Former presidential candidaye Dr. KIizza Besigye has delivered a touching message for the Eastern Region FDC leaders.
Speaking during the training session, Besigye embarked on the idea of peaceful transition of power and nonviolence as sighted below.
PRESENTATION BY PRESIDENT KIZZA BESIGYE AT THE FDC WORKSHOP IN SOROTI.
In his As you all know, Teso was the throbbing heart beat of FDC when the party was founded. But when you are strong, you will be attacked. So Teso, because it has been so fruitful, it has been focus of attack. We shall therefore share remarks that will recast where we are and where we are going.
First, we need to recognise that all the problems we face in Uganda are a result of political mismanagement. Political mismanagement of our national affairs is historical; it cannot be blamed entirely on Mr. Yoweri Museveni.
When colonialists came to colonise Uganda, they did so forcefully and so, they even controlled our resources. The colonialists in developing Uganda didn’t do it for the benefit of Ugandans. They did everything to exploit our national resources.
The colonialists didn’t build the railway to Kasese to ease transport of Bakonzo from Kasese to Kampala but to transport copper. So from colonial to independent Uganda, power has been centralised in the hands of very few people, who control resources and institutions.
Those with power also control decision making. They decide how institutions function and how to distribute resources. Mr. Museveni with all his funny ways has been open about it. He tells you he is not your servant.
When a dictatorship has power, control over institutions and resources, then they control people. They impoverish everybody and use the resources to buy people’s cooperation.
Controlling information is another method used by dictators. Every dictatorship is a political system where power is controlled by a few people. In this situation, only the message of the dictator is heard. All the alternative information is blocked.
The message is for two ways: to paint the dictator in good character so that people can believe the dictatorship, and then cast those opposed to the dictator in bad light or evil. Or to show those fighting dictatorship are the same (blackmail) so that the public is made to believe the dictator and democratic forces are the same.
Unless the power changes from the few to the majority, nothing will change fundamentally. Power relations must change so that people can regain their country and reclaim their institutions.
Even if, God forbid, Museveni died of heart attack tonight, nothing will change as long as the few people with political power still control the majority powerless. So how do we change the situation.
One thing that won’t change is thinking you can talk to the dictator to change their ways. Persuading a dictator to change does not work. What works to take away power from a dictator is one thing-struggle. It will not come by other means.
We have to determine what type of struggle we need. We must agree on the strategy that will bring back power from the few to the majority Ugandans. When we went to the bush with Party President Gen. Mugisha Muntu, we used armed/violent struggle. Armed struggle is legitimate. Article 3 of the constitution puts a duty on citizens to use all means to remove a leader or government that has abrogated the constitution. However the armed struggle is very destructive. That bush war killed more than 500,000 people.
The shortfall of armed struggle, which we have all realised rudely, is that armed struggle doesn’t change power relations. Those who have arms or weapons become stronger while the ordinary people are weakened. So the people run to IDP camps, lose their land, schools close and social service delivery collapses.
In an armed struggle, fighters take command. All power remains at the top/commanders. People subjecting their interests to the interests of others becomes difficult.
Today, people ask me, and it’s a legitimate question, how sure are we that you will not be like Museveni? The most important thing is the ability to empower people to remove leaders that are against the people’s interests.
So armed struggle is a method to remove a dictator but not a dictatorship. Everybody must be part of the struggle. Everybody must be a fighter.
Secondly it’s possible to take power using nonviolent means. It is possible to defeat a dictator’s weapons without us using weapons. Nonviolent struggle means defiance. Today, people misunderstand the potency of Defiance. Defiance is a constant in life. It means resistance. When you feel something is wrong, you resist it; you defy it.
Forexample, we engaged in anti land-grabbing campaign but in Isingiro, NRM leaders fighting land-grabbing have been harassed and victimised. So they the NRM local leaders are defying and resisting their superiors evict vulnerable people from their land. They have now realised what we have been fighting.
So in nonviolent struggle, we strive to awaken people to understand that their obtaining situation is not good for them. People must know that they have no power; that they have no control over their resources and institutions and that they can never improve their welfare etc. You hear people saying restock Teso. You ask the one who took your cows to bring them back? It won’t happen.
Secondly, we must be organised; success is for the organised. If you are disorganise, you keep agonised, you keep lamenting. Any organisation is good- be it traders, teachers, farmers- it is all good. So even political parties must be organised.
We also need to organise purposefully and cautiously at all levels to have leaders who can influence people. That must be done creatively. So we need overt and covert leadership. We shall have visible and invisible leaders both with their networks that will operate and work effectively. Once you have people who are organised, the dictatorship is weakened, nearly finished. What we need next is action.
We can remove a dictatorship without going on the streets. The most important is once you withdraw your cooperation, the dictatorship falls. Non-cooperation is the most effective instrument of defeating a dictatorship.
Some people ask what is the role of the elections. Usually during election, the dictator is held captive because he cannot campaign while other candidates are not. We can also reach people and give them information. We also organise during elections. And by the way, even during an election, people can use their power to fail all manoeuvres by the dictator to overthrow the people’s will. It happened in Kasese where people stood against vote rigging.
So where are we now. You hear people say defiance failed, walk to work and so what can we do next? Defiance has been effective. I can tell you the effect of defiance has dramatically changed everything in our favour. Museveni regime is at its weakest. It is nearly finished
The economy has collapsed. The Museveni regime cannot pay workers, the districts are bankrupt and there is nothing he can do about it. Museveni has not been spending on production but rather on protecting himself against defiance. And what he relies on i.e the power of the gun, he has lost trust of his security forces. In the last election, we won at all barracks. The security officers are part of us because they face the problems all Ugandans face.
There are many security people that have been arrested on charges of planning a mutiny. Makindye barracks is full of soldiers accused of planning a mutiny. Museveni now fears his own shadow.
The international community, which has supported Mr. Museveni for decades have also realised Uganda is ready for change. As election observers, they concluded elections were rigged. They are looking at options. The NRM Party, he has controlled over the years is also looking at succession.
That is why Museveni has been approaching us for talks. We have never asked for talks. We have told him we shall only talk about how he leaves. And this is because, unlike any other election and inspite of all the cheating, Museveni knows well we won the 2016 presidential election. We can prove that Mr. Museveni didn’t win. That is why police under the commander of Felix Kaweesi (RIP) invaded our party offices; it is why I was help prisoner for many months. I have a judgement of court showing i was under illegal detention. If i was a candidate, you put me under illegal detention and stop me from challenging the election, then you have abrogated the constitution.
They locked me up but they were shocked to see me in town on 11th, May, 2016, arrested me and exiled me to Karamoja. The Karamajong protested demanding i be removed from their land because I had not committed a crime in Karamoja.
They charged me with treason on grounds that I had announced myself winner. Since May, there has not been a case brought against me even after I admitted in court that I won elections and I announced myself winner. So you think such a regime is powerful? It cannot be.
Now we have all agreed that we can have dialogue on the audit of the election so we can conclude the matter. That is the dialogue you have been hearing of. A dictator cannot be removed through talking but a dictator can talk himself out of power. And if he does that, he can negotiate a few things- whether he is going to court or what he keeps. If as a country we are not going to have a lot trouble as he is going, we can make a few concessions. The only dialogue is how he leaves not how to stay.
So our struggle is simply to change people relations. Power must move from a few to the majority. In this struggle, everybody is a fighter. In the end you won’t have people owning up the struggle. This is the struggle of the people, it’s not a partisan struggle at the current moment.
Once the struggle ends, we must have transition. Regardless of how Museveni goes, we must, as a matter of priority, have a transition to do four things:
- We must re-organise the constitution of country. We shall have a new consensus as Ugandans because Museveni has tribalised our country- you hear of Nile republic, Nyira republic- people are fed up. We must have a new consensus as a people.
0. We must build new institutions because the current institutions serve the dictatorship. We must build institutions for the people. Uganda Police, Army, Judiciary, Parliament must serve the people and reflect national character.
0. We must have free and fair elections. During the transition, we must work hard to build political parties and institutions to give a new political direction.
0. We must have truth telling, justice and reconciliation. We won’t reconcile unless the truth is known. What happened to the cows of Teso, why were people killed. We need to have closure and know how to deal with those responsible for what happened. We need justice
Then we shall enter a new Uganda. As I have promised, whether alive or dead, all of us shall walk with a swagger.