EAC: Complaining of “lack of democracy and ideological disorientation” holding back Africa, does Museveni have any self-awareness at all?

American President George W. Bush meets with P...

American President George W. Bush meets with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda Friday, July 11, 2003 in Entebbe, Uganda. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the Daily Monitor, “Museveni faults Africa” 

President Museveni has said the “lack of democracy and an Ideological disorientation” are some of the 10 bottlenecks that have kept Uganda and many African countries listed as Least Developed Countries.

The President told the East African Legislative Assembly meeting in Rwanda that the continent suffers an “ideological disorientation whereby the reactionaries fragment the African people into sectarianism of tribe, religion and gender chauvinism”.

The statement does not, however, elaborate what he meant by absence of democracy. He added that Africa continues to lag behind despite being “favoured by God and nature.”

For a different take on Museveni’s “State of the EAC Address” see this report from the EAC website.  The discussion here picks up on Museveni’s call to go beyond economic integration to “Political Federation”.

GADDAFI AND MUSEVENI
Gaddafi and Museveni

Related articles

•  Uganda: new links for ongoing themes . . . (africommons.com)

 More on Moi, KANU and Ruto meetings with Museveni (africommons.com)

•  Uganda’s Independent features CSIS report on risk of instability with NRM decline, Museveni succession (africommons.com)

 Another Ugandan weapons procurement scandal? (africommons.com)

 Enough to drive one to drink . . . Museveni on Gaddafi (and Western company bribes to Gaddafi) (africommons.com)

 

A few links to set the scene as we approach 30 days to Kenya’s vote . . .

Jay Naidoo of The Daily Maverick writes from “the Mukuru Kwa Reuben slum, one of the largest in Nairobi” with an unknown population size: “I have a right to a toilet–it’s human dignity”.

An update on the preparation for Kenya’s citizen digital “crowdsourced” monitoring/mapping effort, using the Ushahidi software: “Uchagazi Community Next Steps”.

H/t to the UN Dispatch blog for noting another official pre-election delegation in Nairobi: “Kenya: UN official stresses need for peaceful and transparent elections”:

“Kenya’s elections will be watched closely around the world,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said during a visit to Nairobi, the capital.

“Let me take this opportunity to appeal to all Kenyans to exercise their democratic right and participate actively – but peacefully – in the elections,” he said. “Let me also underscore the responsibility shared by leaders at all levels to abide by legal mechanisms and to send a clear message to supporters that violence of any kind would be unacceptable.”

Mr. Feltman, who oversees UN support to elections globally in his capacity as Focal Point for UN Electoral Assistance, commended the electoral authorities for their preparations and underscored the readiness of the UN to continue providing financial and technical assistance to the electoral process.

In the category of “open government initiatives,” and “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” the Project on Government Oversight (US) is asking citizens to push the White House to finally fill the vacancy for the the Inspector General for the State Department:

Inspectors general are independent watchdogs within federal agencies that are essential to a well-functioning government. They conduct audits and investigations that identify wasteful government practices, fraud by individuals and government contractors, and other sorts of government misconduct. Congress and the public rely on their reports to hold agencies and individuals accountable for wrongdoing, identify a need for legislation, and evaluate the effectiveness of government programs and policies.

Unfortunately, President Obama went his entire first term without nominating an inspector general for the State Department. At over five years, the State Department opening is the longest running vacancy among federal agencies.

 

Wycliffe Muga in The Star on “Why we should not dismiss foreigners”, with an example from his own experience in Kenya, but perhaps a universal lesson.

In the category of “it could be worse”: “Is a military coup Museveni’s last line of defense against NRM rebels?” asks Gaaki Kigambo in The East African.

 

New Somalia and Uganda reports

The Institute for Security Studies covers the Somali transition in its Daily Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Report:

A total of 215 parliamentarians were sworn in on Monday, 20 August 2012, at a well-guarded ceremony at the Mogadishu airport, ushering in a new era of reforms in Somalia. The ceremony marked the attainment of one of the key milestones identified by the 2011 consultative meeting on ending the transition in the country. . . .

. . . 20 August 2012 was the actual date scheduled for the end of the transition and therefore Somalia should in fact have had a parliament, speaker and deputies, and a president in place by that date. However, due to delays in meeting a number of the deadlines largely blamed on the politics surrounding the selection and submission of names by the traditional elders, and subsequently the vetting process by the Technical Selection Committee (TSC), the whole process was delayed. As a result, the deadline has passed without Somalia meeting all the important milestones envisaged under the Roadmap.

. . . . The politics surrounding the election of the speaker and the president are two remaining crucial issues. This is because the two positions cannot go to the same clan and, as such, clans may try to play their cards to get the optimum result, given the winner-takes-all-nature of the politics surrounding the transition. The situation is still extremely fragile and the country would benefit from maximum support from the international community, while ensuring Somali-centeredness and ownership. Although Somalia did not meet the deadline for the selection of the speaker and the president, the swearing-in of parliamentarians is a watershed moment for a country that has been riddled with lawlessness for 20 years. The progress made has given new hope to some Somalis and renewed the faith of the international community in the peace process.

Human Rights Watch yesterday released a report “Curtailing Criticism: Intimidation and Obstruction of Civil Society in Uganda”.  See a summary here at “Child Troopers.”  In addition to civil liberties issues, the Museveni regime is cracking down “particularly on organizations that might be seen as infringing upon the officials’ political and financial interests,” according to Maria Burnett of HRW.

(Updated 10-12) Ugandan Parliament Votes to Suspend Oil Deals on Corruption Charges

BBC News is reporting that the Ugandan parliament has asserted its independence by acting to freeze new oil agreements after bribery allegations are brought forward by an MP:

Uganda’s parliament has voted to suspend all new deals in the oil sector following claims that government ministers took multi-million dollar bribes.

MP Gerald Karuhanga said in parliament on Monday that UK-based Tullow Oil paid bribes to influence decisions.

Tullow said it rejected the “outrageous and wholly defamatory” allegations.

The vote is a big blow to President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, analysts say.

The BBC’s Joshua Mmali in the capital, Kampala, says it means the government will not be able to sign new oil deals until a petroleum law is enacted.

.  .  .  .

Update–from Wednesday’s Daily Monitor:

The British High Commission in Kampala yesterday said the country’s Metropolitan Police is at liberty to start investigations into allegations that Tullow, one of London’s 100 listed companies, paid bribes to senior Uganda government officials. “Bribery of foreign public officials is of course an offence under UK law, and it would therefore be for the British Police to decide whether to open an investigation into allegations made against a British company,” a spokesperson for the High Commission said in reply to our email enquiries.

UK’s 2010 Bribery Act imposes “strict liability” on UK corporations or business firms that fail to make “adequate processes” to prevent bribe payments. In yesterday’s statement, the High Commission said it was following the ongoing oil debate in Parliament “with interest”, but understand that “Tullow Oil totally rejects those allegations”.

The Company had by press time not replied to specific questions this newspaper raised based on allegations in Parliament that the firm between June 1 and July 16, 2010 paid out up to $100m (Shs280b) to “experts”, among them powerful ministers, for “professional services” from accounts with Bank of Valetta in Malta.

.  .  .  .

Museveni defends Gaddafi while inflation soars in Uganda

Museveni reiterated his defense of Gaddafi this week in The Daily Monitor:

President Museveni has reiterated his criticism of the West and attacked Nato for disorganising a friend, whose 42-year rule faces a humbling end.

Speaking at the annual Muslims Iftar dinner at State House, Entebbe on Saturday, Mr Museveni addressed himself on two fundamental issues: The economic crisis at home and the battle for Libya. He accused the West of greed and defended Col. Gaddafi’s mistakes even though, he said, the Libyan leader attempted to go behind his back to hijack his chiefs in Kampala.

“Gaddafi had his own mistakes, he came here and organised my chiefs without telling me. We cancelled that meeting and I warned chiefs because it was wrong,” Mr Museveni said. “But Gaddafi built a mosque for us and as a leader, he had his mistakes, but those Europeans have more mistakes and problems. They think the rest of us are fools except themselves. When there are riots in Africa, they call them pro-democracy and in London, they call them, criminals.”

While inflation in Uganda has hit a 20-year high of 21.4%:

Ugandans will be bracing themselves for even harder times ahead as the continued depreciation of the local currency, rising prices for fuel, essential commodities and food combined to push inflation to a new 20-year high, further threatening the economy’s growth.The Consumer Price Index (CPI) released by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics yesterday indicates that inflation rose from a revised rate of 18.8 per cent in July to 21.4 per cent in August.

This represents a 2.6 percentage point rise, which, though lower than the 3.1 percentage point increase registered in July, still dragged the battered economy over another double digit threshold.

The Director for Macro-Economics Statistics at Ubos, Dr Chris Ndatira Mukiza, said food inflation, which rose to 42.9 per cent from 40.7 per cent, remains the main driver of inflation.

Back in May when Museveni was sworn in for another five year term after 25 years in power, Think Africa Press noted “For the first time in decades, inflation has hit the two digit mark to settle at 11%,” and asked “President Museveni:  Africa’s Marie Antoinette?

One is reminded of Marie-Antoinette of France. Are these leaders in touch with reality? Do they understand the condition of ordinary people of Uganda? And how many Ugandans really depend on land, and how productive is that land? What percentage of farmers are producing for the market? Even for those who have access to land, can they get all that they need from that land? In any case, the root of this inflation can be traced to the colossal amount of money poured into the country during the recent election campaigns. And this was largely by President Museveni himself.

Enough to drive one to drink . . . Museveni on Gaddafi (and Western company bribes to Gaddafi)

The obvious question that comes to mind after reading Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s  “The Qaddafi I Know” at Foreign Policy is:  do politically-minded people go to bars?

The Middle Eastern radicals, quite different from the revolutionaries of black Africa, seem to say that any means is acceptable as long as you are fighting the enemy. That is why they hijack planes, use assassinations, plant bombs in bars, etc. Why bomb bars? People who go to bars are normally merry-makers, not politically minded people.

We were together with the Arabs in the anti-colonial struggle. The black African liberation movements, however, developed differently from the Arab ones. .  .  .  .

(you may remember that Gaddafi directed the bombing of a nightclub frequented by American servicemen in West Germany in 1986)

So is Museveni a radical?  If so, a radical for what?  For just a small sample of the rest of the sophistry:

I know Qaddafi has his system of elected committees that convene to form a National People’s Conference. Actually, Qaddafi thinks this is superior to our multi-party systems. Of course, I have never had time to study how truly competitive this system is. Anyway, even if it is competitive, there is now, apparently, a significant number of Libyans who think that there is a problem in their country’s governance. Since there has not been internationally observed elections in Libya, not even by the AU, we cannot know what is correct and what is false. Therefore, a dialogue is the correct way forward.

Museveni, of course, has allowed international observers to the elections that his government has conducted and is thus “too legit to quit” twenty-five years after taking power by force.  And since Libya is on the same continent as Uganda, Museveni is entitled to write in Foreign Policy and  have a large role is solving Libya’s problems without even claiming to know much about the details of the issues, all while stridently denouncing “foreign” meddling.  (And to take lots of American and other Western money to train and otherwise fund his military, and especially to “peacekeep” in Mogadishu–and to operate his government and otherwise meet some of the needs of his constituents while his government funds his re-election).

Pretty sobering to realize that Museveni is, in many ways, our bestest ally in the region .  .  .  .

And of course more information is coming out about Museveni’s mobilization of the Ugandan military in his election.  And now Human Rights Watch finds that a Ugandan “Rapid Response Unit” is using torture and extra-judicial killings.

And reporting by The New York Times discloses some of the massive shakedowns by Gaddafi of Western companies seeking to do business in Libya to fund his payment to the families of Lockerbie bombing victims.

The wealth that Colonel Qaddafi’s family and his government accumulated with the help of international corporations in the years since the lifting of economic sanctions by the West helped fortify his hold on his country. While the outcome of the military intervention under way by the United States and allied countries is uncertain, Colonel Qaddafi’s resources — including a stash of tens of billions of dollars in cash that American officials believe he is using to pay soldiers, mercenaries and supporters — may help him avert, or at least delay, his removal from power.

The government not only exploited corporations eager to do business, but willing governments as well. Libya’s banks apparently collected lucrative fees by helping Iran launder huge sums of money in recent years in violation of international sanctions on Tehran, according to another cable from Tripoli included in a batch of classified documents obtained by WikiLeaks. In 2009, the cable said, American diplomats warned Libyan officials that its dealings with Iran were jeopardizing Libya’s enhanced world standing for the sake of “potential short-term business gains.”

AU selects Museveni to Negotiate on Libya Crisis Resolution with Gaddafi

From Monday’s Daily Monitor via AllAfrica.com:

Addis Ababa/Kampala — President Museveni has been named by the African Union (AU) alongside South African President Jacob Zuma to negotiate a resolution to the mounting crisis in Libya.

AU chairperson Jean Ping made the announcement at a Peace and Security Council meeting in Addis Ababa at the weekend. Mr Museveni and Mr Zuma will work alongside presidents Mr Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo, Mr Amadou Toumani Touré of Mali and Mr Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania. The team is expected to travel to Tripoli this week to assess the situation on the ground and meet all parties involved in the ongoing conflict.

Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi is facing the strongest challenge to his 42-year rule, after demonstrations demanding he step down last month escalated into civil unrest across the country. Rebel forces have since taken control of most of western Libya and the situation has now been described as a full-fledged civil war.

However, rebels continued to lose ground this week, and international consensus remains elusive on extending economic sanctions, as well as establishing a no-fly zone – some observers say is essential to preventing government air strikes on rebel territory.

President Museveni is known to be an old ally of the defiant Libyan leader. But the President’s press secretary, Mr Tamale Mirundi, said the President “cannot refuse” helping in the face of such a crisis, citing his past involvements in neighbouring Kenya and Rwanda, among others. “The president believes that African problems can easily be solved by Africans using regional and continental approaches,” Mr Mirundi said yesterday.

International Election Observation Roundup for Uganda

“African Union observers fault Ugandan election”, AP story at RealClearPolitics.

The leader of the AU observer mission, Gitobu Imanyara, said that many voters couldn’t vote due to the poor management of polling centers.

“Many voters with voter cards were turned away from polling stations because names could not be found on the voter registrar,” Imanyara said. “A good number of polling officials did not seem to have adequate training or confidence to perform their responsibilities and as a result procedures were not properly followed.”

Imanyara also said the large deployment of security forces on voting day could have intimidated some voters, and that allegations of vote buying by Museveni’s side undermined the integrity of the process.

Despite those shortcomings, Imanyara said the AU mission believed the 2011 election was better than the 2006 vote.

EU Election Observation Mission–Preliminary Statement:  “Improvements Marred by Avoidable Failures”

Chief Observer of the EU EOM, Mr Edward Scicluna, Member of the European Parliament (MEP), said the elections showed some improvement on those held in 2006. However, he said the electoral process was marred by avoidable administrative and logistical failures which led to an unacceptable number of Ugandan citizens being disenfranchised.

“In addition to this, we have found that the power of incumbency was exercised to such an extent as to compromise severely the level playing field between the competing candidates and political parties.” Mr Scicluna said the campaign was conducted in a “fairly open and free environment, in which freedoms of expression, assembly and association were generally respected”. At the same time, he noted a significant increase in campaign spending on 2006 and raised concern at what he described as the “monetisation” of the election.

“The distribution of money and gifts by candidates, a practice inconsistent with democratic principles, was widely observed by EU EOM observers.”

Mr Scicluna noted the lack of trust shown by stakeholders in the electoral process towards the Electoral Commission and the National Voter Register, the compilation of which it oversaw. At the same time, he welcomed the Commission’s adherence to best international practice by publishing the results as they became known polling station by polling station.

Joint EAC-COMESA-IGAD Observation:

In most polling stations visited, some teams observed general low voter turnout in the first six hours of voting; less than 50% of the voters had cast their votes. In some places such as Mbale, the team observed a few incidences of violence.

There was high presence of military personnel in fatigue uniforms which may have intimidated and frightened some voters. The capacity of the Election polling personnel to manage the voting process was inadequate. In some cases they did not have sufficient knowledge and skills on voting operations.

This was exemplified by slow voting process, unsealed ballot boxes and abdicating the role of guiding assisted voters to unauthorised personnel including the police and members of the public; Even though the open air voting lends itself a transparent voting process, it however compromises the secrecy of the ballot as witnessed in some areas. In certain cases, rain interfered with the voting process;

Commonwealth Observer Group:

Key Findings

  • The 18 February Presidential and Parliamentary Elections in Uganda were the country’s 2nd multi-party elections. It is clear that in some respects the country is still in the process of consolidating its multi-party political system. There was a largely peaceful campaign and a reasonably calm Election Day in most areas but regrettably marred by localised incidents of violence.
  • However, some serious concerns remain which mirror findings highlighted after the 2006 elections. Of particular note is the lack of a level playing field and the “commercialisation of politics”, both of which will need to be addressed.
  • It is encouraging that during the election campaign basic freedoms, including freedom of association, freedom of movement and assembly, were generally provided for. Parties conducted extremely active national campaigns which attracted large crowds. The campaign was generally peaceful, though some localised incidents were reported. The Electoral Commission (EC) coordinated the campaign schedules and thereby contributed to the generally peaceful conduct of the campaign by ensuring party rallies did not overlap.
  • The 2011 elections were contested by more candidates compared to previous polls. But the lack of a level playing field and strong advantage of incumbency compromised the competitive nature of the polls. The ruling party in Uganda is by far the largest and best-resourced party and following many years in power, elements of the state structure are synonymous with the party. Further, reports regarding the “commercialisation of politics” by the distribution of vast amounts of money and gifts are most disturbing.
  • The EC undertook to improve the voter register with an extensive update and cleaning exercise aided by the use of Information Technology. Overall the register shows some improvement, but it is clear that it remains a work-in-progress with some names still missing and some voters lacking awareness of their place of poll. It is regrettable that the National Identification Card was not made ready for use during these elections.
  • On the day of the elections, our teams reported a reasonably calm process in the majority of areas, but with some localised incidents. We also noted reports of some other serious incidents of violence, which is deplorable. Our teams reported that in most areas the voting process proceeded reasonably well. The main problems encountered related to the widespread late delivery of materials and late opening of many polling stations; inconsistent application of procedures by polling officials and instances of voters not finding their names on the list, the scale of which varied. In some areas the nature of the presence of security forces, particularly the military, was a concern.
  • Our teams followed the count at polling stations and tabulation in a number of Districts. Overall, the polling station count was transparent, but again inconsistencies were observed, notably in the completion of documentation. At the District level, the process was again transparent and proceeded smoothly, but the poor completion of paperwork at polling stations became evident.
  • The new results aggregation system is welcomed as it helps increase transparency and the National Tally Centre provided access to timely and transparent information. During the tabulation, Observers did report tensions in Mbale outside the District office, reflecting tensions encountered in the area during voting, but elsewhere the process was calm.
  • We continue to follow the process and our Final Report containing our conclusions and recommendations will be made public in a few weeks.

Election Campaign

The election campaign was generally calm, with Presidential and Parliamentary candidates holding meetings across the country. The Electoral Commission’s coordination of campaign schedules to help to avoid direct clashes between party supporters was a great help in this regard. While a number of isolated incidents were reported these were the exception and not the norm, which is heartening. However, media monitoring reports indicate that the ruling party enjoyed a large advantage in coverage by state-owned radio and TV.

The main concern regarding the campaign, and indeed regarding the overall character of the election, was the lack of a level playing field, the use of money and abuse of incumbency in the process. The magnitude of resources that was deployed by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), its huge level of funding and overwhelming advantage of incumbency, once again, challenged the notion of a level playing field in the entire process. Indeed, the ‘money factor’ and widespread allegations of bribery, and other more subtle forms of buying allegiance were key features of the political campaign by some, if not all, the parties. By all accounts, the 2011 elections were Uganda’s most expensive ever. It is therefore important that for the future serious thought be given to election campaign financing and political party fundraising.

This is more so given that there are virtually no checks on the levels of campaign financing and expenditure due to the cash-based nature of the campaign and the lack of stringent campaign financing regulations, both of which facilitate the use of illicit payments to voters as inducements and has the potential to undermine their free will.

Electoral Framework and Management of the Electoral Process

The legal framework provides the basic conditions for a competitive election. However, in some ways it still reflects the pre-multi-party era. For instance, EC and senior District officials are directly appointed by the President. This has raised questions about their ability to be independent.

The late changes to the legal framework for the elections impacted on some of the Election Commission’s preparations. But overall it stuck to its published road map. The Election Commission held numerous meetings with stakeholders from political parties and civil society, but there were still complaints of lack of information on all issues. Further, the poor voting and counting procedures showed that the Election Commission had not adequately trained its staff.

The voter register remains a work-in-progress. While some improvements have been made following cleaning of the list and public verification exercises, many anomalies remained. The extent of this varies from area to area but the phenomena are consistent. The absence of voter cards or some other regulated form of ID together with the inaccuracies in the voters register opened the process up to abuse and disenfranchisement.

Uganda Votes (updated)

A reminder of the link to the Uchaguzi “Citizen Election Watch–IT” site. And the “Uganda Watch 2011″ site, which is a partnership including Citizen Election Watch–IT with funding from the multi-donor Deepening Democracy and the U.S.’s National Democratic Institute.

Also follow the hashtag #ugandavotes on Twitter.

[Update:  with voting concluded, the internet is alive early evening Uganda time with unverified vote totals being reported on Twitter directly and from SMS from various polling stations.  The dispersion of communication technology is continuing to have an impact--this is well beyond what was available in Kenya in December 2007.  Here is the initial Bloomberg story from Sarah McGregor an hour after polls closed.]

The BBC reports that voting has been proceeding smoothly after delayed poll opening.

Here are a couple of the overview articles from yesterday’s international press.

“Heads I Win, Tails You Lose”, Michael J. Wilkerson in Foreign Policy:

It’s hard to overstate Museveni’s advantage in Friday’s ballot. He has significantly more campaign funds — both legitimate and under the table — than the opposition. He has access to state resources to mobilize his supporters, and the loyalty of the security services. Uganda has seen record economic growth in recent years under his oversight. And Museveni has strong Western backing, winning praise for example for his innovative HIV/AIDS campaign and his commitment to fighting terrorism. (It also helps, of course, that he appointed the electoral commission.)

Sounds easy, right? Yet Museveni and his party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), are leaving nothing to chance. Across Kampala, major billboards usually devoted to expensive advertisements for Coca-Cola, phone companies, or other big spenders have almost all been replaced with NRM campaign items. The party has even hired a helicopter to fly around the city dropping leaflets and blaring Museveni’s campaign song — a remixed version of his attempt to bond with young voters by rapping at a rally. And then there is Museveni’s use of government resources, like the presidential helicopter, to travel around the country and campaign.

Since it’s not officially reported, campaign spending is hard to gauge here. But Andrew Mwenda, editor of the Independent weekly magazine and consistent critic of Museveni’s regime, has an estimate: “Museveni has spent $350 million dollars on this election alone,” he told me.

Meanwhile, the government is effectively bankrupt. In January, parliament passed a supplemental budget increase of $260 million, yet just weeks later, Minister of Finance Syda Bbumba announced that the government was broke and ministries would be examining emergency cost-cutting measures. According to local newspaper reports, government officials confirm that money was diverted to NRM campaigns for the presidency and parliamentary seats, and $1.3 billion, or almost a third of the annual budget was spent in January alone. (Unsurprisingly, the IMF refused last week to sign off on Uganda’s economic policies, diplomatically describing them as “inconsistent” with previous agreements with the fund.)

“Uganda Will Deploy Security at All Polling Stations” by Sarah McGregor, Bloomberg.