Sunday, December 19, 2010


While some people thought that the liberation war by NRA/M in Uganda was to deliver goods and services; they are getting out of the dreamland and realizing that these people had an agenda known to them selves why they struggled to remove those they call bad leaders. NRM unfortunately has had its round of sins against the people of Uganda, not only is its leader clinging to power, 1st by changing positions in the constitution but has been able to 'block the wish of the people' the reason why the country is yet to enjoy the federal governance which many people clearly cherish as of now. NRM administration has used the military to threaten the people of Uganda and many see themselves at the mercy of these people, which is most unfortunate. When the NRM talk of being in power for 50 years, it is their agenda they are implementing, and only God can stop them. They have managed to make majority of the people systematically poor and now are justified in providing resources to educate children even at Primary level simply because the Ugandan turned peasants are left without income worth mentioning and many can hardly get employment to earn income.
Meanwhile some of the UPDF are property people and a number are known to be really rich!

Minister Hope Mwesigye touring Sanga stock farm in Kiruhura district

In; "Encroachers grab 1,230 acres from Sanga govt stock farm," It is clear that a UPDF soldier by the name:Capt. David Byabasaija, who occupies 640 acres. The New vision, Ronald Kalyango reported, "OVER 1,230 acres of land belonging to Sanga Government stock farm in Kiruhura district have been encroached on, the farm manager, Tindyebwa Mugugo, has said. Mugugo told agriculture minister Hope Mwesigye, during her tour of the farm on Monday, that out of the 1,600 acres that the farm owned, only 370 acres remained. “We need to fence off the farm, otherwise we risk losing all the land,” Mugugo said in a brief report. The encroachers, Mugugo said, included Capt. David Byabasaija, who occupies 640 acres; Sanga town council, which grabbed 30 acres, and herdsmen, who took over 60 acres for grazing. Mugogo also noted that another 500 acres were illegally surveyed by inspectors claiming to be connected to the Presidential Initiative and the Banana Development Project. Sanga is one of the 12 stock farms in Kiruhura district under the National Animal Genetic Resource Centre and Data Bank mandated to breed indigenous Mubende goats.

Despite much political and economic progress over the last two decades, the
increasingly personal and patronage-based rule of President Yoweri Museveni
remains the most significant obstacle to the expansion of democracy and rule
of law in Uganda. Uganda’s significant ethnic, regional, and religious divisions
have also complicated efforts to protect basic freedoms and prevent corruption.
Civilian and military figures from the north, the country’s poorest and least
populous region, had controlled the government from independence in 1962
until Museveni and his National Resistance Army (NRA) seized power in 1986.
Officials in Buganda, formally the Central Region, have always resisted control
by the national government to protect their region’s educational and economic
Museveni initially promised “fundamental change,”2 and during his first
years in office the government gradually improved security, facilitated the adoption
of a more democratic constitution in 1995, and oversaw increased if uneven
economic growth. The parliament established by the new constitution actively
checked the executive, modified government bills, and audited expenditures.
Unusual for African governments, it even forced ministers out of Museveni’s
cabinet. Civil society activists testified frequently before parliamentary committees, often influencing pending legislation. And the government generally
tolerated incisive, sometimes intemperate criticism from the media.
But less democratic tendencies also became apparent soon after the NRA
takeover. Museveni used his popularity to entrench a “no-party” political system
in the constitution, protecting him and his inner circle from organized competition.
He frequently invoked the role of the army in protecting his government,
sometimes warning during election campaigns that it would not accept his defeat. He also demanded that the new constitution include 10 military officers
as representatives in Parliament. As his popularity began to decline after 1995,
Museveni relied more on patronage to maintain his political coalition, giving
his key allies leeway to pursue illegal schemes of self-enrichment. Consequently,
the growth of both democracy and the rule of law faltered.
Museveni ruled the country for 10 years before participating in a presidential
election, although there were tightly restricted parliamentary elections in
1989 and a more open election for a constituent assembly to draft the constitution
in 1994. In the 1996 presidential and parliamentary elections, from which
political parties were banned, Museveni won 72 percent of the presidential
vote. He secured new five-year terms in the 2001 and 2006 elections, but with
declining margins of victory.
Progress on democracy, civil liberties, and government accountability stalled
between December 2005 and March 2009, largely, and paradoxically, because
Museveni orchestrated the return of multiparty elections as part of a scheme to
extend his rule and increase his political dominance. Instead of retiring after
his second and fi nal term in the “no-party” political system, he arranged two
constitutional changes in 2005: the removal of presidential term limits and the
restoration of parties. This paved the way for his reelection and a two-thirds
parliamentary majority for his “new” party, the National Resistance Movement
(NRM), in 2006.
During the next three years, Museveni’s overriding personal role in policy
making remained unchallenged. Members of civil society and Parliament
continued to fight for alternatives, but their effectiveness declined. The media
regularly exposed instances of corruption, and prosecutors pursued some cases,
convicting a former army commander and several mid-level officials. However,
they secured no convictions of top politicians. Nonetheless, when the president’s
political interests are not at stake, he typically works within formal institutions
and adheres to the text of existing rules, although often not to their spirit.
The February 2006 elections raised doubts about the extent to which government
authority rested on the will of the people. Last-minute changes to the electoral laws allowed the first multiparty elections since 1980, but they also
delayed organization of the process, giving enormous advantages to the president
and his NRM party. The referendum authorizing the reform was held in
July 2005, leaving little time for parties to organize and allowing the president
to continue to use all “no-party” political structures until the February 2006
balloting. In effect, Museveni had a national organization in place, while all of
his opponents had to start from scratch. The president and the NRM also took
illegal advantage of government resources and unequal access to state media.3
The state provides equal, although limited, funding for each presidential
candidate. However, the NRM benefited from its patronage network, as economically
privileged interests made far greater contributions to the NRM than
to any other party, receiving preferential subsidies and government tenders in
return. A commission of inquiry into the Health Ministry’s use of assistance
from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria heard testimony
that part of the funding was diverted to pay NRM campaign workers.
The government took additional measures to cripple the presidential campaign
of Kizza Besigye, the leading opposition candidate. When he returned
from South Africa, where he had lived after fleeing government harassment
following his unsuccessful bid for the presidency in the 2001 elections, the
government brought rape and treason charges against him and insisted on
simultaneous trials in civilian and military courts. Besigye was not released
on bail until early January, only six weeks before the elections. His court battles
seriously disrupted his campaign, and his campaign staff were frequently
threatened and sometimes physically attacked. Other incidents of violence and
intimidation occurred, including the deaths of several people and serious injuries
to two others at an opposition rally near Kampala on February 15. Army
lieutenant Ramathan Magara, identified as a special police constable in court
papers, was eventually convicted of manslaughter for that attack and sentenced
to 14 years in prison in June 2009. Overall, however, the violence and voting
irregularities of the 2006 elections were less severe than in the 2001 campaigns
and balloting.
After the Electoral Commission declared Museveni the winner of the presidential
contest with 59 percent of the vote to Besigye’s 37 percent, Besigye challenged
the result before the Supreme Court. In April 2006, the court upheld
Museveni’s victory by a 4–3 vote. It found that the NRM had engaged in corruption,
multiple voting, and ballot-box stuffing, and that Museveni had committed
electoral offenses by, among other acts, making defamatory statements
about Besigye.4 Nevertheless, the judges ruled that these offenses were not sufficiently “substantial” to affect the outcome. Over 100 petitions were filed to
nullify other results in the elections. Within the required six-month period,
the courts overturned 6 of 41 disputed parliamentary elections, almost always
calling for fresh voting.5 By-elections held over the next three years triggered
similar complaints, but to a lesser extent than in 2006. Despite constitutional
protections, the election commissioners were not seen as independent after 2006 because the NRM’s large parliamentary majority meant that the president’s
appointees were invariably confirmed.
Of the 320 voting members of Parliament (MPs) elected in 2006, 214 be -
longed to the NRM, and 46 belonged to one of five opposition parties. The
rest were independents, the majority of whom leaned toward the NRM. All of
the parties, particularly the NRM, placed great emphasis on internal discipline,
and Museveni warned party rebels that he would campaign against them. As a
result, constructive discussion in Parliament has declined significantly, and committees
have made fewer changes to bills. Nevertheless, MPs report that open
discussion does occur in the party caucuses, and NRM members add that the
president is occasionally forced to back down. The “oversight” committees—particularly those dealing with public accounts, which are all chaired by opposition
MPs—have been vigilant and outspoken. But the overall effect of the restoration
of multiparty competition, at least in the short term, has been somewhat
less accountability for the executive and its legislative proposals.
The Supreme Court and the Constitutional Court have asserted their independence
in recent years, declaring particular executive actions unconstitutional
or illegal and frequently ruling against the government in political cases,
often noting the weakness of its evidence. In October 2008, the Supreme Court
affirmed the doctrine of separation of powers by ruling that the president had
unconstitutionally forced Brigadier Henry Tumukunde to resign. With the conspicuous
exception of two treason cases in which the government used military
force to obstruct bail, the government generally respected the independence of
the judiciary. Nevertheless, military officers often acted with impunity, particularly
when they believed they were carrying out the president’s intentions.
Independent public service commissions at the national and district levels
manage the recruitment and promotion of government officials. At the national
level, they rely on open competition and merit, although the press frequently
presents evidence of ethnic favoritism. At the district level, observers suggest
that ethnic recruitment is widely practiced and that non-indigenes find it difficult
to gain appointment.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) flourished after the NRM regime
came to power in 1986, but the government regarded those engaging in political
issues as possible threats. It required all NGOs to gain approval—which
was not always given—from an NGO Registration Board that includes representatives
of security agencies. In 2006, the government amended the NGO
Registration Act, tightening supervision by requiring the annual renewal of registrations.
This law was suspended temporarily following complaints in 2008.
NGOs argue that the law entails government intrusion into their activities and
expenditures, and civic associations petitioned the Constitutional Court in
April 2009 to declare the act unconstitutional. As of June 2009, the court had
not yet issued a ruling.
Civic groups opposed the 2005 referendum and the removal of presidential
term limits, but after losing that battle they became noticeably more submissive
during the election period.6 One reason for this reticence was the government’s
expression of political resolve in ordering soldiers to prevent Besigye’s release on
bail, attacking demonstrators who supported him, and displaying its military
force in Kampala; the failure of donors to respond emphatically to the regime’s
actions may have been another.7
NGOs continue to testify on legislation before Parliament and frequently
campaign to influence government policy, though they have grown frustrated
by MPs’ reluctance to consider their arguments once the parties take positions
in their caucuses. Donors have criticized problems in government performance
over the last several years, particularly corruption and the continued existence of
large camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the north due to the state’s
failure to end fighting with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group.
The government’s support for freedom of expression has been ambiguous.
The state at times criminalizes dissent, taking advantage of broadly written
sedition, anti-terrorism, and libel laws. The sedition law, which allows prosecution
for causing disaffection toward the president or the government, protects
government officials but not leaders of the opposition.8 In addition, the Anti-
Terrorism Act of 2002 continues to be used against journalists, particularly
when they cover issues that the government links to security.
The government further limits media independence through a Media
Council created by a 1994 law. Among other functions, the council is required
“to exercise disciplinary control over journalists, editors and publishers.”9 A
Media Center created in January 2006 makes recommendations to the Media
Council on the accreditation of foreign journalists, who must also obtain clearance
from the Media Center before they can travel more than 100 miles from
Kampala.10 In March 2006, the two bodies deprived a Canadian journalist of
his accreditation, claiming that his reports were “biased, false and ‘prejudicial’
to Uganda’s foreign interests.”11
In recent years, the government has occasionally closed newspapers temporarily.
In an unprecedented step in March 2007, the police filed petitions
with the Media Council against 53 articles in independent newspapers, and
in April 2008, four journalists with the Monitor newspaper were arrested and
charged with criminal defamation over a story on irregular salary claims by
the inspector-general of government (IGG).12 The case remains unresolved.
While these actions certainly induced some self-censorship, newspapers have
been notable for their continued criticism of the government. Radio stations
generally avoid investigations into government activities.
In February 2009, the cabinet approved a media bill intended to regulate
news papers more strictly, particularly those that “incite violence.”13 It had not
been introduced in Parliament by the end of the period under review. Separately,
the cabinet submitted the Regulation of Interception of Communications Bill
of 2007 to lawmakers, with the aim of legalizing security agencies’ warrantless
surveillance of the telephone calls, mail, and money transfers of treason and
terrorism suspects. Opposition MPs and Amnesty International attacked the bill for its abuses of freedom of speech and privacy. In March 2009, Security
Minister Amama Mbabazi admitted to a parliamentary committee that the government
had already been tapping telephones without warrants.
The government generally did not regulate use of the internet, although it
occasionally prevented access to openly critical websites. Because of Uganda’s
low penetration rate, the internet has not become a politically significant
medium. The state continued to subsidize the New Vision, but the newspaper
now operates as a private corporation. In the past, the government prevented
advertising in the Monitor newspaper, but it rescinded this order and has not
tried to limit free expression in this way in recent years.
Protection from state terror and unjustified imprisonment remains inadequate
in Uganda. The Supreme Court ruled in January 2009 that death sentences,
which had been automatic for defendants convicted of capital offenses, must be
discretionary and must be carried out within three years or the sentence would
be commuted to life imprisonment.14 By April 2009, the courts were reviewing
the sentences of 35 (out of 637) prisoners on death row who had been convicted
before the ruling. On January 20, Museveni freed three prisoners from
death row, including two officials who served under former dictators and had
awaited execution for more than 20 years.
Security forces continued to engage in extrajudicial killings, disappearances,
and torture—all prohibited by the constitution. The country’s military, the
Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF), has a long history of abusing human
rights.15 Security officials also use torture to gain confessions and punish opponents.
While the government links many of these cases to rebel activity, observers
regard most of them as attempts to remove or intimidate political opponents.
Reports of detention and torture in secret jails known as “safe houses” declined
in 2006 and 2007, but rose in 2008.16 Many cases go unreported. The Joint
Anti-Terrorism Task Force (JATT) has been charged with the extrajudicial killing
of four people and many cases of torture between 2006 and 2008.17 There
is also evidence that the JATT held at least 106 detainees illegally in a safe house
in Kampala during the same period. No one has been prosecuted for these
abuses, and similar activities have occurred since the beginning of the NRM
regime. A civic coalition that included the Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC) drafted the Prohibition and Prevention of Torture Bill of 2009, which
prescribes the death penalty for torture.18 As of June 2009, Parliament had not
acted on the bill. The UHRC, established by the 1995 constitution as an in -
dependent agency, awarded more than 70 million shillings (US$41,000) in
compensation for torture during the first quarter of 2008.19 However, the government
was slow to disburse the money.
During the first eight months of 2008, 556 new clients were enrolled at
the African Center for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims
(ACTV) in Kampala; of these, 422 were Ugandans, mostly victims of the
LRA.20 The decreasing proportion of victims who were tortured by the UPDF
may be due in part to the decline in rebel activity in Uganda, but the UPDF also
claimed to have stepped up disciplinary measures against abusive soldiers.21 A
Local Defense Unit soldier convicted by a court-martial of killing six civilians
and injuring eight others was sentenced to death in January 2009. Ruling in a
different case in February, the Constitutional Court held that soldiers convicted
by Army Field Courts Martial must be given the opportunity to appeal to the
Supreme Court. Parliament established a war crimes court in 2008 to handle
crimes against humanity, such as those committed by the LRA.
The police have also engaged in reckless behavior. In addition to the 2006
election violence discussed above, police fi red into a crowd in July 2008, killing
two people.22 They were charged only with manslaughter and released on bail,
but their case had not been listed for cause by September 2008. Vigilante justice
remains a serious problem, although the police are sometimes successful in protecting
the lives of accused thieves.
Throughout the period under review, prison inmates continued to face
harsh conditions that often threatened their health. Officials made only limited
efforts to maintain the dignity of those incarcerated. An Islamic teacher jailed
on treason charges died in prison in January 2007. Gross human rights abuses
were common in local prisons that have now been taken over by the central government.
Nonetheless, the UHRC reported in 2008 that the torture of inmates
in Central Region prisons had declined.23 Despite a ban in the 2006 Prisons
Act, corporal punishment continues to be widely practiced, particularly in rural
prisons. Of the 30,000 prisoners in Uganda as of February 2009, 56 percent
had spent over three years in pretrial detention, and the situation had worsened
every year despite laws limiting remand to one year.24
Human trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation, both inside the country
and to foreign states, remains a problem. The government has organized
a Family and Child Protection Unit to improve the police force’s capacity to
recognize victims, but there are as yet no measures of its success.
Criminal violence has increased in recent years. The government has responded
with periodic, quasi-military operations to kill suspected criminals
rather than bring them to trial. The police are poorly organized and respond
slowly to criminal complaints. There were few terrorist incidents in the past
three years. The departure of the LRA to the Democratic Republic of the
Congo (DRC) in 2005 increased security in northern Uganda, but the return
of the majority of the IDPs from two decades of fighting has resulted in violent
land disputes, forcing hundreds of people to flee their original homes.25
The government has often expressed its concern for the interests of women.
In the 332-seat Parliament, 79 seats were reserved for women, a number that rose
as the government created new districts, each of which was entitled to a seat for
a woman. The government has also ensured by law and subsequent practice that
women hold a substantial number of local council seats. However, it has stalled
on passing the Domestic Relations and Sexual Offences Bill, which would protect
women from domestic violence and give them more secure rights in marital and
inherited property. The government finally introduced the bill in July 2009.
Domestic violence—not in itself a criminal offense—is widespread, and the
police tend to be unsympathetic to victims’ complaints. There are few police
medical examiners to document violence against women for criminal prosecution.
Women have the right to own and inherit land, but ignorance of the law
often results in male relatives invoking local customs to control inheritance.
Marriage law continues to discriminate against women by making the bride
price a nonrefundable payment to the wife’s parents. The state has not succeeded
in stopping the practice of levirate marriage (of a widow to the deceased’s
brother), although the AIDS pandemic appears to have discouraged it. The
government has participated in efforts to raise awareness about discrimination
against women, but did little in recent years to equalize women’s opportunities
for employment and credit. In addition to the Domestic Relations and Sexual
Offences Bill, MPs have drafted a bill to criminalize female genital mutilation,
which is performed on approximately 1 percent of Ugandan women and girls,
predominantly among those living in the Eastern Region.26
Despite the NRM’s official opposition to ethnic bias, the government is
frequently accused of favoritism toward people from Museveni’s home region of
western Uganda, particularly in hiring officials, although the evidence is rarely
clear. Northerners often attribute the poor conditions in their region to official
discrimination, but the area’s social services and economic growth have
undoubtedly also suffered from disruptions caused by the LRA. Newly created
districts have sometimes inadvertently produced local ethnic minorities who
allege discrimination.27 The central government has not ensured that they can
exercise all their human rights in part because that task is now up to district
administrations, which have neither the awareness nor the capacity to act. In
addition, the state does not adequately protect the cultural identity of small
minorities such as the Ik and the Batwa. Even though five seats in Parliament
are reserved for representatives of disabled people, some individuals have complained
to the UHRC of disability-related discrimination.
The state generally respects the constitutional right of free religious practice.
There is a long-standing perception that the Roman Catholic plurality and the small Muslim minority are not treated as well as Protestants, but in
recent years the issue has received less public attention than complaints about
ethnic discrimination. In 2008 and 2009, the police investigated a largely
unexplained upsurge in deaths that included many children, which they
linked to human sacrifices associated with witchcraft. In September 2007 the
government closed a mosque in Mukono district that it said was connected
to a rebel group.
By permitting parties to engage in politics, the 2005 constitutional changes
expanded the rights of freedom of association and assembly. However, the government
often restricts freedom of assembly by requiring police permits for public
demonstrations or meetings. In April 2007, when demonstrations over the
transfer of part of the Mabira Forest to an Indian investor erupted into an anti-
Indian riot in Kampala, the police prevented a march on the main downtown
street, and a private militia called Kiboko, reportedly directed by a presidential
adviser, attacked the crowd. The police arrested, charged, and imprisoned two
MPs and several others who participated. In February and April 2008, demonstrations
in Kampala’s Kisekka Market and Taxi Park turned into riots, resulting
in crackdowns by the police.
In May 2008, the Constitutional Court nullified a law requiring written permission
for public meetings. Immediately after the ruling, the attorney general
tried to restrict its application, insisting in June that a permit was still required
in specified areas, including the whole of each city and town in Uganda. Indeed,
politically motivated repression of protests still occurs. The police halted a
Democratic Party (DP) rally soon after the ruling, and closed DP headquarters
for several days. Also in June 2008, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC),
the largest opposition party, complained that the police had arrested several of
its members during training workshops in Kampala, Mbarara, and Naguru,
despite receiving advance notification of the events. In February 2009, the cabinet
ordered the Ministry of Internal Affairs to draft a stricter law regulating
public demonstrations.
Several acts that came into force in August 2006 strengthened workers’ rights
to organize and participate in trade unions, but enforcement remained questionable.
Police sometimes arrest strikers, and the government ignored a legal
requirement that employers enter collectively bargained contracts with their
employees. Workers must register unions with government trade union confederations.
Senior public servants and members of the police and army may not
form unions.
While the higher courts are generally independent and impartial, the judgments
of lower-level magistrates are frequently distorted by political and economic
influences. Judges face intense political pressure in cases that threaten
actions the president considers essential. By twice sending soldiers to prevent
court decisions from being implemented, Museveni badly undercut confidence
in judicial independence, despite his assurance that he would not do it again.
Meanwhile, the UPDF not only continued to try civilians accused of capital
offenses, it did so inside maximum-security prisons.
A serious corruption problem, due in part to inadequate salaries for magistrates,
leads to prejudicial decisions. The IGG declared in April 2008 that for
the second consecutive year, the judiciary and the police were the most corrupt
institutions of government. Corrupt court officials sometimes extort bribes
from defendants unjustly jailed through cases based on fictitious affidavits. By
July 2009, the recently established Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court
had convicted four officials and sentenced them to prison.29 However, it had a
back log of 350 cases and only two judges.30
Due to budgetary problems, there are not enough judges to process civil
and criminal cases. Parliament passed a motion in October 2007 compelling
Museveni to appoint an additional seven judges to the Court of Appeal and
six to the Supreme Court. However, because the president failed to act, the
Supreme Court was deprived of the quorum needed to handle constitutional
cases. In January 2008, the Judicial Service Commission reported to a parliamentary
committee that it had compiled a list of 27 candidates to fill vacant
judicial posts six months earlier.31 At the end of July 2009, Museveni appointed
three new judges to the Supreme Court, partly resolving the problem. At the
lower level, the judicial manpower shortage was exacerbated by two acts, to
which the president assented, that effectively increased the caseload of magistrates
by expanding their jurisdiction. The backlog of civil and criminal cases in
June 2007 stood at 74,066, with no subsequent improvement.32
Government authorities usually comply with court decisions. The most
blatant exception was the government’s use of soldiers on March 1, 2007, to
prevent nine defendants in the People’s Redemption Army (PRA) treason trial
from being released on bail. The High Court judges went on strike to protest
the move, and lawyers mounted demonstrations. Museveni expressed regret
over the incident and pledged that it would not be repeated.33 In 2005, he had
used soldiers in a similar fashion to prevent the release of the same defendants.
Civil and criminal cases are generally given fair and public, but not timely,
hearings by the courts and the UHRC. The constitution requires that suspects
face a court within 48 hours of arrest (longer for terrorism suspects), but the rule
was not followed in several high-profile cases in recent years. Three Buganda
Kingdom officials were arrested on July 18, 2008, and held for five days; their
release was then ordered, but they were immediately detained again. The acting
internal affairs minister told the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee in
February 2009 that the cabinet was considering extending the 48-hour rule.
In Besigye’s treason case, no trial date had been set as of mid-2009, more than
three years after his indictment. Meanwhile, the authorities withheld his passport,
preventing him from traveling freely and restricting his ability to lead the
Anyone charged with a criminal offense is presumed innocent until a court
establishes guilt. The Constitutional Court ruled in March 2008 that criminal
suspects must be given access to statements that prosecution witnesses make to
the police, though this principle of discovery does not apply to civil cases.34 All
citizens have a right to independent counsel, but many poor criminal suspects
do not receive it. In ordinary cases, prosecutors are thought to act independently.
However, in high-profile political cases they are widely assumed to be
following the dictates of top officials. The ongoing prosecution of the PRA,
a supposed rebel group, in the absence of credible evidence is a case in point.
Public officials and NRM members are sometimes prosecuted for abuse of
power and corruption, but they are rarely convicted.
Because the president effectively controls the security forces, there is civilian
oversight, but it is personal rather than institutional in nature. The legislative
and judicial branches are unable to exercise effective supervision. For example,
the president ordered the military’s December 2008 surprise cross-border attack
on the LRA without consulting Parliament or subjecting the move to legislative
review. Separately, in several documented incidents in which army officers
used soldiers to evict farmers from land the officers claimed to have acquired,
the president apparently restrained the commanders only when publicity made
their positions untenable.
The security forces frequently intrude on the political process. Despite
Uganda’s return to multiparty competition, the Army Council continues to
choose 10 military officers to represent the UPDF in Parliament, and these MPs
are required to support NRM policies.
Respect for human rights by security forces remained relatively poor
throughout 2006–09, though there were signs of improvement. Before the LRA
ended operations within Uganda and entered negotiations with the government
in July 2006, UPDF soldiers perpetrated widespread sexual and physical
abuses against IDPs in the north. Commanders have reported punishing those
guilty of violations, and 26 soldiers have been executed. However, the army’s
disarmament campaign in Karamoja led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians
during 2006 and 2007, as well as detentions, beatings, torture, and rape. The development of guidelines for UPDF conduct reduced the incidence of human
rights abuses, but did not end them. It remains unclear whether the military
justice system operates effectively or merely serves as a fa├žade to satisfy international
Property rights remain insecure in Uganda. The press frequently reports
cases of fraudulent land titles, sometimes resulting from collusion with corrupt
officials in the land registry offices. Many instances involve high-level politicians
and army officers who seize land held in customary tenure by peasants who
have little ability to protect their rights. In addition, the government frequently
awards public land to foreign investors, including plots on which schools have
been operating for many years.
Despite its commitment to liberalization over the past two decades, the government
continues to struggle with corruption. Allies of the president have manipulated
the privatization of state land and enterprises for their own enrichment.
Privatization has diminished opportunities for corruption in some respects,
as it reduces public servants’ direct control over economic operations, but the
changes have created openings for other forms of bribery. A survey of businessmen
commissioned by the World Bank found that they paid larger bribes in
2007 than in 2003 to secure contracts and run their businesses. On the other
hand, the 2009 Index of Economic Freedom rated Uganda in the “moderately
free” category and credited it with the fourth-best regulatory regime in Africa;
the country’s score fluctuated only slightly between 2005 and 2009.35 The index
stated that obtaining a business license required fewer procedures and less time
than the world averages, but noted that corruption and insecure property rights
remained weak points in the Ugandan business environment.
A clear legal separation exists between the official and private interests of
public servants, although officials’ wealth disclosures are not open to public
scrutiny. The independence of the Inspectorate of Government as the primary
anti-corruption body is entrenched in the constitution. Justice Faith Mwondha,
who led the agency as IGG, pursued cases of corruption so vigorously in recent
years that it came as somewhat of a surprise when the president reappointed
her for a second four-year term in February 2009. However, she refused to
be reviewed by Parliament for her second term, and when the Constitutional
Court upheld the requirement, she had to step down as IGG and return to her
original position on the High Court in July 2009.
The president declared a policy of “zero tolerance for corruption” during his
third term. In September 2007, he forced the solicitor general from office over
allegations of inflated awards to businessmen who had sued the state. In February
2008, the government submitted the Anti-Corruption Bill of 2008 to Parliament,
claiming that it would fight public and private corruption more effectively. The
IGG argued that some provisions of the bill were unconstitutional. In April 2008,
lawmakers passed the Audit Bill of 2007 to strengthen the Office of the Auditor
General (OAG), giving it the power to sue, making it autonomous, and improving
its staffing. In addition, the new Anti-Corruption Division of the High Court,
mentioned above, has expanded the state’s capacity to punish fraudulent offi cials.
Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee and Local Government Public
Ac counts Committee (PAC and LGPAC) actively probe cases of wrongdoing,
primarily through reviews of the OAG’s reports. The PAC exposed schemes by
pension offi cials to fabricate recipients and by police offi cials to purchase defective
anti-riot vehicles. In 2008 it even took on the president over a deal benefiting
his son-in-law that the auditor-general had refused to clear. Newspapers
regularly investigate transactions by public officials, in addition to publicizing
the work of the parliamentary committees.
Between 2006 and mid-2009, three ministers and a presidential aide accused
of misappropriating funds from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and
Immunization were brought to court after a long delay due to a lack of funds to
prosecute. Successful legal tactics by the defense caused innumerable postponements
of this trial. However, an army tribunal sentenced a former commander,
Major General James Kazini, to three years in prison for stealing funds directed
to nonexistent soldiers. He remained free on bail during his appeal. A former
managing director of the National Social Security Fund, Leonard Mpuuma,
was fined after pleading guilty to causing financial loss and abuse of office.
The Inspectorate of Government supervises public servants’ declarations of
income, assets, and liabilities as required by the Leadership Code. It received
over 17,000 declarations in 2007, a 94 percent rate of compliance, and wrote
warning letters to the 1,250 leaders who failed to file on time.36 An MP and the
head of a town council were forced to resign for failure to comply. Also in 2007,
the IGG seized public assets worth almost one billion shillings (US$604,000)
that were wrongly converted to private use. The inspectorate arrested 37 officials
in 2007 and 22 in the first half of 2008 for abuse of office, embezzlement,
or causing financial loss. In addition, 126 public servants were dismissed from
office, and 52 others were reprimanded or demoted.
An inquiry on the misuse of money from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS,
Tuberculosis, and Malaria led the director of public prosecutions (DPP) to file
charges.37 An arrest warrant for an MP in the case was issued in December
2008. In July 2009, the DPP dropped charges against a former health minister,
but continued to prosecute 38 other defendants.
Despite such cases and presidential pronouncements on the issue, there
was evidence to suggest that high-level corruption would be tolerated. The government arbitrarily enforced laws and regulations, frequently following a
political logic, and the IGG was drawn into seemingly unrelated disputes with
other offi cials, weakening anticorruption efforts. Transparency International
ranked Uganda 126th out of 180 countries surveyed in its 2008 Corruption
Perceptions Index.38 Moreover, witnesses were hesitant to come forward due
to inadequate legal protection. To encourage them, the minister of ethics and
integrity presented the Whistleblowers Protection Bill of 2008 in Parliament in
March 2009.
Citizens have the right to obtain government information under the Access
to Information Act of 2005, but critics argue that the law is overly restrictive,
providing ample grounds to deny requests.39 Responses to information requests
are often delayed, especially if the material is considered sensitive. The government
sometimes refuses to give a reason for denials.
The budget-making process became somewhat less comprehensive and
transparent after the return of multiparty politics, largely because NRM MPs
were less willing to question government proposals. Parliament had become
formally involved in negotiating budget requests after the passage of the Budget
Act of 2001. However, starting in the Eighth Parliament (elected in 2006), a
member of the ruling party chaired the Budget Committee. When the first
chair person suggested that the committee recommend more funds for education,
roads, and health, the government replaced him. After that the committee
stopped urging changes, although it sometimes negotiated with ministers when
they defended their proposed outlays.
The auditor-general, a respected independent official, is tasked with scrutinizing
government spending. With the passage of the Public Finance and
Ac countability Act of 2003, the OAG gained the power to audit classified
expenditures. During the period reviewed, the OAG’s audit covered 90 percent
of national government spending. The 2005–06 audit report was received by
Parliament in October 2007, earlier than in previous years. In September 2008,
the PAC was able to report on specific allegations made in the OAG report
for the year that ended in June 2007. The committee chairperson warned, however,
that internal auditors in government departments sometimes colluded
with other officials to hide diversions of public funds.
The Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) established an Internal Audit, Tax
Investigation, and Internal Affairs Department in January 2005. Although it
carried out “a continuous program of tax audits,” its system had not yet been
integrated with customer registration in banks or the Investment Authority.40
Consequently, as of March 2008, the OAG judged that URA tax audits could
not be considered fully “based on clear risk assessment criteria.” He did not
argue that tax audits were arbitrary or unjust, rather that better controls for taxpayer registration and monitoring of penalties for noncompliance were needed.
Public corruption often stems from the award of national and district government
contracts. The president frequently suspends rules requiring competitive
bidding to designate a recipient.41 According to one analysis, “about 90% of the complaints received by the IGG reportedly concern contested procurements.”
42 Despite the carefully drafted law regulating procurement, the government
continued to lose millions to contract-related graft. In addition, officials
personally diverted a large proportion of foreign assistance between 2006 and
March 2009. Many donors considered the siphoning off of part of their aid to
be a cost of doing business, but the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis,
and Malaria ended two of its grants in response to deliberate misappropriation.
• Ensure the independence of the Electoral Commission by changing its appointment
procedure; the chair, deputy chair, and its five other members
should be appointed by the president on the advice of the Judicial Service
Commission and with the approval of Parliament.
• Pass the Domestic Relations and Sexual Offences Bill to secure women’s
property rights and punish rape and domestic violence. The act should include
funding and direction for educating police and judicial officers on
their responsibilities when handling complaints by abused women.
• Establish and implement stronger guidelines within the prison service,
along the lines of the somewhat successful UPDF effort, to reduce human
rights violations including corporal punishment.
• Expand the number and compensation of magistrates to reduce the delay in
civil and criminal trials and improve judicial impartiality.
• Pass the Anti-Corruption Bill of 2008 and the Whistle-blowers Protection
Bill of 2008 to strengthen the legal regime for prosecuting corruption.


Personal Information
Born Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, c. 1944 (Museveni is reportedly unsure of the exact year of his birth), in Ntungamo, Ankole, Uganda; son of Mzeyi Amosi Kaguta (a cattle rancher) and Esteri Kokundeka; married Janet Kataha; children: four. Education: University College, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, B.A., 1970.
President of Uganda, January 29, 1986–. Government research assistant, 1970-71; leader of resistance movements against dictators in Uganda, 1971-86, including Front for National Salvation, 1974-79, and National Resistance Army, 1980-86; entered capital city of Kampala by force in January 1986 with aid of majority of Ugandan citizenry. Founder and head of National Resistance Movement, Uganda’s only legal political organization.
Life’s Work
Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda, has faced the staggering task of restoring peace and prosperity to a nation devastated by fifteen years of civil war. Museveni assumed the presidency of Uganda on January 29, 1986, after troops under his leadership stormed the capital city of Kampala. Since then he has tried to reverse two decades of army brutalities, government corruption, and economic decline in Uganda, formerly one of Africa’s most prosperous countries. “I’ve got a mission,” he told Time magazine, “–to transform Uganda from a backward country to an advanced country.” In Africa Report he noted that his army “arrived here to find a bleeding nation. Insecurity was the order of the day. The moral fabric was in decay…. The crucial thing is to show [the Ugandan people] that there is a way out, that it is within our means to overcome this backwardness.”
Museveni’s National Resistance Army (NRA) has restored peace to most of Uganda. His National Resistance Movement–the only legal political organization in Uganda–has sought to reassure and unite a populace comprising some forty different ethnic groups. As Keith Richburg put it in the Washington Post, “Museveni dominates the government and has set the tone for the new Ugandan economic outlook. Yet he remains something of an enigma: a military man who came to power after leading a bush war but speaks more like a scholar with a firm grasp of international economics.” Richburg added that the president’s popularity “appears to lie in his ability to remind the outside world that, despite his government’s flaws, it is still far better than what preceded it.”
Uganda is a landlocked country in East Africa that is approximately the size of England. Although it has no coastline, it shares massive Lake Victoria with neighboring Kenya and Tanzania, and its rivers are plentiful. Once known as the “pearl of Africa,” its picturesque game reserves formed the backdrop for the filming of John Huston’s movie The African Queen. Unlike other African nations that suffer deadly droughts, rainfall and soil quality are good in Uganda, and crops are grown for consumption and export.
Atlantic contributor Robert D. Kaplan explained why the country has come to be known more for its bloody dictatorships than for its scenic waterways. “Uganda … whose arbitrary borders are the result of the 1884-1885 Berlin Conference of European powers, is so tribal that it is more like a loose association of many nations than like one,” wrote Kaplan. “It is as culturally diverse as India, as politically fragmented as Lebanon. A Western diplomat in Kampala says, ‘There are no horizontal linkages here–no unifying elements of history, ethnicity, or even religion. Nation-building can only start with particular groups and work upwards.’”
The British arrived in Uganda in 1862. At that time the country was a series of small nations, each with its own leadership, army, and ethnic identity. England granted Uganda “protectorate” status in 1894. Fewer white settlers moved in than in other areas of Africa, but Asia provided a mercantile class for the region during the first part of the twentieth century. Catholic and Protestant missionaries arrived and added more religious rivalries to an already tense ethnic situation.
Yoweri Museveni was born in a village in the Ankole province of southwestern Uganda. Even he is not sure exactly what year he was born, but most sources give the date as 1944. His father, a cattle rancher, was a proud veteran of World War II, having fought under the British flag in the King’s African Rifles brigade. Museveni’s family illustrates the complicated tribalism of the region. His father was a member of the Banyankole tribe, and his mother was a Banyarwanda, both subgroups of the Bantu peoples.
Museveni’s father insisted that all his children receive a thorough education. At the tender age of nine, Museveni was sent to boarding school, and he attended high school and took preparatory college classes at Ntare School in Mbarara, the district capital. He was a teenager when Britain granted Uganda its independence in 1962.
“It was a shattered polity that emerged at independence,” contended Kaplan. Under the protectorate, the British had promoted an Asian merchant class, a national army made up of minority tribes from northern Uganda, and a civil service run primarily by the Baganda peoples. The first prime minister, Milton Obote, came from a northern tribe, the Langi.
While Obote was struggling to control the various factions in Uganda, Yoweri Museveni emigrated to study political science and economics at University College in Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. Museveni obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1970 and returned to his homeland to work in the Obote government. His tenure as a government official was short-lived, however. In January 1971 Obote was deposed by his top-ranking army officer, Idi Amin Dada. Immediately Amin launched a reign of terror that sent thousands of Ugandan academics, professionals, and businessmen into exile–and many thousands more to their graves.
As Kaplan explained: “Amin soaked this lush, sylvan country with the blood of several hundred thousand people. Several hundred thousand more were made homeless. The suffering was widespread, but not completely indiscriminate. All [northern tribesmen] were in danger. So was any Bantu with a house, a cat, or another possession that one of Amin’s thugs might covet.” Amin was the first dictator of Uganda to give his armed forces free reign over the citizenry. The country’s strong economy declined precipitously as crops and cattle were stolen, the mercantile class was expelled, and wanton torture and extortion prevailed.
Museveni took shelter in Tanzania, where he formed the Front for National Salvation (FRONASA), a group of exiles determined to oust Amin. He and his soldiers trained in Mozambique with a nationalist guerilla group and prepared to invade at the first sign of Amin’s weakness. In 1979, FRONASA united with a larger rebel band loyal to Obote, as well as Tanzanian forces, to drive Amin from Uganda. A hastily assembled coalition group known as the Uganda National Liberation Front took over Kampala in March of 1979. The entire country had been devastated by Amin and his army.
The task of rebuilding was enormous, and it was made even harder by the power struggle within Uganda’s coalition government. Museveni took the important job of defense minister in the Military Commission and was given the task of routing Amin’s army. Museveni used his FRONASA troops as well as other fighters recruited from his Banyankole tribe, and soon other government officials began to worry about the young commander’s growing strength. Museveni did not run the Military Commission, though–it was headed by a man loyal to Obote. Museveni watched with cynicism as the interim government called for national elections. These were held in December of 1980, and Obote, leader of the Uganda People’s Congress, won the presidency by a large margin.
Claiming that the election was rigged in Obote’s favor by his henchman on the Military Commission, Museveni returned to the bush with 26 followers on February 6, 1981. From that small cluster of supporters he forged the National Resistance Army–one of four rebel groups seeking to undermine the Obote regime. In Africa Report, Catharine Watson noted: “Museveni’s force grew slowly, based in Luwero, a fertile coffee-growing region just north of Kampala. Highly disciplined, its soldiers were mostly peasants from the south and the west, its commanders mostly from the west.” What made Museveni’s army unique was its respect for the citizenry. Museveni decreed harsh punishments for any NRA soldier found guilty of brutality or corruption. The tactic endeared him to the populace, and soon young orphans were flocking to his flag and embracing his vision of a better Uganda.
Kaplan has noted that Obote helped to undermine his own regime by resorting to the same tactics Amin had used. To quote Kaplan, the new government army quickly disintegrated into a rampaging mob. “The atrocities accelerated after 1980, and Obote made no visible attempt to stop them,” the observer claimed. “It seems that nothing was sacred to Obote’s soldiers. Skeletons exist of small children with their hands tied behind their backs. There are documented stories of gang rapes of girls as young as four. Torture, in which molten rubber was dripped onto a victim’s face from a burning tire suspended above, was administered by a paramilitary police unit…. Many Ugandans died from starvation; caught up in the turmoil, peasants frequently could not stay in one place long enough to harvest their usual crops.”
Museveni’s small army stood in stark contrast to this anarchy, and it gained power as the atrocities escalated. Obote’s regime fell in 1985 to a coup by army officers from a northern tribe. Still the government-sanctioned violence continued, especially against anyone perceived as a Museveni loyalist. Luwero, where the NRA was based, lost a third of its population in genocidal purges. Watson estimated in Africa Report that as many as 300,000 people died for supporting Yoweri Museveni.
Finally, in 1985, Museveni agreed to negotiate with the new military government of Tito Okello. Museveni refused to disband his army, however, and even as peace talks proceeded in Nairobi, Kenya, the atrocities continued in Uganda. A cease-fire was called by both sides, but it lasted only a few weeks. In January of 1986, Museveni mustered his forces–having grown considerably due to the government’s heavy-handed tactics–and marched on Kampala. Okello fled into exile, where he died in 1990. Museveni was sworn in as Uganda’s new president on January 29, 1986.
Dressed in army fatigues for his inauguration, Museveni declared, as printed in Time: “No one can think that what is happening today, what has been happening in the last few days, is a mere change of the guard. This is a fundamental change in the politics of our country.” The president emphasized that his administration would respect human rights and would not use a standing army as a tool for civilian intimidation. He promised to curtail government corruption and to try to restore Uganda’s failing economy.
At first Museveni attracted few believers elsewhere in the world, especially since his NRA troops continued to fight pitched battles against tribes in the northern sections of Uganda. Confidence grew steadily after 1986, largely because Museveni himself showed no signs of personal corruption, and because he promoted cabinet members from every ethnic group in the diverse nation. Signs of improvement were apparent. The Red Cross returned to Uganda after an absence of two decades. New trade agreements were initiated with the United States and other nations. The World Bank issued much-needed loans to buy equipment and repair roads and utilities. Museveni was elected president of the powerful Organization of African States. In a 1991 piece for Africa Report, Watson wrote: “On balance, the Uganda of today is leagues away from that of six, 10, or 20 years ago.”
Troubles remained, however. It was estimated that one million Ugandans were infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (commonly referred to as the HIV virus, which causes AIDS), even though Museveni was aggressive in his attempts to use state power to control the contagion. A great proportion of national expenditures still went to the military, and rebel activity continued sporadically among the northern tribes. Export profits rose after Museveni took control, but Uganda remained in the grip of an enormous debt incurred by the current president and his predecessors. Most importantly, the general movement toward multiparty democracy in Africa placed a burden on the Museveni regime because it was essentially a dictatorship. And Museveni was calling for a revised constitution.
Government corruption remained widespread in Uganda–and scattered human rights violations persisted–but wanton violence was no longer the norm. As Watson put it, “Security, both physical and psychological, has been restored.” Museveni brought Uganda back from a rule of terror and was presiding over the rebuilding process. A Kampala businessman commented in Time magazine: “Gone are the days when you had to hide your car from greedy soldiers and carry cash in your pockets to pay them off when they stopped you.”
In 1996 Musevini ran for president in Uganda’s first general elections since the suspect elections of 1980. He was opposed by two other candidates, including Paulo Ssemwogerere who had been a minister in the NRM government for 10 years. Museveni won the election with more than 75 percent of the vote, becoming the first directly elected president in the history of Uganda.
Museveni introduced measures to liberalize Uganda’s economy that included privatization, currency reform and a reworked agricultural market system. Although Uganda remains among the 10 poorest countries in the world, its economy has grown on average by more than 6.7% in the past 10 years. The country’s GDP doubled between 1985 and 2001. Annual inflation has fallen from 240% to less than 10 per cent. (Some have questioned whether Uganda’s economic growth rate can be sustained in the new millennium given the country’s involvement in the war in the Congo and the continuance of corruption in Uganda.) Under Museveni’s leadership, Uganda has instituted universal primary education and affirmative action policies that have empowered the nation’s women. He has also contributed to the country’s awareness of the AIDS problem and introduced grassroots health programs. Museveni takes credit for reducing absolute poverty from 56 per cent to 44 per cent, and increasing school enrollment from 2.5 million to 6.8 million. He proudly points out that there was one university in Uganda in 1986, but in 2001 there were 13.
But as his critics pointed out, Uganda is still not a traditional democracy where political parties operate unfettered. Museveni, however, has argued that political parties are inappropriate for Uganda in that they contribute to sectarian disputes, leading to racial antagonism and violence.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in March 2000, Museveni elaborated, “[T]he constitution does not yet allow partisan political activities. This is due to the history of Africa, in general, but specifically the history of Uganda. The political parties in Europe and America evolved in tandem with the evolution of their societies. In Europe, a feudal, peasant society evolved into a middle-class, industrial one. Then social differentiation started emerging: the middle class, on the one side, and the industrial working class, on the other. They had contradictory interests. The middle class wanted to pay as little wages as possible to the workers, give them as little benefits as possible; the industrial workers wanted more and more pay and more benefits. To express their group interests in politics, they formed parties so that they could use the parties to bargain for group interests. The situation is still different in Africa. Societies are, in many ways, preindustrial. . . . There are many peasants. Their interests are homogenous. . . . When you form parties in that type of situation, on what would they be based? . . . Since there are no legitimate, antagonistic social interests to be represented, the danger is that these parties will become sectarian. We are trying to transplant the European experience onto the African reality, which is different.”
When asked whether he had designs on the Congo’s riches in natural resources, he replied, “First, we are not [even] able to exploit the riches of Uganda. . . . Those Congolese may not have heard that Uganda has one of the richest deposits of phosphates in Africa and even the world. We are not able to exploit it. It is just lying in the ground. We’ve got huge deposits of iron ore. We’ve got oil. Let’s first exploit them, before we go to the ones of Congo. We don’t have the capital to exploit our own resources. Why should we go for the ones of Congo?”
On the issue of U.S. reparations for slavery and colonialism, Museveni told the Los Angeles Times, “I don’t waste much time crying over spilt milk, because Africans are also to blame in a way. They were weak. They were not well-organized. African chiefs were the ones who were selling people into slavery, because of their shallowness. They were backward. They didn’t understand what was happening in the world. They didn’t understand their wider interests. . . . African weakness is what permitted the Europeans to exploit us, and [this] weakness must be solved. Now that we are back in control of our destinies, let us strengthen ourselves instead of remaining weak. Foolish people are always exploited. Let’s start afresh now. Even African Americans should build themselves . . . instead of just sitting there in the slums and saying the whites brought us here. . . . Of course, the whites should also be Christian, not take advantage.”
In 2000, Museveni identified the following three areas as most critical for Uganda in the following five years: “First, to ensure that we get more investment by removing all bottlenecks to investors. Second, to ensure that we continue to develop infrastructure, so that we lower our cost of production, so we can be able to sell, and that we continue to develop human resources through mass education. Finally, work for the East African market. An integrated market is a sine qua non of sustained growth of our economies. Part of our economic integration, we hope, should lead into a political union of East Africa . . . a political federation of at least East Africa.”
In March 2001, Ugandans returned to the polls to vote once again for their president. Museveni was the victor–this time with 69.% of the vote. As for how he would like to be remembered, Museveni told the Los Angeles Times: in 2000, “I will leave office, for sure, because I am not a hereditary king. I would be very glad to leave office, once I have served my term. To be remembered, just as a freedom fighter, who helped to give the people of Uganda a key to their future, to give them democracy, get rid of the dictatorship.”

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