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What Is Africa’s Problem?

Yoweri K. Museveni
Edited by Elizabeth Kanyogonya
Foreword by Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 296
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctttsg2m
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  • Book Info
    What Is Africa’s Problem?
    Book Description:

    Edited by Elizabeth Kanyogonya “I am very pleased that this book by one of Africa’s most important leaders now will be available to Americans. We need to understand what Africans think about Africa.”–Jimmy Carter and/or What is Africa’s problem? As one of the leaders expressing a broad and forceful vision for Africa’s future, Uganda’s Yoweri K. Museveni is perhaps better placed than anyone in the world to address the very question his book poses.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8991-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere

    Uganda became politically independent in October 1962; Yoweri K. Museveni was sworn in as president of the country at the end of January 1986, after his National Resistance Army occupied Kampala. In the intervening period, six different men (Milton Obote on two separate occasions) had been sworn in as president. They included the infamous General Idi Amin, whose eight-year regime of mass murder, cruel and ruthless torture, economic destruction, and deliberately imposed misery still leaves its shadow over the people of Uganda, years after he was overthrown.

    The politics, and the political turmoil, of any country are the exclusive business...

  4. Map of Uganda
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xx)
  6. Glossary
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  7. Key Political Events in Uganda
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  8. Profile of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
    (pp. xxv-xxx)
    Elizabeth Kanyogonya
  9. I. Ugandan Politics

    • ONE Ours Is a Fundamental Change
      (pp. 3-9)

      No one should think that what is happening today is a mere change of guard: it is a fundamental change in the politics of our country, In Africa, we have seen so many changes that change, as such, is nothing short of mere turmoil. We have had one group getting rid of another one, only for it to turn out to be worse than the group it displaced. Please do not count us in that group of people: the National Resistance Movement is a clearheaded movement with clear objectives and a good membership.

      Of course, we may have some bad...

    • TWO The Price of Bad Leadership
      (pp. 10-15)

      I am very glad to be in Gulu, but I am sorry that I have to speak to you in English. This is because our leaders in the past did not encourage or foster a national language. I sound silly when I talk to my people in English when there are African languages that can be easily learned by all of us. Owing to the bankruptcy of the leadership over the past twenty-four years, no effort has been made to develop a national language. So when I am speaking to my people, I have to speak in English as if...

    • THREE Religion and Politics
      (pp. 16-18)

      We in the National Resistance Movement have no prejudice whatsoever against any religious ideas. Many of us are members of the Christian churches in Uganda. Nevertheless, we cannot escape the historical fact that the church has sometimes been used to serve wrong interests in society.

      In the Middle Ages, the church was used by people who were not properly informed to suppress and stop the spread of new ideas. The Spanish Inquisition was responsible, for instance, for the destruction of thousands of lives. The execution of brilliant scientists like Galileo and Copernicus and the well-known story of loan of Arc...

    • FOUR Colonial versus Modern Law
      (pp. 19-21)

      Let me take this opportunity to reiterate what I have said many times before, that the NRM government is fully committed to the rule of law, the protection of individual human rights, and the independence of the judiciary. Our country has gone through a traumatic experience for the last twenty or so years, mainly because Obote and Amin had no respect for the rule of law. Their soldiers and security agents had become a law unto themselves because they could murder, rape, and rob with impunity. The liberation war we fought was to restore the dignity and inviolability of the...

    • FIVE Security Is the Key...
      (pp. 22-30)

      When we took over power one year ago today, the security situation in the whole country was very bad: 300,000 Ugandans had been murdered in central Uganda; in the west, people had been murdered and lots of property looted; in Lango, the Okellos had created havoc with murder, rape, and looting; in Teso, Ojukwu was using helicopters to locate cows so that ground forces could loot them; and in Karamoja there was endemic cattle raiding. Kampala and other parts of Uganda had been parceled out among warlords of different factions. In 1985, we tried to reach a peace agreement with...

    • SIX The State of the Nation in 1989
      (pp. 31-43)

      I congratulate you all on your election as members of the National Resistance Council. I hope all of us agree that, by and large, the recent electoral exercise was free and fair. I have, however, heard that in a few cases, there were instances of the old practices of sectarianism and other manipulations taking advantage of the ignorance of the population. In spite of that, however, there is a general consensus that this was the fairest and most peaceful electoral exercise in the history of our country.

      We should now be able to tackle the fundamental questions affecting the future...

    • SEVEN Why the Interim Period Was Extended
      (pp. 44-48)

      Honorable Members of the National Executive Committee must be aware that Legal Notice No. 1 of 1986 (the Proclamation) provides as follows in section 14: “The National Resistance Movement Government shall be an interim Government and shall hold office of a period not exceeding four years from the date of this Proclamation.” Section 14 (ii) adds: “This Proclamation shall be deemed to have come into force on the 26th day of January, 1986.”

      The above, therefore, clearly means that the maximum stated interim period should end on the 25th of January, 1990. Members must also be aware of the buildup...

    • EIGHT The Interim Balance Sheet
      (pp. 49-58)

      When we took power four years ago, the Ugandan economy had suffered a cumulative decline in GDP of 10.5 percent between 1971 and 1985. The real picture, however, is that GDP per capita had declined by 41 percent because while production had been going down, the population had been increasing all along. This decline, together with internal instability and external shocks, precipitated an economic crisis. Tackling this crisis was no easy task, given that the country’s infrastructure had become dilapidated by years of neglect. External debt servicing was also taking a significant percentage of our foreign exchange earnings.

      However, I...

    • NINE Where Is the Public Spirit in the Public Service?
      (pp. 59-70)

      The NRM government lays great emphasis on seminars and all other forms of knowledge-sharing processes because of the importance we attach to the acquisition of knowledge as the foundation upon which all government activities must be based. Government ministers and other officials must have data and they must understand the NRM’s orientation in order to execute our various programs. The success or failure of programs must be continuously assessed so that the government is always fully aware of its performance.

      While it is true that the success of government programs depends on the efforts of officials at headquarters, to a...

    • TEN Corruption Is a Cancer
      (pp. 71-76)

      I hope all of you had a happy Easter and peaceful Idd el Fitr. On the occasion of the state opening of the Fourth Session of the National Resistance Council, my remarks will center on the current economic, security, and political situation in our country.

      Our economy continues to make steady progress on its road to full recovery. The cumulative rate of inflation between July 1989 and March 1990 was 24 percent, down from 86 percent for the 1988-89 financial year. This gives us hope that by the end of this financial year, we shall have contained it at no...

    • ELEVEN Was It a Fundamental Change?
      (pp. 77-87)

      Five years ago today, we established the National Resistance Movement government and ended twenty years of tyranny. We presented you with a program conceived in the bush during those long years of the struggle. It is now time to take stock: has the National Resistance Movement delivered on its program?

      The question of what political, economic, and social institutions Uganda should have was never seriously addressed when the British relinquished power in 1962. We thus became an independent nation on the basis of institutions the British had left in place. These were not of our own making and it is,...

    • TWELVE Building Uganda for the Future
      (pp. 88-108)

      My purpose in coming here is to ensure that, if possible, we can reach a thorough understanding of the problems here and if that is not possible, we can at least identify the areas of our differences. For that reason, I am ready to come here any time you want me to come so that we can sort out any outstanding issues. In the evolution of man, one of the hallmarks of progress is the suppression of the part of the brain that controls instinct and the supremacy of that part that controls conscious human action. Backward people are differentiated...

  10. II. Military Strategy in Uganda

    • THIRTEEN Why We Fought a Protracted People’s War
      (pp. 111-123)

      This article aims to explain to our people, as well as friends of Uganda elsewhere, the broad strategy of our struggle. It will also outline the progress we have made so far in the liberation war, and deal briefly with the prospects for its successful conclusion.

      The strategy of the National Resistance Army, which is the armed wing of the National Resistance Movement, is that of a protracted people’s war. The concept of a protracted people’s war is not a new one, but it is not properly understood, particularly in Africa. Nor is the term “strategy” itself, in the technical...

    • FOURTEEN Who Is Winning the War?
      (pp. 124-129)

      Some people in our army and movement are interested to know how the present balances of forces in the Ugandan situation stands. The question on a number of people’s lips is: who is winning the war?

      In order for one to know who is winning the war and who is losing it, one has got to use the weighing scale of whether the main objectives of the respective belligerent parties are being realized or not.

      Therefore, we must ask the following questions: what are, and what have been, the main objectives of the enemy over the past four years and...

    • FIFTEEN The NRA and the People
      (pp. 130-131)

      I want to thank you very much for all the good work you have done since I last saw you at Katonga. Your battalion is the one that fought the Katonga battles. The Katonga battles, fought mainly by yourselves and at times jointly with the Fifteenth Battalion, were great battles indeed in the struggle to liberate Uganda. This is because we used Katonga as the grinding stone against the enemy. I thank you very much for this great work.

      In doing all this work, in all these accomplishments, you adhered to our political line. You maintained a good relationship with...

    • SIXTEEN How to Fight a Counterrevolutionary Insurgency
      (pp. 132-140)

      In order for a patriotic national government to fight a successful counterrevolutionary war, the following conditions must be met:

      1. The cause of the government must be a just one: it must be fighting for right and not for wrong causes. It must be fighting to preserve or bring about democracy, to carry out land reform, to crush tribalism or other forms of sectarianism, to crush banditry like cattle rustling or other forms of gangsterism.

      If the government is fighting to impose or preserve sectarian hegemony, to grab peasants’ land in favor of landlords or big local and foreign capitalists...

  11. III. African Politics

    • SEVENTEEN What’s Wrong with Africa?
      (pp. 143-149)

      I was not given any particular topic to speak on, so I shall choose a few things I consider important for Africa. With that in mind, I shall put my topic as follows: What is wrong with Africa? What is the problem? This is what I am going to try to establish.

      My years in Dar es Salaam were very useful for me because I had left Uganda deliberately to pursue politics, not so much studies. When I was in the sixth form in Uganda, I put all my three choices at this university. The reason was that at that...

    • EIGHTEEN Most of Africa Kept Quiet. . .
      (pp. 150-153)

      I must state that Ugandans were unhappy and felt a deep sense of betrayal that most of Africa kept silent while tyrants killed them. The reason for not condemning such massive crimes has, supposedly, been the desire not to interfere in the internal affairs of a member state, in accordance with the charters of the OAU and the United Nations. We do not accept this reasoning because in the same charters, there are explicit laws that enunciate the sanctity and inviolability of human life.

      The United Nations Charter reaffirms faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of...

    • NINETEEN Self-Reliance Is the Way Ahead
      (pp. 154-160)

      The National Resistance Movement is not a party like UNIP. It is a movement because, by definition, a party is uni-ideological. You, in Zambia, have sorted out your political problems so that you can have a party with one ideology. I congratulate you on that.

      But in Uganda, we still need a movement because a movement is multi-ideological. In our movement, you will find feudalists, capitalists, and socialists, but we insist that one line of thought must lead all those tendencies. If you are a feudalist, a capitalist, or a socialist, you must, at least, accept that you are a...

    • TWENTY Political Substance and Political Form
      (pp. 161-165)

      Whenever I have some time to glance through the newspapers, which are quite abundant these days on the streets of Kampala, I always feel slightly uneasy because some of them are still taking political lines that have caused a lot of problems in Uganda. The writers of these papers — and the political pressure groups they represent—do not appear to have any idea of the direction our country should be taking. I am concerned about the amount of space and time that is wasted on what I may describe as surface, rather than essential and substantial matters.

      They ought to...

    • TWENTY-ONE The Crisis of the State in Africa
      (pp. 166-176)

      When I received the invitation to come and address this seminar, I tried to put some thoughts down, but I shall not read the written speech. I shall summarize what I think are the salient points of this important subject: “The Crisis of the State in Africa.”

      Soon after the formal departure of colonial rulers at independence, the state in Africa was beset by many problems and I shall concentrate on the most crucial of them. The first problem was that the state was economically dependent on the former colonial powers, especially for technology. We often talk of economic dependence,...

  12. IV. Africa in World Politics

    • TWENTY-TWO Genuine Nonalignment
      (pp. 179-187)

      Mr. President, we in Uganda have just marked the twenty-fifth anniversary of our independence and yet, for most of those twenty-five years, our people have suffered greatly at the hands of dictators and murderers. It was to put an end to fascism that Ugandan patriots organized an armed struggle that brought down Amin in 1979, and Obote and his successors in 1986. In January 1986, the National Resistance Movement and its military wing, the National Resistance Army, pioneered by twenty-seven young men, triumphantly overthrew the agents of dictatorship and fascism. The change we ushered in was not a mere change...

    • TWENTY-THREE When Is Africa’s Industrial Revolution?
      (pp. 188-196)

      One of the Third World’s biggest problems is not the absence of natural resources, but the absence of technology. Most of Africa’s problems are caused directly or indirectly by our lack of technology, which, by implication, means lack of industry. Europe, North America, and Japan have not always been industrialized. Industrialization in Europe is recent, having started about two hundred years ago. Previously, people all over the world lived in poverty and backwardness because of lack of industries. All the big inventions that have liberated man from poverty, backwardness, and want are relatively recent.

      The steam engine was only invented...

    • TWENTY-FOUR Defending Our Common Heritage
      (pp. 197-207)

      On behalf of the government and the people of Uganda, I wish to begin by stating that we consider it a singular honor and privilege to host this First African Regional Conference on Environment and Sustainable Development, which is a follow-up of the World Commission Report, entitled “Our Common Future.” I understand that this is the first of a series of such conferences, which will be organized on a worldwide basis to discuss the challenges of environmental management and sustainable development.

      Often in human history, crises have served to propel humanity forward in its development. The fact that so many...

    • TWENTY-FIVE The Economic Consequences of Coffee
      (pp. 208-213)

      This assembly of the Inter-African Coffee Organization is taking place at a critical time for the coffee industry. It is important that the current problems on this subject be discussed in a substantive and serious manner. This will contribute significantly to the resolution of the problems caused by the current collapse in the coffee price. In welcoming you to Uganda, therefore, I wish to emphasize the importance that we attach to this opportunity of discussing such a crucial subject.

      Uganda’s economy remains essentially agrarian. Nine out of ten people depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Agricultural production accounts for two-thirds...

    • TWENTY-SIX Africa Needs Ideological and Economic Independence
      (pp. 214-222)

      It is with a feeling of deep appreciation that I accept your decision to elect me chairman of the Organization of African Unity for the year 1990-91. The confidence you have reposed in me is testimony to your appreciation of the efforts of the people of Uganda to build a just, democratic, and economically viable future and to advance the cause of African unity under the leadership of the National Resistance Movement.

      This is truly a historic occasion in that we should receive two of the most valiant freedom fighters in the history of this continent — President Sam Nujoma of...

    • TWENTY-SEVEN Where Does the East-West Thaw Leave Africa?
      (pp. 223-230)

      I am most grateful to have been invited to address such a distinguished audience. As the title of your institute suggests, you are concerned with strategic studies, which, over the last forty-five years, have been dominated by the East and West ideological and military blocs that emerged after the Second World War. The conflict between East and West represented the contention between the two most advanced and dominant social systems, that is, capitalism and socialism. The other social systems that existed in the other parts of the world have played a very subsidiary role. In one way or another, the...

    • TWENTY-EIGHT The Need for North-South Cooperation
      (pp. 231-246)

      I would like to begin by thanking the President of the European Parliament for his declaration that from now onward, when Europe is buying aid food for Africa, they will buy it from African countries. As Uganda is a surplus producer of food that we are never able to sell, we are very pleased to hear this declaration.

      We are greatly honored to host the joint ACP/EEC Assembly here in Kampala. This is a clear manifestation of the confidence that fellow members of our universal club have in us and we are very grateful. I welcome you to Uganda very...

    • TWENTY-NINE AIDS Is a Socioeconomic Disease
      (pp. 247-256)

      I understand that this is the first meeting on AIDS held in this region, in spite of the fact that the epidemic has been raging here for the last ten years. I therefore wish to thank the Uganda Medical Association for taking the initiative to arrange this conference. Let me hope that such conferences will continue to take place in our countries so that more of our scientists can be exposed to more information.

      So far, seven international AIDS conferences have been held around the world and all of them have been outside Africa, where the problem is most serious....

  13. APPENDIX: The National Resistance Movement Ten-Point Program
    (pp. 257-262)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 263-263)