Sekuuma Isaac

Sekuuma Isaac

Kenya’s opposition political party recorded a fourth straight loss in the country’s General Election on August 8, after leader Raila Odinga trailed incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta. Just four days earlier, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame of the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) had trounced his opponents — former journalist and independent candidate Phillipe Mpayimana and Democratic Green Party leader Frank Habineza who garnered less than two per cent of the total votes between them against the president’s over 98 per cent. 

Last year, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni through his ruling party National Resistance Movement managed a comfortable albeit contested defeat of the opposition, at 60.6 per cent, to retain power in Kampala. His main challenger, Kizza Besigye of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, got 35.6 per cent of the votes. In 2015, Tanzania’s dominant party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) maintained its decades-old hold onto power by beating its opponents in the Chama Cha Democrasia na Maendelo (Chadema). CCM’s John Pombe Magufuli had an almost 20 per cent gap between himself and his closest challenger Edward Lowassa, at 58.46 per cent against 39.9 per cent. Mr Odinga has now challenged President Kenyatta’s 10 percentage point win at the country’s Supreme Court. Representation While the numbers represent only the run for the presidency, representation in executive positions is minimal in each of the four countries. 

The exception is Rwanda, where the Constitution guarantees the opposition a 50 per cent share of Cabinet positions. Any appointment of opposition members to executive positions in the other three countries only drains the opposition of much needed numbers, while muting others who expect similar appointments. For his Cabinet, President Museveni tapped from the opposition Betty Amongi from the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), Nakiwala Kiyingi from the Democratic Party and Betty Kamya, a former presidential candidate and leader of the Uganda Federal Alliance party. Opposition parties also fare badly in parliamentary and local government representation. 

Tanzania’s CCM enjoys a clear majority, with 252 seats in Parliament out of 367 (188 constituency seats and 64 women special seats), and the main opposition party Chadema has just 34 directly elected seats and 36 special women seats. The Civic United Front follows has 42 seats (32 direct constituency and 10 women seats). Uganda’s NRM enjoys a parliamentary majority with 293 of the 426 seats. The party is followed by independent MPs with 66 seats, while the combined opposition has 57 shared between FDC at 36, the Democratic Party at 15 and UPC with six seats. 

The army, which usually sides with the ruling party, has 10 special seats. Democracy What does the poor showing of the opposition mean for democracy in the region? In Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, the opposition numbers are too small to significantly challenge the ruling party and influence policy. Lack of numbers in elected positions means less financial resources for the opposition. 

Crispy Kaheru, an elections specialist and the co-ordinator of Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU), says that the opposition’s poor showing means that they need to “go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate themselves. They need to realise that they cannot continue doing business as usual, and design new strategies like forming alliances and moving from the traditional template of social ideals that framed the formation of parties at Independence.” In its report of Tanzania’s 2015 elections, the Commonwealth Observer group noted: “The Group observed the dominance of the governing CCM party in the election campaign. They appeared extremely well-resourced and organised. The CCM, as the governing party, appeared to enjoy advantages of incumbency.

The opposition parties, namely Chadema, CUF and others, also had profiles on the ground but appeared to be less resourced, which had an impact on the conduct of their campaign.” Mr Kaheru, a member of the African Union expert panel of election observers and has observed elections in Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Zimbabwe and South Africa, noted, “There is a need to re-examine the advantages of incumbency in elections vis a vis opposition in the region. There are of course reasons that explain this,” he said. Control of security and agencies that coerce the electorate, control of state coffers, and public service apparatus aid in the creation of a “firm network for them to carry out campaigning effectively,” he added. Incumbents also enjoy the advantage of setting electoral legislation. 

While a number of opposition parties support the RPF and actively and openly campaigned for President Kagame in the just concluded elections, it is difficult to tell exactly how their collaboration aids alternative voices and their ability to keep the party in power in check. Opposition parties have cried foul over manipulation of processes, a tilted playing field, incumbents access and abuse of resources and outright rigging. However, their own lack of organisation, inability to guard their votes and inadequate resources have played a role in their losses.

This article was Published by The East African

For Immediate Media Release: 17/08/2017


Halt threats & intimidation to the Kenyan Civil Society

72 Regional & International Civil Society organizations from 22 countries raise collective condemnation on harassment of CSOs in Kenya.

Nairobi/17th August 2018: We, the undersigned civil society organizations, working to advance human rights of all people in different countries categorically condemn the recent intimidation, threats and illegal attempts by the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) Co-ordination Board to de- register and systematically bankrupt targeted Kenyan civil society organizations and their respective leadership.

We particularly condemn the Board’s letter of 14 August 2017, de-registering the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and ordering the Central Bank of Kenya to freeze all its accounts, as well as the letter of 15 August 2017, to the Directorate of Criminal Investigation seeking the closure of the Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) and the arrest of its Directors.

We further denounce in the strongest terms, the most recent raid by the police and KRA of the AfriCOG offices, which contravenes the spirit of the constitution with regards to freedoms of association and expression.

We have witnessed an election that is still unsettled, with results that are still very much in contention.

We condemn the killing and brutalization of innocent Kenyans, especially those in poor and densely populated urban settlements who were exercising their rights to demonstrate during the post 8 August 2017 electoral period.

We are dismayed by the arbitrary killings of innocent civilians including children that has come to our attention and increasingly worried about sexual violence and harassment of Kenyan women and girls who are rendered most vulnerable during periods such as this.

The Government of Kenya has an obligation to arrest and bring to justice those involved in the wonton destruction of property, brutality, murder and sexual harassment and violence of civilians. We call upon the government of Kenya to protect the lives of all Kenyans, by guaranteeing their fundamental rights to exercise freedom of expression and association, as enshrined in the 2010 constitution and other regional, continental and international norms and treaties to which Kenya is a party.

We are in agreement that Kenya is in need of healing, reconciliation, social cohesion, peaceful co-existence and very importantly, justice.

We reiterate and boldly state the fact that Kenya cannot afford to be shackled by violence in all forms, state sponsored brutality and threats to non-state actors such as KHRC and AfriCOG. And we state unequivocally, that this only serves to exacerbate and worsen an already fractious political situation. These acts only add to the tension and have to be publicly denounced. We call for the investigation and for accountability for the violations of these rights as well as the rights to life, dignity and bodily integrity.

We, therefore, call on the Kenyan Government, in particular the Ministry of Interior and Co-ordination of National Government, to ensure that all citizens and residents of Kenya are allowed to freely exercise their constitutional rights, including freedoms of expression and association and live free from violence, intimidation and fear.

We acknowledge the recent move by the Cabinet Secretary of the Interior Ministry in ordering the Kenya NGO Board to suspend the de-registration orders for 90 days and constitute a committee in consultation with CSOs to address the issues.

The validity of the civil society is integral in building holistic and democratic nation states.

Finally, we call on regional bodies including the East African Community and the African Union to ensure that Kenya complies with its national and international obligations including the protection of individuals and their fundamental rights of freedoms of expression and association.

All Kenyan lives matter!

For more information Contact: Yves Niyiragira : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., telephone: + 254 20 3749346

& Mildred Ngesa: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , telephone: +254 727137853

Endorsed by:-




  1. Dinah Musindarwezo



  1. Yves Niyiragira



  1. Achieng Akena

Pan African Citizens Network (PACIN)


  1. Jimmy Ochieng



  1. Grace Munduru Merct



  1. Tafadzwa Muropa



  1. Okeke Julie

Women Initiative for Peace and Good Governance (WIPGG)


  1. Steven



  1. Alice Junqueira



  1. Bose Ironsi Ironsi

Women's Rights and Health Project


  1. Eunice Mwende

Africa Centre for Open Governance


  1. Lee Webster

Womankind Worldwide


  1. Gabriel Dolan

Haki Yetu


  1. Jean Claude Kalinganire

APALAC coalition

Pays Bas

  1. Migai Akech

University of Nairobi


  1. Zahid Rajan



  1. Zarina Patel



  1. Kimani Nyoike

Inuka Kenya Ni Sisi


  1. June Waudby



  1. Firoze Manji

Daraja Press


  1. Isis Alvarez

Global Forest Coalition


  1. Catherine Duru

Echoes of Women in Africa


  1. Rogaya Hamza Osman



  1. Flavia Mwangovya

Equality Now


  1. Okumba Miruka





South Africa

  1. Salome Nduta



  1. Winnie Maru

Forum for Young Women in Politics


  1. Steph Muchai

Hivos East Africa


  1. Peter Ngo'la Owiti

Wote Youth Development Projects


  1. Pauline Lambou

Leading Women of Africa


  1. KUWONU Kafui

WiLDAF West Africa


  1. Loretta Ahuokpeme

Our Lady of Perpetual help initiative


  1. Hanna Gunnarsson



  1. Sehnaz Kiymaz

Women for Women's Human Rights - New Ways


  1. Sara Katrine Brandt

CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation


  1. Jedidah Maina



  1. Muthoni Ngige

Minority Women in Action


  1. Denise Nzila Kayika


DR Congo

  1. S Katuu



  1. Gia Gaspard Taylor

Network of Rural Women Producers

Trinidad & Tobago

  1. Francis Romani Selasini



  1. Chris Mbiti



  1. Njoki Wamai

University of Cambridge

United Kingdom

  1. Yakhama Kristine

Good Health Community Programmes


  1. Onyango Oloo

Sankara Centre for Social Movements


  1. Obeng

Tax Justice Network Africa (TJNA)


  1. Riva Jalipa

Tax Justice Network Africa


  1. Bola Olajuwon

The Nation Newspaper


  1. Michelle Mbuthia



  1. Kamala Dickson

Vision East Africa Forum (VEAF)


  1. Bizimana Charles

Coalition for Tax and Governance


  1. Alain Ndikuriyo



  1. East African Civil Society Organizations Forum
  2. Kaze Dorine



  1. Andre Miburo



  1. Beata Kamana



  1. Kubwimana Desire



  1. Gahungu Venany



  1. Prosper Kalungi



  1. Bukuru Donatienne



  1. Beatrice Kwizera



  1. Atrocities Watch                
  2. Ndayishimiye Emerence



  1. Bakame Julienne



  1. Ndikuriyo Jeannine



  1. Kalema Kalumba



  1. Kasavubu Clement



  1. Fataï Aina

Amis de l'Afrique Francophone- Benin (AMAF-BENIN)


  1. Nick Mathiason

Finance Uncovered


  1. Jean Mballa



  1. Christine Omao

Dandelion Kenya


Monday, 14 August 2017 07:05

Kenya polls: CCEDU calls for tolerance

The Citizens' Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) has called for torelance, peace and respect for the constitution and rule of law.

The call was made by the CCEDU co-ordinator, Crispy Kaheru on Friday evening as Kenyans waited for the announcement of the winner for the August 8 presidential elections.

Kaheru called on the losers to respect the outcome of the election, emphasizing that Kenyans do not want to live on a diet of hatred and fear.


He encouraged the new government to consider the ethinic shades of the Kenyans when forming the new government.                      

“This will involve an inclusive discussion on the future of the nation and its political and social order,” he said.

By Friday evening, results indicated Uhuru Kenyatta leading with 54%, closely followed by Raila Odinga with 44%, although Odinga disputed the results saying the transmission had been hacked into. 

Published by The Newvision

Monday, 14 August 2017 07:05

Kenya polls: CCEDU calls for tolerance

The Citizens' Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) has called for torelance, peace and respect for the constitution and rule of law.

The call was made by the CCEDU co-ordinator, Crispy Kaheru on Friday evening as Kenyans waited for the announcement of the winner for the August 8 presidential elections.

Kaheru called on the losers to respect the outcome of the election, emphasizing that Kenyans do not want to live on a diet of hatred and fear.


He encouraged the new government to consider the ethinic shades of the Kenyans when forming the new government.                      

“This will involve an inclusive discussion on the future of the nation and its political and social order,” he said.

By Friday evening, results indicated Uhuru Kenyatta leading with 54%, closely followed by Raila Odinga with 44%, although Odinga disputed the results saying the transmission had been hacked into. 

Published by The Newvision

Photo: Kenyan Presidential Elections

August 10, 2017

The Carter Center commends the people of Kenya for the remarkable patience and resolve they demonstrated during the Aug. 8 elections for president, governors, senators, the national assembly, women’s representatives, and county assemblies. In an impressive display of their commitment to the democratic process, Kenyans were undeterred by long lines and cast their ballots in a generally calm and peaceful atmosphere.

While the Kenyan people have spoken at the ballot box, the electoral process is still ongoing as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) continues to tabulate and finalize results. Until official results are announced, it is critical that all parties and candidates refrain from making declarations about the results.

Although election day voting and counting processes functioned smoothly, the electronic transmission of results from the polling stations to the 290 constituency centers, where official results are tallied, proved unreliable. The IEBC advised election officials to revert to the paper copies of the results forms, which provided a reliable mechanism to tabulate the results. Unofficial results were also transmitted to the national tally center, where they were posted on its website. Unfortunately, the early display of vote tallies at the national level was not accompanied by the scans of polling station results forms as planned, nor labelled unofficial, leading to some confusion regarding the status of official results.

In light of these problems, the IEBC issued a statement on Aug. 9 calling for patience while the tallying process continued. In addition, the IEBC stated that the presidential results reported on the website were unofficial – the official results are those tallied at the constituencies. Citing complaints about the electronic results transmission system and other problems, opposition candidate Raila Odinga said that the tally of results at the national tally center was not legitimate and that he would not accept unsubstantiated results. Coupled with the trouble experienced in data transmission, these statements resulted in increased tension among his supporters and created concerns about a threat of violence in some areas of the country.

Despite initial problems with the electronic results transmission, the paper balloting and polling station results forms provided a verifiable mechanism to conduct tabulation in the absence of the electronically scanned results forms. The IEBC is continuing to finalize the tabulation process at the 290 constituency centers, where polling station presidential results forms (Form 34A) are tabulated to calculate the total constituency results (Form 34B), which are then brought to the IEBC national tally center. As in the polling stations, political party agents on the national level had full access to the tallying processes and could cross-check the Form 34A results against copies that were available to party agents in the polling stations. In addition, the IEBC is making scanned copies of forms 34A available to candidates and the public online.

The IEBC’s tabulation process, if fully implemented, allows for a high level of transparency and accountability. The IEBC should continue to collect and publish results transparently until the process is concluded, so that the overall integrity of the process can be verified. In addition, all parties and their agents should enjoy full access to the IEBC’s tallying processes at all levels so that any discrepancies can be reviewed and discovered.

As the process continues, it is essential that all Kenyans maintain their commitment to peace.  If there are disputes about official election results, The Carter Center urges candidates and parties to use established legal channels to resolve them and to ensure that their supporters remain calm throughout the remaining electoral period.

Carter Center Observation Mission. The Center’s short-term election observation mission for the Aug. 8 elections was led by John Kerry, former U.S. secretary of state and Dr. Aminata Touré, former prime minister of Senegal.  The mission included more than 100 observers hailing from 34 countries in Africa and around the world.  On election day, Carter Center observers assessed the electoral process in 424 polling stations in 185 constituencies across 39 counties, and the vote tallying process in 36 constituency tally centers.

The Carter Center’s observation mission has benefitted from close collaboration with other international observation missions, including the African Union, COMESA, the Commonwealth, the East African Community, the European Union, ICGLR, IGAD, and the National Democratic Institute, as well as from consultations with key Kenya election observation groups and other stakeholders.

Carter Center observers will remain in Kenya for several more weeks to assess the conclusion of vote tallying and the post-election environment, including any challenges to the results. The Center will issue additional public statements and reports, as well as a comprehensive final report three- to six months after the conclusion of the process.

Based on more than three months of field assessments and reporting, the Center’s key findings and conclusions include:

·         Election day – Voting and Counting.  Carter Center observers reported that election-day processes took place in a calm and peaceful atmosphere, and that the opening, polling, closing, and counting process were generally well-conducted. The Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS) for the biometric identification of voters functioned well in most polling stations, serving as an effective means to prevent multiple voting and to dispel concerns regarding the voter registry. Carter Center observers reported various procedural irregularities that may have resulted from insufficient poll worker training and civic education. For example, many polling stations failed to fill out forms consistently for voters whom the KIEMS system did not recognize, but who were allowed to vote if they provided required ID and were on the voter list. Carter Center observers reported that these instances did not detract significantly from the overall integrity of the electoral process. At a few polling stations, observers noted isolated incidents of misconduct by poll workers, e.g., appearing to invalidate ballots, misdirecting voters to cast ballots in the wrong box, or "assisting" voters who didn't need assistance. Overall, Center observers assessed polling as “very good” or “reasonable” in 406 of 422 polling stations they visited.

·         Vote Tallying and Results Transmission.  As noted above, the electronic transmission of polling station results forms from the polling station level to the 290 constituency centers and to the national tally center proved unreliable. While the data entry of the results from the KIEMS system transmitted successfully to the national tally center, the early display of these tallies was not substantiated by scanned copies of the polling station results forms for the presidential race. Nor were these results clearly labeled as unofficial. Given that the tallying process is ongoing, the Center is currently unable to provide an overall assessment. We will continue to monitor tallying and election results processes in the weeks ahead.

·         Legal Framework: Kenya has a generally sound and comprehensive legal framework for the conduct of democratic elections. It is regrettable that parliament decided not to apply the Campaign Finance Act to these elections. This allowed parties and candidates to raise and spend any amount of money without public scrutiny. In addition, parliament did not pass legislation to implement Article 81(b) of the constitution mandating that not more than two-thirds of elective bodies be of the same gender.

·         Campaign: Voters had a wide choice of contestants, all of whom were able to campaign freely without interference from the state. This resulted in competitive and meaningful elections in most areas of the country. The campaign saw polarizing rhetoric between the top contenders for the presidential race and key down-ballot races. There were breaches of the electoral code of conduct, which were largely ignored. Generally, candidate campaigns geared up toward the latter party of July, with the exception of the campaign for the presidential race. The campaign for president was vigorous, with both leading candidates conducting large rallies across the country. Campaigning for other races was more subdued due to a lack of financial resources.

·         Electoral Institutions: Unfortunately, some candidates used myriad court challenges to criticize and delegitimize the authority and competence of the IEBC and the judiciary. Some candidates used ethnic identity as a campaign tactic, and multiple instances of hate speech were reported. On Aug. 2, the chief justice of the Supreme Court issued a statement condemning increasing pressure on the judiciary by the political parties.

Although the current IEBC commissioners were not appointed until late January and faced delays because of court challenges to many of their decisions, they still met most of the legal deadlines and delivered the elections on the constitutionally mandated date. However, the commission did not sufficiently communicate with stakeholders. The lack of transparency about its decision-making negatively affecting the confidence and trust of the electorate and political parties. The late modification of rules surrounding the elections, such as conflicting instructions on valid/invalid ballots, sowed some confusion and raised suspicions among opposition parties.

·         Election Laws: The legal framework contains certain gaps and inconsistencies, including overlapping jurisdiction of the IEBC and the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal (PPDT); too-long deadlines for the resolution of electoral disputes, including candidate nominations; the absence of regulations or procedures for resolving election-day disputes; inconsistent timelines for voter registration; verification and audit of the voter register; vague nomination rules; and some unclear election-day procedures.

·         Security and Violence: Although the pre-election environment was generally calm, the murder of Chris Manado, the acting head of IEBC’s ICT department, barely a week before the election was a deplorable act. In addition, given Msando’s important role in the election machinery, his death affected the public mood and instilled fear. On Aug. 4, NASA offices were ransacked, allegedly by security personnel. Finally, the government deployed some 180,000 police and other security officials around the country. While essential for maintaining law and order, many opposition areas regarded this show of force as threatening, given the country’s recent history of elections. Since Tuesday’s election, some episodes of violence have occurred in various parts of the country, including the death of two people who were reportedly shot by police officers in the outskirts of Nairobi.

·         IEBC Staff: Training of polling staff was in line with the electoral calendar and was well-organized, comprehensive, and interactive. Commendably, issues that required a uniform approach by IEBC staff were raised at the plenary sessions and either agreed upon or referred to the IEBC for clarification in order to provide for an adequate follow-up.

·         Participation of women, youth and persons with disabilities: Regrettably, women, youth, and people with disabilities made only marginal gains in the 2017 election. At least half of the women in office in 2013 competed again in 2017, running as incumbents or contesting for different seats. At the time of this statement, it appears that Kenya will elect its first female governors and slightly increase the number of elected women members of parliament. Women groups and allies continue to advocate for enforcement of the two-thirds gender rule, which requires that all elected and appointed bodies have not more two-thirds of one gender. Youth informed IEBC decision-making through a formal and broadly representative Youth Advisory Committee. Persons with Disabilities groups supported PWDs aspirants and candidates.

·         Voter registration: Although the IEBC took commendable steps to clean up the voter register, the lack of transparency during the audit process and the initial reluctance by the IEBC to release the full KPMG report hurt public confidence in KPMG’s work and the subsequent steps taken by the IEBC. Though much work remains to address concerns raised in the audit regarding the accuracy of the voter registry, our observers found that the KIEMs functioned properly in 97.6 percent of the polling stations observed and served as an effective mechanism to validate voter eligibility.

·         Candidate Registration: The nominations process highlighted the uncertainty and ineffectiveness over what criteria are applicable in order to determine whether a candidate has met the requirements of Chapter Six of the Constitution on Leadership and Integrity. The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) compiled and forwarded to the IEBC a list of 106 aspirants whose integrity was under suspicion; however, the IEBC took no action and cleared all candidates.

·         Election Dispute Resolution: The new Election Offences Act (EOA) adopted in 2016 contains a number of offenses that overlap with the Electoral Code of Conduct, the Penal Code, the National Cohesion and Integration Act, and the Public Order Act, which created confusion as to which body had jurisdiction over electoral offenses. Nevertheless, the judicial system of Kenya and its election laws provide full and adequate accountability for the election.

·         Party Primaries: The primaries were chaotic and conducted with little regard for the rules, particularly the requirement that only party members be allowed to vote in the primary.  Many of the initial results were overturned by the PPDT on the basis that non-party members voted. Because of this, many had to be re-run.  Other problems noted during the primaries included polls not opening on time, lack of control over polling places, and certificates being awarded to the person who lost. There were still a number of cases pending in the courts on election day.

·         Civil Society Organizations (CSOs): CSOs played an important role in observing all aspects of the election process, releasing reports of their findings inclusive of recommendations for improvement of the electoral system. CSOs and faith-based groups played a key role in promoting peace and mitigating conflict.

Background: Carter Center Election Observation Mission.  In response to an invitation from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the Carter Center launched an international election observation mission in April 2017, with six core team experts based in Nairobi and 12 long-term observers deployed across the country to assess the campaign and electoral preparations.

The Center’s assessment of the electoral process is based on Kenya’s legal framework and on international standards for democratic elections. The Center conducts its observation missions in accordance with the 2005 Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and the Code of Conduct for International Election Observers.

Speak for me my beloved…..

I am native though minority but a true Ugandan,

With a unique lifestyle as a hunter, gatherer, forest dweller, and pastoralist,

In different parts of the Country,

Using traditional methods in all that I do


Yes I am unique but not recognized by many…

Discriminated against and stereotyped as “savage wild and uncivilized”,

Owing to my physical appearance and heritage…,

Hence my fear to join the mainstream society,

Speak for me my beloved.


My rights violated, and homes destroyed,

I am vulnerable and marginalized. My relocation is just a dream,

The reality being dispossession of preserving what I treasure most…


Speak for me my beloved.


I am a treasure that needs to be preserved,

Delicate as a pot, if not safeguarded I will diminish….

What will you tell the generations to come if my plight is not fixed now?

Do not sideline me, do not judge me…be my ambassador and

Speak for me my beloved.


As a true Ugandan, the pearl of Africa,

Let me have the feeling of belonging,

Knowing that I am accepted…

For God and my Country,

Speak for me my beloved.

By: Numbi Connie Samantha, Project Officer Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI)


photo: Numbi Connie Samantha, Project Officer Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI)

Indigenous people also known as “aborigines” are those who have retained their social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. There is however no rigid definition of what makes a group indigenous, but a few characteristics that usually define indigenous groups include; maintaining a close tie to the land in both cultural and economic practices; suffering from economic and political marginalization as a minority group; and a group that defines itself as indigenous.

Defining minority groups is therefore not straightforward and a numerical definition does not in itself adequately describe indigenous minorities. Some exist together in well- defined areas while others are scattered throughout the country.

The Third Schedule of the Ugandan Constitution recognizes all tribes who were in existence at the end of colonization as indigenous. According to the 2014 Census, 17 ethnic groups have fewer than 25,000 people: these are the Aliba, Banyabindi, Bahehe, Banyabutumbi, Basongora, Batwa, Gimara, Ik, Lendu, Mening, Mvuba, Ngikutio, Nyangia, Reli, Shana, Tepeth and the Venoma.  However, there are other groups that have not been included in neither the Census nor the Constitution but claim a status as minority groups or have been listed as such by researchers and these include the Benet, Barundi, Bayaga, Bagangaizi, Meru, Basese, Mwanngwar, Bakingwe and Banyanyanja. 

On 9th August 2017 the world will be celebrating the World Day of Indigenous People, under the theme: Celebration of the10th Anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), of which Uganda is a signatory. It is important to recognize that special measures are required to address the many issues which are common to the majority of the ethnic minorities namely; identity and recognition, political representation which is limited usually to the local as opposed to the district or national levels, education and language, safeguarding cultural heritage, and access to land as a cultural resource especially when the cultural sites are within national parks which are restricted.

Article 36 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda specifically mentions the “protection of rights of minorities” and the need for “affirmative action for marginalized groups” Article 32. As a member  of the Coalition for the Rights of the Indigenous and Minority Groups (IMGs) in Uganda, considerable efforts are needed by Government and other stakeholders to prevent the marginalization on the basis of their cultural identity and – at worst – their cultural elimination; ensure access to justice for IMGs by providing free legal representation through public interest litigation, and translating existing legislation into local indigenous languages and providing information in user friendly formats. The urgency of affirmative action is needed.

By: Numbi Connie Samantha, Project Officer Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI)

Crispin Kaheru

May 9, 1996, is one of those dates that has stuck in my head till today. I was just about 13; an enthused and curious student of ‘political education’ then.
My inquisitive character combined with my childhood passion for ‘current affairs’ never let a political moment pass without interrogation. It was the first time Uganda was holding multiparty presidential elections after slightly over two decades.

I remember waking up as early as 6am to engage my parents on who they were going to vote for at presidential level. Both mum and dad were clear on their choice – it was President Museveni. I recall walking my mum to her designated polling station, playing a devil’s advocate role – grating her by juxtaposing that, had I been of voting age, I would have certainly voted for Opposition candidate Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere who seemed a decent candidate and certainly had fairly good ratings during the 1996 campaigns.

Of course my persuasions and sentiments were inconsequential – I was a minor and not a voter. Meanwhile, before the polling day, I had on several occasions eavesdropped conversations between my parents in which they would reaffirm to their own assurance that 1996 was President Museveni’s last term in office – and he very much so deserved it.

In fact, as my mother made her way to the polling station on the voting day, she animatedly snaked through the fairly populated neighbourhood asking folks to go to their respective polling stations and vote for Mr Museveni who was appearing on Uganda’s ballot paper ‘for the last time’.

My father, being a government civil servant then, remained guarded about disclosing his political positions – but his passion for President Museveni in that election couldn’t be hidden under any amount of rubble.

Indeed Museveni seemed to have a remarkable ability to relate political messages by using simple, organic ideas and tales that resonated with the ordinary citizen. On his campaign trail, his blue chip sales plan was wheeled on the narration that 1996 – 2001 was his last term in office, to complete the projects he had started in 1986, key of which was maintenance of State security and resuscitation of the economy.

His main challengers, including Ssemogerere and Kibirige Mayanja, could not match Museveni’s prowess in political messaging and dexterity in using the robust public service network to campaign.

The announcement by Steven Akabway, who was then the chairperson of the Interim Electoral Commission, that Mr Museveni had won the 1996 election with a landslide 76 per cent was greeted with extreme jubilations in Kampala and the countryside.

Hundreds of thousands of supporters dressed in Museveni’s insignia campaign T-shirts and caps took to the streets to celebrate his first electoral victory. My father explained to me that the jubilations and partying we were seeing were akin to what happened when (the then decorated general) Idi Amin seized power in a military coup in 1971.

My father was also quick to add that the mood around the country was comparable to that of April 11, 1979, when Amin was overthrown. Indeed, Museveni was the Bismark of Africa – the blue-eyed statesman. In many ways, he epitomised a renewed beginning of democratic vigour and energy. I wished to be like him when I grew up.

Once Mr Museveni was sworn into office for his “first and last term” on May 12, 1996, the talk around 1996 – 2001 being his last term in office immediately fizzled out. Instead, focus was shifted on how to secure another electoral term for an iconic man who “had indicated no interest” in running for political office ever again.

Since then, President Museveni has found himself on the ballot every five years – handing over power to himself after each election. Constitutional speed governors such as limitations on the tenure of the president; presidential powers; regular, free and fair elections have in one way or another been recalibrated largely to mean more to those who control the levers of power and less to the multitudes that are led. As things continue to be uncertain, political succession and transition remain elusive fairy tales.

As a 13 year old, I learnt from the political theatrics then that breaking promises was a normal thing. Two decades later, I see a pale reflection of a glitter that used to be. I am struggling to teach myself that ‘a man is as good as his word’.

I struggle to teach my children that leadership comes from God. I am struggling with all these things because reality hits me every other day – that values and principles are scarce in today’s leaders. I just can’t find that many public figures to point my children to, as examples to learn from.

The young people who are the majority have a responsibility to reject the lowering standards; and step in to nurture stronger foundational values upon which Uganda’s revolution was founded.

The urgency of the situation demands an active agency from all young people to be the role models that public life in Uganda is desperately searching for. The new reality is such that there is just so much that pillars like the Constitution can do; in the absence of an active, responsible and responsive citizenry.

Change, transition and succession are inevitable constants and cannot be quieted. Only Ugandans can have the last say on the last term.

Writen by Crispin Kaheru the coordinator, Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda

Published by: Daily Monitor

At two public rallies in Masaka on July 21, opposition MPs launched their countrywide campaign against two proposed amendments; one aims to change Article 26 to allow government compulsorily take possession of private land and another yet-to-be tabled, aims to remove age limits for presidential candidates.

Several truckloads of policemen and soldiers surrounded the two rally venues in Mpugwe in Bukoto East and Lorry park in Masaka municipality. By about 11am on Friday, the municipal authorities had rejected the rallies. But an agreement was later reached between Masaka municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga and security chiefs after lengthy consultations.

According to the Public Order Management Act, the organisers were required to get a nod of approval from the Municipal Council, the owners of the Lorry park.

“I must be honest and say that I received their [organisers’] letter in time and as far we [police] were concerned, we had no problem, but when we contacted Masaka Municipal Council, they were reluctant to grant them permission to use the venue,” Masaka District Police Commander (DPC) Henry Kintu told The Observer.

Some of the MPs in Masaka

Going to Masaka, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Winfred Kiiza, led at least 16 MPs including Santa Alum Ogwang Charles Angiro Abacanon Gutmoi, William, Emmanuel Ssempala Kigozi, Francis Zzaake, Muhammad Muwanga Kivumbi and Allan Ssewanyana.

Others were Moses Kasibante, Joseph Gonzaga Ssewungu, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, Florence Namayanja, Mary Babirye Kabanda, Betty Nambooze Bakireke and Veronica Nanyondo.

FDC deputy secretary general Harold Kaija, Jude Mbabaali and Muhammad Kateregga, the LC-V chairmen of Masaka and Bukomansimbi respectively, also addressed the rallies.


The main focus of the rallies was the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2017, which seeks to amend Article 26 to give government powers to compulsorily acquire private land to execute infrastructural and investment projects.

But the politicians did not ignore the ongoing agitation by NRM groups for the amendment of Article 102(b) to scrap age limits for presidential contestants.

“The most important thing in the country is the Constitution; it is the mother of all laws and we should not allow anyone to tamper with it,” Alum, the UPC whip in Parliament, said.
Bukoto East MP Florence Namayanja addresses the first rally at Mpugwe

The MPs are looking to the public to amplify their resistance to the amendments and probably force government to withdraw the proposals.

“If Museveni was a person who respects the law, he should have respected the constitution because he put his signature [on October 8] 1995 when it was promulgated. The Constitution that he assented to, limits the presidential age to 75; he should know that and respect it,” Nzoghu said.

Mukono Municipality MP Nambooze said, “This is a defining moment for our generation; it is upon us to fight for our rights. It is now or never.”


Speaking at the Masaka rally, the chief opposition whip, Ssemujju Nganda, said, “For now let us first forget our respective parties and fight for a common cause.”

Before they travelled to Masaka, Muwanga Kivumbi, the head of the Parliamentary Forum on Constitutional and Human Rights, an advocacy group spearheading the campaign, first held a meeting with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) that have agreed to work with the MPs.

At least 25 CSOs attended the Thursday, July 20, meeting at Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI) offices Nsambya. Kivumbi said they will have another campaign launch sometime this week that will incorporate the CSOs, NRM and Independent MPs.

Kivumbi is understood to be working with NRM MPs John Baptist Nambeshe (Manjiya), Pentagon Innocent Kansiime (Butemba), Louis Gaffa Mbwatekamwa (Kasambya) and Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga West) to mobilise other parliamentarians.

“I wouldn’t want to speak for them, it will be good if you talk to them but we have had meetings with the Acholi Parliamentary Group, West Nile Parliamentary Group and Teso Parliamentary Group, and we are still talking to more MPs,” Kivumbi told The Observer on the sidelines of the Masaka Municipality rally.

Published by: The Observer

I will address two issues: the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017 that government has already tabled before parliament and the current public debate about the potential of amending the Constitution to remove age limitations for presidential candidates.

Let me begin with the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017. In my simple understanding, the bill seeks to permit government to take over private property before prompt payment of a fair compensation. Not only is such a law unfair, it breeds insecurity among landowners and is recipe for landlessness.

Crispin Kaheru

Secondly, people in Karamoja are eating raw mangos to cure hunger; in Teso, locals are eating termites to survive famine; in Isingiro, residents are cooking pawpaws for dinner; in northern Uganda, communities are surviving on one meal a day.

Children and the elderly are dying every day in different parts of the country because of hunger. At a time when people would expect empathy, we are seeing a rude gesture in form of government introducing a law that would take away the last source of livelihood for these already-tormented people.

Let me briefly turn to the question of the of the age limitations for presidential candidates in Uganda. Anyone talking of amending the Constitution to eliminate the 75-year age limit for presidential candidates sounds like they are directly talking about safeguarding in perpetuity an individual in power. Not only is it morally wrong to legislate for an individual, it also places Uganda’s fragile democratic path on the edge of a cliff.

The framers of our Constitution inserted three key pillars to guarantee smooth and peaceful leadership transition: 1) regular free and fair elections; 2) a maximum of two five-year terms for presidents; and 3) age limitations for presidential candidates.

Our elections have been tampered with and no longer give that much confidence to citizens. Term limitations on presidential tenure were easily removed from the Constitution in 2005 after legislators were bribed with a mere Shs 5m. Therefore, there is only one safeguard left – the age limitations for presidential candidates. That is why salvaging Article 102(b) of the Constitution is a matter of life and death.

In 1986, Yoweri Museveni came to power as a freedom fighter; he came to power promising democracy and prosperity.  Those who have launched the campaign to remove the age limit don’t mean well for Museveni. Some years back, Mr Museveni categorically announced that after 75, one has no vigor, one is tired.  What is bound to happen if you force a bus driver to drive passengers when he or she is weak, tired or dizzy?

Threats to democratic rule in Uganda are increasing too fast.  It is time for all the citizens to act; it is time for young people to act. It is time-up for any leader who is not listening to the voice of the masses. Soon, very soon, bad leadership is going to be history in this Pearl of Africa!

There is no any other time to act than this time when some of those in power are coming out full circle to take away people’s source of life on the one hand and acting indifferently towards younger generations on the other.

We will stand with each other in solidarity and hold our leaders accountable for their actions or inactions.  We are going to watch the movements and language of our Members of Parliament (MPs) and other leaders on these issues.  Should they not play ball to the wishes and in the interest of the citizens, we will pounce on them in a very unprecedented way.

This is not a war of guns. It is a battle where tear gas will be rendered useless; it is a battle where intimidation, threats and manipulation will not work. This is going to be a peaceful battle where the people will speak, and demand to be listened to. If the voice of reason of the people is not acted upon, there will be dire consequences.

The author is the coordinator, Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (Ccedu).


Published by: The Observer

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