Speech by Dr. Rwanyarare
Members of PPC, Invited Guests, Members of the Press, Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Presidential Policy Commission (PPC) and on my own behalf, I welcome you all to the Headquarters of Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) at Uganda House, Kampala.
Let me start my intervention with an appeal to you all to stand and observe a moment of silence in memory of the other congress women and congress men who passed away since we last met on 10th June, 2000. May their souls rest in eternal peace. Let us also remember all Ugandan citizens who have perished at the hands of our tormentors in particular the people of Acholiland, Western Uganda, Katakwi in Teso region, Karamoja and neighbouring people of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Southern Sudan.
Let us remember people who are living in subhuman conditions in protected villages in Northern Uganda, western Uganda, Karamoja and Katakwi.
Let us remember people who are wallowing in poverty without food or shelter and those without adequate medical care for themselves or their families. Let us remember those who cannot provide for their families' daily needs such as school fees etc.
UPC is a party of peasants, the workers, the youth and it is a party of ideas. Its record in mobilising people of Uganda to fight for independence is well chronicled. At the time of independence we targeted to fight for elimination of three major scourges in our society. These were poverty, ignorance and disease.
By 1971 when the regime of murder and terror captured power, Uganda was the pride of Africa in Education, Economic advancement and modern social infrastructure such as health services, education, communication and general well being of all people of Uganda. All what UPC government had built was ruined by neglect and deliberate destruction by the corrupt and inept government that bore the reigns of power.
An opportunity was offered by the people of Uganda for UPC to revive this country and in the general elections of 1980 UPC made definite promises in its 1980 Election Manifesto. These promises were translated into policies and implemented by your government in that by 1984 there was an upward turn in economic recovery, education and health services. Uganda as the Pearl of Africa was beginning to rise and shine.
This was inspite of the war waged by Yoweri Museveni in the Luwero triangle. Our successes created enemies who suborned some selfish ignorant and unpatriotic people in Uganda National Liberation Army (UNLA) who overthrew the peoples' elected overnment and plunged this country into turmoil where the mayhem has been perpetrated by gunmen.
Since that time the gun rule has pervaded every aspect of the daily life of the citizens of Uganda. Solutions to political problems have been militarised and even in elections, the principle of persuasion in soliciting votes has been replaced by coercion at gunpoint.
We are holding this meeting under this environment. The 7th Parliament under coercion from movement leaders has passed a controversial Political Parties and Organisations Bill (POB) which turns this country into a one party state.
Political parties are formed to organise people to contend for power. The POB denies political parties like UPC from doing exactly that. They are demanding that we be registered; but the purpose for registration is not shown. They are in fact demanding that we dismantle our party structures, which we already have throughout the country. UPC has had these structures for over 40 years and now I am being told that after registration I go to a district and pick some people to come to Kampala to elect National leaders. UPC elects leaders in accordance with its constitution, which is kick started by the General meeting at the branch, which are in parishes in rural areas or wards in urban areas. There are other structures between the branches and the national officials. These are what make UPC. That is what makes a political party. What the POB is asking us to form is a different creature whose form, purpose and function are known only to Museveni and his cohorts.
I have no power nor does UPC leaders have the power or intention of dissolving our party structures. We shall maintain them and continue to renew and replenish them as and when necessary. If ever it becomes necessary and possible for our Party (UPC) to register, these are the structures that will seek registration. I will be asking you to support PPC in that goal.
Your main function is to look at the political activities in the country and make contributions on how to influence them. You will be examining the security of Uganda and the region; the economic activities, social welfare and development, international relations, human rights including gender affairs and guide PPC on how to run this party.
This will be the last PRC meeting before expiry of the life of the current PPC. We shall be therefore requesting you to propose persons for appointment to the new PPC that should take over in November. Should conditions change so that we can operate our party constitution, then leaders will be elected according to the party laws.
The other functions of PRC are those of the National Council where you approve our budget. That means the way we raise funds to run the party and modes of expenditures. The party finances at the moment remain precarious as we are denied free access to members to pay their subscriptions or donate to the party funds. Most of our benefactors are scared because numerous intelligence organs, other military and paramilitary personnel hound them even on the slightest suspicion that one is sympathetic to the party. We however applaud some of our friends who have seen us through thick and thin inspite of their being harassed.
Members of PRC you are here to lay the foundation on which the future of our party will repose. I request you to be pragmatic, innovative and serious in mapping out the course we shall take during this trying moment. Our opponent is wounded, surrounded and can be dangerous. You must brace up for the challenge ahead. We have had similar situations before. Colonialists restricted our leaders; dispossessed some and imprisoned others, but with unity of purpose, we overcame and gained independence. Idi Amin killed most of our leaders, some went into exile and others just operated underground till we took advantage of Amin's invasion of Tanzania and we fought him out. Museveni killed our leaders starting in Buganda and later elsewhere . Some are living in exile and have formed themselves into UPC external bureaux. We applaud their gallantry. There is a move to effectively ban our party. We should devise means and methods of defying the ban and we are as sure as the sun rises from the East and sets in the West that we shall overcome.
LONG LIVE AFRICA, LONG LIVE UGANDA, LONG LIVE UPC.
FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY.DR. JAMES W. RWANYARARE
PRESIDENTIAL POLICY COMMISSION
24th May, 2002