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THE MOVE TO THE LEFT STRATEGY (V)

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THE MOVE TO THE LEFT STRATEGY (V)

Post by sol_drethedon on Mon Aug 27, 2012 5:26 pm

THE MOVE TO THE LEFT STRATEGY (V); UGANDA @50
e). Document 5
This document contained proposals for making Uganda ‘more democratic’ and more ‘united’. The electoral system was to be overhauled. Every candidate with a ‘basic constituency’ in his ‘home’ area was to contest in three other ‘national’ constituencies, one from each of the remaining provinces. The votes won in all the constituencies were to be counted as a whole, and those with the highest votes were to be elected. Proposals for the election of president were also spelt out in this document. These proposals created great controversy in the party. How could candidates campaign in four widely separated constituencies in a poor country like Uganda? What of the expenses involved? At a UPC national council meeting in August Nineteen -Seventy, articles twenty-six to thirty-four of the document, regarding the election of the president, were rejected, it being argued that the 1968 conference that had decided to have the president of UPC elected for seven years would be violated by the new arrangement. It was further argued that the president of the UPC should ‘automatically’ become president of the republic of Uganda and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.
Obote, playing the role of the democrat, called on the conference that it was the ‘masses, not the party, who were the most important entity in Uganda’. The party performance, he insisted, should be tested by holding direct presidential elections. Nevertheless, he conceded, ‘only for the next elections’ the decision of the national council should be accepted. Mittelman has observed:
“At the conference in Mbale, the president did not fight for the ideas in the memorandum but gave the appearance of being passive and remote from the infighting that ensued. The fact that he chose not to engage in intraparty dispute added to the impression that he was intent on pursuing the recommendations. Party officials saw to it that the memorandum was not circulated to conferences and many delegates confessed that they had not read it. Despite Obote’s protestation that he wanted to face the electorate, only four delegates voted for the motion advancing his cause. On August twenty-eighth, the conference endorsed the recommendations of the national council and overrode the president again”
Mittelman also notes that the main reason behind this policy of the national council was that intra-party disputes had taken a new pitch: ‘The public airing of the tensions and rivalries generated in mid-Nineteen Seventy assumed a pitch unequalled since the crisis of 1966.’
It was clear that the proposal for election of the president was generally opposed by the party, for there was a real fear that Obote would be voted down in view of the crisis. Moreover, there were those in the party who opposed his move to the left strategy and who felt his election would consolidate him in power. They wanted these proposals delayed as much as possible. Another scholar advanced the view that Obote ‘stage managed’ the debates in the conference, in Machiavellian fashion, in order to appear to be the democrat in the party.
In December the same year, still pursuing the role of a democrat, Obote summoned another delegate’s conference to push revised proposals; but then, acting as a non-democrat, he divested the secretary general, Felix Onama of his duties and took over personally the branch and constituency elections that preceded the conference. The new proposals did not override the August decisions but merely introduced a new element which never occurred to him in the earlier proposal and which he fully well knew could not arise within the UPC, of two or three candidates contesting the presidency of the republic. The proposal was that in such event there should be an open election. This make-believe, out-of-the-way proposal was of course accepted since, instead of sitting back as he had done in August, he no longer took a back seat and insisted that the amended proposals now be accepted.
Thus, the phase of ‘move to the left’ saw Obote consolidate his dictatorial grip on the country, in the guise of creating ‘greater democracy’ under various proposals. The grounds were being created for his enemies to act against him. But such dictatorial anti-democratic positions were not new in Uganda as far as the petty bourgeoisie were concerned. Indeed, it can be said that they emerged within colonialism at the period of struggle against colonialism. From Nineteen-fifty-six onwards, the petty bourgeoisie in Buganda had increasingly negated the people’s right to elect their representatives directly to the lukiiko, and then to the legislative assembly. Now Obote too, in order to consolidate his faction, resorted to exactly the same tactics. Indeed, it can be said that efforts to negate democracy after independence took place within a year, with the proposals to elect a president, followed by events in the party in Nineteen-sixty-four/five and the Nineteen-Sixty-Six coup against King Mutesa. Now these anti-democratic positions were consolidated and the rivalries worsened.

5. THE RIVALRY INTENSIFIED
As we have noticed, petty bourgeoisie contradictions which came out in the open in Nineteen-Sixty-Six resulted in the ousting of Ibingira, King Mutesa and Opolot. This however did not resolve the crisis. The rivalries both at the; micro-level intra-petty bourgeois and at the macro-level; imperialism/ people continued unabated. With the trio out of the way and all potential opposition to Obote locked up, and with the UPC coming out as the sole political organ apart from the army, all micro and macro rivalries now converged within these two institutions. Amin, who all along had crushed Obote’s opponents at his behest, now discovered that he too was a power. This fact was noted by Obote’s petty bourgeoisie opponents outside the party as well as the monopolists. Having no other alternative, all these forces saw in Amin the only solution to Obote.
Who were these forces? At the micro-level they were, first, the King Mutesa supporters who saw in Obote the person that had destroyed the Buganda Kingdom and who had cause King Mutesa’s death; second, the Ibingira supporters within UPC, who accused Obote of dictatorship and of being a sympathizer to the communists; third, the Opolot supporters within the armed forces, who saw in Amin an usurper of army power and a puppet of Obote, but who were at the same time prepared to use him to destroy Obote. They were backed politically by King Mutesa and Ibingira supporters. Finally, the events as they unfolded created another force in Amin himself, a force of real significance which could be used to oust Obote, and to him all other forces converged.
These forces were supported at the macro-level by sections of monopolies. As we have already noted, a section of the US monopolies had banked on Ibingira and invested in him politically. During the period under discussion, Obote became hostile to CIA activities in Uganda. Apart from detaining and imprisoning Ibingira and others, he exposed various CIA activities including its support for Transition magazine, which had become a central organ of opposition to his government. In July Nineteen-Sixty-eight Transition Magazine had published an article in which a government supporter, Picho Ali, wrote about the role of the judiciary and the need under the new conditions to have ‘ideological commitment’ and to be at ‘ideological parity’ with the ‘Uganda revolution’. In the ensuing debate, in which many joined issue, two Kampala advocates, Mayanja and Kazoora, Prof Nabudere and a number of other people challenged Picho Ali’s views. One view, to which Prof. Nabudere subscribed, was that since there had been no revolution in Uganda in 1966, the ideology of the country never changed and the country’s judiciary commitment was at parity with the existing ideology. The other vie which Abu Mayanja , Kazoora and others took was that Obote was throttling the independence of the judiciary, and Mayanja implied that the president had deliberately ignored the advice of the Judicial Service Commission, which had recommended the appointment of Ugandans as high court judges. ‘But what is holding up the appointment of Ugandan Africans to the High Court?’ Abu had incisively inquired.
In issue thirty-two of transition, Abu Mayanja had similarly written, according to Obote, to misrepresent the government on the republican constitution; Article Sixty-Four. Since according to Obote no recommendation had been made by the Judicial Service Commission, the implication by Mayanja in that article that tribal considerations were responsible for holding up the appointments was seen as serious, politically motivated slander of the government. As a result, the editor of Transition Magazine, RajatNeogy, and Abu Mayanja were arrested and charged with treason. The magazine ceased publication. The prosecution failed to prove the charges against the two. Released, they were seized and detained under emergency regulations then still operating in Buganda. These actions had increased US and British hostility to Obote. Oboteexplained these events

“The arrest of Neogy and Mayanja, for instance is being seen in London, and perhaps elsewhere, within the myth that has been the fundamental element in London’s assessment of our policy and actions. It is for instance being asserted that we afraid of intellectuals and that we do not want our policies and actions to be criticized”

In a long explanation going over fourteen pages he argued why his actions against the two were justified, and concluded that ‘Those who finance ‘transition’ and are responsible for editorial policy, advanced one million dollars in December Nineteen-Sixty Four to subvert U.P.C and government and failed in February, in Nineteen-Sixty-Six. The reference here was to the C.I.A and the section of U.S monopolies that backed Ibingira’s drive for party control and government takeover. Obote’s reference to British attitudes to him correctly reflected the general hostility displayed towards him by the Conservatives and their press. In this case it was in reference to Neogy , who was a British citizen andwhose detention had been challenged by the British government and his release obtained. But further events in 1969 and in 1970 strengthened the conservative government’s opposition against his government, when Obote all of a sudden became the opponent of British conservative policy in South Africa, under which Britain was to supply tanks to Pretoria. As the common wealth conference in Singapore approached in1970 approached, Obote made increasingly outspoken attacks on Heath, the conservative prime minister. Naturally, the stance adopted by Obote could not have been welcome in the city of London (and even in the Church of England, with 15million pound in investments in South Africa.) The section of British monopolies with vast investments in Uganda and South Africa was determined to support opposition to Obote, as reactions in the British press following the coup wereto show. It is from these monopolies that King Mutesa’s supporters drew their inspiration and strength.
Israel had all along been close to the UPC government. Two Israel prime ministers had visited Uganda, and apart from the sizeable military assistance, they had close connections with the cooperative movement in Uganda with which they did considerable business, since Israel’s experience in this field was regarded as useful to Uganda. But this closeness was double edged. While Obote found it useful, the Israelis got close enough to know the basis of Obote’s policies, particularly with the Sudan
By 1969 the closeness had began to give way to suspicion, as Obote began to move away from them. In 1968, Uganda had voted in a United Nations General Assembly Resolution 242 for the demand that Israel withdraw from occupied Arab lands. Mazrui notes:
“For some reason, Israel was surprised by Uganda’s vote. For many months after the incident itself, Obote was being asked to explain why he had voted the way he had done, virtually against Israel. Obote protested saying he had voted in a direction no different from the direction of vote of Her Majesty’s Government in London, though there had been no collusion whatsoever between the two governments.
This complaint and demand for explanation had been put to the Uganda government by Israel’s ambassador to Uganda, Ofri, who also noted that two scholarships offered by Israel to the Ministry of Agriculture and forestry had not been taken up, and further that the minister had objected to visiting fruit farm which Israel was establishing in Uganda
There was also the question of Uganda’s relations, particularly over the civil war in Southern Sudan. Since Nimeiri had come to power Obote had made efforts to improve relations with the Sudan. But this meant going against Israel whose policy in Sudan was to assist the Anya-Nya rebellion in order to tie down the Sudan army and avoid its involvement in the Israel Arab conflict of the Middle East, and furthermore to compel Egypt to move some of its troops to the Egyptian-Sudanese border.
In 1970 a German mercenary, Rolf Steiner, was arrested in Uganda. Steiner had operated as a mercenary in Congo under Tshombe, and in Biafra under Ojukwu. At the time of his arrest he was employed by the Israelis to assist the Anya-Nya in southern Sudan. According to David Martin, the diaries found on him revealed that he had made a number of visits to Uganda:

“Steiner expressed amazement that he should be arrested during a visit to Uganda, for he thought that Uganda backed the Anya-Nya. His diaries showed that on at least two occasions Amin, accompanied by Israeli official had visited Southern Sudan. In January 1971, just before the coup in Uganda, Steiner was deported to the Sudan where in Late 1971 he was sentenced to death, a sentence that was later commuted by Nimeiri to a 20 year prison sentence instead.
David Martin also notes that in late 1969 the Israel Central Intelligence Organization sought refueling rights in Uganda, which apparently were not granted, a further indication of worsening relations between Israel and Obote
Israel is mentioned here not because it is an imperialist country itself. It is a pawn in the US led strategy in the Middle East aimed against the Arab People, and therefore a party in the intra- rivalries in general. But it also has specific interest of its own in this region, to keep the Arab countries divided in order to weaken their resolve to assist the Palestinian cause. And for this very reason, Israel was a force within the intra-imperialist rivalries that added fuel to the fire of Uganda’s crisis, and this proved to be deadly for the Obote regime.
We now have semi-official information that, while moving away from Obote, the Israelis were moving towards Amin. This has becomeincreasingly clear ever since the rapture of relations between Amin and Israel. In a recent book giving an account of the Israel raid on Entebbe Airport, the deputy editor of the Israeli Air force magazine, for twenty years a specialist on Israeli military affairs, gives some insight of the Amin- Israel relations at this time. The account is based on interviews with main participants and on sources that were not released to other journalists. The book is indeed subtitled: ‘The Israeli’s own story’
Ofer states that when Bar-Lev, an Israeli military attaché at the embassy in Kampala, arrived in Uganda, ‘Idd Amin was still a green novice as chief-of-staff’. To refrain from reviving Amin’s memories of having been an inferior in the King’s African Rifles, Bar-Lev was careful not to wear uniform while meeting Amin.’ Later, when Amin began having aches and pains in the joints of his arms and feet, Burka (Bar-Lev) suggested that he visit Israel and bathe in the waters of the Red Sea or sulphur baths at the Tiberias.
Amin expressed appreciation of this suggestion, which he accepted. Ofer continues the story which we quote in full because of its importance to our analysis:

“At that time the president of Uganda, Milton Obote, had been displaying a hostile attitude to Israel and in 1971 even intended to expel the Israelis from his country. Idd Amin, then Chief-Of-Staff, blocked this intention by reason of his justified pro-Israel views which had been formed to a large extent by his close ties to Bar-Lev.
One day when a Ugandan brigadier general named Okea (i.e.Okoya), a member of the Acholi tribe, had been murdered, President Obote planned to exploit the assassination to oust Amin, and he started a rumor that the chief of staff had been involved in it
Idd Amin was now in Cairo at the invitation of the Egyptian Minister of Defense. President Obote summoned him back urgently to Kampala. Sensing that something was wrong, Amin contacted Bar-Lev through an intermediary and asked him to find out what was happening.
Bar-Lev was placed in an awkward position. He feared any involvement, but at the same time he knew that the deposing of Amin meant an end to the friendship between Uganda and Israel and the expulsion of the latter from its important key position from on the African continent.
Bar-Lev communicated to Amin’s fellow tribesman, the Uganda Minister of Defense, Felix Onama, and consulted him;Onama investigated the matter and learned that Obote was planning. To detain Amin on his return to Uganda on a trumped up charge of having assassinated the brigadier-general.
‘It’s+ pretext’ Bar-Lev declared, adding, ‘you have done a great thing in coming to me. A great thing for Uganda, I will go to the Airport myself to receive Idd Amin and escort him to parliament house!
Ofer continues that in this way Idd Amin was saved from imprisonment through the initiative and help of the Israeli officer, and as a result their friendship was cemented. Furthermore we learn that it was Bar-Lev who counseled Amin to form an elite unit in the army the size of a battalion, to consist of two paratroop companies, a squadron of tanks and squadron of recoilless gun-carrying jeeps, ‘made of men ready to protect him at any time should president Obote make any to kill him’.
That in effect, was the origin of the idea to establish paratroop and armored forces in Uganda. Amin’s imagination was fired by it and Israeli paratroop and armor instructors were posted to the country to train Ugandans in those crafts.
From the above it should be clear that in the coup d’état that was brewing, both micro and macro level rivalries played a part. The ultimate determinant of these contradictions was imperialism in general, and sections and British and U.S monopolies in particular who directly helped to finance and/or politically and morally give support to Amin, as the center of all petty bourgeoisie hostility to Obote, Amin then exploited the people’s hostility to Obote. Amin then exploited the people’s hostility to the neocolonial regime under Obote. This hostility reflected the people’s fundamental contradiction with imperialism at the level of economic exploitation and political oppression. Imperialist exploitation of the people had created a crisis in the economy, leading to political rivalries. We have already analyzed how, while the monopolies were given all the opportunity to increase the rate of exploitation by being subsidized in importing machinery and materials, the increase in the workers’ wages were held at no more than 1.6% over the period of 1966-71. Moreover over 80% of the labor force earned less than Shs.499 per month. Thus, as capital formation increased, wages fell relatively and in some cases absolutely. The centralization of the marketing of food and ‘small crops’ made the peasants even more reliant on the market for these food commodities, since they had to sell them at the time of harvest to meet their immediate obligations, only to find that they had to buy them later. In 1969 the APMB resorted to selling these products to rich traders, who had the facilities to bribe and to hoard, thus creating a spiraling in the prices of the necessities. Thus, wages prices fell overall for both workers and peasants, prices on which wages were spent went up uncontrollably, with the result that the living conditions of the people deteriorated. It can be seen how the exploitation of the working people was being intensified, while monopolies continued to reap super profits at the behest of the neocolonial regime.
Government efforts to create jobs failed as a result of the monopolies’ production strategies, which emphasized more and better machinery instead of labor intensive equipment. Thus hundreds of school leavers and peasant youth who sought employment in industry could not find a viable occupation. A survey carried out in Kampala and Jinja by Caroline Hutton indicated that, of every 100unemployed people interviewed in 1973, 40 and 54 respectively were never employed and ‘seemed to be looking for work more or less full time. ‘Of those who had previous work, 40% had become unemployed within six months of the survey, and about 40% had been without work for a year or more.’
Although Hutton found no relationship between increase in employment and no increase in crime, it was clear that the level of crime increased tremendously during those years, particularly armed robbery (kondoism).

To be continued

COMPILED BY: DON DRE

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sol_drethedon

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