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Uganda - The Ten Point Program
The ten-point program
The context in which the NRM's political program was written helps to explain the importance that Museveni and other government leaders who were involved in the guerrilla struggle attached to it. During the interim period after the fall of Amin in April 1979, several small political groups maneuvered to shape the rules for the national parliamentary elections that were held in December 1980. Only a few months before the elections, the decision was made to require candidates to run as representatives of parties rather than as individuals. In response, Museveni and other progressives formed a new party, the Uganda People's Movement (UPM), which chose Museveni as its leader. The party nominated candidates in most constituencies, but won only one seat. Museveni ran a close third in Mbarara North constituency.
Following widespread allegations that Milton Obote's Uganda People's Congress (UPC) had manipulated the electoral results to deprive the Democratic Party (DP) of victory, Museveni and a few followers went underground in Luwero District in February 1981, organized the Popular Resistance Army (PRA), and, along with other small bands of fighters, started a guerrilla war. A year later, the PRA broadened its base by negotiating a merger with Yusuf Lule, the first president of Uganda after the fall of Amin, and incorporating the guerrillas Lule had recruited. The new organization was named the NRA; Lule became chair and Museveni became deputy chair and army commander. This arrangement enabled Museveni to recruit and train Baganda men and women to fight for the NRA, even though he was a Muhima from Mbarara District. When Lule died in 1985, Museveni became chair of the NRA.
Until April 1985, the war was fought exclusively in Buganda, primarily in the Luwero Triangle (named for the area included within the roads between Kampala, Hoima, and Masindi) to oust the UPC government headed by Milton Obote. The NRA then left Buganda to open a second front in the west and occupied the entire region following the July 1985 coup d'état in which General Tito Lutwa Okello replaced Milton Obote as head of state. Museveni's NRA undertook a program of political education following classic guerrilla tactics Museveni had learned fifteen years earlier from the liberation movement in Mozambique. NRA soldiers were taught the reasons for their struggle, to respect the villagers among whom they lived, and to pay for food and goods they needed. A political infrastructure to support the NRA was organized through secret, although democratically elected, RCs in villages in Luwero District. The Ten-Point Program, written during the guerrilla campaign, reflects the principles with which the NRA created a disciplined army, organized popular support through RCs, and, in particular, developed a coherent political and economic explanation of why the NRA was fighting against the Ugandan government.
The Ten-Point Program argued that postindependence Ugandan political rulers had greatly exacerbated the problems of economic distortion introduced by British colonial rule. The solution to these problems required a new political and economic strategy that contained ten points. First, real democracy had to be organized at all levels from the village up by elections to "people's committees," by elections to parliament, and on the basis of a decent standard of living so that ordinary people could resist the blandishments of unprincipled politicians. Second, because insecurity in Uganda had been largely the result of "state-inspired violence," it could be eliminated through local democracy, "a politicized army and police, and absence of corruption at the top." Third, national unity could be consolidated by eliminating sectarianism--that is, through the removal of politics based on religious, linguistic, and ethnic factional issues. Fourth, it was possible to stop the interference of foreign interests in Uganda's domestic concerns since independence, but only if the Ugandan leadership developed independent priorities based on Ugandan interests. Fifth, the most important protection for these interests was to construct an independent, integrated, and self-sustaining national economy that would stop the leakage of Uganda's wealth abroad.
Beyond these goals of the new political strategy were practical steps for achieving these goals. The sixth of the ten points was that basic social services--clean water, health dispensaries, literacy, and housing--had to be restored, particularly in the areas ravaged by the wars that ended the regimes of Amin and Obote. Seventh, because corruption, particularly in the public service, reinforced basic economic distortions, the government had to eliminate it in order to attack economic distortions effectively. Eighth, the problems of victims of past governments should be resolved: land should be returned to thousands of people displaced by mistaken development projects and land seizures; the Karamojong should be settled by providing adequate water; and workers and public servants should receive salaries that would allow them to meet the cost of living. Ninth, Uganda should seek cooperation with other African countries, particularly its neighbors, in order to create larger markets and a more rational use of resources. Nevertheless, Uganda should also defend democratic and human rights of African people against dictators who suppressed them. Finally, Uganda should maintain a mixed economy--combining both capitalist and socialist methods-- with small businesses in the hands of private entrepreneurs, and with import-export licensing, monetary policy, ownership of heavy industry, and construction of schools and hospitals under the control of the state.
This analysis of Uganda's problems differed substantially from the general approach taken by previous Ugandan governments. It called for new patterns of organization of Uganda's political economy instead of rehabilitation and restoration of political and economic life as it had existed in the 1960s. Whereas politicians and civil servants from the former regimes had believed the problem was to remove corrupt and ineffectual personnel, the Ten-Point Program called for new structures based on popular control and political education. It claimed that if ordinary citizens understood the basic causes for Uganda's political and economic decay, they would support these basic reforms.
NRM and NRA officials chose to emphasize political education through mass meetings during the latter half of 1985, when, for the first time, they were in open and unchallenged control of part of Uganda. Special district administrators (DAs) were appointed as the most authoritative representatives of the NRM in each district. The largest proportion of their time was spent traveling to villages to explain why ordinary people should become directly involved in politics on the basis of their own economic problems, rather than through the sectarian attachments on which the established political parties were based. Discipline for soldiers who violated the rights of citizens was carried out in front of people in soccer stadiums. A strong change-oriented and populist flavor marked this first effort of the NRM to introduce the TenPoint Program. But the situation changed significantly when the NRM administration was established in Kampala and became responsible for the government.
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