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President Museveni

You're Uganda's Enemy if You Don't Care about East African Unity, Says Museveni

" So, you cannot say, I only love Uganda. I do not care about East Africa. If you do that, you will be an enemy of Uganda, first and foremost, because there is no way Uganda can prosper without East Africa. Besides, the market of East Africa is bigger than the market of Uganda."
posted onFebruary 7, 2022
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In his speech during the 40th Tarehe Sita Celebrations, President Yoweri Museveni talked about wide-ranging topics, including strengthening regional cooperation in order to accelerate economic development through trade.

According to the president, regional unity is important to broaden markets for Ugandan goods, which other countries aren't producing or adequately producing.

Read the full speech below:

I want to congratulate members of the UPDF on this 40th Anniversary, on the launch of the new phase of the struggle of the people of Uganda. I also want to congratulate the people of Uganda because, eventually, they are the ones who supported this struggle and ensured its success.

That was a new phase of the struggle of the people of Uganda because, there had been other earlier struggles especially, the struggles which were positive and progressive, because struggles can be different. You can have a struggle for bad things, but also a struggle for good things. 

In politics, we say progressive struggle, if you are struggling for right causes. If, on the other hand, you are struggling for wrong causes, we call those reactionary struggles. You are struggling for ideas to take the society back. In Swahili we say, wanamapinduzi, revolutionaries, they are struggling for doing things right and then, we say wapinga maendeleo, if you want progress not to take place. 

Therefore, the struggles I am saluting, are the progressive struggles. In the case of Uganda, we have had people like Musaazi, who had started a Farmers’ Movement in the 1930s/40s which, eventually, in 1952, transformed into Uganda National Congress (UNC).

That struggle went on until it was undermined by reactionary groups. The NRM came on the scene, starting around 1965. That is what I keep reminding our people about. 

Between UNC and the emerging of what, eventually, became NRM, there were these other groups. DP came up in 1954, but it had a certain line which was not progressive. It was a sectarian line of wanting to use religion as a base of politics. Then, later on, UPC also emerged in 1960, again, with the same bias towards religion. 

Then in 1961/62, Kabaka Yekka came up, based on religion and tribe - Baganda tribe.  The good thing is that, some of us were members of those groups. So, we know them from first-hand. These were groups, as I was saying during the campaign, which were basing themselves on identity. Identity of tribe and religion. 

When we saw the problem they were causing to society and which problems other similar groups had caused in Africa, by 1965, that’s why we started a new line. The line of: “No. Do not look at people’s religion and at their tribes. Look at their needs. Tazama mahitaji ya watu, siyo kabila, siyo dini. Look at the needs of the people.” Since the needs of the people are the same, if you look at their needs, the people will be united. So, that is how we started. Now, eventually, after a lot of work and also study, we evolved the four principles of the NRM. 

Principle Number 1. Patriotism. Love Uganda, Mwoyo gwa Uganda, Uzalendo. Yes, you have a tribe, where you were born. You have a religion, where you were baptized; but please, do not bring these into national affairs. This is because, when it comes to the needs of our people, when it comes to prosperity of our people, Uganda is more important for all Ugandans than individual tribes. So, that is why we say, Principle number one: Patriotism.

Principle Number 2, Pan Africanism. Remember that even when you love Uganda, Uganda is not enough to solve our problems, especially the problem of the market and the problem of communication. Uganda is a land-locked country. We are here inside the continent. So, how do we get to the ocean? We get to the ocean through other fraternal countries: Kenya, Tanzania, Congo etc. So, you cannot say, I only love Uganda. I do not care about East Africa. If you do that, you will be an enemy of Uganda, first and foremost, because there is no way Uganda can prosper without East Africa. Besides, the market of East Africa is bigger than the market of Uganda.

So, that is why we say, Principle number 2 – Pan-Africanism. All this is not just sentiment, but realistic assessment of what Uganda needs to be prosperous. 

Principle Number 3, is Social Economic Transformation. The population of Uganda must be transformed from what it was; from the traditional society, to a modern society. This one I have talked about many times; but I am just summarizing for you to remember.

Finally, Principle Number 4, is Democracy. The recent elections we had, as you saw, NRM won massively. This percentage they are talking about, is because of the poor organizational arrangement of the NRM. They were not well organized. They are always not well organized. In some cases, they did not have agents on the polling stations. However, this did not stop the massive win of the NRM as you saw in much of the country. For me, I estimate the win the NRM got throughout the country to be 80% ─ the actual support. However, when it comes to voting, if you do not turn up and somebody maneuvers around, then you lose. 

So, those were organizational weaknesses. In terms of political sentiments, the support for the NRM is very big. It is, therefore, not easy and I would want to emphasize this ─ It is not easy for anybody to defeat the NRM politically in Uganda. Why? It is because in the last 60 years, we have never let down anybody in his or her legitimate interests. We have never let down anybody. Nobody can legitimately complain about NRM saying: “You let me down here.” No. Yes, you can complain saying: “You did not support my illegitimate interests.” Then we shall say: “Yes, we did not, because what you want is wrong.” So, this is the big strength of the NRM. It is because there is no historical junction where somebody can say: “The NRM let me down here.” No. It is not there, legitimately. 

The NRM and the NRA, have come to be the vanguard of the Uganda revolution. Uganda is going through a revolution and the vanguard of this has been, on the political side, the NRM and the military side, the NRA ─ which became the UPDF. This revolution, as I have said, has never let down anybody. Neither within Uganda nor even in Africa. We have never let down anybody, in his legitimate interests. That is why we are unbeatable. 

You can tell lies, but when I come, I finish you with facts, because you are a liar. NRM says what it means and means what it says.

Between 1960 and 1965, some of us supported DP. I was a member of DP. Rugunda was in the other group. Rugunda was in UPC. Now, DP had two positive points and that is why I was in DP that time: 

Number 1, they did not believe in election cheating. The Rugunda’s side, that is another matter. 

Secondly, especially DP’s leader, Benedicto Kiwanuka, was forthright. He was not a double talker. For instance, Ben Kiwanuka told Mengo - our people of Mengo ─ that: “Those things you are demanding, are not possible.” You know the things Mengo were demanding; this, this, that; but Kiwanuka told them: “What you are demanding, is not possible.” 

So, because he told them the truth, they turned against him. However, he was right. DP had two weaknesses: one weakness, was sectarianism. This is because they were based on religion, again and some other sectarianism. That was weakness number one for DP. This is what I told them to cure. We had discussions with them in 1980. We said: “Please, cure this, so that we can work with you.” They did not agree. 

Secondly, they did not look at Africa. You can imagine DP had a relationship with parties of Germany. There is a party in Germany called Germany Christian Democratic Union (CDU). They even gave us a lot of vehicles. I remember alot of Volkswagen vehicles, these mini buses. They were called Combis. They were given to us by the West Germany groups.

There was a foundation called Conrad Adenauer. That is the one that was supporting DP. Some of us did not like that. “Abajamani banoonyaki wano? Uuuh!” ‘What are the Germans looking for, here? 

Now, Rugunda’s group, had a linkage with the other German group, the Social Democratic Party. There was a foundation called Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES). This, actually, is the one that started the building of the Uganda House.

That Uganda House you see, was built by money from the other Germany Party, the one of Willy Brandt – Leader of Social Democratic Party of Germany and those other people. So, some of us did not want to be involved with European parties, because we had nothing to do with them. Our focus was African Parties. These are our friends.  DP had those two problems. 

Rugunda’s group, UPC, problem number one, was election manipulation. They used to call that “okuchaanga akaruuru”.

“Eeh twateera akaruuru shaah’emwe n’ekichweeka, kuzaahika mukaaga Obote yakoma Kiwanuka.” 

You should call Rwakasiisi and he sings it for you. 

So, the second mistake of UPC was not being forthright. You see, for instance, the mukago, the alliance they made with Kabaka Yekka ─ with the Baganda sectarian party, was part of the problem of Uganda’s history. This misled Mengo to think that the wrong things they were demanding, were achievable; yet Kiwanuka was forthright saying: “What you are asking for, is not possible.”

However, the UPC said: “No, it is possible. Let us make an alliance, we shall work on them’’. However, later on, they could not. The alliance collapsed only after two years. Hence, this not being forthright ─ misleading Mengo, really cost Uganda expensively. That was the weakness I saw in UPC. Nevertheless, UPC had some Pan Africanism. They were not as Un-African as, for instance, the other groups. 

Now, by 1965, problems had started developing in the parties. Accordingly, a part of UPC, led by Grace Ibingira, linked up with DP and a part of Kabaka Yekka. They formed a new group. 

This group of Ibingira, a little bit of DP, then also Muteesa; Muteesa was also involved in this group, had some three points which I think were correct:

First of all, they were insisting on constitutionalism. On account of the problems which had been created by UPC and KY of making a very difficult Constitution to work, this group was saying: ‘Ok, whatever problems we have, let us solve them constitutionally, without the use of force’’. 

Secondly, for some reason, this group and that’s how I associated with them, they were supporting the East African Federation. In fact, Ibingira was the leader of the Negotiating Committee for East African Federation, which was supposed to be launched in 1963.

In reality, I liked that group for this because Ibingira here, Tom Mboya in Kenya and there was also a man called Oscar Kambona from Tanzania, for some reason, they supported the idea of the Political Federation, which was very much pushed by Mwalimu Nyerere. Mwalimu Nyerere was pushing this, but the ministers who were supporting it were: Mboya; here ─ Ibingira; and Kambona.

Now, unfortunately, Obote removed Ibingira from the negotiating committee and replaced him with Nekyon. When Nekyon took over, they abused everybody; that was the end of that effort. As a consequence, I liked this group because of the second reason. The one of supporting the East African Federation.

Then the third element in their position, was building a national army. There was a problem of armies not being national ─ armies from just a few tribes. We said this is wrong. This should not happen. The army should be national. Hence, that group, had those three good points but their problem was that, I think, they were working too much with the west, western countries. With the United States and so on and that’s how they turned against Kakonge. They voted Kakonge out and that’s how Ibingira became Secretary General. I don’t know how Ibingira got involved in that cold war politics. That was their mistake.

Now, when Obote used his method of overthrowing the Constitution, which was not correct, we had to adjust to that situation. He used a wrong method. Why do you use force to overthrow the Constitution? To “abrogate”, as he put it. It was not necessary. You should fight constitutionally. When you use force, you leave the matter unresolved. People remain dissatisfied. “If he had not used force, we would have, done this.” No, do not use force. Use political struggle.

However, that’s what he did. He used force, to overthrow the Constitution. Consequently, we did not support it. Nevertheless, when he did it, some of us said: “Okay, let’s not get stuck. If Obote has used this method, let us see how we work with him to achieve, now, East African integration”. That’s how some of us started working with Obote and we joined the Rugundas. We said: “Ok. You have used force now and overthrown the Constitution, now let us move to write a new Constitution of East African integration’’. Unfortunately, Idi Amin now came in. So, UPC cannot complain that we did not support them. We supported them at some stage. Then, Amin comes in. When Amin comes in, we say: “No. Amin”, Omusoga akoba nti: “Ono tayina kyaidhi”. This one doesn’t know much. Doesn’t care. He is just being manipulated by, I don’t know who. The people who were manipulating him. Now, all our programs, because remember we always have programs inside the country, had to go on hold.

On Socio-Economic Transformation, how will you cause socio-economic transformation, if you have a manager like Idi Amin? Although UPC were dictatorial at the political level, they had overthrown the Constitution; but when you came to government programs, like, for instance, we the cattle keepers, had our minister, John Babiiha, who was doing things correctly ─ introducing tick control etc. The problem with Obote was at the political level; but at the socio-economic level, we could move. As a consequence, that’s how we started moving with UPC. Then at the East African level, we could move. In fact, at that time, Mzee Obote, Mwalimu Nyerere and Mzee Kaunda had formed a group called Mulungushi Club. Hence, he had some ideas about East African integration. Now, Amin comes in. Amin doesn’t care about the social-economic issues, doesn’t care about the African issues. We said: “No, no, no. Amin out!”

Hence, that is why I really want you people to know what you are talking about. Idi Amin thought it was a joke. He was welcomed, of course, by some people around Kampala. However, for us, we said: “No. Amin you do not know our programs. We shall get rid of you from day one’’. He announced his coup on the 25th of January. That afternoon, we met in Bugoloobi; he announced at 3:00pm, but we decided in our five o’clock meeting to fight Idi Amin. I spent the 26th of January, getting some money from the bank. On 27th, I entered Tanzania at Murongo, in the night and the war against Idi Amin, started.  

Now, when Amin came in, he massacred the soldiers from Acholi and from Lango. We opposed him vigorously. First, we opposed him for the original reasons of not knowing what to do, but also for these additional mistakes which he made of killing people especially from Acholi and Lango. However, when we defeated Amin, we also opposed the policy of revenge against the people of West Nile. Although, by this time the UPC were our partners, some of them believed in revenge.

We didn’t support this. We defended the people of West Nile against revenge for the mistakes of Idi Amin. How do you punish the people of West Nile because of the mistakes of some few soldiers from that area? We rejected that line of revenge. 

However, some of the UPC went ahead, massacred people in West Nile and the people of West Nile fled. By 1985, Uganda was the 4th biggest exporter of refugees in the whole world. We had half a million West Nilers in Congo and in South Sudan. When we won, we brought back the people of West Nile. Additionally, when we came in, we also found the people of Lango being mistreated by a character called Ojuku, who was killing people. We defended them.

Then we defended the people of northern Uganda against terrorism sponsored by Kony and UNRF West Nile side. We defended the people of Teso and of Karamoja against cattle rustling and we defended the legitimate interests of the traditional forces in Buganda. Buganda, when we took over government, they had their Mengo. That group, had their interests ─ the king, this and that. As a consequence, we said: “Okay, let us sit down and look at the legitimate interests. We shall support you’’.

I am not a Monarchist, but I supported Monarchy because some of the people wanted it. That is not a problem. If it can be done constitutionally, you will enjoy your rights, but also respect the rights of others. No problem. On account of that understanding, everything is clearly written down in the Constitution; how things should be, how our traditional people can enjoy their rights of culture, of language, but without interfering with the rights of others. Everything was very carefully written in the Constitution. 

Then, of course, we ensured the recovery of Uganda. The miracle of the recovery of Uganda. The GDP of Uganda is now about US$40billion by the exchange rate method. By the PPP method, it is about US$114 billion. Uganda, which was a failed country, a failed State with a collapsed economy, is now one of the fastest growing economies of the world. The GDP has expanded, the roads, we had a very big problem of shortages, now we have the problem of surplus. Everything is in surplus. Sugar, Industrial products, Maize, Milk, Bananas, etc. Everything is in surplus. Electricity, education, health, etc. That’s how the population of Uganda is now 46 million. 

The other time, when I was campaigning, I went to a district called Yumbe. When we gave them a district a few years ago, they were only 100,000 people. They are now 600,000 people. On account of that, when I went there, I asked them: “You people, did you start marrying only when the NRM came into power?” They laughed, they said: “Why?” I said: “If you were marrying before, where were the children?” Of course, they were marrying and they are Muslim and they were marrying many women. However, the children were dying. That’s why the population of Yumbe was only 100,000. Actually, there was a debate: “How can you give a district to only 100,000 people?” However, because General Mustafa Adris was coming from there, he insisted and we gave them a district. They are now 600,000 people and are one of the heavily populated districts in Uganda. Why? It is because the children are not dying. 

The health programs are the ones that have ensured the expansion of the population. Then, there is also peace brought in by the NRM, in the whole country. 

Consequently, there is no group in the country of Uganda which can legitimately oppose the NRM. Consequently, when you ask: “Why are you opposing the NRM?” “I am opposing the NRM because I am a parasite”. “You are stopping me from parasiting?” Oooh! Unfortunately, that’s a wrong reason. Consequently, parasites are always isolated. If you do not stop, we shall isolate you. 

To take one example, in Northern Uganda, at the beginning, they would tell lies. NRM is against the people of Lango and Acholi. The truth is that we are the ones who stood with you against Idi Amin, against the mistakes of Ojuku. How can you say, we are against the people of Lango and Acholi?

The liars are exposed and the people get rid of them. The liars are not speaking the truth. With the people of West Nile, the NRM is the one which got you from exile. You were in exile. The people of Teso, the NRM is the one which disarmed the rustlers. As a consequence of that, there is no way anybody can defeat the NRM except from its internal weaknesses because they make mistakes. Otherwise, in terms of political capital, the capital which you build over time because of what you do, the NRM is unbeatable.

Finally, on the side of the army, you saw very well. When I was in Karamoja, I was on a political rally; then they started ringing me: “Oh! Kampala riots! What have you!” I said: ‘Those riots will be controlled. Do not interrupt my rally’’. Then my Secretary General rang me; she was very worried. She said: “Problems! they are attacking people with NRM uniform.” I said: “Do not worry, it will be sorted out’’.

Afterwards, we met in Soroti. I assured her. In spite of the evil plans by the Opposition, they were planning to stop the elections not to go on; nobody can stop anything serious here. They may divert us from what we are doing temporarily to concentrate on this; but you saw, on the 14th of January, everybody, even the foreigners, the international busy bodies, the Banyankore call them Ngamanya, the ones who know everything, they said: “Ooh! these Africans can keep peace.’’ They came here, somebody was telling me, they have written very good reports because the elections were peaceful.

In this Kisanja, this coming term, we are going to concentrate on social-economic transformation. That is where there is a gap. The roads are there, the electricity is there, the schools are there, the Health Centers are there. Do you know people called Bagwere? Do we have a Mugwere here? A specimen?

Oh, we do not have any Mugwere? Please if there is one, come here. They are there or they are hiding. I like the Bagwere language. This is because they talk of “abakolera ekidda kyoonka”. So this culture of abakolera ekidda kyoonka, working only for the stomach, tic me ic keken in Luo, must be eliminated in Uganda. According to the census of 1969, 96% of the population were working for the stomach only; what they call subsistence farming. Only 4% were working for the stomach and for money. 

Now, in the census of 2014, 32% of the people were working for the stomach and for the pocket. It had improved. Nevertheless, still, you had 68% working for the stomach only. So that is where the problem is. Those that have no means of earning yet they have the assets. They have land, they have the cattle, but they do not know how to use them to make money. It is a cultural problem, they need to change; from pre-capitalism, to a capitalist system.  

A monetary system. A system based on money rather than a system based on only working for subsistence. This is one of the biggest efforts we shall work on and we have got very good examples. The youth are very enthusiastic. When I meet youth groups and I take them to my model farms, they come back very excited. They wonder: “Why didn’t our elders do this”? I tell them: “You go and ask them”. Since I have been showing them my efforts, this is not new. So this is the biggest effort during this term of office. However, if all these people start working for the stomach and the pocket, then that brings the next question. 

The production will be so much, that we shall have the question of where to sell what you produce. Now the solutions for marketing are three:

First of all, East African integration. To persuade our neighbours in Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan and Congo, that we must integrate this market, so that when I produce here, I do not have to worry about the market. I know that there is the market of East Africa of 200 million people. Consequently, when production goes up, market issues come up. Why the boarder is closed here and the boarder is closed there? We shall end up building a Latin America in Africa. This is why Latin America stagnated up to today, while neighbouring United States became a super power.

Secondly, of course, the internal consumption will also increase, because I produce milk; now there is surplus milk. We are producing 2.6 billion litres, the internal consumption is only 800 million. Why? It is because people are not drinking the milk they need to drink for health reasons. World Health Organization says you should drink 210 litres of milk per year. Ugandans are only drinking 60 litres. If they were drinking 210 litres per person per year, the milk we are producing now, would not be enough. We would have to go to about 10 billion litres. To feed just the internal market. 

Consequently, the internal market will also grow if people get money in their pockets. The purchasing power, will increase consumption inside the country.

Textiles: How many meters is each person using in a year? Many of the homes do not have bed sheets. Suppose all the people were buying bed sheets. Two pairs per person. How much textiles would that be? Consequently, how many textile factories would we need to clothe them?

Consequently, the internal demand would also grow once people get money in their pockets. Purchasing power will mean increased consumption. Additionally, we are working with the external groups. Foreign trade with United States, with European Union, with China, with the Arabs, Russia etc. 

Therefore, this Kisanja will be a Kisanja of transformation. I thank the UPDF; you have done your part by defending your country, even when you do not have all the things you need; but you are able to defend the country. That is what I was telling members of the Judiciary the other day. That even if you do not have everything, because a poor man must also defend his home, you must defend your country. Are you going to say that a poor man should not defend his home? A poor man must defend his home. Consequently, even if you do not have enough money, but you must build your home, you use what you have. Uganda is a good example of how you can defend a country even when you do not have all the money you need.

So, I congratulate the UPDF and the NRA predecessors, for the fantastic job you have done. Uganda is an example of recovery and transformation.

The summary of what I have said today are three points.  

Point number one is that the NRM is unbeatable politically in Uganda.  

Second point is that the NRM is unbeatable because it is a good performer in spite of some weaknesses.  

The third point is that the NRM is unbeatable and has been able to grow from a mere student group in 1965 to the dominant political force, supplanting the old sectarian groups, because it is never missing in action and it has never let down anybody in their respective legitimate interests: in the 1966 crisis; following Amin’s coup in 1971; in the war of 1979 and pseudo elections of 1980; in the war of Resistance (1981-1986); and in the period since 1986 to-date.

Thank you very much.

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