THE UNTAPPED POTENTIAL OF TESO

By Professor Venansius Baryamureeba, PhD

A Keynote Speech delivered on 18th September 2017 at the 4th Teso Development International Conference hosted by Iteso Welfare Association UK (IWA UK) at the University of East London, London, United Kingdom, 18th—23rd September 2017
Conference theme- Teso: Past, Present, and Future.


Abstract  

Teso faces several development challenges including poor standards of education, poor health services, persistent famine, and higher rates of poverty. The sub-region also faces persistent natural hazards including floods and environmental degradation. These conditions have made the sub-region lag behind the rest of Uganda.

However, despite these development challenges, the sub-region has several opportunities including natural resources, infrastructure, strategic geographical location and talented people, which if exploited could catapult the region forward.

In the 2016 Uganda national elections, Prof. Baryamureeba (www.baryamureeba.ug) was one of the 8 presidential candidates. During the campaign, he traversed the country to understand the problems affecting the people. Given his vast experience, Prof. Baryamureeba will speak about, “The Untapped Potential of Teso”. Professor Baryamureeba will examine the development of Teso from the 1990s to demonstrate how it is lagging behind other sub-regions of Uganda. He will highlight missed opportunities and potential of the sub-region. He will argue that Teso possesses resources and potential that can transform it and that its people are key to its development. 

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Rampant Serious Crimes Should be a Cause of Concern

By Professor Venansius Baryamureeba

The general public is very worried about the rising crime in Uganda. Unlike in the past, petty crimes like stealing of chicken, goats, cows, farm produce etc. are on the rise among the rural communities. This may be attributed to the growing idle and redundant youth in rural communities as a result of the high unemployment rates. While the causes of crime are complex, some of the key reasons for crime today include: poverty, the need or want for money, feelings of anger, envy or vengeance, the decay of family values, parental neglect, the desire for control, the need to hold and retain political offices and other executive offices, infidelity, low self-esteem as well as alcohol and drug abuse. In some cases, people commit crimes for self-serving reasons. At other times, crimes are committed to do harm to others. Violent crimes, such as murder, assault and rape, may also result from bad subconscious attitudes or pent-up anger. Other violent crimes are planned out for personal gain or vengeance. A person may kill someone over a significant feud or disdain. So what are the main causes of crime in Uganda and what should the government do to curb rising crime rate?

Poverty is a major cause of crime in Uganda. Most Ugandans are driven to great lengths of desperation and frustration by poverty. It does seem that the rich are getting richer and the poor getting poorer every passing day. Poverty contributes to robbery because people find it easier or quicker to steal than to go through the process of getting and keeping a job. Some less educated people feel hopeless about finding work and steal out of a sense of need. The abolition of graduated tax was the genesis of lazy citizens in Uganda. This has been worsened by commercialisation of politics (handouts from politicians) that has turned citizens into beggars. Even communal work has died out. Many villagers don’t work at all. The working culture is dying out hence leading to a poorer population that is very prone to hunger and starvation. Poverty reduction strategies are well known world over and the government of Uganda should aim at reducing poverty among the rural poor. There is need to focus on increasing household income especially in rural areas.

Increase in population is a serious cause of crime. The increase of population triggers off a dynamo effect in society and this leads to the creation of more people with some form of frustration or resentment towards society as such. The government must put in place measures to control population growth and family size. Uncontrolled family sizes have accelerated poverty among the rural people. Without controlling family sizes, Uganda getting into the middle income status can only be a dream at least in the foreseeable future.

Politics is often a cause of crime. It is seen that many political associations all around the world have their own mafias running which they use to manipulate and subjugate people. Political power is often misused to take advantage of weaker groups and people and the dissidence that arises out of such situations often forces the victims to resort to crimes. Politics is more related to crime on a much larger and a much heinous level than anything else. So there is need to preach political tolerance by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) government if the political and democratic gains of NRM since 1986 are to be sustained. Just like in the past, the indicators are that once President Museveni leaves power there is likely to be some kind of political revenge. Hence the need to build tolerance, trust and cohesion among the main political actors.

Regionalism is a cause of crime and unrest among people. Such people that harbor such regionalist feelings often go to great lengths to commit crimes against other communities. It is often that a victim of such regionalism gets influenced and enters the world of crimes. The government must make an effort to address unequal distribution of political power, wealth and other resources among the regions of Uganda.

Crime especially murder is on the rise due to mainly unfair rulings, unfair investigations of crime, conflicts or disagreements. Victims of unfair or incorrect rulings from court often cause people to enter a life of crime. Similarly, due to a corrupt investigation system, victims of unfair crime investigations also cause people to enter a life of crime. It often happens that a person is a victim of chance and happens to fall into crimes. Besides that, people are also often falsely accused of committing crimes which end up in a court conviction. Serious disagreements or conflicts within power centres usually lead to assassinations of persons on orders of their colleagues, what is commonly known as an inside job. Jails or prisons often make worse criminals out of people because of the conditions that exist there. Corrections anywhere do not involve major rehabilitation for criminals and more often than not they end up being thrown in overpopulated jails full of people who are either victims or perpetrators of crimes more serious than their own. The declassification of people in prisons is also a major cause of crime creation. There is need to promote a just and fair judicial system.

Discrimination based on race is a serious issue all around the world. In Uganda racial crimes are steadily on the rise either due to poor laws or poor enforcement of laws. For example, why should Chinese and Indians be doing casual jobs that can easily be done by Ugandans? Some Ugandans whose employers are from these communities complain of racial exploitation and poor pay. This is creating a lot of resentment and hatred that is leading to crimes. The government needs to enforce the law and ring fence certain businesses and jobs for locals. Already around Kampala unexplained murders of some Indians and Chinese have been reported, which could be attributed to racism.

Internet, TV and radio inspired crimes are on the rise. TV violence has gone up to staggering levels and it does not help when people are influenced and try to emulate such acts of violence. TV violence is a major cause of crime especially among younger people that are unable to differentiate between fiction and reality. Since TV has become such an integral part of people’s lives now days, it is important to draw clear lines between what is real and what is not. Internet violence and crime are on the rise. Many kids today are connected to the internet. On the internet, kids and adults meet all sorts of people that end up luring them into committing crime. Sometimes, radios air content that inspires people to commit crime. There is need to identify and evaluate mitigation measures for Internet, TV and radio crimes.

There are a lot of things that go on in families that often cause people to get into a life of crime. Here again, there are a lot of different conditions that lead a person into crime. Lack of faith or strong religious beliefs is driving people into crime. Abuse during formative years from family members and other such acts also instigate a person into a life of crime. People who are neglected by their families or communities and do not get the love and attention that they desire also get into criminal activities. Family violence and other issues are also related to crime in many ways. Children exposed to violence in their homes may grow up with subconscious thoughts that compel them to impulsive reactions when angry. In essence, some crimes carry forward through generations in families. There is need to revise the community spirit of raising up children where children used to belong to the community and it was the responsibility of the community to raise up a child.

Depression and other social and mental disorders are causing crime. People with depression and grave mental disorders should be treated before their tendencies and ailments get out of hand. A person under depression or some other serious mental disorder can also easily cause harm to themselves. In Uganda going for mental health checkup is a taboo. Thus, there is need to create awareness about depression and mental health issues.

Drugs are a bane, no matter how we look at them. Persons addicted to drugs are unable to support their addiction and more often than not they end up in a life of crime to fuel their habits. It is a known fact that drug addicts end up committing crimes to raise money for their habits. The government needs to regulate the use of drugs especially among the youth in urban areas.

Infidelity among couples and traumatic separations and divorces are increasingly becoming sources of crime. There is need to intensify counseling services in all vulnerable communities and families.

So generally speaking, individualists tend to focus on individual weakness or lack of 'values' as the reason why people commit crimes. Individualists feel that society needs clearer rules and strong punishments to minimise criminal behaviour. On the other hand, many people feel that in order to tackle crime, the social conditions which create the conditions for crime need to be addressed. So, better housing, better employment opportunities and a more equal society will make crime less of an attraction. If people are in work and are content with life, they will be less motivated to break the law. The author was a candidate in the 2016 Presidential Election.

THE CURRENT SUCCESSION DEBATE SHOULD BE REFOCUSED: UGANDA IS NOT A MONARCHY

By Professor Venansius Baryamureeba

I have keenly been following the succession debate and I must admit I find its focus rather disappointing. In my view, the succession debate instead of focusing on who will succeed President Museveni should focus on who will be the likely presidential candidates from the various political parties and organisations and independents. It is from these that we should expect to get a successor to President Museveni in accordance with Article 103 (4) of the constitution. This is because Uganda returned to a multiparty system of governance in 2005 and as a result, the Presidential elections of 2006, 2011 and 2016 were held under a multiparty system of governance where the different political parties and organisations fielded Presidential candidates. We have also had Independent Presidential Candidates. Uganda follows a Presidential system and for one to be declared President Elect, he or she must get more than 50% of all valid votes cast at the election.

As per article 105(3) of the constitution, the office of the President can only fall vacant on the expiration of the period specified in this article; or if the incumbent dies or resigns or ceases to hold office under article 107 of this Constitution. Thus at any one time, the different political parties and organisations must have potential candidates within their rank and file ready to assume the office of the President in accordance with the constitution. This is what succession should be about, i.e. grooming potential presidential candidates within political parties and organisations and outside political parties in the case of independents.

So let us take a quick look at the two major political parties/ organisations namely the National Resistance Movement Organisation (NRM-O) and the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). To what extent is NRM-O and FDC prepared to produce the next President of Uganda whenever Gen Yoweri K Museveni is no longer eligible or available? NRM-O as a party in power is expected to use key positions in the executive arm of government such as the position of the Vice President, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs as grooming grounds for an NRM-O presidential candidate to succeed President Museveni. Among the ministries, I have singled out foreign affairs due to its role in overseeing foreign policy and relations. Also the position of First Lady in some countries has been used to groom presidential candidates. So who currently holds these positions? The Vice President is HE Edward Ssekandi who is 74 years old; The Prime Minister is Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda who is 69 years old; the 1st Deputy Prime Minister is Rt. Hon. Gen. Moses Ali who is 77 years old; the 2nd Deputy Prime Minister is Rt. Hon. Kirunda Kivejinja who is 81 years old; The Minister of Foreign Affairs is Hon. Sam Kutesa Kahamba who is 68 years old; and The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports is Hon. Janet Kataaha Museveni who is 68 years old. Considering the age limit requirement of a President not being above 75 years of age as per article 102 (b), this means that President Museveni would not be eligible to contest for President in 2021. Among those mentioned above, it would only be Rt. Hon. Rugunda, Hon. Kutesa and Hon. Janet Museveni that would meet the age limit requirement but they would also be in their 70s. One thing to ponder on is whether or not Ugandans would be ready to elect a President in his/her 70s after President Museveni is no longer eligible.

Probably, let me extend the succession net wider. Is NRM-O grooming Rt. Hon Kadaga,60 the Speaker of Parliament or Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, 51 the Deputy Speaker of Parliament as the person to succeed President Museveni? Will the next President come from Vice Chairpersons of NRM-O i.e. Haji Moses Kigongo, Amb. Matayo Kyarigonza, Hon. Mike Mukula, Haji Abdu Nadduli, Hon Sam Engola, Mr. Godfrey Nyakana or Mr. Simon Peter Aleper? Your guess is as good as mine. NRM-O needs to start having an internal succession debate to prepare for the eventuality of illegibility or unavailability of Gen YK Museveni to contest for the Presidency of Uganda.

Let us take a look at FDC. FDC is a party in opposition. So in terms of succession, you would expect that the persons holding the positions of Party President, Secretary General, Leader of Opposition in Parliament would be breeding grounds for FDC Presidential candidate? FDC Party Constitution leaves it open to any members of FDC to contest for the FDC Presidential Candidate position. This was proved in 2015 when most people expected Gen. Mugisha Muntu, the Party President to be the flagger bearer and instead Col. (Rtd.) Kizza Besigye emerged as the FDC flag bearer. This begs the question; is FDC using its party structures to groom presidential candidates?

With all honesty, when one assesses the two leading political parties in Uganda, you don’t see any deliberate strategy to groom successors to President Museveni within these two parties. So what this implies is that anybody who wants to be President needs to find a mechanism of introducing himself or herself to the public/ the voters. So that when the time comes, he or she can present himself or herself to the Ugandan voters and be voted President through adult suffrage either as a party candidate or as an independent candidate. A person like Odrek Rwabwogo who is not yet 50 wanted to become NRM-O Vice Chairman (Western Region) but was blocked from contesting and now writes weekly articles in New Vision on Ideology. This is one effective way of introducing himself to the public. Before long, Odrek Rwabwogo will be very popular among Ugandans. So let more Ugandans continue to come out and make themselves known so that at the end of the day, Ugandans will have a wide choice for the person to succeed President Museveni.

The writer was a Candidate in the 2016 Uganda Presidential Election.

UNEXPLAINED MURDERS IN UGANDA: WHAT ARE THE LESSONS LEARNED

By Professor Venansius Baryamureeba

Andrew Felix KaweesiIn the recent past, we have witnessed many unexplained murders. In this article I will only mention two, i.e. the murder of Sheik Maj. Mohammed Kiggundu and AIGP Andrew Felix Kawesi. The killers knew that the victims were well trained army/police officers who were also armed but this did not deter the killers. They still attacked and killed them anyway. This brings three issues to the fore; that the killers are highly trained in military combat, they have inside and intelligence information about their victims and that they are in possession of powerful rifles, pistols or guns.

Crime in Uganda is indeed on the rise. This can be explained by insecurity in neighbouring countries like South Sudan and DRC Congo where very sophisticated guns, rifles and pistols like the Tracking Point Rifle, Accuracy International AS50 Sniper Rifle, Heckler, Koch HK416 A5 Assault Rifle, Heckler and Koch MG4, and Uzi Sub-Machine Gun are available on the black market for very little money. So the criminal gangs or assassins can easily acquire them. At the same time Uganda has very porous boarders with South Sudan and DRC Congo and as a result these illegal guns can easily find their way into Uganda unnoticed. Therefore, as much some media houses reported that the gun that was used in killing AIGP Kawesi, the M4 is only owned by Special Forces Command, Chieftaincy Military Intelligence (CMI) and the Counter Terrorism Unit, there is also a high possibility that it came from outside these bodies.

Furthermore, some of the assassins may be crossing into Uganda as refugees and residing in our camps. This is exacerbated by the many Ugandan army veterans who are currently idle in villages across Uganda without any gainful employment. This may lead some of these army veterans to undertake any available income generating mission including assassination missions.

After witnessing the gruesome murders of several Ugandans in the recent past, many Ugandans feel very insecure in their own country. At this rate, there may be need to make it easy through legislation for Ugandans to acquire (powerful) guns, pistols and rifles for self-defense as not every Ugandan qualifies to have armed bodyguard(s). Uganda can borrow a leaf from the United States. Gun legislation in the United States is augmented by judicial interpretations of the U.S. Constitution. In 1791, the United States adopted the Second Amendment, and in 1868 adopted the Fourteenth Amendment. The effect of those two amendments on gun politics was the subject of landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 2008 and 2010, that upheld the right of individuals to possess guns for self-defense. Since the 1990s, debates regarding firearm availability and gun violence in the U.S. have been characterized by concerns about the right to bear arms, such as found in the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the responsibility of the government to serve the needs of its citizens and to prevent crime and deaths. Gun control supporters say that broad or unrestricted gun rights inhibit the government from fulfilling that responsibility. Gun rights supporters promote firearms for self-defense, and security against tyranny. Gun control advocates state that keeping guns out of the hands of criminals would result in safer communities, while gun rights advocates state that firearm ownership by law-abiding citizens reduces crime.

In Uganda, guns are in the hands of many people including thieves and assassins and it is very important that Ugandans are protected from these bad elements in society. What we need now is to send a strong message to those involved in assassinations of prominent Ugandans that their guards or themselves now have more powerful rifles, guns and pistols and would be ready to defend themselves when attacked. Citizens with no criminal record should be allowed to easily acquire powerful guns, rifles and pistols for self protection/ defense just like in the United States by the Parliament of Uganda enacting the relevant legislation. Even guards who are guarding VVIPS should be provided with powerful rifles, guns and pistols to ably guard the VVIPS. We must know that the assassins are no longer using simple pistols or guns anymore. So it is important that we match their artillery power otherwise more death are likely basing on what has already happened.

Also for the officers in the category of Assistant Inspector of Police or equivalent that don’t qualify for a lead car or escort car, some innovation needs to be undertaken around their security. For example, even with one vehicle like a Land Cruiser Prado, it is still possible to put two guards in the back seat since it’s a seven seater to guard a boss in the middle seat. Alternatively, double cabin pickups could serve the officers better as the extra guards can sit at the behind of the double cabin pickup and the bodyguard in front. This should be complimented by providing powerful rifles, guns or pistols to the guards.

Installation of surveillance cameras in major towns and on highways cannot help in curbing murders but it will help in curbing other crimes like overdriving and stealing of car mirrors. The fact is that the assassins or murderers will attack their victims from places that won’t have surveillance cameras.

There is also need for a law on mainstreaming crime preventers into the security forces otherwise some of them will continue to abet crime due to idleness and lack of regular income.

The writer is former candidate in the 2016 Uganda Presidential Election.