Uganda Peoples Congress
Plot 8-10 Kampala Road, Uganda House,
P. O. Box 9206, Kampala
President's Report to National Council Meeting April 2008
22 November 2008
REPORT BY THE PRESIDENT TO MEMBERS OF NATIONAL COUNCIL AT UGANDA HOUSE, 22nd NOVEMBER, 2008
Our invited guests in your respective capacities
Distinguished members of the Annual Delegates Conference
Ladies and gentlemen
- I warmly welcome all of you to this meeting of the supreme organ of the Uganda Peoples Congress. In a special way I welcome our friends who do not belong to the party who have gladly favoured us with their presence. You are good friends indeed.
- The meeting is being held exactly three years after the distinguished delegates assembled today voted in a similar conference on 20th November, 2005 to entrust me with the responsibility of leading our great Party. With a team of eleven National Party officials we have endevoured to keep the Congress on the rails of revival and progress. The Secretary General will detail the work done in the last three years. We have faced challenges, including resource constraints that could not enable you delegates to meet for the last two years, but I am confident of a brighter future. Let this meeting be a proactive meeting of positive construction and not recrimination.
- Dear friends and delegates, our beautiful country Uganda is part of the global village which, thanks to faster means of transport and communication, is increasingly becoming smaller and interconnected. What happens in other parts of the world impacts on our Country and our Party. As we deliberate in this conference we must take into account the challenges facing the world today and build a party that can survive those challenges and prosper.
- You are all no doubt aware of the unfolding financial crisis that has hit the United States of America, Europe, much of Asia and many developed economies. This credit crunch has led to the collapse of financial markets, banks and big corporations and has forced Governments in hitherto loosely regulated market economies to intervene in the free market and takeover or invest in private banks and enterprises. The lesson is that while free enterprise frees up resources and energies to the most productive sectors and leads to faster economic growth, it has latent in it forces of greed, recklessness and sometimes corruption. These if not properly controlled can ruin otherwise prosperous economies. Our Party as a social democratic Party has chosen the wiser path of a mixed economy. Our ideology recognizes and encourages the benefits of free enterprise, but also leaves room for the State and vulnerable people to have a significant stake in the economy through state regulation; state provision of social services like health and education; state enterprises especially for basic utilities like power and water; cooperatives of the peasants and workers. In view of the present world economic crisis the UPC delegates here assembled need to reaffirm the Party's philosophy of social democracy and a mixed economy.
- The world is still plagued by the twin evils of war and terrorism in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC). National armies, rebels groups, terrorists and other war mongers are daily killing, maiming and devastating nations. These world trouble spots have the potential to spill over neighbouring nations and to cause further loss of life and economic devastation. UPC is particularly concerned about the resumption of war in the DRC which is threatening to suck back into war Rwanda, Uganda, Angola, Zimbabwe and several other states in the region. The delegates assembled today should express their disgust at the choice of war to solve, especially political and economic problems and call upon the belligerents and their supporters and sponsors to stop the carnage of war and embrace peaceful means of resolving conflicts.
- On a positive note we applaud the epoch-making free and fair elections recently held in the United States of America that led to the resounding victory of Senator Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America. The heroic victory of the first African-American for this high office speaks volumes about the maturity of the American democracy and so does Senator John McCain's concession speech which has received world wide acclaim. Unlike in Uganda where the security forces are let loose during elections to kill and maim government opponents and sow terror and where votes are openly stolen or bought, the electoral process in America demonstrated that ordinary people can, in a proactive manner, mobilize themselves, raise resources and defeat the establishment. The Barack Obama victory represents a moral victory by the oppressed and common people worldwide. The UPC delegates at this conference should take lessons from the courage and enthusiastic participation of the American people to rise above all odds and take charge of their own destiny. For the moral high ground gained for common and oppressed peoples worldwide, this august Conference should salute and congratulate Senator Barack Obama and the American people. We call upon the President elect to champion the cause of democracy, human rights, peace and equitable development through out the world especially in Africa and Uganda in particular.
The 2006 General elections
- Ever since our last meeting on 20th November, 2005 our Country has gone through a lot of challenges. We had general elections in February 2006 in which your Party participated inspite of the great odds that were forced on us by twenty years of NRM dictatorship. I salute all those who enthusiastically campaigned for the Party and actively participated in those elections. I want in a special way to thank congressmen and women who took the courage to offer themselves as candidates in those elections when the Party hardly had the resources to support them. These candidates by sacrificing their meagre resources, businesses and jobs kept the banner of the Party high. Although a significant number did not win the elections, their faith, sacrifice and courage is the foundation of future success. This Conference should salute them. We should thank all who voted for the Party candidates at various levels.
- The last three years of NRM governance have been characterized by continued political repression by the government. The repression included passage of a draconian Statutory Instrument by the Minister of Internal Affairs effectively banning the holding of public rallies, assemblies and demonstrations without the written permission of the Inspector General of Police. Other human rights violations including detention in illegal facilities like safe houses, detention beyond twenty-four hours, torture and violation of property rights continue. This Conference should condemn these abuses.
- The NRM has continued to mismanage the national economy and delivery of social services like education, health, water supply, sanitation, power and public transport have continued to deteriorate. Corruption, nepotism and patronage continue to be entrenched as pillars of governance. The latest in the list of shame was the coercion exerted by President Museveni on NRM Members of Parliament to exonerate Minister Amama Mbabazi and Ezra Suruma in the theft of workers money in the purchase of land in Temangalo by the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). The abuse of workers money joins other thefts of money in the Ministries of Works (for roads), Health, Education, Defence, NAADS, and Local Government and in virtually all Government departments and state enterprises. Parliament has now been detoothed and reduced into a mere rubberstamp of state house patronage and corruption. Similarly many other public institutions including the public service have been rendered disfunctional. I urge this conference to condemn this economic mismanagement, theft and patronage.
- The land grabbing which started with the take over of private ranches by so called landless pastoralists in 1989 led by General Tinyefunza and which was legalized in the 1995 Constitution under the guise of bonafide and lawful occupants is now poised to be institutionalized further when the Land (Amendment) Bill now before Parliament is passed into law. Under this law, land owners throughout Uganda stand to lose land to the Government and its manufactured occupants. The Government will then donate the land through corruption and patronage to so called investors like those who took up Uganda Television land at Nakasero, hospital land at Butabika, school land at Shimoni, prison land at Luzira and customary land in Amuru District (to Army Generals and sugarcane planters). To protect the common people of Uganda and their land, I urge the delegates of the Party of the common man and woman to resolve today to reject and challenge this poisonous Land (Amendment) Bill.
- To insulate its illegitimate hold onto power from effective electoral challenge, the NRM has refused all calls to effect timely electoral reforms before the 2011 general elections. The NRM still wants the partisan and discredited Electoral Commission to organize sham elections under the existing or similar flawed electoral laws. The NRM has taken over and corrupted the deepening of democracy project initiated by the European Unions and Political Parties (including the UPC) represented in Parliament. This project which was a Parliament based project was intended to build consensus on necessary and timely Constitutional reforms to be undertaken ahead of the 2011 general elections. The project has been wasted and subverted by the election naïve NRM. As long as there are no Constitutional and legal reforms in the electoral system in this Country, there will be no free and fair elections at which the UPC stands a good chance of winning. The UPC's supreme organ now assembled should demand that the Government should, in consultation with all political stakeholders especially the Political Parties represented in Parliament, urgently introduce bills in Parliament to effect badly needed Constitutional and electoral reforms.
- Instead of effecting the necessary electoral and Constitutional reforms the NRM is hell bent on introducing and pushing through Constitutional reforms to ensure that President Museveni succeeds himself for life. These include abolishing age limits on Presidential candidates and removing the requirement for a Presidential candidate to get at least 50% votes before being declared winner. These retrogressive schemes should be condemned by this Conference.
- Because of the many obstacles to practicing free and open multiparty governance, the idea of reviving Political Party cooperation in the struggle against these common political obstacles was mooted in the early months of this year. At the National Council meeting held on 20th April 2008 the following options were put before the council for consideration, namely;
- No cooperation at all between Political Parties.
- Ad hoc cooperation on a case by case basis say on each bill in Parliament or other national issues like the Mabira give away.
- Structured cooperation with some form of coordinating committees.
- Electoral alliance where Political Parties contest on a common platform and field a joint candidate(s)
- After careful deliberations the National Council resolved to accept option (c) above of the structured cooperation. Copies of the resolution are in your folders (see particularly resolution No.5)
- Following the mandate of the National Council, your leaders signed together with the leaders of the Conservative Party (CP), Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and Justice Forum (JEEMA) a Protocol of Cooperation. A copy is enclosed in your folder. This protocol does not merge UPC with any other Political Party nor destroy the independence of the Party. It does not stop UPC from pursing its independent programmes including recruiting members, establishing and strengthening its organs and fielding its own candidates. It does not amount to an election alliance with any other Political Party. However, it enables the UPC to share ideas and participate in joint programmes with other opposition political parties to level the political playing field for example by advocating necessary Constitutional and electoral reforms. If these joint efforts are successful and Uganda political playing field is more level and friendly, UPC stands a better chance in any future electoral contest. I ask the delegates now assembled to maintain this level of political cooperation. Incidentally a significant proportion of resources for holding this Conference were sourced through friends of the Inter-Party Cooperation.
The Good News
- The UPC still remains the leading nationalistic Political Party committed to championing the interests of the common person in Uganda. Its vision, mission, aims and objectives remain the most relevant to Uganda today. However, the Party faces serious challenges in terms of resource constraints, institutional weaknesses and adverse publicity by our detractors and some times our own less foresighted members. Several leadership positions are vacant and many organs are not working at optimum capacity. There are still challenges of members recruitment and maintenance of upbeat morale and self drive among members and leaders. The spirit of self sacrifice and hard work is still lacking among some members. Instead of focusing on proactive work some members seek solace in lamentations, indulgency in the circus of trading blames and negative criticism.
- Fellow congresswomen and men no amount of lamentations and name calling will build our Party. Before we, the delegates here assembled, blame others let us first reflect on our own contribution and failures and soul search for the positive things we can do for our great Party. Let us ask ourselves:
- Why did we not offer ourselves as candidates in the last general elections for Parliament and Local Government or encourage and sponsor other members to do so?
- Why did we campaign against our own Party and candidates?
- Why do we not regularly contribute resources in terms of our time, materials, ideas and money to the Party we claim to so dearly support?
- Why do we not on a daily basis mobilize and recruit members into the Party starting with our own spouses, children, close relatives, friends and workmates?
- Why do we not promote the aims and objectives of the Party through the print and other media?
- Why do we publish negative stories against our Party and paint it in negative colours?
- Why we do not regularly call meetings of the organs of the Party that we chair or attend their meetings if we are members?
- Once we soul search and answer these questions, we will be in a better position to change our mental attitude and positively contribute to the rebuilding of our Party.
- Most of us, if not all, have failed to live up to the highest ideals of the Party but a bright future is in the reach of our hands to harness. One of our biggest opportunities is in the draft Constitution that we will debate in the two days of this Conference. The draft gives us an opportunity for a fresh start. It enables us, if we so chose to:
- Re define our values, aims and objectives,
- Redefine our rights and obligations,
- Mainstream youth, women and persons with disability into all party organs and activities,
- Re- organize our structures
- Put in place mechanism to:
- Sort out Party staffing
- Sort out Party discipline
- Streamline Party funding
- I urge all of you to debate the proposals frankly, robustly but at all times in the best interest of the party. Let the best ideas rise above prejudices and personal interest. Once the new Constitution is adopted we shall have the real opportunity to contest leadership elections within the Party. I urge all party members to recruit ahead of these elections, especially the youth. All members should then aspire to take up leadership positions, always remembering that leadership is not privilege but a service and above all a sacrifice. We should also remember that there can only be one set of elected leaders of our Party at any one time. Once we all recruit and engage in internal Party elections, and source for resources, the foundations for a successful Party come 2011 will have been firmly put in place. There is no more time for the blame game, apathy or complacency. There is only time for real hard work.
Once again I welcome you all and wish you fruitful deliberations
For God and my Country
Miria Kalule Obote