Saturday, July 31, 2010

In the Name of God, Go!

Oliver Cromwell
When I discovered that I had a 10 hour layover in Amsterdam on my way to Washington, DC last month, I made two great discoveries. One was the Yotel Hotel in Schiphol Airport, which I could access without leaving the terminal and going through another security check. It is a curious little airport hotel designed using amazing technologies to make the most out of the tinniest spaces. Even more exciting was my second discovery, a book entitled ‘Speeches that Changed the World’ with an introduction by Simon Sebag Montefiore. It starts off with the Sermon on the Mount by none other than Jesus Christ of Nazareth, followed by verses from the Surah al-Baqarah (Qu’ran) by Prophet Mohammed and then it quickly comes down to earth with heroes and villains like George Washington, Napoloen Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Martin Luther King and even present day Barack Obama.

As soon as I started reading it I knew I would be quoting from it for a long time and my only difficulty was choosing whom to quote first and who would make the most sense in present day Uganda. It was not an easy decision especially since I had to choose between God and man, great men and evil men.

Oliver Cromwell ‘Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland,’ would not be my ideal choice of a leader but the relevance of his speech to an infamous British Parliament on April 20, 1653 was too good to pass. Cromwell had at this time played a leading role in abolishing the House of Lords, abolishing monarchism and executing King Charles I of England.

Legend says that in 1653, after learning that Parliament was attempting to stay in session despite an agreement to dissolve, and having failed to come up with a working constitution, Cromwell attended Parliament on 20 April and after listening to one or two speeches his patience run out. He then stood up and harangued the members. The last sentence of that speech is quoted widely: “In the name of God, Go!” In Uganda we would like to read it to our executive and a significant chunk of the August House:

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money. Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth? Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves become the greatest grievance. Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do; I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place; go get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! Go! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!”

Now you understand why I started with Cromwell’s speech.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010



Contact: Anne Mugisha,                            Party: Forum for Democratic Change

Telephone Number: 0791-770055           Email Address: 

Web site address:


Naguru, Kampala, July 28, 2010 — Today I have chosen to announce my decision to contest for the seat of Member of Parliament, Nakawa Constituency in order to give the people of Nakawa a real choice during the 2011 elections and to give its residents a real voice in national politics.

I have chosen to make the announcement in Naguru because this community embodies the challenges that are faced by constituents of Nakawa Constituency and greater Kampala. The community is dealing with the challenges of a rapidly expanding urban center that creates both opportunities and difficulties for those living in or close to a metropolitan area.

Some of these challenges are known to the public because of the controversy that they have stirred. Residents of the Naguru – Nakawa Estates are living under fear of eviction from their homes. The Estates are home to public servants who have lived for two generations and some refugees who fled two decades of war in the northern and eastern parts of the country. They are now being told to cede their rights to a foreign investor without specific assurances of continuity of their residence, temporary relocation or full compensation. The people living in the Estates have a proposal to redevelop their Estate into a modern residential facility but it has been rejected in favor of a foreign investor and they want to know why, especially since residents of Bugolobi flats, Bukoto flats in Nakawa as well as other areas like Kololo and Nakasero were given right of first refusal when these properties were privatized

About a year ago Naguru Health Center a public facility that provided maternal health care and HIV/AIDS counseling among other things to residents was demolished. The Clinic provided services for people who came from as far as Mukono, Bweyogerere, Kireka and Ntinda and today the services have been transferred to clinic that serves patients under a tent in Kiswa. Women are giving birth by the roadside on their way to Mulago and in they have shared information that their former Health Center is now being developed for private use.

Last night we received news that the National Environment Management Authority is planning to evict commercial and residential developments in the wetlands down the road between Naguru and Ntinda. The opportunities of an expanding city must be balanced with the aesthetic beauty of its green areas but more importantly city developers must preserve the benefits of wetlands which include slowing floodwaters, protect uplands from erosion, increasing water quality, providing a setting for recreation and study, support a diversity of wildlife across the landscape, moderate local climate, recharging groundwater and producing products used by humans like fish.

The public schools that serve the people of this area like Nakawa Katale, St. Jude, Kalinabiri, Kiswa and Kyambogo are the same schools that served students of my generation. In the meantime the population has increased and increased class sizes without a corresponding increase in public schools.

Now, this area is currently represented by a Deputy Attorney General and am sure he has tried his best in the last 10 years to address these problems but residents of Nakawa believe that he has not used his clout in Cabinet to bring positive change to Nakawa and to address their problems. That is why I say I am offering the people a real choice and a determined voice to make sure that their issues are addressed in the most partial way.

I will begin visiting the 23 parishes of Nakawa next month to ensure that I fully understand their concerns and that I listen to their own proposals for solutions of their issues as constituents and as citizens of Uganda. This is a very cosmopolitan area where you will find every Ugandan nationality or tribe residing and I have a strong affiliation to Nakawa which was my first home in Kampala District 38 years ago. I have been away for 9 years and I realize that I have to concentrate on reacquainting myself with the communities and people of Nakawa. I believe that my experiences living abroad in cosmopolitan/metropolitan cities will be very useful to the people of Nakawa. I know that my experience in Ugandan national politics over the last 10 years will certainly be beneficial in providing a loud voice for the people of Nakawa. I am a very determined individual who does not give up on a path that I have chosen.

I have been well prepared for this task and I will end by quoting a Bible verse that explains where I am today in my journey of political growth:

1 Corinthians 13:11-12

11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.[a] All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

We shall never forget 7/11 - the day Al-Shaabab Struck Uganda

Yesterday, July 14, 2010 I joined the leaders of the Inter Party Cooperation to visit victims of the 7/11 bomb blast in Ward 2A Mulago hospital, Kampala. The press had been tipped off so there was a frenzy of activity with photo journalists running to and fro trying to find the best spot to capture the day’s images. The presence of the press created a bonanza atmosphere yesterday at Mulago Hospital where I had expected a somber mood. Journalists scrambled with politicians and their entourage to get the best photo opportunity.

For a moment I was taken aback by what I considered bad taste considering the purpose of our mission: To commiserate with those who were in needless pain because of a senseless incident. These mostly young, soccer fans had gone out to have fun and they were now considered the lucky ones to be in hospital with broken limbs, while their friends were killed in a vicious senseless attack by the cruel al-Shabaab (The Youth).

My concern about the fracas we were causing on the ward melted away when I came face to face with al-Shabaab’s victims. I was transfixed in the moment and could not move away from two young women, with beautiful facial features on one side and mangled features on the other.

I pulled away from the crowd, dropped the political hat and let my human one take over. We had not even reached the ward. Obviously it was filled to capacity and there were about six individuals in the waiting area, a corridor outside the ward; which was now fitted with beds. There were no curtains to separate the patients, no privacy at all. I moved closer to the two young ladies, observing the tortured looks and their ghastly wounds. The first one had half her head shaved and there were fresh stitches running down the length of her scalp. There were more stitches on her right cheek and on her chin. Her eyes were swollen in a way that I had never seen before and the skin around the eyes was red and black. I was sure that she was a fair skinned beauty the day before 7/11. Now I had to get close to her to imagine just how pretty she must have been.

I thought she was sleeping but she stirred and opened her hurting eyes, looked right in mine and greeted me. I asked her name, she told me and I promptly forgot it. I felt like an intruder on her pain. Then without prompting she started telling me her story. She must have repeated it many times already because she told it absent mindedly. She said she was not one to go to such events but she was escorting a friend. I listened but did not hear everything, at some point I started to cry. She was 22 she said, had finished studying and had a shop in Banda. She rambled on, saying her father always made sure his children had a business when they completed school. What a wise father I thought, but my thoughts were only half there. I turned away to hide my tears. Then I moved on to the next girl, who told me her story too. Viola, this time I remembered her name and I will always remember her pain and her disfigured face.

I was angry and am still angry with the bombing of 7/11. I have read many opinions from all sides of the political spectrum. There are those who say that we shall crush them and how I wish we could. In Northern Uganda we learnt that brute force does not always ‘crush’ terrorists and that they remain alive long enough to spread their terror and paralyze communities. If we could not crush the ones on home territory where the army resides and has the advantages of local terrain and community support, how will we crush terrorists that live on their own terrain and have their community’s support?

With al-Shabaab we have a new kind of terrorist working on Ugandan soil. The type that does not care to live to see the destruction they left behind, one that does not care about a reward in this life because they have been promised a harem of virgins in the next life and material wealth for those they leave behind. This terrorist does not care for those who will ‘crush them’ because such hard words are spoken after the suicide bomber has already crushed themselves.

Now is a time for grieving but it is also the time to say this: We were wrong on Somalia and we are wrong to react in the traditional way to a new and unconventional problem. This is not a time to blame nor is it a time to seek political justification with hindsight.

It is a time to correct our mistakes.

Anne Mugisha

Monday, July 5, 2010

What do I want to do for Nakawa as a legislator if I decide to run?

At all the meetings, conversations that I have attended (Ekiganiiro, Ssuubi, etc...) we have discussed issues that impact the electorate but obviously these issues do not sell papers or interest journalists as a story line.  For those who are asking why I have not yet come up with a laundry list of the things I want to clean up as an MP, I want you to know that I take a different approach to leadership. I do not 'tell' people what am going to do for them. Rather I ask them what they would like a legislator to do for them. The issues and solutions come from the people themselves.

Now ofcourse, I do stand for certain ideals that are outlined in FDC's draft and past manifestos. High up on my list are:
- Women's rights (land, succession, equal access to opportunity and emancipation, particularly political participation.)

- Political accountability - whereby voters hold leaders accountable to their campaign promises,

- Good governance which includes upholding constitutional rights and obligations, fighting corruption and abuse of office, separating the state from the ruling party, separating and promoting mutual respect among the three arms of government (executive, legislature and judiciary).

These causes, for which I have struggled the last 10 years; inform my thinking on legislating and appropriating public funds for national development. My understanding of 'taking power to the people' for example, is not creating smaller districts that are run by appointees of the central government. I would advocate for federating at regional/cultural level in larger units so as to benefit from economies of scale in administration; and also to benefit from taking governance and control of a significant amount of resources to the local level, thereby empowering these federated entities to make decisions and implement policies and programs based on their local priorities.

I have strong views on managing the population explosion which I believe is the result of a sinister population policy and neglect by the current government. I cannot address urban poverty without addressing the issue of birth control.

I am concerned by the neglect of urban infrastructure and services which makes our city look like one large slum, and am concerned by the appaling neglect of health and basic sanitary services to the highly congested 'real' slum areas.

I have questions about the application of the condominium law which enabled some residents in Nakawa Division (Bugolobi) to get ownership of their apartment units while residents of Naguru were left to fight off investors without being given the opportunity to buy their units.

As I learn more about the issues facing different constituents of Nakawa division, and after I have decided to run; I will develop a manifesto that addresses our common and diverse concerns as a constituency, one that is in sync with the overall goals of FDC and with my vision as a leader.