The activist at the British Foreign Office
Recently a team of Ugandan opposition political activist living in the United Kingdom [UK] took their campaign against President Museveni’s National Resistance Movement [NRM] government to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.
A group of London based opposition activists told the British government that Uganda is a failed state. To justify their claim, they pointed to among other things, the NRM government’s failure to organise free and fair elections and the continued harassment of opposition activists and Journalists.
The other key issues were President Museveni’s consistent interference with parliamentary processes and the fact that the Ugandan government seems to have surrendered many of its roles and responsibilities to Non Governmental Organisations [NGOs]
The sticking issue is the government’s apparent failure, inability, and or unwillingness to fight the widespread corruption costing the country billions of shillings that could have been put to use in the social services sector. The Speaker of Parliament Ms Rebecca Kadaga added a powerful voice to that of the London activists, saying “corruption has reached crisis levels” and she also revealed last week that she was under pressure from unnamed individuals within the ruling National Resistance Movement party to deny the Opposition a chance to debate freely in the House
Many Ugandans are concerned over Uganda’s serious political and economic problems it is facing now, these problems should confirm that Uganda is a “failed state”.
The activists met the African Team at the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office [FCO] and urged the British government to put pressure on the Ugandan authorities to stop the “…excessive use of force and illegal imprisonment of opposition activists and Journalists”.
Another concern was over“the barbaric” Public Order Management Bill and the Press and Journalist Bill which is intended to suffocate the press and the public. The Ugandan opposition team confirmed to the British hosts that “… that Ugandans are fed up of Museveni’s dictatorship and are happy to consider an alternative government.”
The team of Ugandan opposition activists raised their concerns about the British government’s continued support and provision of aid to the Ugandan government despite of it’s “…inability to resurrect the collapsed institutions and governance systems.”
The opposition delegation also pointed out the “…obvious symptoms of a failed state. How can a country function when the people’s representatives are silenced by the government?”.
Ms Belinda Atim, one the activists who petitioned the British government pointed to the recent Amnesty International report which shows that “…human rights and democracy in Uganda has diminished beyond recognition.” She also said the framework of democracy is human rights law and yet in Museveni’s Uganda human rights only applies to “…those in the top layers of government.”
Charles Mugagga, who was part of the Ugandan delegation, rhetorically asked: “…What would stop a man from taking to the streets if he can’t afford school fees and other basics for life while his country buys fighter jets for $744 million dollars?” He also pointed to youth unemployment of approximately 80% as one of the reasons for the growing discontent with Museveni’s government.
Mr Richard Semitego, a common opposition activists in London who subscribes to the political pressure group Ssuubi 2011 was also part of the team. He said, “…in the eyes of many Ugandans, the 2011 February general elections were flawed and therefore Museveni’s current government is an illegitimate government.”
Others on the opposition delegation were Mr. Bosco Nyeko and Ms Margaret Lakidi who emphasised the need by both the British government and the European Union to reinforce accountability mechanisms lest their good humanitarian intentions towards vulnerable Ugandans turn into “…a moral disaster.”