Next week Uganda commemorates 57th Independence anniversary to be held in Sironko district, Elgon region under the theme “Consolidating National Unity, Security, Freedom, and Prosperity.” As we begin this journey we should dedicate appreciation to all the heroes and hard working Ugandans. In particular, we honour the National Resistance Army/Movement (NRA/M) that took control of national leadership in 1986 to resurrect Uganda from the abyss where it had been dumped.
However, in the past two years there has been creeping criminality involving robbery with violence, kidnaps and murders which has caused fear, anxiety and apprehension that perhaps Uganda’s security system had collapsed. Cases of alleged and sometimes, established incidences of illegal, unlawful arrests and detention, and torture by elements in the security agencies haven’t lessened those apprehensions that Uganda is sliding back to the dark days. Most of these cases have occurred in metropolitan area comprising Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono.
While a fringe of element in the political opposition have been derisive, and hoping to cash in these sad events, the record of the NRM testifies that it will never permit government agents to behave like rogues. Nevertheless, it is important, that command and control of security services is tightened to eliminate any possibility of wrongdoers getting away unpunished for breach of the law and unprofessional conduct. We must collectively work together to expose those state security agents who continue to perpetuate impunity, and hold them individually accountable.
As we celebrate the 57th year of independence we should know that Uganda is very secure, stable and consolidating progress in spite of those isolated unfortunate incidences. Also, that Uganda has never been more secure and promising than today.
We know that despite the euphoria that reigned in the first year, in 1964, politics became turbulent as fair-weather allies-UPC and Kabaka Yekka, turned against each, and by 1966, full-scaled war exploded with the expulsion of Sir Edward Mutesa, as the first president. The subsequent destruction and abolition of cultural institutions throughout Uganda have had grave and painful consequences.
That turbulence continued throughout much of the first three decades until 2006 when the NRM extinguished raging fire with the defeat of the LRA in northern Uganda and disarming Karimong warriors and livestock rustlers. That turbulent history was also characterized by episodes of coups, dictatorships, external military invasion, contested electoral outcomes, civil wars, collapsed economy and a failed state. Uganda suffered intermittent conflicts mainly because of intransigence by parochial and weak leaders who sought to build their political bases on tribal, ethnic and religious sectarianism taking false advantage of these diversities.
Consequently in 1966, Prime Minister, Apollo Milton Obote, overthrew Mutesa, declared himself president and Uganda a republic. Successive military coups and violent regimes followed including Idi Amin’s eight years, the reign of terror, blood, murders, complete economic ruin and a failed state from 1971-1979.
In 1986 when the NRA/M captured power after a five year protracted people’s war, the country went through two decades of armed rebellion especially in northern, northwest, eastern and parts of central Uganda mainly rearguard actions staged by those that had earlier been defeated or adventurists.
Many didn’t believe that a revolution and liberation had taken place, and indeed today, some still doubt that a revolution is underway in Uganda under the NRM led by President Yoweri Museveni. The ongoing politics of subterfuge, malice, and spreading fear and hate is a natural continuation of rearguard actions by the reactionary elements often with external support taking advantage of many internal weaknesses of and blatant mistakes by the NRM leadership. They hope to rollback the gains of the revolution.
Although there have been strong and different opposition groups across the country, NRM’s strong leadership has enabled Uganda to not only survive the turbulence but also establish stability, progress, and socio-economic transformation now underway throughout the country. Our collective focus must be to ensure continuous vigilance by exposing the corrupt, cheats, traitors, and malingerers in order to make these gains irreversible. We must continue to expand opportunities especially through education, mindset change, innovation and private enterprise to the young generation taking full advantage of Uganda’s bounty natural resources.
Since the defeat of rebellion and rustlers, both northern Uganda and Karamoja that had almost been written off, have today become among the fastest growing regions in the country. Through its Ten-Point Programme, NRM has made Uganda take an all round big stride. Unfortunately the political hubris from across the aisle does nothing useful towards the drive to create jobs, reform our governance, fix education and healthcare systems or putting money and food on the table of most Ugandans. Nevertheless, as move towards the next circle of general elections let all Ugandans especially the leaders pledge to make it corruption and violence free. We must accord one another their due political space without blackmail, intimidation, intransigent behaviuor, and affront to the rule of law and even common sense because Uganda, belongs to all of us in equal measure.
Ofwono Opondo, is the Government Spokesperson and head of Uganda Media Centre