Dear youths, emulate heroic and patriotic 1980 Museveni.
I am Fr Gaetano Batanyenda. Other people prefer to call me ‘Term Limit’ because of my strong stand in having presidential term limits reinstated in the constitution.
I strongly believe that the misery that has engulfed Uganda is because of the aggravated defilement and premeditated murder of article 105(2) of the 1995 constitution.
I was born in the same year as President Museveni – if his claim is correct – that is 1944, in present-day Kanungu district. Uganda attained her independence when I was 18 years.
Since then, by God’s grace, I have lived, studied and worked in Uganda; although in 1982, I nearly went into exile because I opposed the bad policies of the regime. Therefore, I have seen, lived and experienced the bad and the good of each regime since independence.
In 1994-1995, I participated in the making of the 1995 constitution as a member of the Constituent Assembly, courtesy of President Museveni.
Dear youths, I write to you with love, admiration and pride because of your intellect, energy and ambition which remind me of my youthful period.
But at the same time, I write with trepidation, concern and anxiety because I blench when I see your intellect, energy and ambition being selfishly abused through Machiavellian and manipulative methods by those entrusted with the responsibility of nurturing you into present and future useful and patriotic citizens.
Many of you, knowingly or unknowingly, have already fallen prey and been trapped by the dishonesty of the ‘political wolves and vultures’ of this country.
As you may probably be aware, the obtaining political and social-economic situation in our country is parlous, to say the least.
There is widespread uncertainty about a peaceful transition as some of our grasping and selfish leaders, overtly or covertly, have already traversed the whole country singing choruses of “sole candidate”.
They continue to tell unsuspecting Ugandans and the whole world that all is well, while our children’s hopes and aspirations continue to drown in UPE, USE and the like. Our most useful human resources, you the youths, are languishing in villages and towns without gainful employment.
Some of you engage in taxi business, boda boda riding, pool shooting, sports betting and other indignified activities. Others who have managed to qualify in blackmail are outcompeting each other in the search for brown envelopes and sacks of money from a ‘magnanimous’ hand of President Museveni.
He is the first president in our independent Uganda to go around openly with sacks and envelopes of money for dishing out .You should gather courage and ask our current leaders how many of them are what they are because of hand-outs.
Then why are they doing it to you dear youths? Also, our mothers are dying in their hundreds each day in our sick hospitals and health centres while carrying life.
Dear youths, our country remains divided along regional, religious, and ethnic lines over resources and opportunities.
Mutual distrust between the social classes punctuates daily life. Ethnic lines and fears loom large that the country could slide back into the violent past which, fortunately or unfortunately, you don’t know.
Also, the continued emasculation of arms of the government and other institutions, and the abrogation of the constitution have eroded, and continue to erode, whatever pretensions to democracy, good governance, constitutionalism and respect of human rights Uganda had claimed to attain with the proclamation of ‘fundamental change’ and the ten-point programme, and the promulgation of the 1995 constitution.
This erosion, dear youths, has not spared the social, cultural and religious institutions that should augment the state’s role in ensuring stability.
You may wonder why Uganda is in such a terrible situation! There are many reasons but for now I want to zero in on President Museveni and his rapacious political courtiers.
In 2008, I met President Museveni at State Lodge, Nakasero, and told him what I thought about the situation in the country, and what is likely to happen if he clings onto power. I told him in these or similar words:
“Your Excellency, you remember what you promised Ugandans in 2000-2001. You categorically stated that come 2006 you, would not seek another term.
But unfortunately, in 2006, you reneged on your promise. I am sure what made you change your mind was the lifting of the presidential term limits by selfish and self-seeking MPs of the 7th Parliament.
Your Excellency, if you still love Uganda, your party and yourself, do not stand again in 2011. What you have done for Uganda is a lot.
Leave power when Ugandans still love you. Ugandans want to have you as their political grandfather like Nelson Mandela of South Africa.
Don’t listen to those self-centred ministers, advisors and others who lack valour and heroism to stand and defend what is right. They prefer to keep quiet and watch things fall apart. The more you stay in power, the more problems you create for Uganda, your party and yourself.
Your Excellency, dictators are not born; they are made. I pray that you don’t reach a level of being autocratic and monocratic because once you qualify to it, you will create many enemies, both real and imaginary.
You will develop an attitude of mistrust and this will result in wanting to do everything by yourself, thus killing the constitutional institutions by making them redundant and ineffective.
You will see yourself as the alpha and omega of everybody and everything in Uganda, thus taking Uganda as your personal property.
Your Excellency, any regime that tries to perpetuate itself in power, it has, with time, to lose its popularity. And, as a result, it has to deploy undemocratic and unethical measures, as some have already surfaced, to keep and sustain itself in power.
These measures include corruption, patronage, nepotism, sectarianism, cronyism, intrigue, cliques (divide and rule), militarism, balkanization of the country into small and tribal districts for political gain, intimidation, arrogance, impunity, lies, etc.
The longer you stay in power, you will substitute professionalism, competence and integrity for loyalty. Your Excellency, I am being honest with you because I love Uganda and I cherish you for what you have done for Uganda.”
Dear youths, what have you not seen or heard? Unless your eyes do not see and your ears do not hear (cf.Mt 13:13-14). Because of his longevity in power, 30 years, President Museveni, with the approval of his insatiable team of cohorts that has benefited from his longevity, has allotted to himself the three attributes of God namely: the Omnipotent (owning everything, having total power; able to do anything), Omnipresent (present everywhere) and Omniscient (knowing everything, no need for advisors). Fellow Ugandans, is Uganda safe in the hands of a human god?
Dear youths, I do not call upon you as a prophet of doom; I am only doing this to stir in you a righteous anger inspired by a Christ-love for your country and her people in the hope that you, individually and collectively, will join hands to rescue our country.
You can do this by indefatigably and selflessly taking the heroic and patriotic path Museveni took in 1980.
After the alleged rigged elections by UPC, Museveni, with a team of other youths, opted to go to the bush to fight dictatorship. He was risking his life but all the same he went for the love of Uganda.
Suppose Museveni, instead of going to the bush, opted to run to State House Entebbe for hand-outs and engaging in the blackmail enterprise – as some of you are selfishly, shamelessly doing – would he have liberated Uganda? Surely not.
It is his sacrifice and determination that liberated Uganda. It is his refusal to be manipulated and lied to that liberated us.
Equally, instead of engaging yourselves in inhuman and degrading enterprises of becoming perpetual beggars and blackmailers, follow the wonderful example of Museveni by refusing to be used as tools.
If you want to liberate yourselves, your children and grandchildren, you must reject the seemingly magnanimous actions of our leaders like the sacks and envelopes of money which, in any case, benefit only a few of you.
You must say no to any form of negative enticements from political leaders as they are, in the long run, venomous to you and the society.
If you reject the above Machiavellian tricks by our leaders, that will be your Luweero. If you adhere to the above religiously, I can assure you that the dark clouds of oppression, injustice and dictatorship and others that have invaded the country will soon pass away and make way for the bright sun of liberty, justice, reconciliation, peace, prosperity and equal opportunities.
I wish to end this exhortation with the words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr: “If I have said anything that overstates the truth and indicates unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me; If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having patience that allows me to settle for anything less than peace and justice in our country, I beg God to forgive me.”
GAETANO BATANYENDA, a priest and vocal political reforms activist.