportedly added, “Nevertheless we wish to reaffirm our firm commitment and that of our principals, to quick, expeditious but fair and just resolutions of the causes of the conflict.”

The LRA maintained its claims that Nilotics were being persecuted, adding that even with his military dictatorship, Idi Amin never pursued such a deliberate policy to keep the country divided “as it is today in Uganda”. “It is regrettable that, upon assumption of state power, the NRM embarked on a deliberate policy to divide the country, firstly between the Bantu and the Nilotics; and secondly to ethnic group and lineage kinship and marriage relationships,” the LRA said. The rebels said a cursory look at appointments in all government statutory authorities and commissions, parastatals and departments pointed to favouritism. The LRA also bashed the Government for what they called “rampant corruption and abuse of office” that “has no comparison in the history of post-Independence Uganda.” They pointed a finger at the agreement for the exploration and production of the recently discovered oil deposit on the shores of Lake Albert as one that “smacks of the usual outrage Ugandans are now accustomed to”.

“Can you countenance the fact that the nation shall only end up getting less than 26% of this natural resource? Considering that nearly all the people involved in the negotiation of the deal are from one region of the country, it is irresistible to hazard the suggestion of a possibility of foul play somewhere,” they stated. “If the world does not intervene and come to our aid, catastrophe looms over the north and the east of the country. The Government should not be allowed to hide behind the veil of insecurity,” the rebels said, inviting the UN and other humanitarian agencies to investigate “all the allegations of persecution of genocidal proportions.”

Meanwhile the Government delegation, which is led by Internal Affairs Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, has decided it will not be responding to LRA statements in the media any more, because they are diversionary. Capt. Paddy Ankunda, the delegation’s spokesman, said this will not change unless it is found that a response is absolutely necessary and in the spirit of the talks.

“These statements from their face value seem to be meant to make us lose focus from tackling more meaningful issues that pertain to the success of the peace talks. We will not engage in this ping pong,” Ankunda said. He advised the LRA team to grab the chance to negotiate for a soft landing. He said the LRA attacks and sentimental allegations with no requests for reconciliation were not in the spirit of peace talks. Ankunda noted that the LRA delegation was attempting to articulate some semblance of a political agenda for LRA and give it a political face.

“One wonders why nothing has so far been mention about Kony’s agenda of wanting to rule Uganda using the ten commandments,” he observed He was, however, optimistic that the talks would succeed.

“There is more hope today than ever before that peace for northern Uganda and Southern Sudan is just around the corner,” he said. Ends

Published on: Saturday, 22nd July, 2006

Govt should adopt federo system

Ugandans need to identify the root cause of our country's problems and do something about it.

The unitary system has failed Ugandans and the majority of the problems are caused by lack of strong regional governments.

As long as the power is in the hands of a chosen few in Kampala, then corruption, security, poverty, ethnic tensions, wars will never go away. They're a result of the unitary system.

We need to recognise the necessity to abandon the current unitary model of governance. We should be debating federo and how to implement it. All past and present experiments with other governance structures have not been able to deal successfully and satisfactorily with the problems of a complex multi-ethnic society.

Writing the constitution when Museveni was President and amending it while he was still President, giving him more bisanja and enabling him to rule for life, clearly points to what's wrong with the current system. With multi parties, one party or no parties, Uganda is bound to remain the same, a country full of power struggles, corruption and poverty.

It's time to be candid, face the reality, and find a lasting solution which is an all-inclusive federo system of governance for Uganda.

FN Lugemwa

Katikkiro of Bunyoro supports regional tier

News July 14, 2006

Ausi Balyesiima

THE Katikkiro of Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom, Mr Erisa Byenkya Kagoro, has said political leaders who are against the regional tier system of governance are enemies of Bunyoro. “Bunyoro has unique problems compared to other regions in the country and a regional government is the only voice to help Bunyoro if development is to be attained,” he said.

Byenkya was addressing residents at Masindi Boma Grounds during celebrations to congratulate Ms Kabakumba Matsiko upon winning Bunjeje County parliamentary polls in February.

The celebrations were presided over by the Second Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Henry Kajura.Kajura, who is also the Minister of Public Service, appealed to leaders in the area to mobilise the population into working hard to fight poverty.

Kabakumba thanked the people for their prayers which led to her appointment as the government chief whip. She promised to work with every body to develop the country.

Buganda has nothing to lose but her chains


Peter Mulira is the person I least expected to be uncertain about the system of government he cherishes. In his June 27 column, Mulira wrote, “Only the sharing of tax revenue recommended is not covered in the regional tier proposals. Mengo should open up to alternative views before committing the kingdom to an unnecessary constitutional crisis from which Buganda may never recover this time round.” Mulira’s remarks saddened me. Buganda is not dying to become a federal entity if what is thrown to it is merely decorated as federo. We are patient, as has always been the case. Above all, the federalism we are craving is for all the people of Uganda.

Uganda, which became independent in 1962, is a country of many nations, with a rich mosaic of cultures and traditions. That is why Winston Churchill referred to it as the Pearl of Africa.

The quest for federalism is not new. We voluntarily came together in our respective diversities to form one nation on the basis of the principle of unity in diversity. We lived happily at one time as a quasi-federal entity between 1962 and 1966 and our economy even registered an extraordinary boom. Since the collapse of the federal union among the regions, Uganda has never recovered from the confusion and economic decay.

Over 35% of the population today lives below the poverty line. Why is there endless war in northern Uganda? Why is corruption endemic and why are people so poor? There is no reliable formula to direct the distribution of the national cake. One has to be powerful to influence wealth distribution.

The federal system can reduce these economic disparities. Federalism is a system of government where executive powers, including sovereignty and independence, are constitutionally shared between the centre and the regions. It symbolises the right to live and act freely.

The regional tier should be referred to as LC6 because it is an extension of what LC5 does. The federal arrangement need not cover all the regions at its inception; it can begin with a few states as others get ready. In 1989, the decentralisation exercise started with 13 districts but as I write all the districts of Uganda are part of the decentralisation order. Why doesn’t the Government want the regions to collect taxes as well as plan for their survival? I smell a rat.

In the regional tier arrangement, everything related to finance is the responsibility of the centre. Worse still, the districts run parallel economic activities with the regions. In a federal order, the district will be under the region and the two power centres have a common goal and depend on each other in the collection and levy of taxes. It is meaningless to deprive the region of tax-collection while you let the district carry out the same activity.

A federal order would remove the need for a large Parliament and Executive. Service delivery is not dependent on the size of the Cabinet or Parliament in a federation. Tax collection and planning in a federation is a prerequisite for it enables the regions to build capacity as well as groom leaders, which would not happen in the regional tier. Why does Mulira want Mengo to accept any alternative if what Mengo is pursuing will equitably be shared by all the regions? Is Mulira looking for a ministerial job? Why should Buganda’s demand for federalism culminate in a constitutional crisis? That is defeatism. Buganda and other federo agitators should stick to what they want. They have nothing to lose but their chains.

The writer was the chairman of the federal studies caucus in the 7th Parliament

Published on: Saturday, 8th July, 2006