LONDON – A lot of misinformation has been uttered about how life was in the time of Ex-President Idi Amin Dada, Ex-President Milton Obote and H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. It is of essence to tell truth about the political regimes that Uganda is had so far, without taking a side. The aim is to let the generation that never was existing during the time of presidents were in power.
My age does not stretch to the era of when Uganda was under colonial rule, His Highness Mutesa I and Ex-President Obote I. I was a juvenile but I have a recollection of what I saw and heard from my parents’ conversation between themselves.
I start with the Ex-President Idi Amin Dada regime. During Amin’s time, there existed the State Research Bureau, a secret police. People were picked up from their homes or workplace or bars, put in the car boot, driven away and that was the end of seeing them. They were taken to Nakasero Torture Chambers, brutalised, tortured to death or killed. Ordinary citizens who had not involved themselves in politics were also kidnapped, abducted, and killed. The regime went for people’s wives or daughters to make them their sexual pleasure partners, which costed men of those wives or daughters to be killed, for the wives or daughters to be taken.
Anyone thought to be an intellectual of any sort, educated was killed. Doctors and lecturers were freed into exile. Anyone who seemed accumulated wealth driving a car that was extraordinary not seen anywhere in Uganda, that person would be followed, kidnapped, abducted, killed and the vehicle was taken. My father had ordered a silver lilac colour Mercedes Benz from Germany, it was the only type of Mercedes in Uganda when it arrived. He was picked up from his home, put in the boot and driven away. Fortunately, as the men were leaving the home premises, Adam arrived, he used to pass by in the lunch hours and evening hours. He was after to attempt dating one of my elder sister who had come from London. Adam stopped the men and checked their car’s boot, Adam saw that my father was the one who they had kidnapped. Adam ordered for the immediate release of my father and instructed them never to return to my father’s home. That is how my father’s life got saved.
During Ex-President Amin’s regime, I was schooling at Mugwanya Preparatory School Kabojja, on return to school, the news would spread around the dormitory of pupils whose fathers had been killed by the State Research Bureau.
During Ex-President Amin’s regime, my father had two senior serving officers in the State Research Bureau, namely Adam and Ismael Sebi. My father was at the golf club when two persons that he knew were picked up and taken by the State Research Bureau men, my father begged Adam for the release of two social mates, Adam replied, I can release (name withheld), but the other one I cannot, his head has to be decapitated because my boss Ex-President Idi Amin Dada ordered me that he has to see the head.
I move next onto the regime of Ex-President Milton Obote II, I was schooling at St Savio Junior School Kisubi, having completed Mugwanya Preparatory School Kabojja. During that time, pupils started off their education at Mugwanya Preparatory School Kabojja, the school had only primary classes from 1-4. Thereafter, pupils who passed primary 4 exams set by the school proceeded to at St Savio Junior School Kisubi, to complete primary 5-7. While at St at St Savio Junior School Kisubi, I witnessed an altercation that happened between the Headmaster at the time who was brother Emanuel Kisitu with Oyito Ojok. The altercation was because the headmaster refused Oyito Ojok to bring edibles for his son Opok. Parents were allowed to visit their children but no edibles were allowed to be brought by the parent for their child studying in that school. I also witnessed fights which were scheduled in the night in the dormitory. Those fights were amongst the children of the men who were serving in the government. Captain Guwedeko’s son fighting Karama. Karama was a friend to Opok. The latter and the former mentioned names would come to school with army bayonets and army clothing attire.
During Ex-President Obote’s regime, there were army roadblocks in almost every corner. At the roadblock, those soldiers would take from people belongings such as money, shoes and watches. This happened for example at the roadblock which was around Kabusu, an area located between Rubaga Division and Nalukolongo. At roadblocks, they would beat people. Dusk hours those soldiers would board onto a patrol pickup vehicle and invade homes. Robbed homes and raped women found in the homes. They used to say yuko wapi msichana mzuri, meaning where is the pretty young woman. You had nowhere to report those soldiers. In fact, if you reported them you would be detained. We were at night vacating homes, hiding in the nearby shrubs, stayed there the whole night. Hiding from those men. That was the trend almost every night. Commodities such as salt, sugar, washing soap bars were scarce. The government ordered for their rationing. Say every once in a month, we would line up to buy say only one washing soap bar, half a kilogram of sugar and half a kilogram of salt.
During EX-President Milton Obote’s time, a lorry was discretely parked at some spot, pedestrians were stopped and ordered to board that lorry and driven away to detention secret place. Once taken there, those people were brutally tortured to extract information from them. Amongst those detained people, some died of the brutality they sustained from the soldiers.
During EX-President Milton Obote’s time, a youth wing arm of government was created, this youth wing upon having a personal vendetta with someone would utter fabrication accusations against that person and that person gets picked up by the soldiers. Many of the rounded up and taken were brutalised, eyes taken out and later killed.
I move on to the regime of H.E Yoweri Museveni’s men captured power, the country experienced peace and security. Soldiers and policemen were no more a threat to the people. They were prohibited to enter bars, night clubs when dressed in an army or police uniform and not allowed to take a gun with them inside the bar and nightclubs. In H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s time, a civilian can report a soldier or policeman and action is implemented for their arrest. It is in the H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s regime that ordinary citizens have been dissolved into being part of the regime to serve. Unlike in Ex- President Amin’s time when the army officials were the judges, parliament was disbanded.
Regards, the built roads, added electricity-generating dams, abundancy of commodities, I am not to mention such developments to H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s regime, because Ex-President Idi Amin was facing sanctions from the Western world. Ex- President Amin and Ex- President Obote II regimes were facing another throw from power attacks. Therefore, I spare Ex- President Amin and Ex- President Obote II from being criticised for why their regimes did not build roads, did not build more electricity-generating dams and etcetera. Otherwise, it would spark a debate if I do comment about such developments. I am hesitant to applaud the regime of H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for what is been brought to Uganda by the wave of globalisation. You travel in every known as a poor country, you will find internet, mobile phones, and etcetera. So, it would be lies by those who claim that the regime of H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is the one that brought such commodities into Uganda. During Obote II and Amin’s regime, a country like Uganda had to get on its knees a beg an investor to invest in Uganda, but that changed, it is now the investors on their knees begging to be allowed to invest in the third world developing countries, because of the competition amongst them in the European Union for example. This was not the case in Obote II and Amin’s time. Today loans are easy to get by countries, which was not the case in the 1977-1986 time.
Conversely, I will not mention that Uganda had successful industries, coffee growers association cooperatives Associations in the time of Ex-President Idi Amin Dada, and that Uganda had well-facilitated hospitals and schools in the time of Ex-President Milton Obote II. Both those persons had just taken over from who had been the colonial master, Britain. The latter had left the economy set and continued to support Uganda to stay on its feet. Until the relationship broke down when Amin expelled the Asians. So many people are over-sighted that there was an economic development plan found drafted by the colonial master Britain in place by the Obote and Amin when they usurped power.
As time has passed by, the police and army is become brutal to the civilians. Army soldiers forcefully enter bars and nightclubs with their pistols. they arrest people whom they get into conflict with at bars or nightclubs. They do the arrest by pining fabricated accusations against that person. For example, making claims that he has a gun or is involved in subversive activities.
In the later time of H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s regime there has been extrajudicial killings, rounding up people, driving them away to secret torture places. But the difference between other regimes from H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is that, the gone-for are those who have engaged themselves into politics to oppose the regime. But with Ex-President Amin and Ex-President Obote II regimes, persons who had no involvement into politics were rounded up, driven away and killed. You are less likely to be picked up if you stay away from politics. African politics is described by the phrase that; Politics is a dirty game.
Person greed for wealth, are susceptible to bribery, these are the person who have joined NRM. Have received cars, money and bodyguards from the orders of H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
Every regime has people that it makes poor and people that it makes wealthier. Amin financially supported Muslims. Obote supported persons from northern Uganda whereby they occupied most of senior office job roles. H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni did cause loss to those who had acquired abandoned properties such shops to be lost when the Asians were allowed to return. His Excellency has made the life of people like Moses Sali aka Bebe Cool to transformed by giving money to him.
I have not given an account on Ex- President Professor Yusuf Kironde Lule and Ex- President Godfrey Binaisa, because they were not given time to rule Uganda. Ex- President Professor Yusuf Kironde Lule was only in the seat from 13th April 1979-20th June 1979. While Ex- President Godfrey Binaisa was only in the seat from 20th June 1979 – 12 May 1980. But in the actual sense it was Paul Muwanga who had the political power remote control. As for Ex- President Tito Lutwa Okello, he is inseparable from the regime of Obote II.
I have chosen to write as a living legend, for those born from 1986 onwards to not be lied to, by claims that, the coming of the NRA (NRM) into power, caused worse, than the regimes of Ex-President Amin and Ex-President Obote II. It is on record that the Minister of finance at that time told Ex-President Idi Amin that the government coffers were empty. Wondering those who say that an illiterate man Idi Amin managed Uganda’s economy better.
About Amin, removing Uganda’s civil service and the economy from the hands of Asians, it was an inherited plan left by the colonial master, Britain.
He or she who wants to know the truth should listen to Gabriel Opio (Former Minister in Amin’s regime), Ben Bella Illakut (veteran journalist during Amin’s regime), Henry Kyemba (Former Minister of health in Amin’s regime and Obote II), Corti Paul Lakuma (Research Fellow, Economic Policy Research Centre – Makerere University), Milton Makmot (Former Deputy Minister of finance in Obote II regime), and Peter Nsereko Muwanga. You cannot get true facts from Lt. Col. Francis Itabuka and Chris Rwakasisi.
At this juncture, I point out that, stereotypes and prejudice should be limited to those who served in those regimes, ordinary citizens of Nubian, Kakwa, Langi and Acholi tribes should not be said that are heartless people as well. I have so many friends from the mentioned tribes.
If H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, had used an iron hand towards those who have caused financial loss to the government, found to have been corrupt, misused, siphoned, embezzled, or used public funds for other ulterior purposes and not protected the culprits from ending up behind prison bars for a lengthy time, Ugandans would not be mentioning of it is time for him to retire. That money would have narrowed the widened unemployment by setting up industries in rural areas where people have migrated from to town and city places, in search for money-earning opportunities. Those who studied management are aware that, a leader delegates tasks, authority and power, but accountability cannot be delegated, the leader remains responsible or accountable.
The writer, Peter Caxton Kasozi Batende, is a London-based Ugandan lawyer