In Conversation with Hon. Alaso Alice - 28th January.
The Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) initiated a monthly series tagged In Conversation With on the 28th of January 2022. This party activity, which features key persons in ANT, aims to inform, educate, and inspire Ugandans throughout the country and in the diaspora about ANT. The first of these conversations featured ANT’s National Coordinator, Hon. Alaso Alice Asianut and moderated by Timothy Nyangweso.
This document highlights aspects of the discussion, and a recording of the conversation can be found on the party’s YoutTube and Facebook platforms.
Update on ANT’s activities.
At the inception of ANT, the party's leadership made a deliberate decision to work in the most realistic way possible. We were the first party after the elections to conduct a review of the entire electoral process by touring the country. We believed it would strengthen us internally. Everyone involved in ANT's day-to-day activities is aware of the ongoing processes within the party, and we hold press conferences when absolutely required. For example, ANT has spent time and effort advocating for the reopening of schools and places of worship, together with submitting write-ups and proposals. In addition, we have been holding policy dialogues. These are aimed at helping us develop our own internal policy understanding in order to determine what aspects to include in the party manifesto or policy positions to market to the Ugandan public. Party meetings are going on as usual, and we have been working on a strategic plan for the party, which should be completed in February. We continue to work on guidelines, policies, and strategic frameworks, for the party. Our focus is on creating the party's infrastructure thus we are searching for resources at the district and sub-county levels to help us put up the infrastructure that will run the party for the next five years and into the future.
Merging efforts with other political parties to achieve a critical mass.
We must first achieve critical mass within ANT before considering persuading our neighbours. When it comes to relating to other political groups or democratic-seeking forces in the country, we don't believe changing the way they run their affairs is a good idea; that would imply meddling with their ideological orientation. We are willing to collaborate with them on issues that are mutually beneficial.
On the invitation to partner with the People’s Front for Transition
It is a good idea for people to come together and advocate for the causes they believe will bring about change. While we were invited to participate, the party's leadership deemed the offer to be incompatible with the party's program. Our work in the sub-regions across the country was scheduled to begin, including infrastructure building. We had to consider whether we had the resources to both carry out our party activities and join hands with the People’s Front. We realistically did not have those resources. We are not antagonistic to the People’s Front, and we will evaluate their invitation again most likely in March or April of this year. We are open to listening and gathering information so that when the leadership meets again, they will be able to review based on the facts and information available to them.
What is harming the average Ugandan?
I believe that urban poverty is a big problem right now. The government and the management of the Kampala City Authority are treating symptoms and attempting to bury the problem. Ugandans are resorting to extreme measures to survive due to poverty and unemployment, as evidenced by hawkers on the street of Kampala. A solution should be developed in collaboration with citizens, and this means creating more jobs, developing markets, improving rural areas so that some people can return to their communities, and raising wages. On the other hand, leadership and politics are the two most serious issues in this country. Politics is about who gets what, when, and where. Those in charge of this country have failed to consider the poor, youth, unemployed, urban and slum dwellers. As the government diverts resources from the people, we remain with a people who are unemployed and unskilled, and who will have to find a way to survive. We have huge potential in the agriculture and tourism industries, but the country is managed in a very corrupt and manipulative way, whereby people are not at the centre, and the potential our country has is not harnessed for the citizens.
Solutions to the problem
We highlighted in ANT’s manifesto that water should be provided for irrigation to those rural youth in Amuria, and off-season production should be done throughout the year. The government should invest more in agriculture and create opportunities for market links, and standardized production, and there should be skilling of small and medium enterprises. This can be achieved through political will and leadership. We have always told Ugandans to vote for what they want to see not what they are being given. Hopefully, the country will wake up to this reality because change is possible with value-based leadership.
Insecurity in Uganda
Security in Uganda is a multifaceted affair. The real cause of insecurity in this country is bigger than demonstrations, activism, or defiance. The poor are part of this insecurity because of their unemployability and it’s a threat to the country. The only language the government understands is using the instrument of force to subdue protests, alternative thinking, and possibilities of change in government. Consider the unresolved conflicts in northern Uganda, like the issue of the Aper land in which the government is playing the Acholi against the Maddi. This is dangerous because a stable government should come out and take an unequivocal position to enforce it; they haven't. Hence, creating hot spots and unrest in the country has caused more significant insecurity problems than the fear of some hawker, vendor, or boda-boda. Human nature will act to survive beyond the operation. Our task at this stage is to keep voicing our concerns and caution government to listen to Ugandans. We urge Gen. Museveni to stop thinking that the one-man vision he has had all these years can still drive this nation; it is now stale.
The fuel crisis
The pump price in Uganda was higher than its neighbouring countries. It was about the management of the dynamics internally. Around November-October last year (2021), the fuel dealers had voiced concern because the Ugandan Revenue Authority was due to levy an additional UGX100 on every litre of fuel they bring in and that is the background to the fuel crisis. The challenge we face is a narrow tax base to the extent that whenever the government realizes shortfalls, all they think about is how to get more from the same sources of tax that we have. Our argument as ANT has been that the government should diversify the tax base. The ability to do so is limited because of the weaknesses in the production sector. In Uganda, the government profits from these corporate organizations, while levying a direct tax on the products. As ANT, when it comes to taxes it’s all about increasing production, diversification, and taking corporate, who make huge profits from this country. Nonetheless, the current government cannot be advised.
On Museveni’s drastic measures
General Museveni came in to offer a democratic dispensation and not a monarchy. When we look back at Gen. Museveni’s legacy, we will struggle to find things to hold on to. It is possible that the only thing we can cling to is if the country remains intact after he has exited, and I hope the president will not impose anyone on us. Gen. Museveni talked about a civilian not being able to run this country; we read that to be a clue that General Muhoozi is coming as the next part of the monarchy. There have also been changes in the CID. I do not understand why Gen. Museveni will be so obsessed with killing and substituting what would have been the civilian police force (the traditional police force fabric) with the military. He has the option to say there are no more police and say we now have a military UPDF instead. The character of policing in Uganda is so militarized at the moment. We also cannot talk about judicial independence in Uganda today because their decisions are influenced by the powers that run this country. The electoral commission has been taken over by the military and is not independent as they say. The idea is to kill the institutions and create a concrete military outfit in charge of all civilian affairs.
I encourage Ugandans to get goodness into the leadership equation of this country and let us deploy it. Teach your children and relatives the importance of speaking up and getting involved in voting and shun corruption. You must do something and offer yourself a form of leadership, be a part of a team like ANT. If you want change for the better you have to invest in it, you have to be a part of the process. Ugandans must have hope and we must work together to kick out dictatorship. The sum of our efforts should bring about the change we want. We do not also want to reach there without preparing for what we will do when we reach there.
Lastly, I encourage you to make a financial contribution to the party; whether it is 1000 shillings or more, on a monthly basis, it will go a long way to aid our efforts to reach every part of the country. Please use the ANT if you wish to donate money to us. I also invite Ugandans to volunteer their time and skills to help the party in its planned activities.