Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Uganda: Hasn't the 'Genocide' in the North Been a Fortune?

This artcle was written by a reknown political analyst-Sam Akaki, i know some of you could have read it but due to its thoroughness, i decided to reproduce it here. Ladies and Gentle men, read it.

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few", British World War Two Prime Minister, Mr Winston Churchill, the one who named Uganda "The Pearl of Africa" once said.

Today, as Joseph Kony refuses to sign the long-awaited peace accord, Mr Churchill must be turning in his grave, agonising about northern Uganda, where he passed through on his way to the Sudan and Egypt, according to his 1908 book, 'My Africa Journey', which mentions one Jemisi Opoka, as a porter.

In his agony, Mr Churchill might paraphrase is famous statement and say, instead, "Never in the field of human conflict has so few benefited so much from the innocent blood of so many men, women and children".

From life-career warmongers who waged a self-serving wars in Luwero, the DR Congo, the Sudan and are now in Somalia - to the unemployed and unemployable who became instant peace negotiators; from international arms traders posing as diplomats, civil servants to small time local crooks - all have made fortunes, literally, from the 20-year-long genocide in northern Uganda.

Genocide, incidentally, "means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; and (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part," (Articles II and III of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide).

How was genocide allowed to become a gold mine? On February 25, 2002, former Mwenge South MP Dora Byamukama tabled a parliamentary motion calling on the government to declare the north a disaster area. The government rejected the motion, despite unanimous approval by Parliament!

In 2002, Uganda diverted 23% of the national budget, over 50% of which came from the donors, to defence, specifically to wage war in the north. And on July 4, 2007, the British Secretary for International Development Douglas Alexander told the House of Commons: "The Juba Peace Initiative Fund (JPIF) had an initial operational budget of $4.2 million. This has been fully funded by donors, and will be used to pay allowances and related expenses".

To prove the point, recently, the Sunday Monitor reported that "Dr David Matsanga, the (former) LRA lead negotiator", had been "arrested by South Sudanese soldiers at Juba Airport in possession of $20,000".

Shortly afterwards, Maj. Gen. James Kazini, the former Army Commander was sentenced to a three-year jail term for profiteering from the existence of ghost soldiers on the UPDF payroll.
According to the ghost-soldier report by former Defence Minister Amama Mbabazi, "there was Shs1.9 billion still on the salary account as remainder from payment of soldier's salaries as of May 2003. The money "used to disappear without a trace," the report concluded.

Of course the money can be traced to those palaces, top-of-the range cars and business premises which dot the hills and valleys in Uganda. Very few, if any of the owners of these assets obtained a loan from any financial institution to acquire them. They paid in cash, in blood money!

Makerere and foreign university departments of "peace studies" are also benefiting from the genocide. Students who spend time in the concentration camps to gather "empirical" evidence are guaranteed excellent grades and jobs, if they are well connected. Thousands of office-based and brief-case NGOs have cropped up in Uganda and abroad, purporting to be assisting the surviving orphans, child soldiers and rape victims of genocide.

Local and international arms dealers, and some UPDF officers, have used the genocide as "cloud cover" to conduct lucrative arms trade with the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels, dissident armed groups in Southern Sudan and Darfur.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have also used the proceeds of genocide to justify wasted donor funds. Factoring in all "blood-related" assets and employment as clear signs of "robust" economic activities, they produced misleading reports claiming that Uganda was recording a "consistent" high economic growth rate since 1990, a period coinciding with the genocide in the north.

To cap it all, President Museveni is likely to benefit the most from the genocide. Sooner or later, self-confessed LRA terrorists Mr Onen Kamdulu and Ms Jennifer Aryemo will give evidence, ensuring Dr Kizza Besigye's conviction and possible execution for working with Mr Joseph Kony to topple the government of Uganda by force of arms! Hasn't the genocide in the north been a political and financial gold mine for a few?

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