Source:  Joseph Ochieno, www.monitor.co.ug

After 21 years in exile, I see hope in Uganda

On exactly this day, 21 years ago, I arrived in London, innocent but exiled, scared, alone and wondering why and what next.

The previous day, I had beaten six road blocks from Kampala to Entebbe, to escape from NRA/NRM. On the flight, were probably a few more people – escaping. Who said that under NRM, we never had roadblocks? Who said under this government there has never been innocent arrest, intimidation, torture and detention without trial?

Weeks earlier, I had been arrested for no other reason but refusing to be part of a NRA/NRM 'revolution' whose only results after 23 years is split; one side NRM-O, or is it NRM 'original' and the other NRM-FDC, or is it NRM forward.

So next time you are told that it is all right to be ruled by these lot so long as we can 'sleep' these days, just remind them that in 1986 – one year after NRA stormed Kampala, people were certainly not sleeping in Kampala. I was there. People were not sleeping in Jinja, Tororo, Soroti nor Lira, unless of course you are one of those who believe that it was 'their turn' not to sleep.

I sneaked out of Uganda by Uganda Airlines, our prestigious 'Flying Crane', as it was called. Earlier this week, as I rushed home to join Uganda Peoples Congress members for the second delegates conference since NRM came to power, I used KLM – the Dutch airline. I was so humble throughout the flight one could hardly tell that inside I was fuming – that I was not flying home aboard my national carrier, Uganda Airlines.

What then was the mission of NRM? President Museveni had promised not a mere change of guard but; a fundamental change. Uganda Airlines sold, Uganda Railways killed; Uganda Transport Bus Company killed, Uganda Commercial Bank sold; Uganda Hotels … On arrival, I wanted to stop over at Lake Victoria Hotel in Entebbe but was told that it is no longer in our hands.

These things get some Ugandans really angry. But as you know, I avoid anger. Anger is wasted energy. In UPC we use our energy in strategically seeking a solution, a way forward for this country and its peoples. And that is why UPC members, after a very successful delegates conference in Kampala, shall go back to the villages and deploy their energies in mobilising afresh, exposing NRM lies and helping to wake up the people to the fact that the fundamental change ushered in by the NRM was, after all misguided.

They arrived promising to kill nepotism, tribalism and to develop Uganda with a tricky Ten Point blueprint. We have only achieved sinking national institutions and infrastructure and mortgage of national assets to suspect investors. Instead of ushering in 'peace and freedom' we have biting poverty, wars fought in the north, east, west and beyond; into Rwanda, Congo and The Sudan; wars with all our neighbours except Tanzania!
The revolution decided to take services to 'families' so now districts are soon to be demarcated along clan loyalty rather than viability.

To confirm the new reality, on my flight, I sat next to a 'donor', not an investor. As we talked about Uganda, the tone was more resentful than glad; that their tax payers monies are spent by 'liberators' NSSF style. While in town they shall seek to establish if we even know how to count their handouts.
So yes, UPC was overthrown, surrounded and beaten.

But our beating was Uganda's loss. That said, we are back. To those Ugandans who missed the UPC glories, we promise you better. We pledge not one aircraft or two for Uganda Airlines but a fleet. We pledge not Entebbe International Airport for arrival of friends, but regional international airports across Uganda.

On this, my anniversary day, I feel without anger but full of confidence and pride that in building for the future, only UPC has the nationalist instinct, gift of political vision and the genuine desire to shape this country; for God and my country.

Mr Ochieno is UPC's special presidential envoy to the UK & Ireland


Source:  Joseph Ochieno, www.monitor.co.ug

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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