By Nathan Mwesigye Byamukama
Uganda and Africa must be lucky to have had NRM under President Museveni around for the last 29 years. Individual leaders are central in (or not) shaping domestic and foreign policies of their respective countries and President Museveni’s contribution and influence has been robust, clear and assertive enough for us to measure its impact on the lives of the people.
Pan Africanism is about love for humanity and specifically for Africans wherever they exist. It is about defence of the oppressed and empowerment of the marginalised so that they can realise their potential and to get out of their hitherto predicament.
History shows that it has been largely Africans all over that have suffered the marginalisation and oppression requiring emanticipatory politics. Pan africanists have high affinity to liberation politics and to policies related to “non indifference”. Where oppression and injustice is obvious, resistance to oppression is supported if not initiated. Collective action against oppression and all other forms of discrimination is always mobilised. Real Pan Africanists are always decisive and nonaligned; they are pro Africa in global and multilateral negotiations and pro (poor) people in regional and national policies. In their defense of Africa and Africans, they must be consistent and resolute without speaking pan africanism in the morning and exploitation in the evening. They must mean what they say and say what they mean about Africa and Africans. They should not carry panafricanism in their sleeves but in their heart and mind.
Understanding Foreign Policy
Simply put, a foreign policy of a country is a plan of action adopted by one nation in regards to its diplomatic dealings with other countries. The purpose of foreign policy is to safeguard a particular country’s national interest and to achieve specific goals within its international relations. The national interest often referred by the French expression raison d’Etat (reason of the state) is a country’s goals and ambitions whether political, economic, military, environmental humanitarian, and cultural.
The pursuit of national interests, economic interests dominating, is an important concept in international relations as it is the foundations of one of the schools of thought of international relations known as the “realist” school. National interest accomplishments can be achieved militarily or peacefully depending on the exigencies of the situation. In this regard national interests can be accomplished as a result of peaceful cooperation with other nations as the “idealist” school of thought contends, or even a combination of exploitative, collaborative and antagonistic relationship with each other (neorealist).
Usually foreign policy is a job of Head of government and the foreign minister (or the equivalent) of a country. In some countries, the legislature also has some considerable effect on foreign policy formulation and execution. The development of foreign policy is influenced by domestic considerations, the policies or behaviour of other states (as influenced by the political leadership at a time), or plans to advance specific geopolitical designs.
Uganda’s Foreign Policy
After 36 years of NRM and about 55 years of Museveni’s political activism, it is now easier to assess Uganda’s foreign policy under President Museveni and the NRM.
While the legal brains will confirm that the Uganda Constitution confers to the President or his/her representative the power to make foreign policy (articles 123), the ordinary person on the streets of Kampala basing on visible Uganda’s actions over years will at least tell you that any country or organisation risks being opposed by Museveni’s Uganda if it harbours negative forces and terrorists and that genuine liberation movements and regional economic integration initiatives would be supported by Uganda.
Legally, the Constitution provides a general framework of principles of Uganda’s foreign policy to include: promotion of the national interest of Uganda, respect for international law and treaty obligations, peaceful co-existence and non alignment, settlement of international disputes by peaceful means and opposition to all forms of domination, racism and other forms of oppression and exploitation (emphasise mine)”.
This article focuses on the last principle to explain how Uganda’s foreign policy has been clear and assertive with positive impact. Unless for some other consideration, conventional wisdom tells us that Uganda will support ideas related to: Pan africanism, integration of the African peoples and economies, defence of human and people’s rights especially Africans, fighting terrorism and insecurity of African people, liberation and decolonisation, fighting discrimination, racism, ethnicity, tribalism, genocide , crimes against humanity and war crimes as well as fighting dictatorships and injustices wherever they surface.
NRM under President Museveni has been consistently in power for more than quarter a century where other heads of state of the same country could not even last three months in power. By the time NRM and Museveni came to power Uganda “had changed governments eight times, seven of them violently. Five of its six former presidents were living in exile with the six having died in Britain seventeen years earlier” (Charles O Bachachi 2011) .
It cannot be by mere chance that the existing political system has been, is and could still be, around for more years. The changes in policy and system, when they occur, under President Museveni, are only in form and not in substance.
Indeed the body wears out, as biology will dictate, but ideas don’t; they only sharpen and an organisation that does not change dies. Indeed as before, he led “Fronts” and “Movements” for different reasons but the underlying objectives remaining constant.
Pan africanism remains a major objective common to all. Be it under University Students United Revolutionary Front (USARF –in 60s ); Front for National Salvation ( FRONASA in 70s); Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM- in 80s), National Resistance Movement /Army (NRM/NRA-in 80s) or the National Resistance Movement Organisation (NRM-O) ; All these seemingly different nomenclatures (forms) are but the same in substance, with a political overriding belief in pan africanism, togetherness, respect to comrades, cohesion, decisive on conviction, patience, listening and tolerance to differences, openness and truthfulness to peers, commitment to cause, harnessing diversity to solve common challenges, parties or no-parties notwithstanding. This has kept President Museveni indispensable to both his friends and enemies at home and abroad. .
Museveni – Nyerere Pan Africanism: How Foreign Policy Impacts and shapes attitudes
President Museveni was born and grew up during the period of decolonisation struggles and was able probably more than others of his generation, to differentiate justice from injustice meted out to fellow Africans at quite an early age. He was able to realise that he was an African in Uganda who had brothers and sisters beyond the geographical boundary of Uganda that were suffering injustice.
We see, Museveni, a high school student quitting the Scripture Union as its Chair in 1965 when the priests refused to show solidarity with the then Rhodesians (now Zimbabwe) when Ian Smith unilaterally declared South Rhodesia independent (see his Mastered Seed). If he was just a Ugandan nationalist (and many are), he would have ignored what was happening in Rhodesia and concentrated on his Ugandan issues. But he was beyond petty nationalism.
Besides his wider outlook, in Uganda, Gen Museveni was also actively working on agrarian issues where he was already challenging the post colonial unfair distribution of land in Ankole. Unlike many, he saw no contradiction between a nationalist, a pan-africanist, an integrationist and an internationalist. From Cuba to Tanzania, the revolution and revolutionaries were giving him an inspiration proving that indeed there was no contradiction. His pan African instincts gave him empathy and a sense of humanity, morality, and justice for all the oppressed human beings wherever they existed be it in Angola, Zimbabwe, South Africa or , Vietnam at an early age.
At a high school stage he was only looking for likeminded individuals to further shape and develop his Pan African world outlook and it was God’s calling that he came close to Julius Nyerere in Tanzania when he was admitted at the University of Dar Es Salaam in 1967. Karim F Hirji , describes Julius Nyerere as an” African Star “explaining how he was a centre of attraction to young pan africanists.
He wrote: “In the struggle against Western Imperialism raging in Africa, Tanzania under the leadership of Julius Kambarage Nyerere, came to occupy a prominent position. Mwalimu Nyerere, …was a fervent fighter for total decolonisation of Africa and promotion of African Unity. His diplomatic and material support to African liberation movements far surpassed that given by other African States. In the arenas like the UN and the British Commonwealth, Tanzania adopted a progressive foreign policy, generally siding with the anti-imperialist struggles ….. in a consistent manner…”.
President Museveni himself has justifiably described Mwalimu Nyerere in many flowery ways:, “a saint”, “a pan African”, , “selfless mobiliser”, “visionary and great strategist” the greatest black man that ever lived”. (see new vision July 18,2007).
Further more ,Yoweri Museveni while a university student in Dare Salaam wrote about Nyerere’s pan African foreign policy influence on him: “ while in Uganda, I had looked at President Nyerere’s leadership as a source of inspiration to the struggling people of Africa. Tanzania’s staunch anti-colonialist policy and the President’s commitment to the formation of the East African Federation made his leadership exemplary. I regarded Tanzania as Africa’s Prussia and President Nyerere as our Bismark…… I did not know at that time that unity by itself could not mean much; and that what mattered was whether the purpose of the political unit was to serve the people or to serve imperialism” (Museveni: in Cheche Vol 2, 1970).
How Nyerere’s Foreign Policy Influenced Museveni
It is important to note that foreign policy is usually a reflection of a domestic policy. Although ideological messages could be open to all for people’s perceptions and absorption, it can be interpreted differently by deferent people in different countries. To some it is welcome and received with enthusiasm and to others it is ignored or even fought. In this regard, some Ugandans could have forgotten or may be have not appreciated how valuable Museveni’s and the NRM policies have been to Uganda but those outside Uganda (eg in Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, South Sudan, Somalia ) would provide vivid testimonies of how they have been liberated by the same policies.
The young Museveni had himself witnessed this scenario in Tanzania when he reveals that in 1960s he had impressions (albeit exaggerated as he soon discovered) that because of Nyerere, the entire country and Tanzanians including government leaders, ministers, top civil servants and party officials are devoted cadres with high level of political consciousness, were clearheaded on matters of socialism, anti imperialism and Pan africanism. Alas, they were not.
The enthusiastic Museveni discovered in 1967 that the Tanzanian public was not as enthusiastic about the Tanzania revolution as he was. He nevertheless, acknowledges that it is the Tanzanian foreign policy under Nyerere that had given him that exaggerated impression about Tanzania.
Museveni , in 1970 states: “Tanzania’s foreign policy is what I think creates such impressions. The strong reaction towards German arrogance, the breaking of diplomatic ties with Britain, the resolute support that Tanzania accords to liberation movements in the South are sources of pride and inspiration to African nationalists all over Africa. Remember this African Nationalist is starved of any dignity, he is a heir of the oppressed, degraded, dehumanised ancestors. He is a relative of saves both on the continent and abroad. Any act of defiance by an African state vis a vis the centuries old enemies of our people this has high marginal utility” (Museveni: in CHECHE 1970).
These are the ideals that inspired Yoweri Museveni “to come to Tanzania at any cost” and he was “not much interested in going to a college as in coming to Dar Es Salaam—to Tanzania.” He stated that: “It is Dar Es Salaam’s atmosphere of freedom fighters, socialists, nationalisations, anti-imperialism that attracted me rather than the so called “academicians” “ at the university. And he considered his stay at the college as a means of staying in Dar Es Salaam.
It is important to note that at this early age and stage Museveni’s pan Africanist views had not only been galvanized but had shifted from theory to practice. At this stage, in 1970, Museveni was not only supporting Nyerere’s East African Federation composed of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania but he was already calling for expansion of the Community to include Rwanda and Burundi. He at this stage had realised the pitfalls of socialism and in the context of Bismarkian unity politics was calling for “knocking together Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi to form one capitalist nation”.
He only did not interface with the Tanzanian peasants but moved to Mozambique to give Mozambique’s liberation movement (FRELIMO) a military and moral hand to fight Portuguese colonialists. This was in 1969. How many of us Ugandans in their third year of university would opt to go in the juggles of another country to fight to liberate our oppressed brothers and sisters? Not even mercenaries (on a pay) would be easy to get from Uganda!
Only a Ugandan nationalist well grounded and convinced in ideas of Pan Africanism would sacrifice to this level. Iam informed that other two Ugandans travelled with him to the liberated Zones of Mozambique but on account of Museveni’s Thesis “Fanon Theory Of Violence and its Verification in the Liberation of Mozambique” (Nathan Shamuyarira-Ed, 1975) we can only celebrate his documented story until others give us theirs. President Museveni views and experience in his Treaties on Fanon in Mozambique was an inspiration to those liberation struggles that victory to oppression was possible and real.
Some people say that the Museveni of 1986 is different from the Museveni of 2015. I tend to disagree from a pan African perspective. Museveni remains unique on this continent because he was and still is one of those leaders that is able to translate political theory into practice and convictions into reality. Those that compete with him politically and will want to keep Uganda on the pan African map will have to demonstrate their pan African credentials both in theory and practice if they are to bring the current generation of pan Africanists into their political fold.
His interactions with Walter Rodney,Tamas Szentes, Issa shiviji, John Saul, Dan Nabudere , Haroub Othman, A.M Babu, Mondlane and others even those with a different ideological orientation (eg Dr Francis Seth Singleton, his former lecturer with whom they sharply disagreed in a political science class over interpretation of Fanon (see Karim F Hirji (2010) ) impacted him positively on his pan African views and in his future management of diverging views both domestically and abroad.
Consequently, President Museveni fought the Portuguese in Mozambique in late 1960s, supported and worked with liberation movements in Southern Africa (ie ANC,PAM, ZAPU,ZANU, MPLA,SWAPO, FRELIMOetc); he fought dictatorships (e.g. fighting Idi Amin), he hosted South African freedom fighters in Uganda when the Apartheid regime was edging them out of Angola; supported the liberation struggles of the people of South Sudan and forces against President Mubutu and against all odds a supported forces that stopped genocide in Rwanda.
He also provided leadership on the volatile situation in Somalia to contain fundamentalists and terrorism. He has fought negatives forces hiding in DRC and in CAR and more recently, he is praised for stopping genocide in the Republic of South Sudan. In short, he has contributed to peace and stability in Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, South Sudan, Somalia, CAR and DRC using both carrot and stick strategy
Museveni’s consensual and broad based policy
One of the legacies of President Museveni will be the introduction of a new mode of politics called a “Movement System”. This was a system that encouraged politics without parties. Some called it a no-party system. Political representation was on individual merit and political debates were on issues not parties.
For 20 years, Ugandans were under this system. Ugandans have now been in a political party dispensation for nine years and given the levels of limited political freedoms under multiparty politics and the number of independents that surpass those in opposition in parliament, Ugandans are not wondering of the Movement system was not after all a better system.
While President Museveni has had his views over a number of issues over time he always sought people’s consensus over them. His background of dealing with different groups of different ideological orientations has enabled him to work in broadbasedness. His regular use of broadbased terms such of “Fronts” and “Movements” in his political works were obviously deliberate as in their representation of broader coalitions of different political groupings as long as they could only agreed on a minimum political agenda with a common denominator.
Like in the “political Movement”, togetherness in diversity is sought to obtain a political goal on local, regional, national or international scope. This is the difference with “political parties” whose membership is for groups of people who share the same ideas about how a country should be run. Even when the country was forced to adopt a multiparty system in Uganda (in 2005) and therefore we now have DP, UPC, FDC, NRM-O etc as political parties in a technical sense , the boon of broadbasedness have refused to wither away. There is no doubt that those countries that chose the “winner take all” typical of multi-parties have had more political problems than those who chose to broaden membership by getting into the government even members of the opposition.
Some countries call it “proportional representation”. To that end, Museveni’s Uganda has had a good practice to share in governance with others in the region. This approach of inclusiveness, tolerance, patience, understanding, persuasion, consistence and inclusion with his hitherto political adversaries keeps Museveni endeared to many across different political spectrum both at home and even abroad and also explains his longevity in power where others have failed.
Addressing Criticisms of Uganda’s foreign policy
The longevity of the Movement in Uganda has led some scholars to invent terms such as “Movementocracy” (Aaron Mukwaya, 2003) to describe its national and regional pervasiveness and influence. Uganda and Museveni in particular have been accused for harbouring policies of expansionism, militarism, adventurism, building empires etc. Museveni is also accused of stretching Uganda’s resources and as one legislator put it recently “you cannot be everywhere at the same time” pointing at Uganda’s presence in CAR, South Sudan, DRC and Somalia. But what would be the cost of not being anywhere anytime there is turmoil in your neighbourhood?
What this article argues is that instead of demonising Uganda for its foreign policy stance, we should instead celebrate its consistency and positive impact it has had on the lives of the people in the region and its contribution towards stability.
A Doctor is not a Butcher: Fighting injustice wherever it exists
President Museveni is aware of all these criticisms and has answers for them: While addressing the Movement Caucus in Jinja on the subject of ideology he pointed out that,
“There were people like (Prof Wadada) Nabudere who used to call me a ‘militarist’. Yes, I am a militarist when the situation demands it because some problems need military solutions and others need political solutions. In an operating theatre if you find a doctor with a knife, it is not because he is a butcher-it is because the patient he is treating needs surgery. Some human problems need knives and some of Ugandan’s problems have needed knives” (Museveni : speech to the Movement Caucus retreat in , jinja December 2000)
In another address to Parliament in 1999, he explained how Uganda got involved in DRC. The explanation explains how fast and yet consultative Uganda under Museveni can be under different circumstances:
“Uganda’s involvement in the DRC could be traced to the decision that was taken by the Army High Command, which held a meeting on 11th September 1998 and approved Uganda’s involvement in the DRC. Later on, the Army Council also approved this position within the army, the following were the reasons why we thought we should be in the DRC at the time:
(i) to maintain forces in the DRC in order to secure Uganda’s security interests by denying the Sudanese government an opportunity to destabilise Uganda through eastern Congo”
(ii) To deny habitation to Uganda rebels through eastern Congo
(iii) To ensure that political and administrative instability arising from rebel and government clashes in Eastern Congo did not destabilise Uganda;
(iv) To demobilise elements of the Interahamwe, the former Rwandan army, and prevent them from terrorising Uganda and Rwanda;
(v) To protect Uganda’s territorial integrity from invasion
Soon after the meeting of the Army High Command, I addressed Parliament on the developments in the DRC on September 16, 1998. And on September 20, I held a lengthy meeting with the Parliamentary Committee on Defense and internal affairs on the same issue.” (Museveni Speech to members of Parliament, on August 30, 1999)
From Non-Interference to Non- Indifference Policy: Museveni’s Doctrine
If there is anything that the Movement system under President Museveni cannot be accused of in this region is indifference to matters related to security and oppression of the people. If the Americans had the Monroe Doctrine (1823) as a US Foreign Policy warning European nations that United States would not tolerate further colonisation or puppet monarchs regarding Latin American states, Museveni Doctrine warned African Dictators that they would be opposed if they do not democratise.
Fresh from the bush after defeating Idi Amin , Obote and Lutwa, he entered the OAU in 1986 to pronounce what was then considered an abomination: asking where the AU was when Idi Amin was killing Ugandans!
In his maiden speech at the OAU (now AU) 22nd Ordinary Session, he stated that: “Over a period of 20 years three quarters of a million Ugandans perished at the hands of governments that should have protected their lives. I must state that Ugandans felt a deep sense of betrayal that most of Africa kept silent… the reason for not condemning such massive crimes had supposedly been a desire not to interfere in the internal affairs of a member state, in accordance with the Charters of the OAU and the United Nations. We do not accept this reasoning because in the same organs there are explicit laws that enunciate the sanctity and inviolability of human life” (Museveni’s speech at the OAU ordinary Session in 1986).
Since then the situation at the AU changed and many more leaders started challenging that “non-interference “ until it was amended later , 17 years after, but not until Rwanda lost a million souls under the AU&UN watch. Even for Rwanda, only Uganda and a few others were not indifferent to genocide even at a risk of international sanctions.
It is also important to note that the NRM 10 point programme had emphasised “Co-operation with other African countries in defending human and democratic rights of our brothers (and sisters) in other parts of Africa” where he and his High Command Offices committed to “oppose dictatorship in Africa”.
The NRM 10 point programme elucidates: “Uganda, having suffered so greatly at the hands of primitive dictators ought to play an active part in defending the human and democratic rights of the African people in general. Dictatorships impede progress because they stop debates on development and allow nincompoops to remaining in power doing whatever damage they are capable of….we ought to oppose dictatorships in Africa” (point 9 of the 10 point Programme )”, .
As an inspiration to many and a threat to others, the NRM resistance experience impacted on the neighbours of Uganda in various ways with dictators such as Presidents Habyarimana and Mubutu losing power on account of dictatorship, discrimination and oppression of their masses
President Museveni answered his critics from a realist perspective when he observed that “some people argue that Uganda should be indifferent to troubles of our region. They think that it is a policy because they argue that involving ourselves in the affairs of our neighbours will cause us problems. It is important, however, to understand that Uganda’s sustained economic growth cannot be ensured in the absence of stability within its major trading partners, of which the DRC, with a population of over 40 million people, constitutes a big part.If you are to analyse the pattern of our exports, you will find that , apart from coffee tea, cotton and tobacco most of our exports go to the neighbourhood. Therefore, those who argue that we should be indifferent to what is happening in our neighbourhood are not helping Uganda and, of course, are not helping our other African brothers….Needless to point out that Uganda would not have easily come out of the nightmare of Amin’s reign had it not been for the solidarity from our brothers in Tanzania.”
Even academic sceptics of the Museveni/NRM foreign policy like Prof Mukwaya would admit that “it is true that under the NRM, Uganda’s foreign policy has been assertive and visible in relation to Kenya, DRC, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Sudan. It has been argued by Uganda, the region and the international community that the problems relating to ethnicity, strife, conflicts, wars, development and regional security and cooperation in the Great lakes region cannot be understood or resolved outside Uganda. Uganda has given itself or has been high profile, visible and essential position and role in the Great lakes Region, which it has vigorously embraced at a high cost (Mukwaya: 2003).
Mukwaya goes further to acknowledge that “…. diplomatic shuttling of Western, the Commonwealth ,the EU ad the United Nations; and Western support for Africa’s regional arrangements like the East African Community and IGAD emphasise the position .. and role of Uganda as a regional bridge between Anglophones and Francophone’s; and in the fight against Islamic fundamentalism in the Sudan and the region; and international and regional terrorism”
Uganda’s Foreign Policy in the Great lakes Region
Uganda is surrounded by South Sudan in the North (it was Sudan before 2010), Kenya in the East, Tanzania in the South, Rwanda in South west and DRC in the West. With an exception of Tanzania, the rest of the other countries have had domestic challenges that have required Uganda’s intervention. Fortunately, for Uganda, President Museveni always eloquently explained the reason for whatever form of intervention. Like any other country, Uganda has its own vested interests-economic, security, political and humanitarian. Unfortunately, most countries critical to Uganda’s policy of non indifference see economic considerations as the only imperative for Uganda’s involvement.
“Uganda is in DRC because of minerals etc etc!!!”, they make all wild allegations!. Of course all countries wish for a stable neighbourhood for trade but trade cannot be the primary consideration in situation of war. In situation of conflict, any pan Africanist position would be to secure the lives of human beings and the rest would follow thereafter, presence or absence of minerals or any other profitable material notwithstanding.
A criminal state or non-state actor cannot be allowed to unleash terror on the population, while the competent neighbours or organisations fail to intervene to protect the population just because the state in question under which the population is being killed has no minerals or is of no economic interest to others.
Now the world belatedly accepted the “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” in 2005 but when Tanzania (1979) and Uganda (1994) against all protestations from AU and UN had long implemented it in the case of Uganda and Rwanda respectively. Those were the days of supremacy of “state sovereignty”. Surprisingly, when even state sovereignty as an excuse for state crimes is long gone those who intervene under R2P are still accused falsely or correctly of having economic interests.
Nonetheless, criticism of non-indifference and related wild allegations minimise Uganda’s broad objectives including security, humanitarian and democratic stability. Tagging everything to capital accumulation and to profit making in total disregard of respect of human life and dignity runs counter to Museveni’s doctrine of non-indifference. Fortunately, when peace returns in the neighbourhood, in Rwanda, South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, where Museveni’s doctrine has worked, the first to reap profits of peace and stability are by and large not the Museveni supporters but the opponents of the policy in the first place.
Museveni’s chairmanship of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) –Dec 2011-Dec 2013
When the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great lakes Region (2006) was put in place to give legal effect the International Conference n the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) , the region breathed a sigh of relief as they finally saw a regional solution to regional problems.
The Pact institutionalised the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) with its headquarters in Burundi. When the ICGLR came into being, President Mwai Kibaki became the Chair (2006-2008), President Rupia Banda (2009-2010) and later late President Micheal Sata(2011) to complete Zambia’s turn. President Museveni took the Chairmanship in December 2011-December 2013) when he handed over to President Dos Antos of Angola.
With an exception of time of President Kibaki when there was violence after the 2007 elections in Kenya that saw the lives of 1500 people lost in just ten days, the central question that has preoccupied the ICGLR is DRC.
To President Museveni’s credit and usual commitment to regional matters he always attended all Summits of ICGLR, In some cases only him and the Host would be the only Presidents in the meeting while others are represented by their Vice presidents, prime ministers or ministers, whenever the Summits of the ICGLR are called.
In his speeches, he will not miss to emphasise the connectivity of the people of the Great lakes region. He has preached, taught, educated and sensitised all his audiences about the inter-linkages of the great lakes people while calling for deeper integration of the Great Lakes peoples. In his hand-over speech in Angola in Dec 2013, which was so rich in historical content, linkages and clear identification of sources and solutions to conflict from south Sudan to Angola and from DRC to Kenya pointing out that he himself had had his first contact with Angola’s MPLA in 1969 in Dar Salaam mentioning some of the commanders of MPLA by names at the time, President Dos Antos ordered for wide distribution of Museveni’s speech to all audiences and Dos Antos promised to start where President Museveni ended.
President Museveni is known for commitment to what he believes in. He believes in stabilisation and development of the Great lakes Region. The commitment alone is self explanatory. His love is not based in the natural resources that others accuse him of but in the love for humanity. In fact, at one time he asked which natural resources he was going to take from Mozambique in 1960s!
At the time of his Chairmanship (Dec 2011) of ICGLR, the M23 was up in arms against the President Kabila government. His commitment saw him almost convene Presidents every month to find a solution to the conflict in Eastern DRC. When ordinarily, there should have been only one meeting in two years, President Museveni convened (at Uganda’s cost) eight extraordinary Summit meetings, preceded by equal or even more meetings of ministers of Defense, Foreign affairs, Chiefs of Defence Forces and of intelligence, in 12 months concluding with a peace deal (in Dec 2013), which currently President Dos Antos is helping to implement. Unfortunately, for him, the time he was helping conclude a peace settlement between M23 and President Kabila government, the Republic of South Sudan was on fire! Dr Riek Machar had started war against President Salver Kirr.
At a time when all were worried (probably others celebrating) and taking no action as a legitimate government was about to be overthrown and many lives were being lost at a terrific pace, Uganda deployed just in time to stop another genocide. As expected, those in government in RSS are happy and those in opposition are unhappy with Museveni’s policy but the ordinary people , the innocent women, children and all those whose bodies and spaces are battlegrounds in war, must be happy that President Museveni’s action contributed to their new lease of life on earth. This is love for humanity not capital or profit.
If one compares with how ECASS is dealing with the situation in CAR or IGAD on RSS, one wishes only if Museveni’s commitment, decisiveness, patience and ingenuity is borrowed in those situations too.
In the restoration of peace and stability in the region, Uganda always advocated for involvement and supporting of the regional efforts to stabilise the region. Examples of how the situation was contained in Burundi and Somalia by the region are always given; it is not always easy to convince those outside the region but as it always turns out, supporting regional effort position is after all the correct and sustainable position
The writer is the Ag. Director, of the ICGLR Regional Training Facility (RTF) on Prevention and Suppression of Sexual & Gender Based Violence (SGBV), International Conference on Great Lakes Region.