ASK MUGISHA MUNTU DIALOGUE – 10th December 2021
The Ask Mugisha Muntu dialogues are aimed at informing, educating, and inspiring Ugandans throughout the country and in the diaspora. The dialogues take place once a month. Today's discussion is this year’s final session in the series, and it was superbly moderated by Gabriel Iguma.
This section summarizes some of the key points from the discussions, however, most of the details may be found on the ANT Facebook page or our YouTube channel, where the video is now archived.
Update On What ANT Has Been Up To
Even though there was a lockdown for most of the year, we continued to be active online and held several meetings thanks to the convenience of technology. Also, prior to the lockdown in May, we were able to travel around the country and hold sub-regional meetings, during which we met over 90 percent of our 740 candidates running on our ticket, starting from Council LC3. When the lockdown began, we intended to begin our exercise of travelling around the country, but we were unable to do so. However, after it was lifted, we began trainings, where we trained 50 people at various levels (Batches; one at LC3 and the other at the CT level and national level). We're still working on logistics, but I anticipate we'll be able to get started after the holidays. Currently, we have several colleagues working on various platforms (TV and radio stations) to communicate messages from the Alliance for National Transformation to the wider public. This is due to the fact that we are built on two pillars: the first is having the infrastructure in terms of leadership at all levels, and the second is ensuring that we continue to communicate who we are as a value-driven organization to Ugandans both in the country and in the Diaspora. We at ANT are grateful for the fact that we appear to be attracting more people within the country who share our ideals and messages. We will continue to publicize our positive intentions to the people of Uganda until we see a dramatic shift in our people's mentality. Most leaders get involved in politics for the sake of excitement, where all they do is attack rival parties rather than focusing on solutions that are essential to inspire productive improvements in Uganda. I believe that any group that wishes to improve the fortunes of our country must include a considerable number of leaders who are committed to finding solutions to the problems we confront.
Mobilizing Activity as ANT
The regime comes up with ways to change public opinion and the opposition's views. The idea is to not respond prematurely or immaturely. There are different paths to taking power and at ANT we believe in building our structures first. Also at ANT, we continue to move politics to issue-based politics, through our various appearances in various mediums. However, when we respond in immature ways, we end up fighting against each other and doing exactly what they want. To go back a little, there used to be two factions in FDC: those who believed that civil disobedience was the only way to gain power, and a couple of us who believed in the importance of gaining power in a more legitimate manner. Despite our diverse thinking patterns, both sides would have been able to construct the party from the ground up if we had acted maturely on both sides.
Our method as the Alliance for National Transformation is to pursue the mechanisms we believe will work. However, if we discover other parties taking a different approach, whether we agree with it or not, we aim to refrain from agitating or undermining them. This is because we believe that whichever way works will work. Furthermore, the current system purposefully targets people because it is afraid of people who engage in civil disobedience. If a person engages in civil disobedience and is able to mobilize thousands of people in several towns, the current leadership recognizes that this poses a threat to their survival.
I suppose therefore they destabilize people who engage in civil disobedience before they have a chance to persuade the masses and increase their numbers. As ANT, we take a different approach; we frequently visit rural communities at the sub-county level. We operate, but the press is never made aware of it until we return. We went to three different districts to conduct the pilot studies: we spent five days in Serere and visited 11 sub-counties before the elections. We also spent four and a half days in Namayingo; we accomplished these exercises, but the president was unaware, and he made no attempt to advertise it. When we left, we had a considerable presence in those places; for example, we had 14 local government leaders as a consequence of the 2021 elections in Uguene. In Terego, we also had a significant result in terms of leadership; we had LC5, LC3, and 7 to 8 counsellors. Doing this type of job is not politically appealing because many people do not realize what you are doing, and the regime is equally unconcerned about it because it does not feel threatened by them. However, at ANT, we will continue to do what we must because our mission is to ensure that we transform this country, which we cannot accomplish unless we gain power. Taking power will be impossible unless we develop a strong party and continue to connect with like-minded Ugandans who want to make a difference. Those who believe in us will work with us, while those who do not believe in us will work against us.
Deployment Of UPDF In Congo
We are operating in a very hostile environment in which those of us in the opposition realize that General Museveni is where he is, not because of a free and fair election procedure; rather, he is there because he manipulated the electoral process, as he has done numerous times. We understand that before we can take power and change things, we must first deal with the problem as it is, not as it should be. We are also aware that the ADF campaign, which took place in the last month or two, was handled in a discriminatory manner.
A group that acts in this manner, in my opinion, should be neutralized. I also believe that President Felix Tshisekedi is doing the right thing by engaging the governments of the surrounding nations with which the DRC shares borders (Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi). In particular, I believe that the UPDF has entered Congo this time because of an agreement between the DRC and the Ugandan government, as opposed to previous times when the UPDF invaded Congo. The commanders of the UPDF, in my opinion, need to understand the UPDF's history in Congo. The image which was created of the last two incursions was very unfortunate because the image of the country and the UPDF was dented. It also resulted in an international court case, which we lost, and we are now obligated to pay billions of dollars. With this background information, I hope that the UPDF commanders see this as an opportunity to improve the image of the UPDF and the country. If UPDF officers can neutralize ADF while simultaneously conducting operations without resorting to human rights violations; they will fulfil their relevant goals, which are to clean up the image of the UPDF as well as the image of the country.
Important to note is that General Museveni has previously taken the UPDF out of the nation without first seeking parliament's approval. He appears to be oblivious to the fact that this is not a contestation problem, but rather a constitutional one. General Museveni's attitude does not acknowledge institutions. He acts under the guise of being the alpha and omega, which is deceptive. It is my wish and hope that the next party to take power would focus on establishing institutions. I believe that institutional strength will improve the functioning of government systems and serve as the foundation for Uganda's long-term economic growth and development. I hope that all of this is done not because of the goodness of any individual at the top, but because of the institutional strength embodied in the constitution. Furthermore, it is not only General Museveni who is at fault in this matter; if you are backed by the constitution, you have the courage to take a position and guarantee that the executive does not ride short of you. The majority of those who support the NRM do not have the courage to stand up and demand that the parliament be recognized as an institution, regardless of whose party they support.
Members of Parliament Vs Element of Surprise in Warfare
Saying something is one thing, executing it is quite another. Parliament has complete authority to check the executive, but this is contingent on the level of commitment, courage, and boldness demonstrated by members of parliament. Museveni would not be ruling the country as if it were his personal home if the parliament had continued to improve its capabilities. If perhaps 250 or 300 of the 500 parliamentarians from the ruling party are able to express their views, they may be able to bring the executive to order, as the law is already on their side. There are sufficient checks and balances on the executive, therefore this is not about a flaw in the law or the constitution. However, if members of parliament do not exert their authority, they will always fall victim to manipulation. Leadership is all about analyzing situations and looking for provisions in the constitution that permits one to deal with specific situations and if there is no provision in the constitution for dealing with such situations, then the executive and parliamentarians must deliberate on how they can involve the army without losing the element of surprise. Ugandans have a role to play in this issue as well. For instance, when sending people to fill legislative seats, they ought to do background checks on them in order to determine their track record, the values they subscribe to, and their viewpoints on the establishment of institutions, among other things.
Success of the DRC Mission Vs US Sanction
First and foremost, I am unaware of any agreement between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda. However, I truly hope it is limited to operations against the ADF, as Eastern Congo is densely populated by a variety of organizations (political, territorial, etc.), establishing an environment conducive to resource looting. I hope that the UPDF is only there for the ADF, and that the main goal will be to get rid of the ADF's operational abilities. If they are able to do so, I believe the mission will be completed successfully. However, as an individual and in my opinion, the current President of Congo appears to be someone who wants to build state capabilities and have total control over Eastern Congo, and I believe now that he is approaching different countries in East Africa, a framework needs to be created, within which East Africa can connect with DRC and help her stabilize and become a robust state within Eastern Congo. Once the situation in Eastern Congo and the entire country of Congo is stabilized, DRC will become one of the most important drivers of economic growth in East Africa. As a result, my goal is that a regional strategy would be taken to the general stabilization of Eastern Congo. Also in my opinion, if Uganda is asked to be part of the East African Framework for the stabilization of Eastern Congo, then it could do so, but as part of a larger group of East African actors.
The sanctions imposed by the rest of the world should not be feared by our army officers or leaders, but rather the internal sanctions imposed by the Ugandan people. There is no group which can hang on to power until the end of time: Change is inevitable. Change will happen. The current leadership should begin devising strategies for reclaiming the image they have destroyed both domestically and internationally. If they continue to act arrogantly, there will come a moment when they will not be wearing uniforms or carrying firearms to protect themselves. A reasonable individual understands that doing things correctly provides the best protection; since there will come a time when arrogance and guns won't be able to keep them safe.
Zero Tolerance Towards Corruption vs Making Corruption the Peoples Fight
General Museveni has stated that corruption is irrelevant as long as money is invested in Uganda, thus regime supporters should not complain. However, at ANT, we believe it is critical that corruption be combated. It is impossible to eradicate corruption without beginning at the top. All groups that are unable to overcome the temptations of power eventually become corrupted by it. Therefore, this is an opportunity for Ugandans who believe in values to do the things that must be done in order to prepare for the post-Museveni period. Influencers must awaken and begin reorganizing the world in the direction of a corruption-free state. To combat corruption in Uganda, we need a disciplined leadership culture. At the end of the day, it is up to us, Ugandans, to make it happen. Consider this: what type of society do we want to create? So, rather than being swayed from one end to the other, we must make a decision.
A party attempting to combat corruption will be successful only if it has a large percentage of leaders who believe in zero tolerance of corruption. This is why ANT is concentrating its efforts on forming a political party whose leaders recognize that battling corruption aids Uganda's growth. Corruption is corruption, and I do not subscribe to the ideologies that say there is a positive side to corruption: Corruption leads to lawlessness. This means that if you do not have money, you do not have freedom; and anyone can come and take whatever you have. If corruption is to be treated with zero tolerance in Uganda, it will lead to our success.
When the government takes the lead and there is a change of regime, corruption can be made the people's fight: whichever route the regime goes, the population will most likely follow. Top leaders must provide a clear signal to the population that they are not corrupt and that no one is above the law in order for the population to join in anti-corruption initiatives. Also, anti-corruption institutions, such as the police department's criminal investigation department and the directorate of prosecution, should be given the necessary budget. We would have known there was a new beginning if General Museveni had signaled to the Inspector General of Government (IGG), saying, "You know what, we are going to boost the IGG budget; we are giving you leeway to recruit and staff the IGG department to be robust; and you can do anything within the law, and arrest anyone."
ANT’s Fight Against Corruption
I left the army without indulging in any sort of corruption, neither in government nor in the army. Corruption might be as old as history but so is the fight against it. The question here is; which side are you on? Do you support corruption or will you join us in our fight against it?
As I have mentioned, any party seeking to combat corruption will only be successful if it has a sizable proportion of leaders who believe in zero tolerance towards corruption. This is why ANT is working to develop a party whose leaders recognize that fighting corruption helps Uganda grow. Because there are a number of giants that think the same way, we spend a lot of work publicizing the Alliance for National Transformation as a value-driven organization. The objective of ANT is to organize more Ugandans who believe in zero tolerance for corruption to come and join the battle within ANT, thereby enlisting as many Ugandans as possible who are like-minded in order to fulfil the vows that we have made to this country. This means that the battle against corruption is not dependent on a single individual, but rather on teams of leaders at several levels, including the national, district, constituency, and sub-country levels.
If you believe that corruption is acceptable because it has existed for a long time, you are on the wrong side of history. Because murder is as old as history, but there are laws in place to ensure that whoever murders is investigated, arrested, prosecuted, found guilty, and jailed; the same procedures should be implemented when dealing with corrupt individuals. I also believe there are appropriate laws available for those who want to eradicate corruption. However, given the current state of affairs, this regime encourages and believes in corruption. As a result, those on the other side are powerless to intervene. We are not interested in getting involved in pointless fights. As ANT, we choose to be disciplined and to pursue strategies that we believe will be effective.
Meaningful Youth Engagement in Alliance for National Transformation
Those who are part of the Alliance for National Transformation develop capacities wherever they are and attract a growing number of leaders at all levels. With the youth constituting the majority (75 percent of those under the age of 45), the goal is to develop a dominating trend for those who believe in value-driven politics. Working around the clock to promote these ideals is the only way to effectively transform the nature of politics in this country while also establishing a new culture. Other parties' dominant forces that believe in good governance and its principles, fairness, transparency, justice, equality before the law, and long-term economic development that benefits everyone should join forces to make Uganda a better place. If these measures are not put in place, we will continue to have the same problems we have had since our independence.
Women in Ugandan Politics and East African Federation
Women make up 52% of the population. Although it is the responsibility of every Ugandan to change the way women are regarded in politics, I feel that women should team together and work together, regardless of whatever political party they belong to, in order to alter the way women are viewed in politics. The only significant difference between Uganda and other countries is that the divide is not based on gender or age. Rather, it is an issue of where one stands. Do you feel that justice should be served to all? Should there be equity in governance? Is it necessary to have transparency in the management of national resources?
There will be injustice if there are people who do not believe in justice, and there will be no transparency in the administration of natural resources if there are individuals who do not care about transparency in the management of natural resources. If you want to see transparency, good governance, equality, and fairness, and you believe in them and are convinced of them, then join a political party of your preference and add to the numbers that are already there.
The only difficulty with the East African federation is that General Museveni operates in a way that undermines what he deserves to see. General Museveni describes the East African federation as a tool for gaining power and defending ourselves against those in the global world who seek to exploit us. However, strength is not measured in terms of the number of individuals who come together; rather, strength is measured in terms of what you do to empower your own citizens to act in such a way that people are united around similar objectives, interests, and purposes. When people are exploited, it is impossible to build strength. Although General Museveni is dragged into a self-created dilemma, history will sort him out just as it will sort out the rest of us when the time is right.
Political Efficacy In Ugandan Politics
Only by acting in the ways that great leaders do, can we transform people's perceptions of leadership and acquire their trust. For the past 60 years, the majority of people in politics have had a predisposition to operate in ways that erode trust; we become corrupted, we tell lies, we sow division, and we end up manipulating society. There are many honest men and women; but, I have noticed that the bulk of them do not wish to enter politics. However, nature despises vacuums and when there is a vacuum there are people who feel it. The tendency of where we are currently is a sizable fraction of those who enter politics. I believe several of them become involved in politics simply to survive, and once there, they do whatever it takes to develop themselves as individuals without regard for the country's interests.
The question is, how do you shift the balance of forces to the favor of those who want to do what is right? In my opinion, Ugandans who are honest and have integrity should look for an organization that is willing to put in a lot of effort until the balance of forces shifts in favor of people who want to do the right thing. I would encourage them to either directly participate in politics or to contribute behind the scenes by supporting like-minded individuals: they should develop a critical mass in one or two parties, even if they may not be able to do so all at once. Similarly, if you are currently a member of a political party, expand your membership and, while doing so, always do what is right on a continuous basis in order to rebuild trust with the Ugandan people.
We would require the support of Ugandans who want to see change. We require resources, participation in various forms, and opportunities to influence things in order to create a new culture. But if we stay on the sidelines and hope that things will change for the better, that will never happen since nothing good ever happens by chance. All good things happen as a result of purposeful, deliberate, focused, and consistent activities taken by people who desire to do so. As ANT, we are aiming to increase our numbers, and in order to do so, Ugandans who believe in value-driven politics must join us in striving until we are victorious. I believe that with God's help, we shall triumph at some point.