David Sejusa's London Speech: We Must Unite To Rid Uganda Of Museveni's Tyranny
Gen. Sejusa with Dr. Omara-Otunnu
The following is the text of Gen. Sejusa's comments at launch of Freedom and Unity Front's Manifesto at the London School of Economics where he spoke before an audience of Ugandans and international media together with the organization's chairman Dr. Amii Omara-Otunnu on Saturday]
It is never too late to do the right thing. I stand here before you not as a saint, for that is not what my purpose is. My purpose is not to proclaim my sainthood but it is to undo the wrong I could have participated in. my second job is to contextualise for Ugandans to know what the real problem is. For defining the problem correctly, is solving the problem half way. I do not think we understand the nature of the problem and the forces that confront us as Ugandans but also as African people.
That’s the context within which that lady came. And I agree with her. I understand her. I understand her emotions and she is also right. We must confront those issues, look them straight in the face if Uganda is to heal and move forward. There should be nothing to be ashamed about what that lady was talking about. People in the north died. They did. She is not lying. How many, by who, is a matter of detail. We must confront it. This is it. This is it. But also we must know that the deaths in the north and the suffering under NRM was not the beginning of the problems of Uganda, that there is a historical context to it.
To heal is to have a broader view of where we’ve come from, where we are. There is nothing short of that. If we do not accept that, then we are in trouble. I personally, my struggle is larger than Mr Museveni’s. It is bigger because Mr Museveni is merely a representative of a tragic situation, is a representative of an experiment that has gone tragically wrong both in Africa and in our country. Museveni is merely a representative. It cannot be an accident that 50 years on after independence, those who got in in the 1950s like Ghana and Sudan and so on, that the African state is in conflict, that African peoples are the poorest in the world, that per capita it’s [Africa] the lowest in the world, that interest rates [in Africa] are the lowest in the world, violence index is the highest in the world, that balkanisation is the highest in the 54 countries of Africa. When you look at Africa, I think the German has something like three point something trillion, United States has about 15 trillion, China has about eight trillion and Africa with almost 1.6 billion has about three trillion, When you come to the economy of Africa, when you look at the biggest economies of Africa, I think South Africa is about 450 (million), Nigeria is about 415 (million), Egypt is about 200 something. They do not add up to the GDP of Texas. These are the strongest economies in the world.
When these people our friends in the West and so on when they praise Museveni’s economic miracle. Yes But in 1986 when we came [into power] our GDP in Uganda was four billion. Now it is 19 billion. 19 billion GDP is smaller than the income generated by Tesco or Microsoft which I think is about 50 billion, Uganda is 19. We don’t produce anything, we don’t sell anything. We are bulinding tarmacked roads but we are stepping on them with bare feet. We don’t transport anything on the road. So there are serious structural problems in Africa. There are serious structural problems with the African state that whichever change we may bring, it will not suffice. We need to broaden our focus on defining the enemy.
I am the only person whom you look at who has two faces of the same coin. That’s what makes me to be proud of myself. That’s what has made the FUF experiment promising because what has got to bring on board? Many people ask: “So what are you bringing that others have not tried?” We are bringing a new force, a new force with a broader appeal, a new force with a broader ideology of knowing that every African person or every Ugandan is a captive of history. We need to be freed. We need to free everyone. We need to free our people from the perception of lack of opportunity in terms of organising and mobilising deficit. Before we reach anywhere else, we need to realise that the problems of Africa; for instance if you look at Africa today and what Museveni has; you see Museveni has been a betrayal for our cause is bigger than what people think. Because [for] my personal story, when I went to the bush I was only 24 and there were something big going on. Uganda was not all rosy.
In 1962 as you remember, Uganda had got independence. Our great grandfathers had come her to London at Lancaster House and they had agreed on a constitution of 1962. They came and overthrew themselves, they were fighting against each other and overthrew themselves in 1966. Then in 1967, the independence constitution was overthrown and another constitution was brought in. That meant turmoil. Then that turmoil resulted in Idi Amin. Idi Amin devastated the country from 1971 to 1979. There had never been – there was some attempt by Ugandans in 1972 to liberate themselves but it didn’t work and we were in disarray. In 1979 if Amin had not attacked Tanzania he would maybe have ruled until his death.
So even the 1970 experiment was external engineering. It was by fault. So ever that one was not a Ugandan experience per se. It lacked the internal dynamics of a people rising up, empowering themselves ideologically, and defining their means which were applicable to their means. They were all lacking. Therefore the experiment we got in 1979 was a still bar. It resulted into more chaos; that chaos which resulted into another war. The war of the NRM.
I have a personal story. The father of my wife was murdered. He was a young barrister fresh from Cambridge University and was murdered at 28 by Idi Amin. But I can’t bear on that because if I do that, then that’s the enemy, the enemy that we must shift the poles. We must start thinking about Uganda in broader terms. We have all fallen short of the glory of God. We must start afresh.
What people don’t understand is that when serving under a bad system you become the biggest victim. They do not realise that some of us, for instance me; I have lived a life more at risk more than maybe people who have been in exile. I have not been sitting down. I tried to remove this system many times. I have scars on my body, bullets, inflicted by my own side. People don’t understand. This northern experiment you’re talking about, I was the first to resign. I opposed this experiment in 1993 during the CA. I opposed the changing of what we had agreed in the bush of ruling for four years and extending Mr Museveni. In 1996 I went further. I exposed Mr Museveni’s problems and atrocities; you can go [and check], you know what happened in parliament, against the atrocities in the north and the prolonging of the northern war by Mr Museveni. I was the first to bring it up.
If all that meant I was guilty, I would not have resigned. I even resigned against Mr Museveni. I said [to Museveni] I will not continue. My life was in danger. I almost died. I went to the Supreme Court and won and in the morning Mr Museveni went to the Supreme Court and told them ‘you must reverse’ and he reversed. So I was held captive against my will. When you’re held captive, you’re captive. You either play by the rules or you become an outlaw. Isn’t that what Mandela said?
So my regret is that I should have come out earlier on. I have no doubt about it. But what happened then, since we have a constitution and Mr Museveni can abuse us only for so long. In 2005 he changed the constitution. I was in Kimaka Commandant Staff College and I was representing the army in parliament in 2005. We were picked at night, those of us who were there, to go and vote to remove term limits. And those of us who wanted to reject, like somebody called Bogere were virtually under detention and were told we must remove term limits. There was no discussion. We went in a bus and you don’t do anything. The day I stood up and said ‘no’ you see where I am. This is the cost of trying to say ‘no’.
So it’s not so easy. You either go all the way and say ‘no’ and fight the regime like I am doing, or you play inside and ultimately you’re soiled and you wear that guilt and become part of the system. This is how bad systems destroy our people. And this is how we must free all our people. My call is that all people must be freed by understanding that they are all captive.
This is how bad governance shrives, by putting people in small groups, with smaller interests, and small organisations. Bad systems rule people in perpetuity. Walter here spoke about something important. He said in Uganda for the last 27 years, maybe what people outside may not understand, every region has opposed Museveni. There was a war in Buganda against Museveni – it was a Buganda war. There was a western war by the people in Kasese – the Kasese war; there was a war in eastern Uganda – the eastern war; there was a war in West Nile – it was a West Nile war; then there was a war in northern Uganda – it is a northern war.
You must reject that. That’s what FUF says. We must have a Ugandan movement to fight dictatorship. That’s what we bring on board. What we bring on board is the galvanisation of our people’s general consciousness – the mass movement of people to get to a critical mass to free themselves. That’s my mission – no less, no more. Where does it start? It starts by me admitting I am wrong and say I am sorry. But I must move forward. I must move forward. I must not be captive of a bad past because the bad past would have won. I will defeat it by defeating the wrongs of the past.
Therefore stand with me, Ladies and Gentleman, and know that you have a serious fighter. I have three scars from Idi Amin. Some of you here were with me at university. I started fighting Idi Amin as a young boy. And I have other scars. I thought I was doing something better for Africa, for Uganda. I was betrayed. We thought when we were in the bush what Mr Museveni had come to promise as a fundamental change – what we had in mind was to fundamentally change the African colonial state, remove the bottlenecks of Africa – these competing armies.
You know the military expenditure in Africa – right now in East Africa, there is an arms race, huge arms race among East African countries. Who’s the enemy? Whom are they arming each other against? Against their own people. All the money instead of going into development it is in an arms race. This is the nature – the tiny states of Africa which are unviable. The lack of integration. We thought that Mr Museveni would actualise our integration of East African states, the markets – to remove the perpetual fear of military attacks across these artificial borders – of creating bigger trading enclaves – of freeing our people. He let us down. Instead, he started building his personal bay? To the extent of bringing in his family, his wife, and his children – some things which are so decadent I don’t know in which century they belong, maybe the 12th? I don’t know and you don’t know. And how in this 21st century can somebody bring his wife to be a minister and then his son to [command the army]? They are so decadent.
So the new thing that FUF has done is uniting our people. The people of the media you should not lose the significance of that. That lady (the one who had earlier interrupted the meeting to protest against what Gen Sejusa did while commanding troops there) was from northern Uganda and the people who were trying to stop her were from northern Uganda, not western Uganda. This is a fundamental shift (clapping). It was people from northern Uganda protecting me and saying we want to move forward. Thank you very much. Thank you.
So what is the way forward? There are many people asking us: “Therefore, are you going into elections or are you going to fight?” The general approach is simple. We have realised what is going on in Uganda and everyone now agrees that we must have change. Our job is to cause this change. There are means that have been provided by the constitution but Mr Museveni has subverted them. He has changed the constitution. He has removed term limits which meant to account for power. If peaceful means therefore, which are within the constitution say, even our friends will have to tell us. We as a people, do we have a right to be free or not? Should we be prisoners or should we free ourselves?
This is the answer. The choice is Mr Museveni’s. To free Uganda or we shall force him to free ourselves. Therefore before I go to stand, we must have the Uganda we want which is capable of organising an election, which is capable of uniting a people and capable of operating outside this kind of fear. You cannot organise an election in these types of conditions. He must stop misusing the military. He must stop buying the elections. He must stop violence. No I don’t think I can participate in Mr Museveni’s elections. Never – because I know how it works.
Kizza Besigye won by the way in 2006 – I can as well give you another testimony (laughter and prolonged clapping). In 2006 Besigye won by maybe 69 per cent. Mr Museveni as an incumbent got something like 50 something. By the time an African incumbent gets 50 something you know he has already lost. So it’s not even in debate. But how was it stolen?(laughter and prolonged clapping).
We organised another electoral commission of intelligence at Basiima House and all results from the electoral commission would pass through our electoral commission and it is our results that we would push through to the [official] electoral commission. How can you win in that type of situation? Yes. I must say it all now because I am a new man (prolonged laughter and clapping). Yes. We did it. Yes (more laughter and clapping from audience).
So of course it is a waste of time. It is deceiving our people. And Mr Museveni has no democratic credentials – has never had them. I was with him in the bush. I have been with him all along. I have told you through all my history. I have stood up to these undemocratic tendencies. You hear some of our neighbours are in the ICC (International Criminal Court). Mr Museveni should go to the ICC like [Charles] Taylor (former President of Liberia). You know Taylor went to the ICC because of his role in Sierra Leone. So he (Museveni) participated in that work in Kenya. That’s why the people of Kenya uprooted the rail lines going to Uganda. Parts of Nairobi, Kibera and Kisumu. They knew that Uganda played a part. It shouldn’t be Mr Ruto (Kenya’s deputy president) alone, Mr Museveni should go [to The Hague]. (Someone in the audience asks what about the role Museveni played in the Democratic Republic of Congo) Right now Uganda has to pay US$10 billion to the Congo government for him (Museveni) and his family stealing gold and timber of Congo and diamonds, and shamelessly we shall pay as a government.
You know with the late Garang (former leader of south Sudan’s government), I can give you this story. They were going for a referendum. This is how he fell off with Mr Museveni. The leadership in south Sudan know. So Mr Museveni tells Mr Garang: “We must win this referendum at any cost.” And then Mr Museveni said: “You know I can give you two million of my Bakiga, they go there and fix things for us. But the idea [for Museveni] was to have a strong hold in south Sudan. Bakiga is a tribe in Uganda (a man in the audience shouts: I am one of them). How can such a person like that be a democrat? How? How can he be? And that was the fallout when it started.
So my answer is we need to look at this whole experience of elections and the world must also understand. But also the world must understand that the geopolitical machinations of Museveni are a fassad. They are a lie. Because Museveni is not Uganda. He is a representative. We are the people who can make change in a sustainable way, the people of Uganda, not an individual. And they should learn from what happened in other countries not to invest in individuals because individuals expire. During the cold war, the people who invested in Mobutu, what happened? You look at the DR, look at the North African countries.
So our involvement in Somalia was because we had genuine interests in Somalia. 1.5 million small guns cross from Somalia into Uganda every other two years. This is a huge thing. So it is in our interests to have a stable Somalia. So no one should tell us that if Mr Museveni is not there, then Somalia will go. No we shall do our job because we too have our interests not Mr Museveni. They are Ugandan interests. There are other issues. The world must know that it can be served better by sustainable engagement of country than individual. Individuals have subvert the movement of history and cause instability. If unstable countries were the best for Western cooperation, why is it then that their volume of trade, their relations are higher with countries which are stable?
Look at Asia, look at everywhere. It means that the African states that are unstable must be replaced in order that there is a genuine sustainable progress in the world. And the West must also know that an unstable Africa is bad for the world. These strong men don’t ensure stability. For example I can tell you that by 2040, the forest cover in Uganda will be finished. What does that mean? It means drought, and the undermining of food security. Some of the lakes in Africa have dried up like Lake Chad and others. Lake Victoria is shrinking. If the water sources are gone and yet Mr Museveni is building hydro-electric dams everyday but is cutting forests. So he does not understand the relationship between the environment and power generation. He doesn’t understand.
So the West will have immigration, it will have wars and unstable areas in which terrorism will be germinating every day. So it is in the interests of the West to invest in sustainable peace and security. They cannot demand anything else because then their interests will not be met. But they must know that they interests will best served in institutions that are well governed.
So those are some of the details I wanted to talk about. The rest is about the FUF. The FUF has brought in a new ideology, a broad-based movement well beyond groups, recruiting even among the NRM. This is a new movement that recognises the innocence of people. We begin with innocence before we project guilt. Therefore even those people who are in the NRM, they need to come and we will accept them.