Monday, 16 April 2012

A4C National coordinator Summoned by Special Investigations Unit

Last Friday, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga was summoned for the third time to appear before the Special Investigations Unit, in Kireka.  He had ignored the previous two summons.  Today April 16, 2012, he appeared before SPI officers Kataratambi Charles, Fred Mirondo, Balaba, Ninsiima Ruth and George Nuwagaba.  Mpuuga was accompanied by Muwanga Kivumbi, Ibrahim Nganda Ssemujju and Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago. He was questioned in connection to acts of inciting violence and committing treason at various events in various locations nationwide. He was told that he would be summoned again and questioned further in this regard. 

Hon. Mathias Mpuuga is the National Coordinator of the 'outlawed' Activists 4 Change pressure group and will be taking a lot of heat on our behalf.  We expect however that more and more activists will be harassed and intimidated during this dark period of our nation's history.  Activists will be petitioning the Constitutional Court to challenge the constitutionality of a Statutory Instrument that purportedly outlawed the pressure group with the intention of silencing dissenting voices and criminalizing activist and their activities. 

We ask you to remain firm and stand by one another as we face our tormentors.  Thank you!

Friday, 23 March 2012

A4C and Opposition Press Statement on the Death of a Police Officer

AT Kampala, March 23, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are issuing this statement on behalf of all opposition leaders and activists in order to set the record straight about the events of Wednesday 21st March 2012 and also to respond to deliberate misinformation and outrageous allegations that have been leveled against us following those events.

Wednesday’s activity was not an A4C activity.  It was an event held at the behest of the Lord Mayor of Kampala City, Erias Lukwago who invited his colleague the Mayor of Kawempe, the Woman Member of Parliament for Kampala and FDC President Kizza Besigye to accompany him and advise him as he inspected development activities and services in the city.  The Lord Mayor notified police in writing, which he did not have to do; and his letter was acknowledged.  The police was therefore fully aware of the activity that took place on Wednesday and in fact they joined the touring party early on and walked along until the time they decided to disrupt the Lord Mayor’s legitimate activity.

The visit went on smoothly with the population expressing excitement and jubilation upon seeing their leaders taking an active interest in their welfare.  The police joined the group of leaders almost at the beginning of the visit and moved alongside them on Kafumbe Mukasa Road, Namirembe Road and on to Ben Kiwanuka Road; without incident.  The situation only changed for the worse when the Lord Mayor was stopped from proceeding along Ben Kiwanuka Road bringing his visit to a premature halt.

Once the Mayor and his entourage were stopped, the crowd around them grew bigger but it was still a happy crowd until Police decided to disperse the crowd by brutally beating innocent people with batons and spraying them with teargas and pepper spray.  Police’s brutal actions were uncalled for and it was their actions that led to unfortunate scenes of violence, which we condemn strongly. This was another clear example where the police worked for the political interests of the NRM dictatorship rather than the security interests of the people of Kampala.

We have since been informed by the police that Asst. Inspector of Police John Bosco Ariong died from injuries sustained during the fracas that was started by the Police.  We wish to extend our sincere condolences to his family and friends.  We’re keenly aware that most police men are as frustrated as the rest of the citizenry and also look forward to the day when their living conditions can be improved. We are disappointed that government has been quick to blame opposition leaders and activists for his death even before investigating the matter.

We wish to reiterate our commitment to using non-violent means to bring about political changes in our country. This commitment is ideological and strategic because we firmly believe that use of violence will maintain the vicious cycle of repression, injustice and instability. We want, for the first time in Uganda’s history; to transfer power from the guns to the people of Uganda. It is this prospect that causes fear and panic to the military dictatorship.

The public is aware that the government has for some time tried to criminalize the increasingly popular protests and rallies by opposition activists in a bid to silence all dissent and opposition to government’s unpopular policies and corrupt practices.  Last October, the Inspector General of Police made public statements attempting to link Activists for Change to Taliban terrorists and Al qaeda.  These wild allegations failed to gain traction even with A4C’s strongest critics and in a bid to salvage their mission of criminalizing the opposition; the Police slapped charges of treason on several A4C organizers and activists.  As opposition activities have grown in popularity, security forces have become more desperate and reckless in their shenanigans to incriminate activists so much so that some quarters have suggested that Mr. Ariong may have been sacrificed to further their evil plans.

We therefore call on the authorities to ensure a quick and thorough investigation into the death of John Bosco Ariong in order to find answers to the questions raised by the manner in which he died.  Specifically, a postmortem must be carried out to establish the cause of death and the object used to cause death.  Reports indicate that nine suspects have been charged with the murder yet it is inconceivable that nine people in a crowd threw one object that caused the death.

We do not recall the government reacting with such conviction against violence when unarmed civilians were killed by those supposed to protect them.  As we mourn the death of John Bosco Ariong, we wish to remember all unarmed civilians including baby Juliana Gift Nalwanga (Masaka), Dan Musa Wasaga (Gulu), Adoni Mugisu,  Charles Odur, Semuga Kanabi (Nakivubo), Sam Mufumbiro ( Owino), Frank kizito (Masajja), Wilber Mugalazi (Bweyogerere),  Augustine Guwatudde (Namasuba),  James Mukibi and others who have died at the hands of reckless armed security officers during legitimate public protests in recent times.

The death of Mr. Ariong has given the government a new platform to intensify repression against opposition activists and regrettably,  Mr. Museveni  is calling for the speedy passing of an unconstitutional law to deny bail to protestors as a deterrent for protests against his government.  His characteristic response to crush protestors is a threat that we shall ignore as we go about our duties as opposition leaders and activists.  These deaths should act as motivation to strengthen our commitment to the Bill of Rights and not to further curtail our civil rights and liberties.  As opposition leaders and activists we shall not be intimidated by threats of violence and incarceration and we shall continue to engage the public and to execute our legitimate roles.

Hon. Nathan Nandala Mafabi, Leader of Opposition
Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, Coordinator Activists for Change

Friday, 20 January 2012

Our Next Activities

Dear friends,

I would like to thank you for the part you have so far played in engaging the state to respect the rights of opposition leaders as they struggle for space to give voice to the concerns of Ugandan citizens during this time of economic hardship.  Ugandans are fed up with corruption in public office, wastage of public resources, poor economic planning and management as well as the reckless spending that have become the hallmark of the current government. 

Concerned citizens are working with opposition leaders to mobilize ordinary Ugandans towards attaining a responsive government.  So far the government's response has been to fight back with brutal force in order to silence the voices carrying this urgent and non-partisan message.  We are not deterred and will continue with our activities which rally the masses to engage government and hold it responsible for its dismal failures.  We urge every Ugandan to participate in holding government accountable.  To that end, we would like to invite you to participate in the following rallies:

Today Sat 21 Jan - Kireka (Kyaddondo East), Tues 24 Jan - Kasubi (Rubaga North), Wed 25 Jan Kitintale (Nakawa), Thur 26 Jan Kawempe, Sat 28 Jan - Kololo Independence Grounds.
All rallies start at 2:00pm.  Please bring your friends along.
The rallies are being hosted by area Members of Parliament.  Police has been notified of these rallies and we are working with them to ensure their success.  
We look forward to receiving you.


Monday, 16 January 2012

Walk 2 Work Reloaded Press Release



Today, we are here to announce the launch of our latest campaign ‘Walk to Work’ Reloaded.  We started the year in much the same way as we ended it:  With more stories of public wastage and corruption set against a backdrop of economic gloom and misery.  The government announced a once percentage fall in inflation from 28% to 27% as though it were reason to celebrate, well knowing that it is pathetic to talk of any substantive change with such a high inflation rate.  Even with the shilling gaining strength against the US dollar towards the end of last year, the ordinary man on the street was unable to reap any benefits because the contradictions in the economy have overwhelmed the best minds in the central bank and Ministry of Finance.

By raising the Central Bank Interest Rate CBR) to 23%, the government was passing the effects of its failed economic policies to traders and ultimately to the person on the street who buy from the traders.  The natural consequence of the raised CBR was raising of commercial interest rates to percentages as high as 27 – 30%.  As though this was not punitive enough, the government allowed commercial banks to impose this high rate on both new and existing loans thereby exposing businesses (particularly small businesses) to capital and liquidity risks that they had not envisaged at the time of borrowing old loans.  The outcry from the trading community was inevitable and in our view it was overly considerate.  The harshness and insensitivity of this government’s economic and fiscal policies deserved an even greater, country wide response from the business community.  We applaud KACITA in their efforts to campaign for lower interest rates and will add a voice to their cause because it is ultimately the cause of the common man.

As though to add insult to injury, the Electricity Regulation Authority chose the period of the traders strike to scrap the power subsidy and hike power tariffs by an average of 45% across different users.  Uganda National Chamber of Commerce responded swiftly, noting that "These tariffs shall fall on the shoulders of the consumer so as to offset the subsidy of 396 billion that electricity regulatory authority (ERA) has been paying to the power generators and distributors, to cushion power consumers from higher tariffs." In addition to the high interest rates and day long load shedding, businesses now have to find means of paying these increased tariffs.  Yet the power tariffs do not affect only businesses but also domestic users who will pay Shs 524.5 per unit instead of the Shs 385.6 (a 36% increase), commercial users will pay 487.6 instead of 358.6, (a 36% increase) and medium industrial users will pay 458.9 instead of 333.2 (a 37% increase) while large industrial users will pay 312.8 instead of 184.8 (a 70% increase.)

As the cost of living continues to soar, wages and salaries for teachers, workers and professionals on government’s pay roll have remained stagnant.  The Chief Justice has recently joined a queue of public servants that are demanding higher salaries some of whom are threatening organized industrial action.

It is under these severe economic hardships that we are launching walk to work reloaded.  Our methods and goals have not changed.  We shall continue to use nonviolent action to draw attention to the plight of the common Ugandan.  We shall continue to speak out and amplify the voices of millions of Ugandans whose voices are stifled by an oppressive, corrupt and uncaring government.  We shall continue until your voices are heard in the highest offices of government and beyond.  The year is fresh and we are ready to meet the oppressor on the street as we carry your voices.  We ask you to join us at a series of rallies that we have lined up under walk to work reloaded.

Hon. Nabillah Sempala has graciously accepted to host us in her constituency for our first rally, which will be held this week.  Rallies will continue over the next couple of weeks at venues and times to be announced on radios.  Our final grand rally will be at Kololo Independence Grounds on 28th January, 2012.

We call on all Ugandans across the political and social spectrum to join us and participate in this program where they can express their dissatisfaction and listen to a variety of speakers with ideas on how to tackle the economic crisis.  This morning, Police surrounded our colleague, Ingrid Turinawe’s home as early as 5am to pre-empt our activities.  She was intercepted and is now being detained at Kasangati Police station.  The police Spokesperson alleges that at the weekend A4C beach bash in Entebbe, Ingrid said we would march from this press conference and ‘cause chaos.’  Nothing could be further from the truth.  We caution the police to stop being reactionary and to desist from acting on the basis of speculation.  We look forward to seeing you all.  Our rallies like all our activities are peaceful and anyone harboring ideas of violence is not invited.  We call on the police to provide us with adequate security for our peaceful rallies.

Mathias Mpuuga
National Coordinator, A4C
Activists 4 Change

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Legal Representation for W2W Activists

Dear friends,

Happy New Year!  I hope you are all fine and looking forward to a year filled with promise and hope for further activism for public accountability and democratization in Uganda.  We welcome all your ideas and counseling on the way towards realizing responsible and responsive government in our beloved country.  In everything we do we emphasize peaceful solutions to our political, social and economic dilemma.

This year W2W Week activists who were arrested in October and released on bail will be appearing in courts around the country to answer to charges ranging from treason to illegal assembly.  We are calling on all lawyers who are dedicated to the cause of rule of law and human rights to respond to this need for legal representation by providing pro bono services.  We are always thankful for your generosity and sacrifices.

We are currently working with several lawyers to create a roster to guide participation in these cases.  Accordingly, I would like to request you to submit the following information via email, phone call or text message.  The email to respond to is and the phone number is 0753-769 302. 

Please provide the following information in your response:

1. Names of those requiring legal representation
2. The courts where they will appear and;
3. The dates for court appearances.

Please note that this information is required urgently as some activists are scheduled to appear early in the year.  Kindly pass on this information to all activists who may need it.

Much obliged,

Anne Mugisha

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

PRESS STATEMENT AT Kampala, December 14, 2011



AT Kampala, December 14, 2011

Activists for Change has called this very special press conference to welcome our colleagues from their long overdue release on bail.  We wish to start by thanking our supporters, lawyers and the courts of law for standing with us through a very trying period until we secured bail for all the activists who were detained during the Walk to Work Week of October 2010.  As you know these last three activists have been away for nearly two months on detention without trial in the maximum security prison at Luzira.  The circumstances of their arrest are well known and unique.  Out of over 60 arrests country wide during the Walk to Work Week, Ingrid Turinawe, Sam Mugumya and Francis Mwijukye were singled out for ‘special treatment.’  There are about seven other activists who were charged with treason or concealment of treason but these others were not targeted for extended incarceration without trial; in fact many of them are walked on Police Bond documents.  It is absurd and very telling that police would grant bond to some treason suspects but ensure that three suspects are denied bond even though they were arrested on the same facts.

Today we shall desist from commenting on the issues that are pending before a court of law and instead focus on the celebrating the release of our colleagues.  The ‘Treason Trio’ as they are now famously known are still facing serious charges of treason for which, if found guilty, they will be hanged by the neck until they die.  The prospect of a death sentence for organizing legitimate demonstrations under an increasingly dictatorial regime is real and should never be understated.

Our celebrations are therefore muted by the long shadow of a desperate regime but on the other hand they are fueled by the tenacity, determination and courage of our colleagues to continue with our cause regardless of the consequences.  Those of us who visited Ingrid, Sam and Francis in Luzira or who saw them when they attended court sessions were humbled and lifted by their steadfast resolve and cheerfulness in the face of adversity.  Their spirits remained high and unbroken throughout their ordeal and they are impatient to continue A4C activities.  We have no doubt in our mind that they will be absolved of all charges and wrong doing and we are determined to carry this cause through to its logical conclusion:  The establishment of a democratic and responsive government that understands the plight of its people.

While they were away we continued to be bombarded with news of corruption in the highest echelons of government.  More ministers and public officials were implicated in the oil scandal.  Another minister was forced to resign after it was revealed that she had shamelessly taken possession of UBC masts, public property, to start her own radio station.  Meantime we did not even celebrate the gains that the shilling made against the dollar because pump prices for petrol and diesel did not drop with the dollar.  With the festive season upon us, transport costs have continued to rise and the government has not stepped in to redress the situation.  From Lira to Katwe, traders and artisans took to the streets to protest the constant power outages which have caused a huge slump in business during the season that businesses make profits.  UMEME has become the single most despised company but government cannot do anything about it because it was solely responsible for negotiating the bad deal with UMEME, and now we must all pay the price.  Teachers are going into the festive season with the same paltry salaries they had last year and they are threatening to take industrial action again in January.

We therefore take this opportunity to call upon our supporters to stand firm as we continue with our activities.  This is not the time to abandon the cause because of intimidation or fear of incarceration.  Instead we must continue to firmly challenge the social injustices and protest the economic hardships that the government has failed to address.  We are the voice and the hope of the common man.

As you know, the Walk to Work week was disorganized and diverted but after this festive season we shall continue our activities with ‘Walk 2 Work Reloaded.’  In the meantime we plan to hold countrywide celebratory events for all our colleagues who were jailed and bailed during the Walk to Work Week; as we build momentum for Walk to Work – Reloaded.  A program of events will be released at the earliest opportunity.
Thank you for you kind attention.  For God and My Country.

Hon. Mathias Mpuuga (MP)
National Coordinator, A4C

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Why Uganda’s youth seek their own new political direction

Why Uganda’s youth seek their own new political direction

By Omar Kalinge-Nnyago

In July 2010, I received invitation from the Inter Party Cooperation’s National Youth Executive Committee for their celebration of the UN Youth day on 12th August.  They also sent a draft of what they called the IPC Youth Agenda, a solid, well thought six page document outlining their concerns for the future of the country and their position in it. They refused to dwell on history, they focused on the future. At one point they referred to their document as the IPC Youth Manifesto for 2011.

The tone of the IPC Youth Agenda betrayed a kind of desperation and immense anxiety. They felt that the current leadership in Uganda had not given them a fair deal. They decried, yes, but more importantly, suggested solutions to unemployment, poor quality of education, the inadequate access to health facilities, nepotism, and the abuse of human rights by security agents, in their determined effort to limit freedom of assembly and expression. They sounded angry but determined to cause regime change in 2011, through the ballot. The document related their commitment and desire for a peaceful democratic change to the need for a new Independent Electoral Commission. They argued that a free and fair election was only possible under an Electoral Commission acceptable to all. It was not clear how they intended to cause a new EC to be put in place.

The September 2009 riots in Kampala had revealed a disturbing reality, that the Ugandan youth have become quite radicalized over the years. The profile of the stone throwing, tyre burning youth on the streets of Kampala and the suburbs was easy to sketch. The majority were under 25, not very educated and most likely not gainfully employed. The riots provided them a chance to be heard and perhaps to be taken ‘seriously’, for the first time in their lives. They were not much different from the disgruntled youth of Kibera or Mathare slums, whose dangerous role in the Kenya December 2007 riots was well documented.

The government seemed surprised that this was happening. It shouldn’t have been. Rampant unemployment, uncontrolled drug and substance abuse, cheap and widely available alcohol without restriction and a pseudo youth empowerment policy could not have produced a different result.  If, God forbid, the type of youth that ravaged Kampala on those three fateful days had been joined by their equally desperate and disgruntled university students and the thousands of unemployed graduates roaming the streets, we would be seeing another face at State house today.

There is this unfortunate NRM reinforced view that the youth are a vulnerable group that should depend on affirmative action and on the patronage of the ruling party. They have created the false impression that having youth members in Parliament was the ultimate youth empowerment. NRM has exploited the youth by making them their voting machines in parliament. They are just one of those pro-government voting blocks along with the 10 UPDF Members of Parliament, District Women MPs, Workers MPs and the disabled MPs. This shameful role that the youth have been made to play will have far reaching consequences.  

This is probably because the last 23 years of the NRM regime have ensured that youth are de-intellectualised,   a calculated move to create a generation of youth who cannot think critically nor  advance  intelligent arguments on crucial matters affecting them and their country.  So, the "typical Ugandan youth" cannot agitate for employment opportunities, better education or health care because s/he has been told: “don’t worry, be happy!” -  what with the movie channels that never stop, what with the hundreds of radios that do little more than play music 24 hours a day, and in the interlude, blast advertisements of the next local artistes’ music shows or the next foreign music star coming to town, as the vernacular radios invite young and the old to get solutions to unemployment, disease from witch doctors. This tragic combination of youth trivialization, de-intellectualisation and popularization of superstition must be reversed.  

It is now November 2011. The youth’s quest for change has not diminished. They failed to change the regime through the 2011 vote, which was stolen from them. My concern is that their desire for regime change is not matched with their confidence with the election managers and the electoral processes. They are increasingly drawn to other non-electoral methods of democratic change, and this is where the Walk to Work phenomenon comes in. Some of them thought that they would achieve a minimum agenda of reduced commodity prices and youth employment, through legal demonstrations. Now, most have been disappointed that walking on their own feet has been criminalised. Walking to work is treason in Uganda. They now ask: “was it worth choosing the non- violent path in the first place?” Uganda’s peace and security will be determined by the answer the security agencies have for these restless youth, 83% of whom are unemployed. The Police has perfected the art of turning any peaceful demonstration into a first class riot, by brutally attacking demonstrators first. Of course a riotous situation attracts a lot of funding, which is stolen by corrupt security officials for the security agencies. But should it be business for security agencies in exchange for peace and stability?