Friday, 26 August 2011

A4C Stands in Solidarity with North Africans

At Kampala, 26th August 2011;
Today we would like to dedicate this press conference to the people of North Africa for standing up for their rights and reclaiming their power from the fallen dictators of Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.  A few months ago it was unthinkable that Ben Ali would be living in exile, that Hosni Mubarak would be appearing in an Egyptian court locked in a cage; on charges of corruption and crimes against humanity.  It was even more unimaginable that Muammar Gaddafi of Libya would be hiding from the same people he called rats last week.  Their experiences have taught us that when the people of any nation are determined to stand up against oppressive rulers, they win.
Many comparisons can be made between what we are currently experiencing in Uganda and what was happening in pre-revolution Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.  The rulers of these countries are from that generation of rulers that have overstayed in power.  Zine El Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia came into power in 1987, one year after President Museveni’s NRA shot its way to power; while Hosni Mubarak took power in 1981 and Muammar Gaddafi in 1969. The majority of Ugandans were not born when these leaders first took office.

Each of the ousted rulers claimed great success in transforming their economies and catering for their populations through heralded welfare projects.  Yet these leaders were abhorred by their people for creating lopsided economies that strained relations between the wealthy and the poor due to wide gaps in incomes and lifestyles.  The North African dictators built vast financial empires run shamelessly by wives, sons, daughters, sons and daughters in law, relatives and tribes mates; in a manner reminiscent of Sicily’s mafia families.  In 2010 the estimated wealth of these dictators stood at US Dollars128 billion for Gaddafi, 70 billion for Mubarak, and 5 billion for Ben Ali. |It has been reported that Uganda’s President is 13th wealthiest African. We are also aware of the hundreds of billions of shillings that are consumed by State House every year.  A former Vice President revealed that our government was indeed being run by a mafia gang, and each day Parliament and the media expose multi millions dollar deals involving close relatives and friends of the First Family. 

This wealth which is difficult for the ordinary man to imagine was juxtaposed against profound poverty which in Tunisia led a young unemployed man to self-immolation; triggering a revolution that ousted Ben Ali.  At the time of revolution Tunisia’s unemployment rate stood at 13%, Egypt at 11.08% and Libya at 30%.  In Uganda thousands of graduates pour onto the streets every year looking for jobs. A 2007 report from our labor department showed that the 390,000 students who finish tertiary education each year have only 8,000 jobs to fight for. This means that for every one job that is available there are about 50 people to fill it. Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) and the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), reported that of more than 400,000 Ugandans who enter the labour market each year, only about 113,000 are absorbed in formal employment, leaving the rest to join the informal sector. Uganda’s unemployment rate stands at 80% and underemployment, which is mainly prevalent in rural areas, is at 17%. Statistics from the Labour Department show that the labour force in 2007 was estimated at 9.8 million, of which 53% are females and 75% of the labour force are aged below 40.
In Uganda, the First Family is well represented in Cabinet, Parliament and in the military.  They are well placed to influence and implement government policy.  In fact they like to take credit for introducing UPE and during presidential campaigns they promise us prosperity for all, yet the poverty levels and economic indicators are worse than those that existed in North Africa before the revolutions.  In July Uganda’s inflation rate stood at 18.7% while in February the Egyptian government put its inflation at 12%.  In Tunisia, where food prices were among root causes of revolution, inflation was only at a modest 5% in 2010. 

Another pre-revolution commonality among North African countries and Uganda is State repression.  This commonality was well described by Tunisian opposition politician Mohammed Abbou while describing the state of his country after 20 years with Ben Ali in power.  I will quote him to save us from repetition because his words could have been said of Egypt and Libya a few months ago and of Uganda today:
‘A State that does not respect the rule of law, a people paralyzed by fear, and a weak opposition, (are) the result of 20 years in power of the second President of the Republic of Tunisia.’  He added that the state ‘…deliberately places above the laws the powerful who are not accountable to anyone. Nobody is allowed to criticize the powerful, nor to denounce or to evoke the corruption they are involved in. If you do, you will be thrown in jail. No attention is ever given to the cries for help coming from inside, nor to the declarations of our Western partners which sometimes conflict with the secret positions of those who rule Tunisia.

These very institutions (of the state) are sometimes used to persecute the opponents to the current regime who dare criticize it. Their resources are cut short, they are starved and humiliated in such a way they will never forget. They are attacked on the street. Their children are harassed. All this is aimed at ensuring the continued existence of the regime and at guaranteeing its absolute power, a power whose legitimacy rests upon elections which take place in a climate of fear.’

If one were to pick a state in Africa that is ripe for revolution after Tunisia, Egypt and Libya; one would pick Uganda.  We congratulate the people of North Africa for leading the way in mobilizing their populations to bring an end to dictatorship.  As A4C we subscribe to nonviolent action for change and reject the use of arms or violent means to bring about change.  We call on Ugandans of all political shade to join us as we celebrate with the people of North Africa.  We will be hosting a solidarity event at Clock Tower on Friday 2nd September 2011.  Our ‘Light A Candle’ campaign continues and the next location for the event will be in Gulu next week.

We too shall overcome!

For God and My Country

Hon. Mathias Mpuuga (MP)
National Coordinator


  1. This is wonderful news, we shall come in Thousands to attend,Also My heart goes out the the people who where killed during the peaceful protest in Uganda, we shall not forget them.


  2. Its better we focused on the closure of MUK and Mabira give away, Failure : or poor service delivery by the gov't to the common man and alot more other than Gaddarth's Case. Target the majority's support otherwise.......