Secessionitsts are ice cold strategic federalists!

ON THE MARK Alan Tacca


Secession, East African unity and treason
September 9 - 15, 2007

I think it is no longer disputed that the supposed champions of Buganda’s secession are not really bidding for secession, but for federalism under a central Ugandan government. Sometimes, a negotiator demands the total surrender of an old foe, when his aim is only the establishment of peace and cooperation between the warring parties.
However, in these tropical latitudes, the Makindye West legislator, Hussein Kyanjo, who initially disturbed the beehive and was interrogated by the Criminal Investigations Directorate, cannot be sure what more agitated political times would throw at him. But what is all the fuss about? After all, if unity is strength, then a province that opts out of the present country would eventually pay the price for its folly.
The seceding quarter of the country would in the long term be economically battered more harshly than the remaining three-quarters. Well, even if we took Kyanjo’s remarks literally, it is obvious that the pursuit of a secessionist idea would be nigh impossible under a militarised regime whose power is as centralised as with the NRM.
Gulu District chairman, Nobert Mao, who had earlier toyed with a similar idea for the north was a joker. MP Kyanjo, who referred to the (central) Buganda region, was a five-star joker. The UPDF, under Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, would never permit the sin, because the sovereign oneness of the Republic of Uganda is sacrosanct. We shall return to this point later.
Under the NRM government, two contradictory processes have been going on simultaneously. The NRM is pushing for economic integration and political federation in the direction of East Africa, and the same NRM is working for the fragmentation of Uganda. If the official “gang up” theory of development is to be taken seriously, then we may conclude that the NRM aims at impoverishing and politically weakening the people (as Ugandans), and at the same time is desirous of enriching and empowering them (as East Africans).
Indeed, among all the districts recently created to “bring services nearer to the people”, there are a number whose story of the year will be the haggle over buying a secondhand four-wheel-drive vehicle for the district chairman. Too small and too resource-starved to venture into meaningful health, education, agrarian or infrastructure initiatives.
They are simply conduits for petty partisan parasitic consumption, with the cardinal mission of the NRM being how to keep out those who do not subscribe to their party.It seems then that the party leadership fears a prosperous and relatively free population within the limited Ugandan polity more than a similar population in the larger East African context.
That is why the agitators for internal federalism (federo) in Uganda are treated with contempt, and “good” reasons are invented to justify the creation of more districts. It is also why the government tends to “negotiate” with Buganda’s Mengo establishment over federo as if it were dealing with an enemy, producing no tangible results, and by contrast discusses political integration with Uganda’s neighbours in a friendly respectful tone.
But now we return to the country’s sovereignty. Let us suppose that Uganda’s changing circumstances made the call for secession something for real. We assume that the State (Uganda) is sacrosanct.
Its territory within a fixed boundary, its people and its defining institutions are inviolable; so the purists say. Those who demand federo are perceived as threatening its oneness; those who warn of secessionist waves have one leg in treason.Why? What about the call for merging Uganda with other countries? When we split a plank once, we get two planks.
On the other hand, if we bind the plank to several others, we get a raft. The raft no doubt has its virtues; but so also is the split plank. However, in both cases the original plank has lost its holy oneness. From this angle, it would be intriguing to hear an argument that the calls for East African Federation are as treasonable as those for Buganda or northern secession.
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