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UGANDA IN THE EAST AFRICAN CONTEXT

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UGANDA IN THE EAST AFRICAN CONTEXT

Post by sol_drethedon on Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:20 pm

4. Uganda in the East African Context
The political control exercised by the imperialists over Uganda, and its subsequent incorporation into the world capital system through the creation of a colonial economy , cannot be properly understood outside the context of the domination of the surrounding countries and their common subjugation to the needs of finance capital. In East Africa this was achieved by treating the three East African countries as a single market for British financial capital after the collapse of German colonialism in Tanganyika.

The economic integration of Uganda into East Africa was inherent in the open-door Congo Basin Treaties of 1885 and 1890. Earlier, in 1876, the International Geographical Conference at Brussels had envisaged an international organization to open up the entire area between Zanzibar and Congo for imperialist exploitation. The intra-imperialist scramble that followed put a stop to such a measure. After the area was divided up, The Congo Basin Treaties stipulated that trade within the Basin was to be free, limiting the power to impose tariffs on imports to a maximum of 10%, thus establishing virtually a common external tariff for the region as a whole. The British imperialists' efforts to federate the area comprising its area in East and Central Africa were also manifested in a number of suggestions made between 1899 and 1914. When the mandate for Tanganyika was transferred to Britain in 1919, Britain made sure that a clause was inserted giving it power to unify it with its neighbors. Article 10 of the mandate provided that:

"The mandatory power shall be authorized to constitute the territory into a customs, fiscal and administrative union or federation with the adjacent territories under his own sovereignty or control, provided always that the measures adopted do not infringe on the provisions of this mandate."

This prepared the ground for creating still closer union among the countries of East Africa, creating a larger market and area for Britain to dump its manufactures and capital exports. The first step was the creation of a customs union between Kenya and Uganda in 1917. Before this, the three territories each administered their own customs tarrif. Until the Uganda railway was built, most of the imported and exports into and out of Uganda went through Tanganyika (German East Africa). No duty was imposed at Dar es Salaam, allowing the Uganda colonial state to collect the revenue at Entebbe (Port Alice). When the Uganda Railway opened, most goods traffic for Uganda moved to Mombasa in Kenya., But unlike Tanganyika, the colonial state in Kenya charged customs duty on all Uganda destined goods. Later a formula for dividing this revenue was worked out, but the whole question remained unsatisfactory. Measures enacted separately in each territory up to 1927 ensured a common external tariff . There was a single allocation of import duty on the basis of 'derivation', that is to say, according to the territory of ultimate destination. In 1949 a common customs administration of the three territories was established.

But the movement towards a full federation met with considerable opposition from Uganda and the Indian organizations in Kenya, resulting in four main inquiries and reports to find a solution to the issue. First, the Ormsby - Gore Commission in 1924 pointed to the prematurity of federation, and instead recommended a Governor's Conference. In 1926, the first Governor's Conference was held in Nairobi. The Hilton Young Commission in 1927-9 recorded the opposition to thre federation issue. Its recommendations included a proposal to reduce white settler influence, in case of a closer union, and an increase of imperial control. The proposals were rejected by the settlers and the colonial office and on the basis of another recommendation from Samuel Wilson, a high commission was substituted to administer the common services of Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika and to oversee the activities of the territorial governments. In 1931, as a result of increased opposition, a British parliamentary joint select committee was commissioned. It reported that political federation should be ruled out on grounds of both expense and lack of consensus among the population. It instead recommended the use of the Governors' Conference to obtain the benefits of economic co-ordination.

Opposition to the issue of federation has to be seen from the standpoint of the contradictions that imperialism itself set in motion in East Africa. First the forcible acquisition of peasant land and its distribution to the chiefs made the peasants hostile to any federation proposal, as it meant further land grabbing for more European settlement and hence dispossession of the little possessory rights that the peasants enjoyed. Secondly, there was lack of cooperation from the chiefs. Relying on 'indirect rule' in Buganda and working through the new system of administration on the basis of neotraditional superstructures under the 1900 Buganda Agreement, the colonial government could not expect these same forces to accept subordination to a federal government based in Nairobi. This opposition emanating from the chiefs nevertheless represented a genuine anti-colonial resentment which was supported by all classes in Uganda. 'Unity' under colonialism was not to be had at any cost. What the imperialists desired was a larger market in order to exploit and oppress the people of East Africa. Opposition to this was therefore democratic and justified, regardless of who expressed it, so long as it was anti-imperialist.

But despite this opposition, British imperialism was able to maintain some structures in order top meet the demands of monopoly capital. A number of 'self-contained' and 'non-self-contained' common services were run on an East African basis. These included the railways, harbors, posts, and telegraphs, court of appeal, currency board and permanent secretariat of the Governor's Conference in Nairobi. More joint institutions arose and were consolidated during the World War 2(1939-545). These included various boards and councils, some of which continued after the war. Among them were the East African Research Organization, income tax departments etc. After the war common research institutes came into being. East African Railways was set up in 1946 with a Civil Aviation Directorate as well as a council for higher education and an industrial council to planh industrial development. This opened a new era for East-African wide monopolies, which came ito being in the 1950s. A high commission was established in Nairobi in 1948 under new proposals from the colonial office contained in colonial 199 and 210. The new revised proposals  also established a central legislative assembly with powers to make laws affecting common and research services for East Africa as a whole.

The East African system as structured above created areas of contradiction in the territories. The allocation of revenue between the parts, and the creation of development opportunities, resulted in opposed views  from at least two of the territories. Thus a decline of revenue to Uganda owing to a greater share of revenue falling to the colonial state of Kenya led to a proposal by the Uganda government for fiscal 'compensation' for Uganda and Tanganyika, to enable the proper running of these states as separate units within this arrangement. The imbalance in trade was also an issue that created areas of conflict. All this was inherited  by the neocolonial states that took over in 1961, 1962 and 1963 in the three territories, and constituted the bedrock on which the common services were to disintegrate and the common market break, once intensified competition among the monopolies of all the imperialist countries in a new phase of open door imperialism, had emerged under multilateral imperialism. Uganda's development was closely linked with the other territories within a system of imperialist exploitation and domination.

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