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PAPER NO.

MAKERERE

UNIVERSITY

MAKERERE INSTITUTE OF SOCIAL RESEARCH

COMMUNAL CONFLICTS IN THE MILITARY


AND ITS POLITICAL CONSEQUENCES

By
Dan Mudoola
MAKERERE INSTITUTE OF SOCIAL RESEARCH

Paper P r e s e n t e d to the Seroinar on "INTERNAL


CONFLICT IK UGANDA", 2 1 s t - 26th

September,

1 9 8 7 ; Sponsored b y I n t e r n a t i o n a l A l e r t London;
MaJcerere I n s t i t u t e o f S o c i a l

Research,

MaJcerere U n i v e r s i t y ; I n t e r n a t i o n a l
Research I n s t i t u t e ,

Oslo;

N a t Lons U n i v e r s i t y ,

Tokyo.

Peace

and The U n i t e d

Views and o p i n i o n s i n t h i s p a p e r are


t h e s o l e r e s p o n s i b i l i t y o f the A u t h o r ,
the sponsors'

nor those of

t h e a u t h o r oomes f r o m .

the

not

organisation

the c i v i l

s e r v i c e and the j u d i c i a r y , were d e f i n e d .

On t h e

f i r s t Independence a n n i v e r s a r y t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n was amended


to provide f o r a ceremonial p r e s i d e n t to r e p l a c e

the

Governor-General.
On the o c c a s i o n o f o p e n i n g the f i r s t
P a r l i a m e n t the Queen's r e p r e s e n t a t i v e ,

Independence.

the Duke o f K e n t ,

members o f the c o a l i t i o n UPC-KY government and, t o

some

e x t e n t , members o f the O p p o s i t i o n were i n a sanguine


s e l f - c o n g r a t u l a t o r y mood.

The Duke o f Kent p r o m i s e d

h i s Government "would f o s t e r the s p i r i t o f t o l e r a n c e

thai
and

g o o d w i l l between a l l the p e o p l e s o f Uganda - I t would

pay due heed t o the t r a d i t i o n a l b e l i e f s and customs o f


d i v e r s e p e o p l e s o f Uganda.
rights of

the oommon man.

I t would r e s p e c t

the

individual

I t ' would r e c o g n i s e t h e

special

s t a t u s and d i g n i t y o f t h e H e r e d i t a r y R u l e r s o f t h e Kingdoms
and o f the C o n s t i t u t i o n a l Heads o f the
I n e q u a l measure, t h e Prime M i n i s t e r ,

Districts".
A p o l o M i l t o n Obote:,

b e l i e v e d t h a t " ' t r a d i t i o n a l i n s t i t u t i o n s would f o r m a f i r m


f o u n d a t i o n upon which o u r newly i n d e p e n d e n t s t a t e c o u l d b e _

advanoed."
however,

The l e a d e r o f

the O p p o s i t i o n ,

Basil

Bataringays

o a u t i o n e d a g a i n s t " ' t r i b a l i s m and f a c t i o n a l i s m ,

our:

two most d e a d l y enemies - and u n l e s s we sen . a c q u i r e a sense o f

common purpose? - we can n e v e r be s u r e t h a t

f u t u r e p a t h vri.ll be; e n t i r e l y

our

smooth1^- -

W i t h i n a space o f l e s s than f o u r y e a r s a n o t h e r
v/ho had n e v e r been p e r t o f the p o l i t i c a l

On the 2 5 t h January, 1 9 6 4 ,

actor

calculations

l e a d i n g t o independence- came t o the s c e n e .


Uganda Army.

T h i s was t h e

t h e r e was an army

m u t i n y whose o b j e c t i v e s were a p p a r e n t l y l i m i t e d ; i t was


suppressed.
'

I n 1 9 6 6 , w i t h an army purged o f h i s
i

M i l t o n O b o t e o v e r t h r e w the 1962 c o n s t i t u t i o n a l

opponents,

arrangemer

a,

c h a s e d o u t S i r . Edward Muteesa I I , Kabaka o f Buganda and


P r e s i d e n t o f Uganda, i n t r o d u c e d an I n t e r i m

Constitution,

f o l l o w e d b y t h e 1967 C o n s t i t u t i o n and r u l e d ,

b a s i c a l l y with

army s u p p o r t , u n t i l he. was o v e r t h r o w n i n "the 1 9 7 1 January


coup.

Prom 1971 t o 1 9 7 8 , I d i Amin u s e d the army as an

i n s t r u m e n t o f r u l e u n t i l he was o v e r t h r o w n b y a c o m b i n a t i o n
o f Tanzanian and Ugandan f o r c e s .

I n s p i t e o f the m i s g i v i n g s

a b o u t the a c t i v i s t r o l e o f t h e m i l i t a r y i n p o l i t i c s and
some a p p a r e n t e f f o r t s t o d e f i n e i t s p l a c e i n the Uganda b y
National l i b e r a t i o n Front regimes,

the Uganda M i l i t a r y h a s

been, a c t i v e l y i n v o l v e d i n the Ugandan p o l i t i o a l

processes.'

. From 1 9 8 1 u n t i l J u l y , 1 9 8 5 , Uganda was e m b r o i l e d i n a C i v i l


War., w i t h t h e N a t i o n a l R e s i s t a n c e , army s e e k i n g t o
..Obote.

overthrow

Under, h a r a s a n e n t f r o m the NRA, Obote was o v e r t h r o w n

b y t h e Uganda N a t i o n a l l i b e r a t i o n Army l e d b y "The O k e l l o s "


who, i n t u r n , we r e swept o u t by the N a t i o n a l

Resistance

Movement.
The o b j e c t i v e o f t h i s p a p e r i s to e x p l a i n the
c i r o u m s t a n c e s t h a t have, g i v e n r i s e to the p o l i t i o a l
r o l e of
incisive

the Ugandan M i l i t a r y .
study,

S.P. Huntington,

activist

in his

a t t r i b u t e s the i n t e r v e n t i o n i s t r o l e o f

the-

m i l i t a r y i n the p o l i t i c s o f changing s o o i e - t i e s t o a s t a t e
p o l i t i o a l i n s t i t u t i o n a l normlessness,

a s i t u a t i o n i n whiah

t h e r e a r e no w i d e l y a c c e p t e d and l e g i t i m a t e p r o o e d u r e s
resolving conflicts,

of

for

s l i o r t o f p h y s i c a l show o f f o r c e . I n

such

a s i t u a t i o n s o o i a L p o l i t i c a l f o r c e s are h i c h l v nnlH +tf M oo/i

and are a l l competing to advance i n t e r e s t s p e o u l i a r to


themselves through r u l e s o f the game they seek to d i c t a t e
to o t h e r oompeting s o c i a l p o l i t i c a l f o r c e s ,

The m i l i t a r y

dramatically e n t e r the p o l i t i c a l arena sLmply beoause they


happen to have the advantage o f the means of

ooersion.

Writes Huntington:

y i

"Each group employs means which r e f l e c t


i t s peculiar, nature- ana c a p a b i l i t i e s .
The
wealthy '.on.be; student3 r i c t workers s t r i k e ,
mobs demonstrate and the m i l i t a r y ooup. I n
the absence o f accepted procedures, a l l these
forms o f d i r e c t a c t i o n are found on the
p o l i t i o a l scene. The techniques o f , m i l i t a r y
i n t e r v e n t i o n are simply more drama'ti o _and
e f f e c t i v e : than the o t h e r s because as Hobbes
p u t s i t 'when nothing e l s e i s turned up, clubs
are trumps*

H u n t i n g t o n ' s model can go a l o n g way t o e x p l a i n the


ciroumstanoes t h a t have l e d the Ugandan m i l i t a r y to p l a y
a p o l i t i c a l a c t i v i s t , r o l e i n the Ugandan p o l i t i o a l

processes.

The major argument o f the paper i s that the p o l i t i c a l


a c t i v i s t r o l e o f the m i l i t a r y i n Ugand&ihas been the r e s u l t
o f f a i l u r e on the p a r t . o f s u c c e s s i v e U g f i

political

l e a d e r s h i p s to work out w i d e l y accepted i n s t i f r i t L o n a l i z e d


means o f r e s o l v i n g c o n f l i c t s by p e a c e f u l means.^

Political

l e a d e r s h i p s operate: w i t h i n the formal r u l e s only to the


e x t e n t to which t h e s e r u l e s t a c t i c a l l y serve t h e i r i n t e r e s t s
and are o n l y too ready to operate o u t s i d e these r u l e s when
i t serves t h a i r i n t e r e s t s .

The Ugandan m i l i t a r y i s not

i n s u l a t e d from t h i s i n s t i t u t i o n l e s s arena.

I t beoame a

p o l i t i c a l a c t o r when compeio.ting s o c i o - p o l i t i c a l

forces,

i n a b i d to t i l t the bala" ce i n t h e i r f a v o u r , sought the


support o f the m i l i t a r y .
military,

The r e s u l t was that the Ugandan

a f t e r Independence, was b u i l t ,

expanded and equipped

i n reisponse to i n t e r n a l p o l i t i c a l cum m i l i t a r y a r i s e s which,


i n turn, u l t i m a t e l l y l e d to i t s nakedly a c t i v i s t r o l e on i t s
own terms.
j-

She Uganda M i l i t a r y i n the Making


On Independence day the presence o f the Ugandan

m i l i t a r y was only marked by a few troops which took part


i n the oeremonies and by a young o f f i c e r , Karugaba, who had
r e c e n t l y passed out from the Royal M i l i t a r y Academy,
Sandhurst.

Karugaba was the Aft-de-de-CamP to the Duke o f

Kent, the Queen's r e p r e s e n t a t i v e a t the Independence c e r e monies.

At the time o f Independence the Uganda R i f l e s ,

the s u c o e s s c r to the c o l o n i a l army, the K i n g ' s A f r i c a n


Rifles,

o o n s i s t e d o f only one b a t t a l i o n o f about a thousand

men, the g r e a t e r m a j o r i t y o f whom had been r e c r u i t e d from


the then Northern Province, e s p e c i a l l y from A o h o l i .

The

R i f l e s were, at the time o f Independence, o f f i o e r e d by


B r i t i s h o f f i c e r s , seconded from t h e i r m e t r o p o l i t a n u n i t s .
For i t s s i z e and equipment, the Uganda R i f l e s had
overwhelming tasks to perform.

I t was deployed to maintain:

law and order i n Various partB of the oountry where there


werB t e n s i o n s a r i s i n g from attempts at Beo.ession among the
Bamba/Bakonjo from the l o r o Kingdom, c a t t l e r u s t l i n g i n
Karamoja, and the s p i l l o v e r e f f e c t s from the o i v i l

distur-

bances i n the Congo, the Sudan and Ruanda.


I t waB i n response to the ahove tasks and, probably
f o r symbolio reasons, that the Ugandan l e a d e r s h i p saw a
need to expand and equip the Uganda R i f l e s .

Initially,

the expansion was c h a r a c t e r i s e d by goodwill from the

government and the o p p o s i t i o n but also by some apparent


caution with regard to expenditures i n v o l v e d and maintenance

of "standards."

A programme f o r expansion o f the army and

t r a i n i n g an o f f i c e r corps was launched.

I n the budget f o r

the f i n a n o i a l y e a r 1962/65, the army estimates were doubled


i n order " t o meet the f u l l c o s t o f maintaining our F i r s t
B a t t a l i o n - f o r a f u l l f i n a n c i a l year" and i n order to
b u i l d another b a t t a l i o n i n Moroto.

P r o v i s i o n s were made

f o r establishment o f a t r a i n i n g wing at J i n j a f o r o f f i c e r
cadets and arrangements were made with the B r i t i s h g o v e r n ment to have Ugandans t r a i n e d at the R o y a l . M i l i t a r y Academy,
Sandhurst and the school f o r . o f f i c e r cadets at Mons,
Aldershott.

Already by mid-1963, according to F e l i x Onama,

M i n i s t e r o f I n t e r n a l A f f a i r s , there were 28 Ugandan o f f i c e r s


serving i n the army and a f u r t h e r 30 were undergoing
training.8A
There was goodwill a l l around to expand the army and
t r a i n a Ugandan m i l i t a r y o f f i c e r c o r p s .

Onama's programme

was endorsed by t i e Leader o f the Opposition,

who,however,

f e l t , uneasy about t h e a l l e g e d "highhandedness" o f the


e x p a t r i a t e o f f i c e r s with " o t h e r o f f i c e r s and the a l l e g e d
p o l i t i c a l and r e g i o n a l c o n s i d e r a t i o n s going i n t o

recruitq

ment o f the Ugandan o f f i c e r oorps i n the making."


But f o r a l l t h i s programme o f expansion and t r a i n i n g ,
at t h i s s t a g e ,

the government appears to have been i n no

hurry to unduly f u l l y Ug a ndanise the o f f i o e r oorps as i s


evidenced i n the P r e s i d e n t ' s

speech:

"The expansion o f the Uganda Army oontinues


to go ahead a s ' p l a n n e d - I t i s the government's
hope that by the end o f 1964 e i g h t Company
Commanders w i l l be Ugandans and that by the end
o f 1 9 6 5 two B a t t a l i o n Commanders w i l l be
Ugandans. I t w i l l be seen that i f t h i s plan
oomes to f r u i t i o n then the r o l e s o f those
o f f i c e r s seconded to us from the B r i t i s h Armed
Poroes w i l l gradually change a n d . i t is.'hoped
that they w i l l remain i n an advisory c a p a c i t y - "
Thus, aooording t o the P r e s i d e n t , a Uganda Army f u l l y
commanded and e f f i c e r e d by Ugandans would go. aooording to
the timetable which would take a couple o f y e a r s from the .
date o f the P r e s i d e n t ' s speeoh.

But on the 25th January,

1965, the Government l e a d e r s were rudely j o l t e d out o f


t h e i r timetable when men of the F i r s t B a t t a l i o n a t J i n j a
r e f u s e d to obey o r d e r s o s t e n s i b l y demanding pay i n c r e a s e s
and improvement i n t h e i r c o n d i t i o n s , g e n e r a l l y .
What happened need not: detain us

here 1 " L

Details of

but the s i g n i f i c a n c e

o f the mutiny l i e s i n the government'S r e a c t i o n to the


incident,

t h e i r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f the events and the

p o l i t i o o - m i l i t a r y consequences a r i s i n g from the i n c i d e n t a t


Jinja.
The government immediately a c t e d - approached t h e B r i t i s h
government f o r m i l i t a r y a s s i s t a n c e to q u e l l the mutiny 1 " 2 .
The B r i t i s h government promptly sent a b a t t a l i o n from the
S t a f f o r d s h i r e Regiment who took contral o f the s i t u a t i o n
immediately on t h e i r a r r i v a l and disarmed the mutinous t r o o p s .
Men o f the Headquarters Company and A Company were dismissed.
A Court-Martial was set up to t r y the r i n g l e a d e r s .

By the

14th March, 1964, men o f the S t a f f o r d s h i r e Regiment were


ready to g o .

- 8 -I t now remained, f o r the l e a d e r s h i p to taice a_ post-mortem


o f the January events.

Abdala Anyuru i n t r o d u c e d a motion i n

Parliament r e g r e t t i n g the events i n J i n j a ' " b u t do note vdth


g r e a t a p p r e c i a t i o n and s a t i s f a c t i o n the promptness with
which government d e a l t with the s i t u a t i o n - ' ' ^ ?
i n t e r p r e t a t i o n i s worth n o t i n g :

The o f f i c i a l

The event had no p o l i t i c a l

i m p l i c a t i o n s ; i t " was an i s o l a t e d i n c i d e n t i n v o l v i n g men o f


r
the Headquarters Company and A Company who had gone on s t r i k e
o v e r pay and, t h e r e f o r e , t h e i r deplorable behaviour could
n o t be g e n e r a l i s e d with r e s p e c t to the Ugandan m i l i t a r y as
an i n s t i t u t i o n 1 ^ .
'^.'he o c c a s i o n however, provided the members to a i r t h e i r
views about t h a i r army with p a r t i c u l a r r e f e r e n c e to t h e i r
P a r t i c u l a r r o l e and to the r e g i o n a l imbalance within t h e
military.

I-"artin Okello 'was not happy with the way the-

governing p a r t y had a l l e g e d l y i n g r a t i a t e d i t s e l f with the


m i l i t a r y during the e l e c t i o n preceding Independence,
which he a t t r i b u t e d the unhappy events at J i n j a .

to
All

Kisekka was unhappy about the r e g i o n a l imbalance i n the any


f a v o u r i n g the Northern Region and i n t h i s he saw n e g a t i v e
i m p l i c a t i o n s f o r n a t i o n - building." 1 "^

But the Northern

members were a l l out to defend the Doctrine of BthnoP u n c t i o n a l i s m 1 ^ with p a r t i c u l a r r e f e r e n c e to the m i l i t a r y .


For l a k i d i :
"Some people are born to be good traders,
some are born to be very good c i v i l servants,
some are. born to p r o t e c t t h i s country - The
North has been h e a v i l y accused that the
reoruitment i s a l l the time going to the
North. I think many people should be g r a t e f u l
t o the North, and p a r t i c u l a r l y to'my t r i b e ,
A o h o l i . The A c h o l i have pledged themselves

to p r o t e c t t h i s country. I f they are i n


army they have- g o t to be supported. - I f
are beginning to speak i n t h i s House to
c r e d i t than - t h e i r morale i n the army,
p o l i o e . and p r i s o n s -would be l o w e r e d . " l i

the
people
disthe

In the aftermath o f January events, the m i l i t a r y gained


more than they had bargained f o r .
the
rise.

They o b t a i n e d t h e i r pay

A y time o f the mutiny, " t h e r e had been 55 o f f i c e r s ,

i n o l u d i n g 2 majors and 14 c a p t a i n s and the r e s t l i e u t e n a t s . "


Immediately a f t e r the mutiny, the command o f oompanies was
taken over by Ugandans.

Seven months a f t e r the mutiny,

there was a b i g promotion e x e r c i s e i n which n i n e t e e n Ugandan


e f f i o e r s were promoted.

Shaban Opolot was promoted to

B r i g a d i e r and appointed Commander of the Uganda Army; I d i


Arnin was promoted to C o l o n e l and made Deputy Commander.
The r e s t were promoted to ranks ranging from l i e u t e n a n t
19
Colonel to Temporary Major, and Temporary Captain.I t i s worth n o t i n g ^ t h a t i n the l i g h t o f l a t e r

subsequent

oomplaints about a predominantly Northern o f f i c e r c o r p s ,


t h i s promotion e x e r c i s e ,

in

e t h n i c r e p r e s e n t a t i o n appeared

somewhat balanced: 6 I t e s o ,

3- Nubians, 4 Banyahlrore,

2 Banyoro, 3 "West N i l e r s " and 1 l a n g i .


What were the p o l i t i c o - m i l i t a r y consequences o f
mutiny?

the

We have, already noted that the government tended,

at l e a s t i n the p u b l i c ,
l i m i t e d consequence.

to regard the mutiny g e n e r a l l y as o f

The mutiny r e f l e c t e d the f r a g i l i t y o f

the p o l i t i o o - c i v i l i a n i n s t i t u t i o n s i n the making; a f t e r the


mutiny, i n e v i t a b l y , p o l i t i c i a n s had to take the m i l i t a r y as
p a r t o f t h e i r p o l i t i c a l c a l c u l a t i o n s f o r s u r v i v a l ; but there
was no s e r i o u s e f f o r t to wprk out p o l i t i o a l meohanisms f o r
ensuring that o i v i l i a n supremacy p r e v a i l e d over the m i l i t a r y .

- 10 -...
During the o r i t i c a l January days, the aotors i n
containing the mutiny were. confined to Obote himself and
a few c r o n i e s , the B r i t i s h government, and o f f i o e r s and men
o f the S t a f f o r d s h i r e regiment.

The p o l i t i c a l p a r t i e s had

to content: themselves with Bending congratulatory messages


a f t e r the event, and Parliament had "to note with apprec i a t i o n a n d ' s a t i s f a c t i o n with the way government had handled
the situation"-.

There had- been no' single c i v i l i a n s o c i a l

p o l i t i c a l f o r o e to stand i n the way o f the mutineers.


had to nwall.Ow h i s prider'and i n v i t e the erstwhile

Obote

colonial

power to p r o t e c t the c i v i l i a n i n s t i t u t i o n s - h o p e f u l l y .

"

I n s p i t e of a l l the appearances, the v i s i t e l i t y o f the


m i l i t a r y was not l o s t to the p o l i t i c i a n s .

They had taken

care n o t . t o condemn the m i l i t a r y as an i n s t i t u t i o n .

The

speeches i n Parliament has been punctuated by words o f


gratitude to those who had remained l o y a l .

This should

have- been the time f o r r e f l e c t i o n to see how the r o l e of


the m i l i t a r y oould have been r e d e f i n e ? i n the now up*=coming
new nation s t a t e .

In Tanzania a f t e r such similar events,

the Tanzania government had taken Bteps to ensure that


o i v i l i a n supremacy was not questioned that e a s i l y .

To

demystify the monopoly o f use o f arms, national m i l i t a r y


service was introduced, the whole army,

t least o f f i c i a l l y ,

was disarmed and disbanded, the new army was to be s o c i a l i z e d


and p o l i t i c i s e d into i t s new r o l e s and i t waB made" c l e a r
where, u l t i m a t e l y , l e g i t i m a t e power l a y - within the r u l i n g
party.

. I n the Ugandan,case, i n o i v i l i a n - m i l i t a r y

relations

the l e a d e r s h i p stuck to and invoked the simple CommandObey Model i n which the m i l i t a r y were an instrument o f the
Btate; i t had to b e ' d i s c i p l i n e d and had a c l e a r chain o f
oommand.
alised.

But they had no i d e a how t h i s could be o p e r a t i o n The absence . an * f f i c i a l o p e r a t i o n a l formula

f o r d o m e s t i c a t i n g the Uganda m i l i t a r y meant that' i n t h e i r


f a c t i o n a l b i d f o r power, groups would have to work o u t t h e i r
own p r i v a t e agenda f o r p o l i t i c i s i n g the m i l i t a r y on t h e i r
.own terms, which, as we s h a l l see., has had t r a g i c

conse-

quences f o r t h e oountry.
Expansion equipping and t r a i n i n g o f the army proceeded
uninterrupted between the years 1964 and 1970.

I n the bourse

o f s i x y e a r s four, b a t t a l i o n s were e s t a b l i s h e d - the F i r s t


B a t t a l i o n a t J i n j a , t h e Second at Maroto, the Third at Mubende
and the Fourth at Mbarara.
formations.

In addition,

there were o t h e r

An Ordinance Depot was e s t a b l i s h e d a t MagamagaJ

an A r t i l l e r y Regiment and Signals Training Wing a t Masindi.'


A f t e r the c o n f r o n t a t i o n with S i r Edward Muteesa, the Malire
Mechanised S p e c i a l i s t RecGormaissance Regiment was e s t a b l i s h e d
i n the former K a baka' b Palaoe i n the centre o f Kampala.

This

was an e l i t e mobile regiment well equipped with Armoured1


Personnel C a r r i e r s , Shermans tanks and R e o o i l l e s s guns.
Brigade headquarters were e s t a b l i s h e d at Mbale f o r the E i r s t
I n f a n t r y Brigade, and at Masaka f o r the Second I n f a n t r y
Brigade.

A Training Wing f o r r e c r u i t s and Senior.NCOb was

e s t a b l i s h e d at J i n j a .
e s t a b l i s h e d at l u b i r i .

A School f o r paratroopers was


With the assistance o f

an Airfare was e s t a b l i s h e d e a r l y i n 1 9 6 5 . 2 0

Israelis,

- 12 -...
V/e should.emphasise t h a t t h i s expansion and equipment
o f the army was b a s i c a l l y a response to i n t e r n a l and herder
problems,

At the h e i g h t o f the expansion, there were t r o u b l e s

i n Karamoja, i n the " l o s t C o u n t i e s " , i n the heartland,


Buganda where a State o f Emergency had been declared a f t e r
the events o f 1966.

I t ' i s vjorth n o t i n g that some o f the'se

b a t t a l i o n s were e s t a b l i s h e d i n off near the e p i c e n t r e s o f


t r o u b l e - Mbarar.a c l o s e to Bakonjo/Bamba county; Mubende,

in

the " l o s t o o u n t i e s " ; Moroto, 'in Karamoja.


. The consequences a r i s i n g out o f such a r e l a t i v e l y l a r g e
m i l i t a r y establishment; w i t h i n so s h 6 r t a time are no% hacd to
see.

-The army emerged as a h i g h l y v i s i b l e i n s t i t u t i o n and

acquired a status i t . had never enjoyed b e f o r e ;

The p o l i t i c a l

l e a d e r s h i p spoke e f i t i d e a r i n g l y and were only too ready to


on
give i t whatever i t . could a f f o r d .

This i n turn must have

generated i n t o the army" a creeping sense' o f f u n c t i o n a l


indespensability.

Ugandanisation o f the o f f i c e r oorps had

n o t quite gone according to the l e a d e r s '

original

timetable

and as F e l i x Onama, M i n i s t e r o f I n' t e r n a l A f f a< i r s , had td


admit. "Our Ugandan o f f i c e r s are, t h e r e f o r e , plunged i n t o
work and r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f a r larger, than they oould have
* on

expected i n the normal oourse o f army c a r e e r " .

B e f o r e the

o f f i c e r corps were drawn i n t o the power s t r u g g l e s o f the


mid-1960s, they had n o t g u i t e s e t t l e d down to an e s p i r i t
de oorps which, h o p e f u l l y , would have i n s u l a t e d them from
political

cross-pressures..

-13

P o l i t i o a l C r i s e s - the 1966 C r i s i s
Prom 1964 onward, t e n s i o n s orupted within the c i v i l i a n
p o l i t i o a l i n s t i t u t i o n s ' that were to turn Uganda i n t o a
v i r t u a l l y i n s t L t u t i o n l e e s arena, with groups i g n o r i n g the
f o r m a l l y e s t a b l i s h e d r u l e s and seeking to impose r u l e s only
they themselves understood.

The period between 1962 and

1966 was one o f apparent peace n o t n e c e s s a r i l y beoause the


l e a d e r s were oommitttfd" to working within the formally
e s t a b l i s h e d c o n s t i t u t i o n a l framework but simply beoause none
o f the l e a d e r s and the groups they represented f e l t strong
enough to overthrow? the r u l e s o f the game.

There were

already s i g n s within a f e w months a f t e r Independence to show


that groups would play game only to the e x t e n t their,
i n t e r e s t s would be: served.

Addressing a p r e s s conference

i n A p r i l 1963, Obote s a i d , "The Uganda Peoples Congress w i l l


never be d i s l o d g e d fjtfom power, by any mathematical manipulations."2-5

What, i f

these mathematical manipulations were

c a r r i e d out aooording to the e s t a b l i s h e d


rules?

constitutional

Obote was to p r o v i d e the answers e a r l y i n 1966.

Tensions which u l t i m a t e l y
arose from o o n f l i c t i n g

undermined

constitutionalism

i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s o f Buganda's

autonomy, c o n f l i c t i n g i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s o f

constitutional

r u l e s o f the game; the " l o s t Counties iBsue, and o l e a v a g e s


within the Uganda Peoples Congress, the r u l i n g p a r t y . The
sum

t o t a l o f a l l these c r i s e s was to undermine

constitu-

t i o n a l i s m and b r i n g the m i l i t a r y i n t o the p o l i t i o a l

arena

with oontending p o l i t i c a l a c t o r s vyiiig f o r support within


the army.

- 14 -...
The Uganda. Peoples Congress a l l i a n c e with the Kabaka Yefcka
had r i s e n out o f a d e s i r e on the p a r t o f the two p a r t i e s to
reap maximum advantages out o f the a l l i a n o e .

Soon a f t e r

forming the o o a l i t i o n government, there were c o n f l i c t i n g


i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s o f the c o n s t i t u t i o n , with Buganda seeking to
take over oentral government p o l i c e s t a t i o n s i n Buganda.
With r e l a t i o n s somewhat s t r a i n e d , the Buganda l e a d e r s h i p
b e l i e v e d they oould p l a y game by taking the oentral g o v e r n ment to oourt and/or withdraw from ./the a l l i a n c e , which
provoked Obote i n t o making the "no mathematical manipulations"
statement already r e f e r r e d to above..
By October. 1964, n u m e r i c a l l y ,

throught "orossings"- i n

parliament from the Democratic Party and Kabaka Yekka, Obote


was strong enough to a l l o w the p l e b c i t e to take p l a c e i n . t h e
"Dost Counties" o f Buyaga and Bugangaidzi,
annoyanoe o f the Buganda government.

to the extreme

I n the p l e b o i t e the

p o p u l a t i o n voted f o r . r e t u r n o f the oountieB to Bunyoro.


The announcement o f the r e s u l t s o f the referendum was
f o l l o w e d by the r e a i g n a t i o n o f Michael K i n t u ' s government
a t Mmengo and widespread r i o t i n g i n Buganda.

To contain

the s i t u a t i o n , Obote warned t h a t "maximum f o r o e " would b e


used to q u e l l any d i s t u r b a n c e s , which was l i t e r a l l y

inter-

preted by some men o f the S p e c i a l F o r c e , a p a r a - d i l i t a r y


organisation.

A t Nakulabye, i n the suburbs o f Kampala,

S p e c i a l Foroe men opened f i r e and k i l l e d an indeterminate


member o f p e o p l e .
The Nakulabye massacre, as i t has been o a l l e d , i s n o t a b l e
f o r a number of r e a s o n s .

I t marked the b e g i n n i n ^ o f use o f

naked f o r o e i n the Uganda h e a r t l a n d .

True, f o r o e had been used

I n the troubled marginal areas - Toro, Karamoja'and on the


borders - but i t had never been so c l o s e to Kampala.

The

I n c i d e n t also marked the beginnings f a l i e n a t i o n -between


Buganda and the Obo ta government, which a l i e n a t i o n was
worsened by the p r o v o c a t i v e statements o f Onama, the Minister
of I n t e r n a l A f f a i r s and h i s # v e r p r o t e c t i v e n e s s o f the a t r o c i o u s
behaviour o f the s e c u r i t y f o r c e s i n Buganda.

Although a

Commission o f Inquiry was s e t up to i n v e s t i g a t e the Nakulabye


massaore, r e l a t i o n s between Buganda"ahd the oentral government
were never to be the

fiame.2^

The -UPC-KY a l l i a n o e came: to

an end.
A l l had no well w i t h i n the l e a d e r s h i p o f the Uganda
Peoples Congress since the 1964 GuLtf UPC Delegates Conference
where the p o p u l i s t Secretary-General, John Kakonge was ousted
and r e p l a c e d ' b y Grace I b i n g i r a . 2 ^

With the break up o f the

UPC-KY A l l i a n o e and massive "crossings 1 1 to the government


p a r t y , numerically the UPC looked formidable, but within this_
were inherent seeds o f i n s t a b i l i t y .
mainly along r e g i o n a l l i n e s .

There emerged

cleavages,

The anti-Obote supporters took

advantage of a motion a l l e g i n g that Obote, Colonel I d i Amin,


Nekyon and F e l i x Onama had amassed wealth during Uganda/Congo
border c l a s h e s to seek <ensure o f the Obote administration.
The motion was seeking a Commission of Inquiry i n t o these
a l l e g a t i o n s and suspension f the Army Commander I d i Amin,
from duty.
the

With the support the UPC parliamentary group,

motion was passed.


Clearly t h i s was a r e v o l t against Cbote.

I n the normal

oourse o f events, s t r i c t l y within the c o n s t i t u t i o n a l r u l e d


o f the game, a number o f courses o f a c t i o n were open to Obote,

- 16 -...
namely, he oould have, d i s s o l v e d Parliament and o a l l e d f o r
new e l e c t i o n s to seek a new mandate, formed a new government
pending new e l e c t i o n s ' t h e date

which he would determine ,

c a l l e d f o r an emergency UPC D e l e g a t e s Conferenoe to e x p l a i n


h i s case and t h e r e b y " o o r n e r " h i s opponents, or simply have
awaited the outcome f the Commission o f I n q u i r y .

But Obote

chose the p e r i l o u s but apparently e a s i e r path by a r r e s t i n g


and d e t a i n i n g his- f i v e , m i n i s t e r s and the Commander o f the
Army, Shaban Opolot, suspending the 1962 Independence
CcvnstitUtion, d e c l a r i n g h i m s e l f President,
an I n t e r i m C o n s t i t u t i o n .

and i n t r o d u c i n g

The l o n e v o i c e to r e a o t against

a l l t h i s was the Buganda government which *alled_ on him and


hi.s government " t o remva themselves from Buganda s o i l " .
This provided Obote with a neat Passus b e l l i - he sent troerps
to attack the Kabaka' & Palace v M c h he occupied a f t e r some
fighting.

Sir. Edward"Mute6sa f l e d i n t o e x i l e .

Buganda was

d e c l a r e d a Disturbed Area.
C l e a r l y , Obote was*perating o u t s i d e the e s t a b l i s h e d
c o n s t i t u t i o n a l r u l e s o f the game.

He had i g n o r e d the-

c i v i l i a n i n s t i t u t i o n s - he had n o t r e s o l v e d the o r i s i s
w i t h i n parliament, n o r through the p a r t y .

He was. nly able

to do t h i s because, he had won the support o f a f a o t i o n


w i t h i n the army under i t s Commander I d i Amin.

While the

c i v i l i a n p o l i t i o a l i n s t i t u t i o n s \ere under s t r a i n through


the -cleavages wo have o u t l i n e d above, these oleavages Bpilled
ver I n t o the army, with f a c t i o n ?
their, c i v i l i a n counterparts.

a l i g n i n g themselves with

B e f o r e h i s a r r e s t , Shaban Opolot

was r e p o r t e d to be aligned along with some "Bantu" o f f i c e r e


with S i r Edward Mutessa and the, by now, detained m i n i s t e r s .

Obote had. moved f a s t to purge the army o f suspeot o f f i c e r s


and won the f u l l support o f I d i Amin.

Thus he was able.,

with o r i t i o a l army support, to r e s o l v e a b a s i o a l l y


c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i s s u e by m i l i t a r y means.
the p o l i t i o a l

The army haft mounted

stage.
O b o t e ' s Search f o r l e g i t i m a c y
The wav

to

the

19.7.1

Coup.

A f t e r the d e f e a t o f S i r Edward Muteesa and h i s


n
opponents within the p a r t y , Obote proceeded to d e f i n e h i s
own r u l e s o f the game.

He d r a f t e d the 1967 C o n s t i t u t i o n

and presented i t to Parliament, whose, o p t i o n s were s e v e r e l y


circumscribed, f o r , to any oasual observer,
were the meaningful power behind the throne.
i

the m i l i t a r y
Uganda was

declared a Republic} monarchies were a b o l i s h e d ; a P r e s i d e n c y


o f which Obote hinjself was the incumbent, was e s t a b l i s h e d ;
briefly,

t h i s was a u n i t a r y

constitution.

With the d e f e a t o f h i s opponents, the p a r t y i n d i s a r r a y ,


and a cowed parliament, purely i n naked p h y s i o a l power terms,
Obote was at the h e i g h t o f h i s power.

Dizzy with s u c c e s s ,

he t o l d h i s parliament:
"Hon. Gentlemen, there i s nothing to
r e g r e t ; what we have to deal with i s '
c l e a r . What we have i s determination
and i n the Government we are determined I have given you a f u l l statement, i t i s
up to you to g i v e the neoessary support.
You have a b i g r e s p o n s i b i l i t y , a l l o f u s
have a hig r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . Some
philosopher once said 'The midwife o f an
o l d s o c i e t y pregnant with old s o c i e t y
pregnant with a new one i s f o r o e ' . I t i s
my view that Buganda i s an^old s o c i e t y
pregnant with a new o n e " . 2 '

I n some sense, however, Obote was a prisoner of h i s


own s u c o e s s , as normally happens i n such s i t u a t i o n s .

The

p o l i t i c o - c i v i l i a n i n s t i t u t i o n s were e i t h e r oowed or i n
disarray.

The n e t e f f e c t o f t h i s success was to undermine

the c i v i l i a n p o l i t i c a l i n s t i t u t i o n s which he so badly


needed to l e g i t i m i s e h i s r u l e .
po
mentality"

Obote acquired a "Conqueror

r e f l e c t e d i n h i s speeches, a c t i o n s and a c t i o n s

o f h i s t r o o p s oocupying Buganda.

-^Ehe Kabaka1 s Palace t l u b i r i )

and the headquarters o f the Buganda Bukiiko

(Parliament)

were regarded as war booty and were converted i n t o barraeks


and army headquarters r e s p e c t i v e l y ,
"Republic House".

the l a t t e r to be renamed

The. a t r o c i o u s behaviour o f the troops i n

Buganda was a s u b j e c t o f b i t t e r comments by Baganda members


o f Parliament, some or t h e i r r e l a t i v e s Jii v i n g been v i c t i m s
of such behaviour:, but only to draw s a r c a s t i o barbed remarks
oq

from Mr, Onama, the Mini star o f Defence.


For some two y e a r s Obote nursed the army as h i s
power c o n s t i t u e n c y .

critical

He took s a l u t e s at passing out' parades,

attended weddings o f high ranking o f f i c e r s , witnessed army


of
,
e x e r c i s e s and,^ course, made speeches on these o c c a s i o n s . Jn
a spaoe o f about one and a h a l f years, Obote v i s i t e d v a r i o u s
military installations six t i m e s , A l l

these, i n the normal

course o f events, would n o t have, been out o f the ordinary


s i n c e he was the Commander i n C h i e f , but they are t e l l i n g i n
the c o n t e x t o f the times we are d i s c u s s i n g .
were w e l l rewarded.

His o f f i c e r s

I n A p r i l 1968, Amin was promoted to

Major-General and appointed Chief o f Defenoe S t a f f and


" P r i n c i p a l M i l i t a r y Adviser to the Cabinet and the M i n i s t e r
o f D e f e n o e " ; Colonel Suleiman Hussein and Colonel P i e r i n o

- 19 Yere Okoya were promoted to B r i g a d i e r . ^31

I n general, the

m i l i t a r y were doted upon m a t e r i a l l y .


The n e t e f f e c t o f i n t r o d u c i n g the new c o n s t i t u t i o n
by e x t r a - l e g a l means was a p o l i t i c o - i n s t i t u t i o n a l
which Obote, a f t e r h i s p h y s i c a l c o n s o l i d a t i o n ,
had to be f i l l e d .

void

reoognised

He must have r e a l i s e d that he was r i d i n g

on the back o f a t i g e r and h a d , t h e r e f o r e ,

somehow, to

devise means o f domesticating i t by "re-organising'. 1 the


Uganda Peoples Congress on h i s own terms,

introducing

formal p o l i t l o o - c u l t t u r a l norms to. sustain him i n power and


by b u i l d i n g o o u n t e r v e i l i n g f o r c e s - t o n e u t r a l i s e the m i l i t a r y .
We have already noted that i m m e d i a t e l y r b e f o r e and a f t e r
the 1966 C r i s i s, the Uganda P e o p l e s ' Congress was i n
disarry.

The m a j o r - p o l i t i o a l question f the day had been

'solved by the sword.

I n 1968, Obote c a l l e d a Delegates

Confrence, the f i r s t s i n c e 1964, and d e f i n e d the r u l e s on


h i s own terms.

From p a s t e x p e r i e n o ^ he r e a l i s e d that the.

party could p r o v i d e an independent power b a s e .

He now

sought to strengthen h i s hand over the p a r t y .

At t h i s

c o n f e r e n c e , he was "rar-elected" P r e s i d e n t o f the Party for.


a seven-year terra and was given the power to nominate
32
o f f i o i a l s who h e l d f f i c e n l y at h i s p l e a s u r e ,

In this

way the party was dependent on Obote, not v i o e - v e r s - a .

For

tile next three y e a r s , u n t i l he was overthrown, one cannot


say that high p o l i c y d e c i s i o n s o r i g i n a t e d from party organs.
The party simply served as a forum .through which, - p o l i c i e s
worked out by Obote, were simply l e g i t i m i s e d .

I t I s worth

noting that the Common Man's Charter and the aooompanying


Move To The l e f t dbouments had a l l been d r a f t e d o u t s i d e the

- 20 -...
party organs, and were -tthen ""debated on" and approved i n the
party f o r a .

The c r i t i c a l nerve centre o f power remained

the army,.
The i n t r o d u c t i o n o f the 1967 C o n s t i t u t i o n and a b o l i t i o n
o f the monarchies had l e f t a p o l i t i c o - c u l t u r a l v o i d which
had to be f i l l e d .

There were even no formal p o l i t i c o -

c u l t u r a l values to sustain the formal p o l i t i c a l

arrangements.

For a p o l i t i c a l system to survive i t cannot depend on show


o f p h y s i c a l f o r c e alone; i t must b backed by a core o f
p o l i t i o a l v a l u e s , at l e a s t ,
social foroes.

among the p o l i t i c a l l y

significant

With h i e opponents i n p r i s o n , o r dead, o r

i n e x i l e , o r nulky, Obo-bs made some attempts t o i n t r o d u c e


documentary i d e o l o g i c a l bases f o r the new order i n a p o l i t i c a l
environment t h a t was l a t e n t l y h o s t i l e .

This he did by t r y i n g

to i d e n t i f y the "enemies" and by i n t r o d u c i n g the Common, Men' s


Charter and the attendant d o c u m e n t s . ^
We have already seen that the 1966 c r i s i s had been
sparked o f f by a r e v o l t within the UPC l e a d e r s h i p .

Basically

the o r i s i s had been over. O b o t e ' s l e a d e r s h i p and h i s


o o l l e a g u e s had been out to have", him removed.

In control of

the mass media, the regime, s e t about p o r t r a y i n g the 1966


events as a r e v o l u t i o n against f o r c e s o f

"Imperialism",

"Feudalism" and i n defence o f "tjie "Compon Man"..


Muteesa was picked on as the b e t e - n o i r .

S i r Edward

The s e m i - o f f i c i a l

i d e o l o g u e o f the regime was Akena-Adoko, Head o f the


i n t e l l i g e n c e s e r v i c e , euphemistirally c a l l e d the General
Service U n i t .

In h i s book, The 1966 C r i s i s he provided

the i d e o l o g i o a l r a t i o n a l e f o r the

"Revolution".^'

- 21 -...
The Common Man's Charter and the Move To the l e f t
documents were supposed to h e r a l d a new p o l i t i c a l era i n
which the Common Man's i n t e r e s t s were paramount, i n which
the gap between r i c h and p o o r would be narrowed, o r c l o s e d
altogether,

and one i n which there would be meaningful

political participation.

A t h e o r e t i c a l l y i n g e n i o u s formula

f o r e l e c t i n g members o f Parliament and the P r e s i d e n t was


worked o u t .
The establishment and strengthening o f the General
S e r v i c e Unit and the S p e c i a l Force i n the l a t e min-1960a
were an apparent attempt to have them as counterve.tling
f o r c e s to the m i l i t a r y .

Much as the army had been pampered,

Obote was n o t quite too sure o f them.

O r i g i n a l l y the

General S e r v i c e Unit had been s e t up as a " c o u n t e r - e s p i o n a g e "


o r g a n i s a t i o n , e s p e c i a l l y to watch v e r the a c t i v i t i e s
foreign missions.

But as the i n t e r n a l p o l i t i c a l

of

orises

i n t e n s i f i e d , i t s a c t i v i t i e s became^.increasingly d o m e s t i c .
The members o f the s e r v i c e were trained i n the S o v i e t Union,
Czechoslovakia and I s r a e l .

The Special Foroe had been b u i l t

under c o l o n i a l r u l e to handle domestic problems too b i g f o r


the p o l i c e to handle.

A f t e r Independence, as domestic

problems beoame more i n t e n s e ,

the S p e c i a l Foroe was expanded

and equipped i n m i l i t a r y f a s h i o n .

The b u i l d i n g up o f the

General Servioe Unit and the Special Force was n o t e a s i l y


l o s t to the m i l i t a r y .

With a subdued Buganda and without

any a o t i v e o r p o t e n t i a l power oentres to challenge Obote' b


rule,

the m i l i t a r y must have come to very unoomfortable

conclusions.

I n the l a s t two years b e f o r e the 1971 coup,

r e l a t i o n s between the General Service Unit and the S p e c i a l

- 22 -...
Force on the one hand and the m i l i t a r y on the other were
strained.

Immediately a f t e r the January 1971 ooup, members

o f the General Service. Unit and Special Force were rounded


up and the rganisatLons were disbanded.
These attempts to r e o r g a n i s e the p a r t y , to introduce'
new p o l i t i c a l formulae and b u i l d c o u n t e r v a i l i n g f o r c e s to
n e u t r a l i s e the m i l i t a r y did not go far. to r e g u l a r i s e
Obote r u l e and make i t l e s s dependent on the army.

the
This

f a i l u r e may be attributed to a l a t e n t l y h o s t i l e o r a p a t h e t i c
p o l i t i c a l environment, to the h i g h l y p e r s o n a l i s e d

oivilian

I n s t i t u t i o n a l arenas f o r handling c o n f l i c t s and the power


struggle s h i f t from c i v i l i a n to m i l i t a r y

institutions.

In s p i t e of h i s p h y s i c a l m i l i t a r y v i c t o r y o v e r Bugand'a,
Obote never quite mad any p o l i t i o a l i n r o a d s i n t o Buganda.
The Baganda remained subdued, b i t t e r and sullcy.

U n t i l the

1971 ooup, Buganda was i n a State o f Emergency.


c
'

And

t h i s i s the economically,

c u l t u r a l l y and p o l i t i c a l l y

s t r a t e g i o heartland ef the country.

Because Buganda was

e i t h e r p i l i t i o a l l y demobilized or subdued, t h i s l e f t the.


l e g i t i m a c y of the Obote regime rather tenuous.

Professor

Gingyera-Pinyowa, lamenting the quarrel between Obote and


Amin to whioh he p a r t i a l l y a t t r i b u t e s the JanugjTy 1971 ooup,
does not see any c o r r e l a t i o n between the p o l i t i o a l margina l ! sation o f the Baganda and the c o u p . ^

True, the Baganda

had been disarmed, but the state o f Emergency i n Buganda


made Obote more unduly dependent on the army f o r f e a r o f
domestic upheavals and t h i s , i n turn, generated w i t h i n the
m i l i t a r y a sense o f p o l i t i c o - f u n c t i o n a l

indisponsability

and r e l e g a t e d the c r u c i a l importance o f c i v i l i a n p o l i t i c a l

24 -...

i n s t i t u t i o n s as l e g i t i m i z i n g instruments i n t o the background.


The way the Baganda> cheered Amin immediately, a f t e r the
coup helped to l e g i t i m i s e the Amin coup domestioally and
internationally.
The p o l i t i o a l organs w i t h i n the. r u l i n g party and
Parliament had been e i t h e r so p e r s o n a l i s e d or. oowed t h a t
no meaningful r e s o l u t i o n o f
taken p l a c e .

political

c o n f l i c t s could have

The ascendancy o f the m i l i t a r y oould have been

oontained i f

the i n s t i t u t i o n s had been meaningfully

strengthened, but strengthening o f

oivili.an.institutions,

would i n themselves, have undermined Obote 1 s power p o s i t i o n .


Meaningful power s t r u g g l e s s h i f t e d from o i v i l i a n p o l i t i c a l
i n s t i t u t i o n s to the m i l i t a r y .

Here, Obote was placed a t

a tremendous disadvantage i n that t h i s arena Was too


to him to f r e e l y operate.

He had l e f t two o f

closed

hie.olosest

supporters, Onama and Amin too l o n g i n s t r a t e g i c p o s i t i o n s .


As r e l a t i o n s between Amin and Obote soured, other i n s t i t u t i o n a l
c i v i l i a n s o o i a l f o r c e s simply h e l p l e s s l y assumed s p e c t a t o r s '
roles.

Probably Obote would have saved himself i f he had

played the game Marshall S t a l i n and N i k i t a Nkrushohev>- had


played on Marshall Zhuk#v that i s ,

the hero should have

been removed p r e c i s e l y at the h e i g h t o f h i s


Tensions within the m i l i t a r y ,

suooess.^

t e n s i o n s whioh aulminated

i n t o the January, 1971 coup, arose from i n t e r - s e r v i c e


rivalries,

generational cleavages within the o f f i o e r oorps,

p o l o r i s a t i o n s within the m i l i t a r y along ethnio l i n e s and


clumsy attempts on the p a r t of Obote to have Amin n e u t r a l i s e d
i n the army.

We have already touphed on the r i v a l r i e s

between the S p e c i a l Force and the General Servioe Unit tn

- 24 -...
the one hand and the army on the o t h e r .

The strengthening

o f the General S e r v i c e Unit and S p e c i a l - F o r o e

simply

alienated some elemesnts w i t h i n the army f u r t h e r .


As the army became more f u n c t i o n a l l y oomplex, -there
was a need to r e c r u i t and t r a i n o f f i c e r s with a r e l a t i v e l y
higher education.

There were some signs that some o f

these

younger men were i n c r e a s i n g l y coming o j o s e r to oommend


positions.

Tensions w i t h i n the o f f i c e r c o r p s between the

r e l a t i v e l y well educated o f f i o e r s and o f f i c e r s from the


ranss were oommon knowledge a t the time.

Coupled with t h i s

was the p o l a r i s a t i o n w i t h i n the army along e t h n i o l i n e s .


By the l a t e 1960s there were signs that Obote was seeking
to b u i l d a smaller and more r e l i a b l e , h o p e f u l l y , base among
the A c h o l i s and l a n g i s as evidenced by the s t r a t e g i c command
p o s i t i o n s o f f i o e r s from these groups h e l d and the e l i t e ,
u n i t s the men manned.

Amin responded by c a r r y i n g out

recruitments o f h i s own and by surrounding himself with


o f f i c e r s he oould t r u s t . T h e r e

then f o l l o w e d the mysterious

murder o f B r i g a d i e r Okoya and death i n a oar " a o c i d e n t "

of

Lieutenant-Colonel Omoya.
In l a t e 1970, Obote took advantage o f Amin's absence
to carry out promotions w i t h i n the army, which promotions
l e f t no doubt that Amin was on the way o u t .

At t h i s

stage,

with the army highly p o l a r i s e d , i t was a q u e s t i o n o f who


struck f i r s t .

While Obote was away i n Singapore,

attending

the Commonwealth Heads o f State Conference, I d i Anin staged


h i s ooup d ' e t a t .
I n the l i g h t o f the p r o c e s s e s by which the m i l i t a r y
aoquired v i s i b i l i t y and assumed a nakedly a c t i v i s t r o l e i n

- 25 -...
Ugandan p o l i t i o s , we may argue that the Amin ooup and the
p o l i c i e s he persuad a f t e r , the ooup, pushed to a l o g i c a l
tconclusion

trends s e t by Obote, which i n c r e a s i n g l y rendered

p o l i t i f i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s - f o r r e s o l v i n g c o n f l i c t s powerless.
By the time Amin assumed power, they were so f r a g i l e that
i t needed a simple announcement to have them banned.
Party p o l i t i o a l a c t i v i t i e s were suspended, and Parliament
was d i s s o l v e d ,

and i n the next e i g h t y e a r s , u n t i l he was

overthrown, a l l i n s t i t u t i o n s - c i v i l i a n and m i l i t a r y

were s u b j e c t e d to the d i c t a t e s o f I d i Amin.


The Amin regime l a s t e d Bome nine y e a r s and y e t i t did
not" aperate through i n s t i t u t i o n s f o r r e s o l v i n g
short o f use o f f o r c e o r t e r r o r .
instrument o f domestic p o l i c y .

oonflicts

Terror was used as an


Again, t h i s pushed to

l o g i o a l c o n c l u s i o n a precedent set by Obote when he used


the army as an instrument o f domestic p o l i c y .

True, Obote

was r e l a t i v e l y more s o p h i s t i c a t e d to give, h i s courses o f


a c t i o n some semblance o f l e g i t i m a c y ^through formal organs
o f the party and government.
The M i l i t a r y i n the Post-1979 Regimes
The removal o f I d i Amin did n o t r e l e g a t e the m i l i t a r y
i n the background.

After, a l l , he had been removed by m i l i t a r y

means - by a combination o f the Tanzanian Peoples Defence


Poroe and Ugandan t r o o p s .

V/e shall only d i s c u s s the p o l i t i o s


Pront
o f the Uganda National l i b e r a t i o n / a n d the Obote regime to
39
the e x t e n t that the m i l i t a r y i n f l u e n c e d the p o l i t i o s .
these regimes,

In

the m i l i t a r y was v i r t u a l l y the king-maker

u n t i l , with the ooming i n o f the " O k e l l o s " ,

the kingmaker

became k i n g , . Yusufu Lule and Godfrey B i n a i s a were removed


p a r t l y because they had a l i e n a t e d the kingmakers and M i l t o n
Obote reassumed the Presidency mainly with the support f
the M i l i t a r y Commission.

The o r c h e s t r a t e d Deoember, 1980

e l e c t i o n s were simply meant to l e g i t i m i s e the de f a c t o State


of A f f a i r s .

A f t e r the 1978/79 "Kagera War", Ugandan l e a d e r s were


h i g h l y ambivalent towards the M i l i t a r y .

With the d e f e a t of

- I d i Amin'b army, there was some chance f o r r e d e f i n i t i o n o f


the r o l e o f the m i l i t a r y i n the newly " l i b e r a t e d "

oountry.

On the one hand they Bawr the m i l i t a r y as the most e f f e c t i v e


instrument i n the removal o f I d i Amin and.as a c r i t i c a l
f a c t o r i n the power: s t r u g g l e s t h a t ensued;on the o t h e r they
saw the m i l i t a r y as a monster that oould swallow them i f
they did n o t , somehow) t r y to domosticate i t .
instrument,

As l i b e r a t i n g

the new Uganda National L i b e r a t i o n Army e n j o y e d

a honeymoon r e l a t i o n s h i p with the l e a d e r s ahd o i v i l i a n s

alike.

As a c r i t i c a l f a c t e r . i n the ensuing power s t r u g g l e s , the army


was the o b j e c t o f i n g r a t i a t i n g a t t e n t i o n from v a r i o u s
politioal foroes.

Hence, suoh l a b e l s as "Museveni's",

" O b o t e ' s " and "Muwanga*b s o l d i e r s were f r e e l y bandied o u t .


The Ugandan l e a d e r s '

a t t i t u d e s towards the m i l i t a r y as

a l i b e r a t i n g instrument, as a c r i t i c a l f a c t o r i n the power


game, and then as a monster t h a t had to.be domestioated were
highly contradictory.

P a c t i o n a l vying f o r support within

the m i l i t a r y implied a sense o f p o l i t i o a l h e l p l e s s and


h o p e l e s s n e s s i n the absence o f v i a b l e c i v i l i a n
i n s t i t u t i o n s to oontain the m i l i t a r y .

political

Under the UN1F, s t e p s

were taken i n an apparent e f f o r t to subordinate the m i l i t a r y

- 27 -...
to c i v i l i a n c o n t r o l .

The general thinking among some o f the

the UN1F l e a d e r s h i p was that, a future Ugandan m i l i t a r y


monster could ohly be prevented from emerging i f

efforts

were made to ,strengthen the UN1F as an o r g a n i s a t i o n by!


p r o p o r t i o n a l ethnic r e p r e s e n t a t i o n i n the new army, having
a l i t e r a t e army with an educated o f f i c e r oorps,

representation

o f the m i l i t a r y i n the UNLF organs and Parliament,

politi-

c i s i n g the army and b u i l d i n g a peoples' m i l i t i a as a c o u n t e r veiling force.


The t e n t a t i v e : steps o r i d e a s to .domesticate the new army
e i t h e r generated h o s t i l i t y from various p o l i t i c a l f o r c e s o r
were i n t r o d u c e d i n t o an environment that completely m i s understood the I d e a l o b j e c t i v e s o f such s t e p s o r i d e a s .
The apparent assumption behind strengthening the UNIF v i s a v i s
the m i l i t a r y was t h a t the army could only be n e u t r a l i s e d

ff

there was a strong c i v i l i a n o r g a n i s a t i o n . But, as we have


discussed elsewhere,^ 0 f a c t i o n s within the UNLF had l i t t l e
i n common beyond the l a b e l .
s e n t a t i o n was I / u l e ' s
p o i n t out that,

idea.''1

Proportional ethnio r e p r s His pponcnts were quick to

since Buganda and the Southern areas

.s

g e n e r a l l y are numerically powerful, these areas would have


fome out at g r e a t e r numerical advantage and that t h i s was
a b l a t a n t way o f one group e s t a b l i s h i n g hegemony o v e r the
army.

The area that would have been most adversely a f f e c t e d ,

i f l u l e ' s i d e a s had been implemented, would have been the


North g e n e r a l l y ,

and Acholi and lango s p e o i f i o a l l y .

And

t h i s i n e v i t a b l y would have e n t a i l e d a ohange i n the balance


o f m i l i t a r y and p o l i t i o a l power, f o r which the Northern
l e a d e r s h i p were not prepared'.

Henry Makmot c l e a r l y echoed

these f e a r s i n the National Consultative Council and invoked


the Doctrine o f Ethno-functionalism:
"-There are t r i b e s which are muoh, much
b i g g e r than o t h e r s ; so you could expeot
about, h a l f o f the army coming from t h a t
t r i b e o r . t h e t r i b e which i s more f o r t u nate o r t r i b e s vdiioh are r e l a t e d - And
i n Uganda) - I stressed t h i s when I c o n t r i buted to t h i s debate much e a r l i e r i n May/
June- t h a t there are s e o t i o n s o f the
population who j u s t cannot f i g h t even i f
they are s o l d i e r s ,
(interjections).
And
I w i l l s t r e s s t h i s that there i s evidence
to t h a t e f f e c t . Even i n the r e o e n t
f i g h t i n g therer I s evidence that some people
j u s t oould n o t Btand f i r e s ( S i o ) .
This
I am s t r e s s i n g because p r a c t i c e i s d i f f e r e n t
2
from t h e o r y " ^
The searoh f o r a l i t e r a t e army and an eduoated o f f i c e r
oorps was a response, to the l o w l e v e l s o f l i t e r a c y and
eduoation i n the Amin army and i t s o f f i o e r oorps,
ively,

reopect-

to whioh some l e a d e r s a t t r i b u t e d the b e s t i a l i t y o f

Amin's army.

Of. course, o p p o s i t i o n to t h i s p r o p o s a l , muted

as i t was, was based on p a r t i c u l a r i s t i c

considerations.

P o l i t i o a l groups, making a rush f o r support within the army


and seeking to e s t a b l i s h t h e i r bases w i t h i n ,
*

could not

have had eduoation and general l i t e r a c y as important


criteria, particularly i f
m i l i t a r y disadvantages.

they considered them p o l i t i c o C e r t a i n l y , Lule earned the a c t i v e

h o s t i l i t y o f the predominatly Northern core o f the UNlt1


who had marohed from the Uganda/Tanzania b o r d e r .

Again,

implementation o f the educational c r i t e r i a would have


e n t a i l e d a ohange i n the p o l i t l o o - m i l i t a r y balanoe o f j w e r
to the disadvantage o f the Northern l e a d e r s h i p .
The UNDP l e a d e r s i n Moshi saw that they had to come
to g r i p s with r e a l i t y by r e o o g n i s i n g the UNDA i n the making

- 29,.as an i n t e r e s t group.

Not o n l y would i n t e r e s t s p e c u l i a r '

to the m i l i t a r y be taken .care o f Tby m i l i t a r y

representatives,

but m i l i t a r y r e p r e s e n t a t i o n would a l s o enable the m i l i t a r y


to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the decision-making p r o c e s s e s i n the top
c i v i l i a n organs.

But t h i s was simply an i d e a l .

I n the

f a c t i o n a l power, s t r u g g l e s that ensued w i t h i n the UNLF and


UNIA, the m i l i t a r y r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s i n e v i t a b l y i d e n t i f i e d
themselves with f a c t i o n s -or p a r t i e s they supported.
.In O b o t e ' s b i d f o r power, c r i t i c a l elements within the
M i l i t a r y Commission c l e a r l y demonstrated where t h e i r sympathies
l a y by supporting Obote.
P o l i t i c i s a t i o n o f the m i l i t a r y and establishment o f
a p e o p l e s ' m i l i t i a were Museveni's i d e a s , when he was
M i n i s t e r o f Defence.

I n h i s p o l i c y paper,

submitted to the

National Consultative C o u n c i l , he argued f o r a p o l i t i c i s e d


army and a p e o p l e s ' m i l i t i a on the grounds t h a t . a l l
are, i n any oase,

armies

p o l i t i c a l and that a

p e o p l e s ' m i l i t i a was one o f the s u r e s t guarantees f o r domestic


stability,
coercion,

s e c u r i t y and demooratisation o f t h e instruments o f


a l l o f which would maker, i t d i f f i c u l t f o r any

adventurer to hold the p o p u l a t i o n to. ransom by staging a. coup


d'etat.43
Given the f a c t i o n a l p o l i t i c s o f the UNDP and the f r a g mented nature o f the UN1A, Museveni's i d e a s o f a p o l i t i c i s e d
army and a p e o p l e s ' m i l i t i a were a l i t t l e

too advanced.

True, h i s i d e a s were supported i n the National Consultative


C o u n c i l , but e x p r e s s i o n s f support jrere simply d e c l a r a t i o n s
o f i n t e n t i o n and were-not any c l o s e r to the p o l i t i c a l and
m i l i t a r y r e a l i t i e s p r e v a i l i n g ^.t the time. .The underlying

- 30 -...
assumption o f a p o l i t i c i s e d army i s that there i s
a hegemonio party o r a r e s i d u a l consensus o f

either

internalised

p o l i t i c a l i d e a s which can be i n c u l c a t e d , h o l d the m i l i t a r y


as an i n s t i t u t i o n t o g e t h e r , and that the m i l i t a r y i s ready,
as a r e s u l t , to accept the supremacy o f c i v i l i a n p o l i t i c a l
i n s t i t u t i o n s . In the case o f a peoples' m i l i t i a , where t h i s
was implemented, e s p e c i a l l y i n A c h o l i , the m i l i t i a were
simply personal f o l l o w e r s o f i n d i v i d u a l s or f a c t i o n s and

i4

were sources o f i n s t a b i l i t y as events were l a t e r to p r o v e .


That e f f o r t s by the UHIiA to domesticate the m i l i t a r y
had miserably f a i l e d was i l l u s t r a t e d by the assumption o f
power by the M i l i t a r y Commission, whose p o l i t i o a l
as we have seen, l a y with the Obote UPC.

sympathies,

The m i l i t a r y were,

thus, able to demonstrate that they s t i l l had the veto power


to determine which r u l e s were p r e f e r a b l e to

it.

On h i s seoond assumption o f power, Obote found h i m s e l f


i n t}ie same old trap, the same trap which u l t i m a t e l y had l e d
to h i s downfall, namely, having to use the m i l i t a r y as h i s
c r i t i o a l . basic constituency.

True, he had assumpad power

through appearances o f an e l e c t i o n which h i s party had


"won", but the o r i t i c a l power behind the throne was the
military.

The Uganda Peoples Congress continued to simply

play the f u n c t i o n s o f l e g i t i m i s a t i o n

as

i t had done b e f o r e

the 1971 d ' e b a o l e .


Within a few months o f h i s assumption o f o f f i c e , he
was s a d d e d with

g u e r r i l l a war o f a t t r i t i o n i n mainly the

s t r a t e g i o heartland Buganda.* I n h i s seoond struggle f o r


power, he t r i e d the s t r a t e g y o f encircloment o f Buganda,
a s t r a t e g y which had paid"'ff well i n h i s f i r s t b i d f o r power

during the e a r l y 1960 s /

As a r e s u l t o f t h i s

successful

s t r a t e g y , Buganda had been f o r c e d to break o u t o f

the

e n c i r o i e m e n t by seeking an a l l i a n c e w i t h the UPC, an a l l i a n c e


a t the time t a o t i c a l , b u t which turned o u t t o be d i s a s t r o u s
f o r Buganda and, e v e n t u a l l y , f o r Uganda.

But the Buganda

o f t h e 1980s was r a d i c a l l y d i f f e r e n t from t h a t f the 1960s.


Surrounded as they were during and immediately a f t e r the
Deoember, 1980, e l e c t i o n s ,

to break out o f the

encirclement,

the Baganda were n o t prepared to seek a p a r l e y w i t h O b o t e .


They sought to break t u t o f the e n c i r c l e m e n t by armed u p r i s i n g l e d by v a r i o u s g r o u p s ,

the most prominent o f which,

i t turned o u t , was the N a t i o n a l R e s i s t a n c e Movement l e d by


Yweri Museveni.

Obote swallowed the b a i t by seeking

m i l i t a r y s o l u t i o n to the u p r i s i n g which, w i t h the advantage


of hindsight,

turned o u t to be a d i s a s t e r f o r Obote, beoause

the 1980s were d i f f e r e n t from the mid-1960s when Obote


depended b a s i o a l l y on the m i l i t a r y to r u l e .
The 1980s were d i f f e r e n t f o r a number o f

reasons.

F i r s t l y , f o r o e was too d i s p e r s e d f o r him to use i t


i v e l y as on instrument o f domestic p o l i c y ;
the appearances o f e l e c t i o n s ,

effect-

seoondly, f o r a l l

l e g i t i m a c y was t o o

tenuous

i n the s t r a t o g i o h e a r t l a n d ; t h i r d l y , h i s clumsy attempts


to b u i l d the army as a o r i t i o a l b a s i c c o n s t i t u e n c y boomeranged;
f o u r t h l y , r e s o u r c e s were too soaroe to be a l l o c a t e d to h i s
f r i e n d s and enemies i n c i v i l i a n l i f e and the army to be of
political utility;

and, f i f t h l y ,

the g u e r r i l l a war had such

a heavy t o l l on M s mill-Gary s u p p o r t e r s t h a t t h i s l e d

to

' p o l a r i s a t i o n s w i t h i n the m i l i t a r y , vjhich culminated i n t o


the J u l y , 1985 coup.

- 34 -...
drove to take Kampala on a broad Saturday morning,
on the 27th July 1985.
Conclusion: The "Okellos"- and The MBM Victory,
I n t h i s paper we have argued that the p o l i t i c a l
v i s i b i l i t y and eventual a c t i v i s t r o l e o f the m i l i t a r y i n
Uganda have been the r e s u l t o f f a i l u r e on the part o f Uganda
l e a d e r s to b u i l d i n s t i t u t i o n s capable o f

domesticating

c i v i l c o n f l i c t s , but have chosen to b u i l d the m i l i t a r y i n


response to i n t e r n a l p o l i t i o o - m i l i t a r y c r i s e s .

Yfith the

i n s t i t u t i o n a l vacua t h a t were created by Obote and Amin,


the m i l i t a r y assumed such r o l e s that i t could e i t h e r play
king-maker, o r play k i n g .

The coming i n o f the O k e l l o s i n

J u l y , 1985, created a h i g h l y p o l a r i s e d

politioo-military

s i t u a t i o n i n which the a n t a g o n i s t i c p o l i t i o o - m i l i t a r y

forces,

the O k e l l o s and NRM, appeared so evenly balanced t h a t


Uganda appeared well s e t f o r a prolonged o i v i l war.
The Nairobi Peace Talks which dragged on f o r some f o u r
months arose p a r t l y out o f a r e a l i s a t i o n on the p a r t o f the
contending f o r o e s that, f e r the time beings
d i c t a t e terms and p a r t l y i n order f o r the

they could n o t

antagonistic

f o r o e s to m o b i l i s e r e s o u r c e s f o r a f i n a l showdovm.
f o r c e s apparently evenly balanced,

With

and without a formula

to r e g u l a t e r e l a t i o n s between them, the Nairobi Peace- Talks


were aimed at working out some kind f modus operandi but
the terms o f the peace accord which was e v e n t u a l l y signed
were so complicated f o r the c o n t r a c t i n g p a r t i e s and i n v o l v e d
so much g i v e and take t h a t none o f the groups, i n the
circumstances p r e v a i l i n g ,

oould, any way, have adhered to i t .

-35

The Nairobi Peace Talks gave time to the two parties


.to prepare f o r a f i n a l showdown.

I n t h e i r pronouncements

and t h e i r a c t i o n s the O k e l l o s demonstrated t h a t , i f

given

a chanoe, they would p r e f e r a showdown and d i c t a t e . t h e i r own


terms.

They a f f e c t e d ' p o l i t i o a l and m i l i t a r y appointments

designed to keep the NRM o u t , they sought a l l i a n o e s with


m i l i t a r y groups that were h o s t i l e to the NRM and o a r r i e d
large scale mobilisation.

The NRM and t h e i r m i l i t a r y arm,

NRA, were not ogught napping.

They also used the Nairobi

Peace Talks to i n t e r n a t i o n a l i s e t h e i r message, oarry out


l a r g e s c a l e m o b i l i z a t i o n and extend t h e i r o o n t r o l o f

areas.

By the end o f Beoember, 1985, they were p o i s e d on the p u t s k i r t s o f Kampala.


There are a number o f i m p l i c a t i o n s a r i s i n g out o f the
NRM v i c t o r y , which i m p l i c a t i o n s are l i k e l y to have a strong
bearing on o i v i l i a n - m i l i t a r y r e l a t i o n s and the b u i l d i n g o f
political institutions.

The armed u p r i s i n g was a r e a c t i o n

against the use o f the m i l i t a r y a^ an instrument o f


policy,

domestic

dating back to 1966; the movement grew beoause o f

a p o l i t i c o - s n i l i t a r y symbiotic r e l a t i o n s h i p between the


National Resistence Army and the c i v i l i a n p o p u l a t i o n ;
and ^the NRM v i c t o r y has exploded the myth o f "martial T r i b e s " ,
a myth propagated by the c o l o n i a l i s m and eohoed by the
Odas, the L a k i d i s and the MaJAiots, and marked a s h i f t i n
the balance o f p o l i t l o o - m i l i t a r y power from marginal groups
to the s t r a t e g i o heartland groups.
Throughout t h i s paper we have seen that the m i l i t a r y
has been a o r i t i o a l a c t o r i n p o l i t i c a l developments i n
country,

since 1966 and t h i s eventually provoked an armed

- 36 -...
u p r i s i n g from the p o p u l a t i o n .
been f u l f i l l e d .

Martin O k e l l o ' s prophecy has

The movement suooeeded because the

civilians

among whom the movement took m o t s , r e a l i s e d i t was,


u l t i m a t e l y , i n t h e i r p h y s i c a l i n t e r e s t to support the
g u e r r i l l a movement.

This e a r l y symbiotic r e l a t i o n s h i p then

may p r o v i d e bases f o r an .integrated c i v i l i a n - m i l i t a r y


relationship.

This may change the r o l e o f the m i l i t a r y

which, h i t h e r t o , had been predatory.

Coupled with t h i s ,

the NRM v i o t o r y has wrested monopoly o f the use o f f o r c e from marginal groups i n whose i n t e r e s t i t was not to b u i l d
viable p o l i t i c a l

institutions.

The r e s u l t may be then a s i t u a t i o n i n which there i s


a balance o f s o c i - p o l i t i c o - m i l i t a r y f o r c e s , a s i t u a t i o n
i n which no one group w i l l f e e l oonfldent to d i c t a t e terms
beoause i t h a S monopoly o f the means of c o e r c i o n .

Such a

s i t u a t i o n , augurs well f o r b u i l d i n g Viable c i v i l i a n p o l i t i c a l


institutions

f o r domesticating c o n f l i c t .

The experience

o f the l a s t twelve months, since the NRM assumed power, has


shown that the National Resistance Movement also r e a l i s e
t h a t , i n the f i n a l a n a l y s i s , they cannot d i s t a t e terms and
are i n the p r o c e s s o f working out a formula that can a c c o mmodate c o n f l i c t i n g i n t e r e s t s .

S t a b i l i t y w i l l depend an

a r e a l i s a t i o n by c o n f l i c t i n g s o c i o - p o l i t i o o - m i l i t a r y

forces

t h a t use o f ooereion i n s e t t l i n g domestic o o n f l i o t s i s

self-

d e f e a t i n g , as Obote has, h o p e f u l l y , l e a r n t at the o o s t o f h i s


"throne",

- 39 -...
to Arua " t o attend t h e ' w e d d i n g ' o f the
Army C h i e f - o f S t a f f , Col-Amin", to
Kabamba Army Training School, i n Uganda
Argus, 26th March, 1968; h i s "visit to.
Karamoja, " i n s p e c t i n g r e o r u i t s " ' 9 t h A p r i l ,
1966; v i s i t to Army Headquarters, 13th
A p r i l , 1968; address to A i r f o r o e Personnel
a t Gulu A i r b a s e , 6th May,' 1968.
31.

Uganda Argus.

1 0 t h , September, 1964.

32.

Also s e e , Gingyera-Pinyowa, Appolo M i l t o n Obote and


His Times Nok-PublishersV ~l'97~8". Pages 56-66.

33.

The Move to the l e f t Documents were: The Common Man's


Charter. Nakivubo Pronounoe'ments. and the
National Servi pe. Propo s a l ' s ' "

34.

Akena-Adoko, 1966 C r i s i s . Published by Milton Obote


Foundation..

35.

Gingyera-Pinyowa O p . o i t . See e s p e c i a l l y pages 231-245.

36.

On h i s return to the S o v i e t Union, a f t e r commanding


S o v i e t F o r c e s i n Germany, Zhukev was
immediately r e l e g a t e d i n t o the background
by S t a l i n , but l a t e r , Krushchev r e c a l l e d
him from o b l i v i o n to be M i n i s t e r o f
Defence. During KrushcVo's struggle: f o r
power i n the Central Committee o f the
p a r t y , Zhukev made h i s tanks c o n v e n i e n t l y
a v a i l a b l e i n and around Moscow i n support
of. h i s patron, who immediately a f t e r h i s
problems aocused Zhukev o f " B o n a p a r t i s t "
t e n d e n c i e s and removed him from o f f i c e .

37.

Some o f these o f f i c e r s took care to keep Amin informed.'


o f domestio developments and h i s impending
a r r e s t while he. was away i n Egypt to a t t e n d
N a s s e r ' s f u n e r a l and provided him with
a Btrong m i l i t a r y e s o o r t from Entebbe
A i r p o r t where he a r r i v e d from Egypt,
unannounced. Among the e s c o r t were Major D,
Ozi ( l a t e r to be h i s Chief o f I n t e l l i g e n c e )
and Mustapha I a r i s ( l a t e r to be h i s Chief
o f S t a f f and Minister o f D e f e n c e ) .

38.

There i s now s u b s t a n t i a l l i t e r a t u r e o n ' t h e Amin regime


among which are: L o f c h i e , M. "The Uganda
Coup: Class A c t i o n by the M i l i t a r y " i n
'
Journal o f A f r i c a n S t u d i e s , V o l . 1 0 , N o . l ,
1972 Twaddle, M. "The Amin Coup" i n
Journal o f Commonwealth ^nd Comperstive
Politics."
S o u t h a l l , A. "General Amin and the Coup"
JMS, V o l . 1 3 , N o . l , 1975. Martin, David,
General Amin. Kyemba, H. The State o f Blood.
Mazrui, A. S o l d i e r s and Kinsmen.

This work is licensed under a


Creative Commons
Attribution - Noncommercial - NoDerivs 3.0 Licence.

To view a copy of the licence please see:


http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/

SOCIALTRANSFORMATIONINCONTEMPORARYAFRICA:REMINISCENCESOF
DR.JOSHUABAITWAMUGYENYI
TH
4 LectureintheAfricaLectureSeries
InPromotionoftheMakerereUniversityFemaleScholarshipFoundation
1
P.AnyangNyongo
anyongo@yahoo.com
254724264703
Nairobi,Kenya

FromtheBeginning

JoshuaMugyenyiandIenteredMakerereinJune1968,andthatwaswithinthe
firstdecadeofindependenceofthethreeEastAfricancountrieswhichMakerere
served as partoftheUniversity of East Africa. We werebothyoung men inour
veryearlytwentieshavinggraduatedfromprestigioushighschoolsinKenyaand
Uganda. Josh graduated from Ntare High School with schoolmates like Richard
Ntiru, Saul Mboijana, Ephraim Kamuntu and many others. I came from the
Alliance High School, Kikuyu with schoolmates like George Ongaya, Zeph Gaya,
Jason Onyango and many others. In Mary Stuart Hall we had girls who had
similarlygraduatedfromschoolsweknewwelleitherassisterschoolsorschools
where, as high school students, we had always sought to have girl friendsand
possiblyfuturewives.

For all intents and purposes, East Africa was then really one country. The three
separategovernmentswerejoinedtogethermorecloselythaninthesubsequent
yearsbytheEastAfricanCommunity.

Josh and I were taking political science courses together. He lived in Northcote
HallandIlivedinLivingstonHall.OnewasaHallforrogues(Northcote)andone
wasthehallofgentlemen(Livingston).Inthescienceofphysicsitissaidthatlike
poles repel and unlike poles attract. That perhaps is why students from
LivingstonfoundexcitingfriendsinstudentsinNorthcote.JoshandIimmediately
struckitoutasfriends.Andtomakethecyclecomplete,DavidMulabyaTaliwaku,
acolleagueinLivingston,madeusatroika.Wewereallpoliticalsciencestudents
underthementorshipofseveralexitinglecturersandprofessors:theindomitable
Oxford trained political philosopher Ali Mazrui; the burning socialist Ahmed
Mohiddin; the firebrand worldly intellectual Locksley Edmondson from the
1

CaribbeanIslands;thesoftspokenbutextremelysharpYashTandonspecializing
in international politics; the effable Tony Gingnyera Pincwa, steeped in Chicago
behavioral political science and well versed in the politics of development; the
lugubrious Apollo Nsibambi; and finally our friend Okello Oculi who made life
excitingasourtutorialfellow.NottoforgetJegganC.SenghorfromtheGambia
whowasalsoourtutorialfellow.

As you can see from this list of staff members, Makerere was really an
internationalacademicinstitutionfromwhichmanyfromEastAfricaandbeyond
came to learn, teach and do research. In this regard, Makerere had a profound
impact on the socioeconomic transformation of contemporary Africaat times
notnecessarilyforthebetter.

Josh, David, Richard, Soul and I soon found ourselves in the thick of student
politics.The1968/69Guildelectionsfoundthreeprincipalcandidatescontesting
theseatfortheGuildPresidency.ThesewereRoseAyuruJegganSenghorswife;
JohnButimeapoliticalsciencestudentandSuleimanKiggunduaneconomics
student.

Rose,asapostgraduatestudent,was notknown bymanystudents,butJeggan


did his best to take her around and she impressed many students with her soft
spoken commitment to social justice and students affairs. John Butime was
stronglysupportedbytheNationalUnionofStudentsofUganda(NUSU)aswell
as members of the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC), the ruling party under
PresidentMiltonObote.Kiggundu,beingamemberofAbanabaBagandaonthe
campus, received almost unanimous support from this body, which ironically
polarizedhiscandidaturefrommostoftheotherUgandanstudentscomingfrom
societieswithoutsuchroyalsetupsinUgandathen.

Students from Kenya, Tanzania and other parts of Africa, removed from these
internal Ugandan politics, were freer to support the three candidates on their
own merit. In our group of Josh, David, Richard and Saul, we debated the
candidature of these three more rationally, and we agreed to disagree on who
supportedwho,lettingeachothercampaignasonedeemedfit.Inanycase,asall
ofuswerecampaigningformembershipoftheGuildRepresentativeCouncil(the
GRC),wetendedtofocusmoreonourownhallpoliticsthanonthecampaigns.It
turnedout,however,thatIcampaignedveryvigorouslyforKiggunduwithDavid
2

giving me tacit and quiet supportwhile the others were either with Butime or
Ayuru.ButimewonnarrowlyafterRoseAyuruwithdrewfromtheraceatthelast
moment.

ItwasrumoredthattheUPCrulingeliteputpressureonAyurutowithdrawher
candidatureinfavorofButimesincetheracewithKiggunduwasverytight,and
the UPC could not stand a Kiggundu victory. In the end, Butime won by eleven
votes.

TheKiggunduforcescontestedtheoutcome,complainingthatunderhandforces
had manipulated the Guild elections. A period of petition and uncertainty
followed; but the campus soon settled to a Butime reign which, however, was
interruptedbyacoupbeforehistermwasover.

IntheLeadershipoftheGuildwithJoshandOthers

As fate would have it, the GRC elected me along with Grace Bakulmpagi
Wamalwa, a literature and philosophy student, as members of the small
committeecharged with drawing up anew constitution of the Guild that would
safeguardthestudentbodyfromthekindofcoupthatshortenedthepresidency
of Butime. There had been mismanagement of Guild funds, some favoritism in
identifying students for foreign trips and so on. Once the constitution was
approvedbytheGRC,newGuildelectionswerecalledinwhichbothGraceandI
stoodforthepresidencyoftheGuild.ThisiswheremyrealjourneywithJoshua
started as a close friend, political confidante, fighters for social justice, adviser
andcomradeforlife.

WeformedasolidteamthatincludedJosh,David,Ephraim,Richard,Saul,Dalmas
OtienoAnyango, Yusuf Karbani, Gulzar Jamal, Naomi Akelo, Jessica Ogenga,
James Ekwaro, Harold Acema, George Aaron, Eric Ijuka Kabuumba, Ruhakana
Rugunda, James Kalebo, Jane Gateria, Margaret Kyogire, Joy Shalita, Catherine
Sebitoseand many others. We campaigned effectively around the campus,
including Kabanyolothe agricultural campusand finally won in all polling
stations including the Sick Bay. Our campaign motto was: there is work to be
done: lets do it. Our mission was to clean up guild politics, run it efficiently,
restoretheguildfinancestoproperaccounting,modernizetheguildcanteenand

ensure that Makerere student politics was democratic in organization, pan


Africaninoutlookandsocialistincontent.

AfterwinningtheelectionsIformedastudentgovernmentinwhichJoshbecame
myVicePresident,DavidmyministerforNationalandPanAfricanAffairs,Dalmas
my Finance Minister, James Ilemut was Minister for Social Affairs, Kifuko
Wadambisya Minister without portfolio, Fred Alunyu Ogwal Minister for
Information, Naomi Akello Odong Assistant Secretary and Pao Paul Wangoola
Minister for Campus Affairs. I appointed Richard Ntiru the editor of the
Makererean.

Itwasasolidcabinet,wellbalancedandwellresourced;itwontherespectofthe
studentbody,performedwellandwasneverthreatenedbyanycoup.Bythetime
we were leaving in October 1970, the Guild had a balance in its account of
100,000shillingswhichwastheequivalentofUSS14,285atthethenexchange
rates.TheCanteenhadbeenmodernizedwithmanymoregoodsandanoutside
terrace. James Oporia Ekwaro then succeeded me as the Guild President and it
washimwhowastherewhenAmintookoverpowerinthetragiccoupofJanuary
1971.

As part of encouraging the awareness of students in global and panAfrican


affairs,withtheaimalsoofintroducinginthecampusamorerigorousdebateon
socialism and democratic political participation, we organized, in May 1970 a
public lecture in the Main Hall on The Written Word and Mass Mobilization in
AfricanPolitics.ThatwasatatimewhentherewasintensedebateinUgandaon
Socialism and the Move to the Left Strategy and the publication of the
CommonMansCharter.Studentsweregoingoutintothecountrysidetoteach
peasants about this new political culture meant to decolonize the minds of
Ugandans, create a new nation out of feudal and semifeudal societies and
establishamoredynamicmodernnationwithinanationalanddemocraticstate.

Buttherewasalwaysthenudgingquestionastowhetherpeoplewhodidntknow
howtoreadandwritewouldactuallybenefitfromtheteachingsbythestudents.
Or whether the elites wielding power within the state fully understood, were
committed to and had interest in the proposed social transformation policies
espousedintheideologicaldocumentspublishedbytheParty.

TotakepartonthepanelatthepubliclectureweinvitedProfessorAliMazruiof
the department of political science here at Makerere, Professor Walter Rodney
fromDaresSalaamdepartmentofhistoryandProfessorJ.P.B.M.Ouma,whowas
then teaching alluvial geomorphology at the department of geography here at
Makerere.IchairedthepanelasthePresidentoftheGuild.

The lecture was very lively. Prof. Ouma started by giving detailed statistics on
literacyinUganda,KenyaandTanzaniaandhowthedegreeofpoliticalawareness
correlateswithdegreeofliteracy.Hewentfurthertogivefurtherfiguresonhow
structured political education, based on oral communication, can increase
awarenessandthespreadofapoliticalculturewayandabovedegreeofliteracy:
astheTanzanianexampleshowed.

Prof. Mazrui emphasized the historical origins of literacy in East Africa, pointing
out that although education was introduced by the colonialists as a tool for
political oppression and economic exploitation, it turned out to be the most
potenttoolinthehandsofAfricannationalistsduringtheperiodofmobilization
for independence. While, therefore, the colonialists on the one hand did bad
things to Africa in terms of the exploitation of African resources, on the other
hand they at least introduced education which helped in creating political
awakeningandaccesstonewskillsandknowledge.

Inhiscontribution,Prof.RodneypointedoutthatAfricansmustunderstandone
principal issue in our colonial political economy; that of underdevelopment.
Everything the colonialists did was always derived from one principal structural
relationship: that of master and servant. The master always made sure that the
servantwaseducatedenoughtoservehim.Theservantcouldgonofurtherinhis
education.Thatwasservitudepureandsimple.Themasteralwaysmadesurethe
servants remained divided so as to be ruled effectively, education or no
education.

Andthatwaswhycolonialeducationwaselitist,andbecameaneasytoolinthe
hands of the elite to continue politically oppressing and economically exploiting
themassesevenafterindependence.Ifwearetogobeyondthisframeworkand
develop a new political culture, we must understand the depth of our
underdevelopmentthrougheducationandtranscendit.Colonialismhadonlyone
hand: the hand of exploitation, the hand of oppression, and the hand of
5

underdevelopment contrary to Mazruis misplaced credit to this ominous


institutionandhistoricalexperience.

WhenMazruicametorespondtoRodneyscriticism,henotedthatProf.Rodney
wasnotreallyinconflictwithhimovertheirinterpretationofthecolonialissue.
The point he had been making was that we can now use the same tools of
colonialism to advance the African course. Indeed, when Africans speak of neo
colonialismasahindrancetodevelopmentinAfrica,theproblemisquiteoftenin
the minds of the Africans themselves, having failed to liberate themselves from
the ideology of colonialism. In this regard, Mazrui echoed Franz Fanon in Black
SkinWhiteMasks.

In his rebuttal, Prof. Rodney came back to emphasize that there was really no
compromise on the colonial issue. It is not the color of the oppressor or the
oppressedthatmatters:itisthefactthatbothbelongtotheoppositesidesofthe
equation and the social forces for African liberation must identify the enemy
within and the enemy without. In that regard, he concluded in the following
words:ProfessorMazruiandIarenotinconflict;wearenotevenincontact!

And that became the highlight of the evening, broadcast alive on Uganda
Television, UTV, courtesy the UTV Director Aggrey Awori. In those days Aggrey
and Thelma Awori provided with a home we as student leaders could always
recede to enjoy wild evening parties and to entertain visiting scholars and
academics who engaged us in political and academic discussions way into the
night. This was also the case with Jeggan and Rose Senghor, the poet and
playwright David Rubadiri, the ever vivacious Elvania and Pio Zirimu, the young
Okello Oculli, Locksley Edmondson, the dean of students George Kihuguru and
manyothers.Makererewasarealfamilyofintellectualandvibrantpoliticallife,
interspersed by parties and dances, almost all year around, with few students
forgettingwhatbroughtthemtothecampus:agoodandroundeducation.

Lest I forget, it was to immortalize such lectures in the annals of Makereres


history that Josh, David and Iin consultation with Okello Ocullithought of
having the The Africa Lecture Series on the hill. But this was never to be until
almost40yearslaterwhenbothDavidandJoshhadpassedontoGodscelestial
city.

InthethickofPolitics

The year 1970 started as a tough year. In 1969 the Uganda Peoples Congress
government had issued a series of policy documents to ensure that Uganda
changedprogressivelyasasocialistsociety.OnedocumentcalledDocumentNo.5
ontheMovetotheLeftStrategystipulatedaleadershipcodeforUgandanleaders
andstated,amongotherthings,thatanyonestandingforparliamentwouldhave
tocontestinthreeconstituencies.Onewasthebasicconstituency,preferablyone
in which the candidate would render primary service; the other two were
constituencies to be chosen from among Ugandas other regions excluding the
onefromwhichthebasicconstituencywas.

Westudentswereveryexcitedaboutthisarrangement.Wethoughtthatitwould
provide a perfect recipe for fighting regionalism, negative ethnicity and social
chauvinism in Uganda. Ali Mazrui, in his usual academic quick wit, called it
electoralpolygamyandthemovetotheleftstrategyinUganda.Thisdocument,
Mazrui argued, gavethegovernment agood method for political engineering in
Uganda:electionswouldbeusedtoforceUgandanpoliticianstohavenationalist
ratherthantribaloutlookinpolitics.

Since students were expected to go to the countryside and teach the people
aboutthesechanges,wedecidedtoseekmoreclarificationfromtheleadershipof
theUPC.TheUPChadjusthelditsAnnualDelegatesCongressinMbaleatwhichit
endorsed the Move to the Left Strategy, the Common Mans Charter and
DocumentNo.5.Whileitnotedthatallotherleaderswouldbeelecteddirectlyby
thepeople,itdecidedtoexcludethePartyPresidentwhowasdeclaredtheleader
ofthepartyandbyimplicationthecountrywithoutanycontest.

We as student leaders decided that this was unfair. Josh, in particular was very
emphaticonthis.Hewasinfactincensedbythedecision.Wedecidedtowritean
open letter to President Milton Obote pointing out that, as the leader of the
revolution, he could not afford not to seek the mandate of the people in
championingthesenewchanges.Inanycase,sinceoneofthecardinalobjectives
of the Common Mans Charter was to inform the misinformed and guide the
misguided, it was better to educate them about how to elect all their leaders
than to shield them or exclude them from the full democratic process by
excludingtheseatofthePresidentfromthecontest.
7


Obotedidnottakeitkindly.HesummonedourUgandanbrothersandsistersin
theguildcabinettotheUgandaClubandmoreorlessreadthemtheriotact.But
JoshapparentlystucktohisgunseveninthepresenceofObote.Thatwasvintage
Josh Mugyenyi for you: forthright, fearless and as sharp as a razor when
presentinghispointsofview.

AfewmonthslaterafterthatincidenttheEdwardHeathGovernmentdecidedto
sell arms to the racist regime of Ian Smith in the then Southern Rhodesia, the
presentRepublicofZimbabwe.EdwardHeathsgovernmentwasparticularlyclose
bothtotheapartheidregimeinSouthAfricaaswellasSmithsregime.Therewas
an arms and trade embargo against both regimes and Smith was actually doing
somethingwhichwasagainstboththeUNandOAUresolutions.

As the Guild government we decided to write an open letter to Edward Heath


warninghimthatifhedaredsellarmstoSmithsgovernment,wewouldnotbe
heldresponsibleforwhathappenedtoBritishcitizensinUganda.Sincehisarms
wouldbeusedtokillourbrothersandsistersinSouthernRhodesiawewouldalso
harm, maim and harass British citizens in Uganda in retaliation. We also
demandedthatwedemonstrateinKampalatoshowtheworldourdisgustwith
theBritishgovernmentsbehavior.

An application to the Ugandan government for permission to demonstrate in


Kampala was turned down. Instead we got a letter allowing us to demonstrate
withinthecampus.Wethoughtthiswasajokesowemobilizedstudentstowards
the main gate which we found closed with a squadron of security forces
surrounding it. Within no time the security forces started to fire tear gas at us,
sendingmanystudentsrunningforsafety,withthewomenstudentslosingtheir
shoesandthepandemoniumcausingarealmessonthecampus.Atthethickness
of those events, a letter reached me declaring even the demonstration on the
campusillegal.IshowedittoJoshwhotoldmetoignoreit.Insteadwewentto
the Guild office and wrote a very bold letter to the Ugandan government. The
letterpointedoutthatPresidentApolloMiltonObotecouldnothavehiscakeand
eat it at the same time. Since he had declared Uganda part of the Front Line
StatesinfightingagainstracismandcolonialisminSouthernAfrica,andsincehe
was part of the Mulungushi Club which included Presidents Julius Nyerere and
KennethKaunda,hecouldnotatthesametimepresideoveragovernmentwhich
8

bannedstudentsdemonstrationagainstEdwardHeathandtheheinousregimeof
Ian Smith. Josh, David and I decided to declare ourselves the Mulungushi Club
membersatMakereretomaketheclubbetterfeltinUganda.

ThereactionofthegovernmentwassoharshthatmyCabinetadvisedmetotake
afewdaysoffinNairobiwhilethingscooleddownabitinKampala.Theminister
offinance,DalmasOtienoAnyango,wasauthorizedtobuymearoundtripticket
toNairobiforthreedaysoffduty.Joshtookoverandwetalkedonthephoneona
dailybasismonitoringthesituationuntilitwassafeformetocomeback.

While I was away, Obote summoned the Guild leadership to the Kampala State
Housethistime.ProfessorAliMazruiwasaskedtoaccompanythestudents.Itis
significant that this was done in my absence, since state intelligence must have
knownthatIwasaway.AtthemeetingObotewasvery madwith me.Butboth
Josh and Mazrui came to my aid, arguing that the President should not see our
action as rebellion or challenge to his rule, but more as an open expression of
whatthepopularfeelingwasonthecampusaswellasinthewiderUganda.

MazruiactuallypointedouttoObotethatinhisyouthatMakerere,hetoowasa
bitofarebel,hencehisnameMilton.Oboteapparently,asaliteraturestudentat
Makerere,lovedtoreadMiltonsParadiseLost.Obotehadinparticularlovedthe
rebellious spirit with which Satan reacted when God threw him out of Heaven,
sincethiswasthespiritofcouragethatis neededamongchampions ofchange,
particularlytheyouth.Thoughheavenbelost,declaredSatan,allisnotlost.
ObotesoftenedhisstandonusafterMazruiseloquentintervention.

JoshsooncalledmetocomebacktoMakererethenextday,whichIdid.Buton
theeveningofmyarrival,whilesittinginmyroominLivingstonHallafterdinner,I
wasinformedbythejanitorthatanassistantministerwhoIknewwantedtosee
me in the Main Hall. I willingly went there only to find the deputy CID officer
waitingformeandrequestingthatIaccompanyhimtotheCentralPolicestation
inKampalaforquestioning.Inshort,Iwasarrested,detainedinthepolicestation
overnight,andquestionedthewholedaythenextday,andproducedincourtthe
nextmorningchargedwithleadinganillegaldemonstrationandcausingbreachof
thepeacecontrarytoonepenalcodeofthelawsofUgandaortheother.

AfterawholedaysquestioningandameetingwiththeCommissionerofPolice,
Mr. Oryema, I was made to believe that the government was actually going to
drop the case against me. But I had to appear in court and let the process take
place in court. What I was expected to do was to plead guilty to all charges
which were not read to me before going to courtand then the judge would
withdrew them instantly. Oryema actually confided in me that the case was an
embarrassment to Obote and he did not want too much local and international
attentiononit.Ineededtocooperatewiththegovernmenttogetridoftheissue.
Naively enough I believed him and went to court that afternoon ready to
cooperate. When the three charges were read, the students in courtincluding
theentireGuildleadershipandthe lawyerstheyhadhiredwereastonishedto
hear me plead guilty. At the end of the process, the judge remanded me in
custodyforthecasetobeheardthreedayslater.Iwashowledintoalorrywith
some other prisoners with Luzira Maximum Prison as our destination. I realized
instantly how treacherous an oppressive state can be; the extent it can go in
deceit to execute its goals on citizens. I suddenly got a resolve on the way to
Luziranowtofightbacktothebitterend.

WhileinLuziraIsharedacellwithtwootherconvicts:asoldieroftheUgandan
Army accused of smuggling gold from Zaire and another lay about who hardly
talked who was accused of bank robbery. The soldier talked so much that I
thought he was a decoy: he wanted to know just too much about me and the
case.Isaidaslittleaspossible.

Imadefriends with aguardattheprisonwho managed to smuggle some toilet


paperandabiropenintothecell.Iusedthesetowriteadetailedaccountofwhat
happened;howIwastrickedandhenceactedunderduressandliestoplead
guilty.IaskedJoshandgrouptogetmelawyerswhowouldchallengethepleain
court. The guard agreed to smuggle this note for me out of prison and give it
eithertoDavidTaliwakuorJoshMugyenyi.HedidexactlythatandJoshwasable
to get lawyersabout seven of themwho volunteered to come to court and
appearonmybehalfwhenIwasnexttakentocourtthreedayslater.

The court was jammed. My lawyers raised preliminary objections to the


proceedings,arguingthatthetrialcouldnotgoonuntilitwasproved,beyondany
reasonable doubt, that their client (me) was forced by the state to plead guilty
throughfalseinducements,lies,intimidation,coercionetc.Thejudge,ratherthan
10

letthestatefacetheembarrassmentofusingillegalmeanstoforceconfessions
outofthevulnerableundertheircustody,chosetorulethattheobjectionswould
not proceed. Instead he quickly concluded the case that, though I was guilty as
charged,thestatewouldnonethelessgivemeasuspendedsentenceofoneyear
tomaintaingoodbehaviorasafreeperson.

Celebrationsfollowedandwewentbacktothecampustostudyandconcentrate
on our examinations which were due soon at the beginning of 1971, some
monthsfromthen.

InOctober1970,justbeforeIleftbeingPresidentoftheGuild,Makererewasto
beinauguratedasanautonomousuniversitycomingoutoftheUniversityofEast
Africa. The state planned a big ceremony in the Freedom Square to which
Presidents Jomo Kenyatta, Julius Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda were invited.
KenyattadrovewithabigcontingentofcabinetministersallthewayfromNairobi
toattendtheceremony.

AsthePresidentoftheGuildIhadtherareopportunityofcarryingtheUniversity
Maze and walking in front of the Chancellor of the new University, Dr. Apollo
Milton Obote, while the other Presidents flanked both of us in a bee line. I
remember Nyerere whistling comfortably as we walked through the warm
afternoontowardsourseatswhileObotewasbusygivinginstructionstohisbody
guardstocoverhimmoreeffectivelyinhislanguageLangiwhichIcouldsomehow
follow.IwasshockedathowworriedanduptighttheChancellorwas.

Aswesettledinourseatsandjustbeforetheceremonystarted,thethenheadof
the Uganda Army, Idi Amin Dada, matched in wearing civilian clothes and
swaggeringtofindaseatamongthedignitaries.Students,asusual,cheeredhim.
Obotewasnotamused.Aminwassupposedtohavebeenunderhousearrest,or
forced leave, or something to that effect. His defiant appearance was a sign of
worsethingstocome.OneSundayinJanuary1971,wewokeupatMakerereto
findoutthatRadioUgandawasplayingmartialmusicallday,UgandaTelevision
wasshowingcartoons all day and bythe end of the day a rough voice came on
both radio and TV to say that the government of Apollo Milton Obote was no
more: it is now a military government, announced Smart Gwedeko, a mere
warrantofficer.

11

We were stunned. National images changed overnight. As student leaders, past


and present, James Oporia Ekwarowho took over from me at the end of
October1970wetroopedtoViceChancellorKalimuzoshousetofindoutwhat
hadhappened.Inacalmvoice,KalimuzotoldusthatObotehadmademistakes.
Inotherwords,themanhadquicklychangedhisloyaltytothenewregime.

Josh,inparticular,wasincensed.Hethoughtitwasveryunprincipledforthisman
whohadbeensoclosetoObotetoabandonhimsoquicklyandsoeasily.Evenif
Obotehadmademistakes,amilitarycoupwasnotananswertothosemistakes.
ThemilitarywasnotthepeopleofUgandawhoshoulddecidethenatureofthe
mistakesandwhatwastobedone.Inanycase,ifObotehadmademistakesthen
Kalimuzohimself,forlongheadofthecivilserviceandthenVicechancellor,was
part and parcel of those mistakes. We were incensed. We were bent on
demonstrating the next day and showing public disapproval of what happened.
Kalimuzocautionedus:gentlemen,pleaserememberthatthisisnowamilitary
government. In retrospect we were eventually glad we took that advice. But
then Kalimuzo himself served that same military government longer than his
welcome:theyeventuallymadehimtodisappearbecausehehadbeentooclose
toObote.Hecouldnotbetrusted.

Josh Mugyenyi never gave up his disgust with the military regime. Although he
stayed at Makerere for some time as a tutorial fellow in the department of
politicalscience,continuedasalecturerattheInstituteofPublicAdministration
did his post graduate work in Manchester, came back as a Senior Lecturer; his
spirit was always urging him to do something about this military menace in
Uganda. At the beginning of the eighties, after the debacle of the general
elections of 1980, Josh became a founder member of the Uganda Patriotic
Movement(UPM)whicheventuallymetamorphosedintotheNationalResistance
Movement.

JoshandIresumedourcloserelationshipinthelate1970sand1980s.Whilehe
was teaching in the University of Swaziland in the mid eighties, I was also an
externalexaminerinhisdepartment.Westarteddiscussinghowtoadvancethe
discourse on democracy in Africa. This eventually led to my leading an African
workinggroupofintellectualsundertheauspicesoftheUnitedNationsUniversity
andtheThirdWorldForumonthethemeDemocracyandPopularMovementsin
Africa. The other members of this team were Mahmood Mamdani, Emmanuel
12

Hansen, Michael Chege, Togna Na Tipoteh, and Nzongola Ntalaja. The studies
were eventually published in 1987 under the title Popular Struggles for
DemocracyinAfricabyZedBooks,andbecamethefirstofitskindasdemocracy
studieshadnot,atthatpointintime,becomeavogueforsocalledAfricanists.

JoshdidhisworkontheStateandClassinSwaziland,arguingthatbehindthe
faade offeudalism in Swaziland, there is a strong web of class interests linking
families together as a ruling class and subjecting peasants to the cultural and
ideological domination of this class that thrives economically, socially and
culturallyonthewealthofthenation.Thebeliefofthepeasantsthatthisistheir
stateisbothaproductoftheculturalhegemonyofthisrulingclassaswellasthe
limited knowledge by the peasants that another Swaziland is possible. Hence
the ruling class is always averse to what it calls heresies; that is, ideas which
tend to challenge the status quo and expose the veneer of feudalism to the
people.

Alwaysfrankandfearless,JoshwaspreparedtostayandteachinSwazilandbut
not keep quiet when he could do analyses that could better inform the Swazi
students he taught. The essay is fascinating. It added to the value of the book I
edited and its profound impact on perspectives on struggles for democracy in
Africaatthatpointintime.

ToConclude

IhavetoldthesestoriesbecausetheytellussomethingabouttheworldJoshlived
inandtheworldhe soughtto change. I have talked about the parts of his life I
knew best. Of course I knew him too as a husband to his lovely wife Mary, a
fathertohisfivechildren:Jimmy,Bianca,Olga,NgyenziandBenjamin.Whenever
hewasinNairobiorIwasinKampalawevisitedeachotherasfriendsandpublic
figures,andourtwofamiliesgotcloserandcloser.Ionlymethisfatherwhenhe
passed on in 2002 and when I entered his rural home for the first time to say
farewell to a dear friend and comrade, as I had done to Daudi Mulabya a few
yearsearlierinEasternUganda.

ButIhavetoldthesestoriesnottorecountthepersonalrelationsandexperiences
buttoshadelightontheAfricanworldJoshlivedinandtriedtochangeforthe

13

better; to get some insight into issues related to social transformation in


contemporaryAfrica.

InmanywaysJoshremindedme,andcontinuestoremindme,ofMwalimuJulius
Nyerere:simple,focused,concernedaboutthepeople,genuinelyinvolvedinthe
search and quest for democracy, daring to challenge the odds and passionate
about human rights, social liberation and the dignity of the African people. He
lovedKaundasuitsandsafariboots.Heonlyputontiesduetothedemandsofhis
office;otherwiseascarfaroundtheneckwasalwaysabetteralternative.Buthe
wasassmartashellinthesimplewaysheputon.ThatwasJuliusNyerereforyou.

Joshtooktheorytothepointofpractice,andwasalwaysreadytoengageinauto
criticism.Irememberin1996hewasverydeterminedthattheNRMshouldhave
a political transition in which the leaders of the NRM revolution would
democratically pass the torch to a new generation so as to avoid tendencies
towardsauthoritarianism.

JoshneverdepartedfromwhatwehadtoldOboteasstudents:socialismcannot
be built outside the context of popular democratic participation by the people.
This participation needs to be institutionalized into political processes that are
democratic in content and socialist or humanitarian in outcome. By socialist we
simplymeantintheinterestofthepeopleintheinterestofsocietyasawhole
forpurposesofimprovingandmakingbetterthelifechancesofthepeopleand
notsimplyadvancingthenarrow interests of a minority, be it a class, a caste,a
bureaucracyoralineage.

These challenges to democratic governance and social transformation in Africa


remainpertinenttodayastheywerethen.Buttheycannotbeknownorpracticed
without such piercing analyses and scholarship as was the case with Josh. And
scholarship, within and outside academic institutions, is always a social
engagement. It is not confined to those of us who have degrees, it is the
enterprise of those ready to think, write and speak on social issues without the
cloudofdogma,biasandvariousformsofchauvinism.

Ladies and gentlemen, I salute Joshua Baitwa Mugyenyi: let the spear of
intellectualclarityburnwhereverheisresting;letthisfoundationestablishedin
his memory spearhead excellence among the students who will benefit from it;
14

let the African people be liberated from political oppression and economic
exploitationthroughtheenergiesofthepeopleasJoshwouldhavewantedit.

15

UGANDA BETWEEN DOMESTIC POLICY AND REGIONAL POWER:


THE ROLE OF IDEOLOGY

by

Ali A. Mazrui

Director, Institute of Global Cultural Studies


and
Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities
Binghamton University
State University of New York at Binghamton, New York, USA
Albert Luthuli Professor-at-Large
University of Jos, Jos, Nigeria
Ibn Khaldun Professor-at-Large
School of Islamic and Social Sciences, Leesburg, Virginia, USA
Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large Emeritus
and Senior Scholar in Africana Studies
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA

1
In Africas experience it is worth distinguishing between externally-oriented ideologies
and internally-oriented ideologies. An ideology which is focused on transforming the mode of
production or system of government within an African country is internally oriented in our sense.
On the other hand, an ideology which seeks to change a countrys relations with its neighbours
or a countrys role in the world is externally-focused.
Pan-Africanism as an ideology is oriented towards relations with other African countries
or with the rest of the world. Pan-Africanism is, in that sense, an exogenous vision.
Julius K. Nyereres Ujamaa, on the other hand, was an ideology which aspired to
transform the nature of Tanzanian society. To that extent Ujamaa was an endogenous and
domestically focused ideology.

Obote and Museveni: Comparative Leadership


In the case of Uganda since independence, each durable government has had to grapple
with both kinds of ideologies - and tried to seek a balance between the two. Uganda under the
first leadership of A. Milton Obote (1962-1971) was the least Pan-African of the three members
of the East African Community. It was quite suspicious of greater union with the other two
countries of the Community (Kenya and Tanzania), and was only modestly involved in the
politics of liberation in Southern Africa. This relatively low level of Ugandas Pan-Africanism
was inspite of Milton Obotes apparent admiration for Kwame Nkrumah and subsequent
friendship with Julius K. Nyerere.
Uganda under the leadership of Yoweri Museveni (who captured power in 1986) has

2
become the most Pan-African of the former members of the East African Community, and the
most regionally active and interventionist in the Great Lakes area. This has constituted quite a
sharp transition from the relative national parochialism of Milton Obotes first administration to
the wide ranging regional activism and Pan-African interventionism of the Museveni years.
But how did these differences in the external policies of the two governments relate to
their domestic policies? Obotes first administration started off as market-oriented and
pluralistic. But from 1966 onwards, in response to both constitutional upheavals in Uganda and
ideological trends in neighbouring Tanzania, Milton Obote and his Uganda Peoples Congress
began to manifest a shift in rhetoric. By 1969, this shift had certainly become a move to the
left. Uganda was in the early stages of trying to build a socialist state, guided by The Common
Mans Charter. The influence of Julius K. Nyereres Arusha Declaration was unmistakable.
In contrast, Yoweri Museveni started on the left ideologically. In the 1970s he was
virtually a Marxist-Leninist. People like Robert Mugabe were radicalized by armed struggle.
Yoweri Museveni was deradicalized by armed struggle. Robert Mugabe became more and more
of a socialist in the heat of the liberation war. Yoweri Museveni became less and less of a
socialist in the tensions of armed struggle against the Obote regime. It took a while for this desocialization of Museveni to translate into policies after he captured power in Uganda in 1986.
While Obotes first administration was characterized by a Move to the Left, Musevenis years
in the twentieth century have been inspired by a move to the right.
These then are the twin-paradoxes of the ideological orientations of Milton Obote and
Yoweri Museveni. Obote displayed relative parochialism towards his neighbours but

3
increasingly leftist radicalism in domestic policies. Museveni displayed adventurous PanAfricanism towards neighbours but cautious pro-market pragmatism in domestic policies.
Were the external and internal ideological orientations mutually related? To some extent
they were. In his first Administration, Milton Obote became even less Pan-East African as he
tried to become more socialist. This is because Milton Obote - like Julius K. Nyerere before him
- interpreted socialism as self-reliance rather than as interdependence with neighbours.
In the case of Nyerere, the logic of the Arusha Declaration on Socialism and SelfReliance of 1967 seemed to force him to take action against free movement of labour and capital
between Tanzania and the other two members of the East African Community, Kenya and
Uganda. As Tanzania became more socialist, it became less Pan-East African. Similarly,
Obotes first administration demonstrated a trade-off between rising socialism and diminishing
Pan-Africanism. It was during the leftist atmosphere of Obotes Move to the Left that he
expelled from Uganda Kenyan workers (mainly Luo).
On the other hand, it was during his pro-market capitalist pragmatism that Yoweri
Museveni opened the doors to the old Asian bourgeoisie who had been expelled by the Idi Amin
regime in 1972. Yoweri Museveni has also taken the lead in trying to resuscitate the East
African Community and has agreed to the formula of a regional passport for citizens of Uganda,
Kenya and Tanzania to cover travel among themselves. Capitalist Museveni has been PanAfricanist Museveni - and the two positions are related.
With regard to only one of Ugandas neighbours was Milton Obotes first administration
more Pan-Africanist than Musevenis government. The neighbour is the Sudan. In Obotes last

4
full year in office in his first administration (1969-1971), he led the way in trying to improve
relations with Khartoum. He handed over to the Sudanese government in 1970 one of the Key
German mercenaries supporting the southern Anya Nya movement. Obote put Pan-Africanism
above pan-tribalism in the concluding year of his first administration.
Yoweri Museveni, on the other hand, has presided over the worst relations between
Uganda and Sudan since independence. Khartoum and Kampala have been supporting each
others rebels in newer and more brutal ways. Pan Africanism has given way to narrower and
less honourable loyalties. There is yet another external orientation affecting the two
governments. Obote was originally in power at the height of the Cold War between the capitalist
world led by the United States and its NATO allies on one side, and the communist world led by
the Soviet Union and its allies in the Warsaw Pact, on the other.
Yoweri Museveni came into power when the Cold War was coming to an end. Idi Amin
was in-between. Let us now look at all these three leaders in relation to the dialectic between
capitalism and communism both domestically and internationally in Ugandas unique experience.

Ideology and the Cold War


A curious ideological paradox was played out in Uganda under its three most important
presidents - Milton Obote, Idi Amin and Yoweri Museveni. In the First Republic under Milton
Obote (1966-1971) the country flirted with socialism at home while remaining basically part of
the Western camp in foreign policy. In the so-called "Second Republic" under Idi Amin Dada
(1971-1979) the country flirted with the Soviet Union in foreign policy, while trying to

5
Africanize capitalism at home. Under Yoweri Museveni capitalism at home and pro-Westernism
in foreign policy converged.
Obote tried to turn the country into a socialist country without distancing himself too far
from the West. Idi Amin acted in ways which did distance him from the West, but in pursuit of
the indigenization of capitalism. Museveni was less worried about whether capitalism was
indigenized or not - provided it was quite unrestricted.
In reality Milton Obote's "Move to the Left" (1969-1971) was influenced more by Julius
K. Nyerere than by Karl Marx. As we indicated, Obote's Common Man's Charter was inspired
more by the Arusha Declaration in neighboring Tanzania than by The Communist Manifesto in
European history. In his last two years in office Obote's first administration sounded more leftist
in rhetoric. The stage was being set for some nationalization measures, for a national service,
and for a more centralized economy.
The actual socialist rhetoric did not gather momentum until 1969. But it is arguable that
the move to the left began in 1966-7 with the moves against the monarchies. Before Milton
Obote declared himself against capitalism in 1969, he declared himself against "feudalism" in
1966. Vladimir Lenin went radically socialist before he abolished the monarchy in Russia.
Milton Obote reversed the order. He abolished the monarchies in Uganda in 1967 complete with
a republican constitution before he declared himself a radical socialist.
Idi Amin did not restore the monarchies, but for a while he restored the pride of the
Baganda by giving a state-funeral to Sir Edward Mutesa, the deposed Kabaka who had died in
Britain while Obote was in power. Yoweri Museveni did restore most of the monarchies of

6
Uganda - though he did not restore all their powers and properties.
In his socialist phase Milton Obote was indeed basically pro-Western in foreign policy,
but did draw the line on American involvement in Vietnam and in the Congo (formerly Zaire) in
the 1960s and on soft British policies towards the Republic of South Africa and towards
Rhodesia under Ian Smith. Milton Obote was in fact the first African leader to publicly criticize
the American military involvement in Vietnam. And his eagerness to put Prime Minister Edward
Heath in the dock over Britain's policies towards Southern Africa took Milton Obote and his
friend at the time, Julius Nyerere, to the Commonwealth conference of Heads of State and
Government in Singapore in 1971. The trip to Singapore probably cost Obote his first
presidency. He was overthrown in his absence by Idi Amin Dada on January 25, 1971.
Idi Amin's administration started as quite popular with the West and with Israel. His first
trips abroad as president were, in part, to meet two very distinguished women - Prime Minister
Golda Meir in Israel and Queen Elizabeth II in Britain. In his first year in office Idi Amin
received one Western diplomatic hug after another.
His troubles with the West had three major causes. Firstly, his regime became
increasingly and embarrassingly repressive. Secondly, Idi Amin - who was helped into power by
Israel in January 1971 - turned against his Israeli benefactors in 1972 and expelled them from
Uganda lock, stock, and barrel. The third factor which alienated Idi Amin from the West was
paradoxically his quest to indigenize capitalism. The effort went wrong when the strategy
adopted by Idi Amin included the expulsion of the Asian population of Uganda, most of whom
were of British nationality. Later on, Idi Amin also taunted the West with repeated public insults

7
and abuse.
His alienation from the West made Idi Amin increasingly dependent on the oil-rich Arabs
economically, on the one hand, and on the Soviet Union for military and diplomatic support, on
the other hand. By the concluding years of the 1970s the Soviet Union's closest friend in Eastern
Africa after Ethiopia was, in fact, Uganda.
Yoweri Museveni, once the most anti-Western of all those, lived to become almost totally
uncritical of Western powers. Scholars have traced the origins of the sovereign nation-state to
the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648. Museveni became both a challenge to the sovereignty of
Westphalia and a symbol of Westphilia. He challenged the sovereign state by regional
interventionism; He manifested Westphilia by excessive admiration of the West.
The ideological ironies of the different regimes of Uganda were now complete. ProSoviet Idi Amin had succeeded pro-socialist Milton Obote; the leader of the "Move to the Left"
had been overthrown by a future client of Moscow. Museveni became a pro-marketeer par
excellence. Underlying all those years was a more enduring ideological reality in Uganda - a
profound distrust of socialism as an answer to Uganda's problems.

Marx, Milton and Museveni


But have most Ugandans distrusted socialism because they associated it with Marxism?
And do they distrust Marxism because they have reduced it to Leninism? Has Uganda's hostility
towards socialism been a case of mistaken identity? Such a question could be addressed to many
other countries as well.

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Long before the collapse of communism in Europe, public opinion in Uganda has been
consistently unimpressed by the new fangled ideas of Marxism-Leninism. When in much of
post-colonial Africa, radical socialism was intellectually respectable, most Ugandans refused to
be mobilized behind Milton Obote's Move to the Left (1969-1971). Obote's strategy had the
support of some leftist intellectuals, but did not arouse great enthusiasm at the grassroots. Even
young Museveni in exile was fascinated by this lure of the Left, but he was unrepresentative of
Ugandan opinion.
Were Ugandans against Marxism? Or only against Leninism? We shall never know for
certain, because in the twentieth century Marxism has so often been linked to Leninism - and
Marx has seldom had a chance to be evaluated on his own.
When Marx was alive he certainly did not think that Russia was anywhere near a socialist
revolution. Marx did not think that the Czars (or Kings of Russia) had outlived their role. It is
conceivable that Karl Marx, on being resurrected, would have concluded that Uganda in the
1960s was not yet ready for the abolition of the monarchies either. The country had not yet
reached a proper bourgeois stage. It was Leninism which was impatient for revolution in Russia,
even if it meant executing the Czar and his family. Neo-Leninists in Africa also demanded the
abolition of African monarchies.
Marxism on its own could have accommodated some devolution of power to the
kingdoms in Uganda in the 1960s and an acceptance of evolutionary change. It was impatient
Leninism which insisted on what it called "democratic centralism" as a basis of the highly
centralized state. Many African socialists were influenced by this.

9
Marxism on its own could have accepted a multiparty system in Uganda. It was Leninism
and its influence which insisted on a vanguard party in a socialist country, virtually monopolizing
political power. Obote's first administration seemed to be moving inexorably towards a oneparty state, so popular at the time elsewhere in eastern Africa. While Obote himself was hardly a
Leninist, he was surrounded by intellectuals who had been influenced by pseudo-Leninism. They
were urging him on towards what would have been, to all intents and purposes, a vanguard party
in Uganda - the Uganda People's Congress (UPC). Is Musevenis No-Party doctrine a retreat
from partism. Or is the no-party doctrine just another version of the vanguard party?
Nobody in Africa attempted to have Marxism without Leninism. Nobody attempted to
de-Leninize the package of Marxism sponsored by the Soviet Union. But Ugandans at any rate
discovered quite early that there was a serious flaw in the whole ideological package. Long
before Mikhail Gorbachev, Ugandans already believed in a kind of Nilostroika of their own putting pragmatism before centralizing ideology. Historical pragmatism was much more
compatible with Marxism on its own rather than with Leninism. On the whole, Marx was a
historical relativist; Lenin was a historical absolutist. Theoretically Ugandans might have given
Marx a chance - but would never have given approval to Lenin. Anti-socialist sentiment in
Uganda was, at its core, a de facto opposition to the Leninist disrespect for gradual change, to the
Leninist impatience with monarchy, to the Leninist promotion of strong statism, to the Leninist
championing of centralism, and to the Leninist invention of a vanguard monopolistic party. But
in the end Ugandans were forced to throw out the Marxist baby with the Leninist bathwater,
perhaps the socialist baby with the pseudo-Marxist bathwater. Even Yoweri Museveni got

10
radically de-socialized.
There was something even in Marxism itself that Ugandans would have been opposed to
anyhow - and that is the atheistic component of Marxism, with or without Leninism. Certainly
the churches and religious leaders in Uganda were alienated more by Marxist atheism and
"ungodliness" than by any other part of the ideology.
In a country like Uganda where political parties are conscious of religion, and churches
are politically conscious, the anti-religious component of Marxism would have been a severe
ideological flaw even without the marriage with Leninism. But the cultural impatience of
Leninism, and its centralizing tendency, made the entire leftist package almost unredeemable in
Uganda.
Once again a series of questions reassert themselves. Have Ugandans distrusted
socialism because of its presumed links with Marxism? Have they distrusted Marxism because
of its marriage to Leninism? Is it due to a deep seated British acculturation among the Baganda?
Or is Uganda's apparent aversion to socialism a case of mistaken ideological identity?
The struggle continues in Uganda to find a domestically oriented ideology which does
justice to the continuities of history and the compatibilities of culture. Yoweri Museveni has
tried to find the balance in an economy without the state; a state without political parties; and in
monarchies without power. Keeping the state out of the economy is designed to maximize
market returns; keeping political parties out of the state system seeks to minimize ethnic
rivalries; withholding power from the kings seeks to promote constitutional monarchies in an
African context. It remains to be seen if Yoweri Museveni has got the domestic equation right.

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As for Musevenis Pan-African and regionally interventionist activities, they need to be
placed within the wider world of Pax Africana , the pursuit of Africas peace by Africans
themselves even if it sometimes involves using force. Museveni has become a one-man
ECOMOG of Eastern Africa, an interventionist force comparable to the role of the military arm
of the Economic Organization of West African States (ECOWAS).
What Museveni has attempted to do in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the
Congo in the 1990s has been comparable to Nigerias role in Liberia and Sierra Leone also in the
1990s. Both sets of cases have involved tough peace enforcement, as well as peacekeeping. Let
us look at this wider Pan-African picture more closely.

Interventionism and Pax Africana


As we indicated, the pursuit of Africas peace by Africans themselves is a process of Pax
Africana. But what are its wider implications?
Most studies of regional peacekeeping and peacemaking view them simply as alternatives
to international peacekeeping or peacemaking. We aspire to take the analysis at least two steps
further. First, to what extent does the participation of African countries in peacemaking and
peacekeeping in their regions contribute to their own national demilitarization domestically?
Secondly, to what extent is such regional military peacemaking a contribution to the regional and
national development of the countries involved?
Two of the most striking illustrations of the 1990s have indeed been Uganda in East
Africa and Nigeria in West Africa. Is there evidence to suggest that Ugandas involvement in the

12
quest for pacification in Rwanda and (in a different sense) in the quest for a solution in the
Congo and in the Sudan has contributed to a conciliatory spirit within Uganda itself and to a
greater Ugandan commitment to domestic development? Does regional Pax Ugandanica help the
cause for domestic national integration? What about misbehaving Ugandan soldiers? Are they
now held more accountable for their behaviour?
Nigerian soldiers have helped restore stability and electoral governance to both Liberia
and Sierra Leone. Has the attitude of such soldiers to military rule in their own country been
fundamentally changed? Certainly before General Sani Abacha died in June 1998 Nigerians at
home were startled to hear such former military rulers as General Ibrahim Babangida and General
Muhammad Buhari declare military rule as outdated and out-of-tune with the times. To what
extent was this attitude partly forged by Nigerias own new found role as a regional peacemaking
power and regional custodian of democracy? Will such demilitarizing attitudes contribute to
economic and political development in Nigeria? Now a former military ruler of the 1970s,
General Olusegun Obasanjo, has been elected civilian president for the new millennium. Was
this domestic democratization helped by Nigerias regional role?
In reality it is too soon to be sure of the long term consequences of military intervention
for either the target country (like Sierra Leone or Congo) or the intervening country (like Nigeria
or Uganda). But it is never too soon to start asking questions about the cause and effect of policy
options. This essay seeks to ask such questions and to solicit at least tentative answers.
The case-studies available are diverse. The Great Lakes area affords examples of diverse
forms of intervention. Somalia combined the intervention of the United Nations with the

13
military intervention of a superpower (the United States). Mozambique and Angola are cases of
intervention by the United Nations without the military engagement of Washington. Sierra
Leone and Liberia were cases of intervention by a regional body (ECOMOG) with a regional
vanguard (Nigeria). Tanzanias intervention in 1979 into Idi Amins Uganda was a case of
single-power international vigilantism. The 1998 conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia raises the
spectre of inter-state conflicts in Africa starting with high propensity in the Horn of Africa (also
Ethiopia vs. Somalia; Eritrea vs. Sudan). And Yoweri Museveni has continued his one-man
ECOMOG role in Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan. The struggle to contain such
conflicts by regional powers may be part of the process of domestic demilitarization and national
development.
When I started the debate about inter-African colonization in 1992, few people took me
seriously. By the time Archie Mafeje, the South African Scholar, discovered my thesis about
self-colonization, Archie went vitriolic and abusive in CODESRIA Bulletin! Other critics
internationally have argued that my thesis was either evil or unreal. Yet by the second half of the
decade it was evident that history was indeed turning in my direction. Africans were beginning
to assert control over their unruly neighbours, though sometimes bungling the worthy mission,
and sometimes getting in each others way.
The most dramatic of these events was Uganda's role in helping the Tutsi to reassert
control over Rwanda in 1994. This was a kind of "Bay of Pigs" operation, African style. The
original Bay of Pigs project launched by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 consisted of Cuban
exiles trained by the United States to invade Cuba in the hope of overthrowing Fidel Castro.

14
They were intended to land in the Bay of Pigs in Cuba and start an anti-Castro revolution. The
whole operation was a total fiasco.
More than thirty years later exiled Rwandans trained in Uganda invaded Rwanda in order
to overthrow the Hutu regime there and to end the genocide against the Tutsi. The aim of the
Rwanda Patriotic Front from Uganda was not counter-genocide but conquest and control. This
particular "Bay of Pigs" operation--African style--was completely successful in 1994.
In the face of the anti-Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, Westerners have sometimes asked:
"Why don't Africans themselves stop this kind of carnage?". The answer in 1994 was: "The
Africans did stop it. The genocide was ended not by French troops, but by the Rwanda Patriotic
Front, aided by Uganda." It was an impressive case of Pax Africana, at least for a while.
Then came the problems of 1996 and early 1997 in what was then Zaire. The Mobutu
regime over-reached itself when it tried to empower remnants of the Hutu Umtirahamwa in
refugee camps in Zaire, and strip indigenous Zairean Tutsi of their Zairean citizenship. The
Zairean Tutsi--helped by Rwanda--decided to resist the intimidation of the Zairean armed forces.
To the astonishment of everybody, the then Zairean armed forces were a paper monkey, even
less than a paper tiger. They were easily defeated by the Tutsi resisters. (Zaire has of course
since been renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo.)
Before long the Tutsi rebellion became multi-ethnic. Enter Laurent Kabila with his
rendezvous with history. The rebellion also became multinational, aided by Rwanda, Uganda
and also Angola. The anti-Mobutu movement was both Pan-African and trans-ethnic. It finally
culminated in the overthrow of a dictatorship which had lasted from 1965 to 1996. At least in

15
ousting Mobutu Sese Seko, this was a triumph for Pax Africana, though we still did not know
how much of an improvement over Mobutu Laurent Kabila would become.
The optimists saw him as another Yoweri Museveni. Museveni too had created a private
army to challenge the official army of the state. Museveni's army--like that of Kabila--had
defeated the army of the state. And then Museveni in power embarked on three strategies of
change--first, stabilization of the country; second, restoring the economic health of the country;
and third, initiating cautious democratization.
Museveni has had remarkable success in the first two goals--the quest for stability and the
restoration of the economic health of Uganda. His progress in both has been faster than most
observers (and most Ugandans) ever expected. His third goal of cautious democratization is still
in its early stages--but so far, so good. (Museveni has had less success in stabilizing Northern
Uganda.)
Would Laurent Kabila be another Yoweri Museveni? The answer still is--only if Kabila
is lucky. What is clear is that Kabila's initial triumph would probably not have occurred without
the help of Museveni, both directly, and through Rwanda. Kabila was also aided by Angola and
others. For the time-being this was a success story for Pax Africana, though its future may be
shorter than originally anticipated.
A different kind of successful Pax Africana is the story of Liberia and the role of
ECOMOG in ending its civil war and leading Liberia towards a relatively peaceful general
election in July 1997. Once again this was a case of neighboring African countries accepting
responsibility for a malfunctioning brotherly state, and going into the weaker state to try and do

16
something about it.
ECOMOG's lack of experience, along with disarray in Lagos, initially resulted in a lot of
disastrous false starts in peacekeeping in Liberia. But in the end the mission was relatively
successful, and Liberians had their say at the ballot box. While the overwhelming choice of
Liberians for Charles Taylor (the architect of the civil war) puzzled most observers, it was at
least a free democratic choice. Behind that choice was the fumbling but historic role of
ECOMOG in pioneering Pax Africana.

In Search of Moral Legitimacy


How do we discourage African armies from staging military coups against democratically
elected governments? The dilemma arose with the first Black African military coup. This was
the coup against Sylvanus Olympio in Togo, which was also postcolonial Africa's first
presidential assassination. This was in 1963. The initial Pan-African response was in boycotting
the successor regime in Togo. At the inaugural meeting of the Organization of African Unity
(OAU) in 1963, there was one vacant seat. It was Togo's--originally intended for the assassinated
Sylvanus Olympio. Julius K. Nyerere of Tanzania wept publicly for Olympio. And the Charter
of the newly formed O.A.U. explicitly included a clause "condemning political assassination in
all its forms". But was anybody prepared to use force to oust the regime which had assassinated
Sylvanus Olympio? At that time no one was. Pax Africana was alive but underdeveloped.
Almost exactly ten years later (to the month) a coup took place in Uganda. Idi Amin
Dada overthrew the government of Milton Obote. Again one of those most deeply shattered by

17
the event was President Julius K. Nyerere of Tanzania. He roundly condemned the coup, and
personally refused to have any dealings with Idi Amin Dada. But was anybody prepared to use
force to try and reverse the coup? At that time not even Nyerere was! Pax Africana was indeed
sensitive, but not yet forceful.
Eight years later Julius Nyerere was indeed prepared to use force against Idi Amin's
persistent national and regional destabilization. In 1979 Nyerere was at last ready to order
Tanzania's army to march all the way to Kampala to overthrow Idi Amin. Nyerere was
successful in ousting the Ugandan dictator and in establishing a temporary Tanzanian
protectorate in Uganda before multiparty elections could be held. Nyerere made two mistakes in
his protectorate over Uganda. He made his Pax Africana too brief, and he tried too hard to
ensure the return of Milton Obote to power. Both decisions were catastrophic for Uganda. The
interlude of Pax Africana was good but not well-focussed. And the second Obote administration
in Uganda turned out to be a tragedy, only to be ended by Yoweri Museveni's triumph in 1986.
By 1999 Julius K. Nyerere was asking that no delegation be recognized at the Organization of
African Unity if it represented a military government. He said this in a speech in Abuja, Nigeria,
prior to the presidential inauguration of General Obasanjo in May 1999.
This was of course long after the military coup in Sierra Leone in 1997, which overthrew
the elected government of Ahmad Tejan Kabbah. In this case Pax Africana took a wholly
unexpected turn. A military government in Nigeria decided to defend, and attempt to reinstate, a
democratically elected government in Sierra Leone. Nigeria had intervened on behalf of
ECOMOG.

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This was certainly an improvement on the older story of Western democracies propping
up military regimes like that of Mobutu Sese Seko--which was twice saved militarily by the West
in the face of a domestic challenge from its own Shaba province.
I personally would rather see a military regime like that of Nigeria in 1997-1998
defending democracy in Sierra Leone, than see a democracy like that of France or the United
States propping up military dictatorships in Less Developed Countries. Yet for the time being
the story of Sierra Leone seems to be a stalemate. Pax Africana has not yet fully triumphed,
though the whole of Africa has condemned the June 1997 coup in Freetown.
The idea of a Pan African emergency force is also gathering momentum in the 1990s.
Uganda has been centrally involved. The Blue Eagle Project in southern Africa involved training
the troops of at least eight African countries to be in readiness for special responsibilities in
situations of political crisis. Much of the training initially occurred in Zimbabwe. The Blue
Eagle could develop into the ECOMOG of Southern Africa, but with more appropriate training
for a peace-keeping role. Here again is a potential arm of Pax Africana.
President Bill Clintons tour of Africa in 1998 used Kampala as a major focus. The
Clinton Administration in Washington has been championing a rapid crisis response African
force. It has also been involved in training troops from countries like Senegal and Uganda for
peace-keeping roles. The United States is also creating a Center of Strategic Studies for Africa.
My own disagreement with the Clinton paradigm concerns the accountability of the African rapid
deployment force. The Clinton Administration would like to trace accountability ultimately to
the Security Council of the United Nations, which is itself controlled by Western powers. I

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believe that the Pan African Emergency force should be accountable to Africa itself, through
such revised institutions of the O.A.U. as Africa may be able to devise. Alternatively,
accountability should be towards relevant sub-regional organizations in Africa--to ECOWAS in
West Africa, to SADEC in Southern Africa, and to a newly evolving Eastern African
Community. Only such an Afrocentered accountability would save Pax Africana from becoming
a mere extension of Pax Americana.
Also relevant to the unfolding saga of self-colonization in Africa is the hesitant
hegemonic role of the Republic of South Africa. Within the wider picture of Pan-Africanism is
an emerging sub-theme of Pax Pretoriana, the muscle of Pretoria in sorting out political crises in
neighboring countries. Sorting out Lusotho's problems with its military is one case in point,
though South Africa bungled badly in Masero in 1998.
In fact the Republic of South Africa is under pressure to be more active in other African
crises--from helping reconstruction in the Democratic Republic of Congo to pressuring UNITA
to stop fighting and join the democratic process in Angola. Pax Pretoriana at its best can be a
branch of Pax Africana. So indeed can be Pax Ugandanica.
Democratic trends in Africa are real, but still very fragile. The remaining military
regimes are under pressure to democratize; single-party systems have been giving way to
multiparty systems; authoritarian systems like that in Kenya are facing angry demands for
constitutional reform. Uganda is at the constitutional crossroads. Africa is taking hesitant steps
towards democracy. But are these regional activities of peacekeeping themselves part of the
democratizing process? Musevenis Uganda is among those which have raised these

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fundamental questions for Africa.
Democratization within individual African countries is only part of the process of
resuming control over Africa's destiny. Pax Africana is the continental face of this selfdetermination--provided the motives, goals and means are in tune with Africa's ultimate wellbeing.
Ideologies which are domestically focused and ideologies which are externally oriented
are part of the moving equilibrium of Africas changing values. What is at stake is good
governance and the quest for moral legitimacy. Museveni has sought good governance and
legitimacy in keeping the state out of the economy; keeping political parties out of the state; and
keeping power out of the monarchies. But the same Ugandan state which is prohibited from
intervening in its own economy is permitted to intervene in neighbouring states. Under Yoweri
Museveni, the sovereignty of borders has declined; the sovereignty of the market has risen. The
quest for a new ideological balance in Uganda continues.