Saturday, January 28, 2012

KCCA & 'condemned' structures: Damned if you do, Damned if you Don't!

KCC has a big challenge in its hands. It is damned if it does (anything) and damned if it does not. As some have taken on the mantle to tell KCCA what to do, its my hope that they are also able to applaud the Authority for trying to do anything! More importantly though, we ought to remember that if anything goes wrong regarding the state of public facilities like buildings collapsing or uncovered manholes being the cause of accidents in the City, the institution to blame is KCCA. Thus, KCCA must act and although its actions will inconvinience some or all, we must give it this space to perform - we all are going to benefit from this -

Some want KCCA to start elsewhere before it gets to removing the kiosks that belong to what they call the ''Deprived of the Earth''. While i abhor the term in reference to fellow human beings, I know for a fact that not all kiosks belong to those who are below or very close to the poverty line. In any case, such actions were already taken. See here , here and here . KCCA started with Tinyefuza and Sebbaggala - did anyone credit it for that or not? Who says its doing nothing about the poorly built structures?

Even if KCCA had not started with the double storeyed commercial buildings, what difference will it make starting with one group not another? If a wrong is being done, it shouldn't matter where one starts to correct it unless its a situation where one action is totally dependent on the other eg trim the branches that will destroy a house before cutting down a huge mvule tree. Thus, if someone has been given notice about an illegality, its futile to ask the law enforcement officers to arrest another defaulter before doing the same to the culprit in question. In any case, why resist an eviction forcefully knowing full well that your adversary has the weapons of coercion? Why not call in an equally competent opponent to your advesary and in this case, the police? However, i still dont understand why one would wait to remove their belongings until the law enforcement officers come? Isn't that impunity and dis-regard for the law??

Bottom line, KCCA has to do something and it ought to start somewhere - it must start somewhere - anywhere. Kampalans or Ugandans have suffered enough with poor services. Lets stop excusing illegalities and instead support KCCA. I am very sure that those whose buildings or kiosks were condemned were given adequate warning. The Director of KCCA is way too professional to act haphazardly. Section 33 of the Physical Planning Act 2010 is clear- I only hope our MPs read the bill before they passed it into law!!

In my camp, i will say to KCCA, Aluta Continua!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Give 'Juba' a chance

Imagine being called to a scene where a woman has just been bitten by a snake. Imagine that you have two options - either run into the bush and start hunting the snake down, or rushing the lady to the nearest health clinic before or after you have administered first aid. Of course there is no knowing what option many will choose – will it be option A? Option B? Both? Or will some even go ahead to become innovative or ingenious by Option C probably calling out for help with the snake while attending to the injured lady? The last option seems to be the preferred reading of the Juba Peace Process 2008.

For all its shortcomings, the Juba Peace Process was a breath of fresh air in the minds and livelihoods of many people who had suffered for long at the hands of the Lords Resistance Army insurgency. The parties at Juba however, not only sought to attend to the needs of the victims of the insurgency, but also sought the help of International Partners to do so. The lobbyists that participated and continue to participate in the aftermath of Juba came from all angles – local, international, religious, traditional, economic, political, NGO world, UN, name it. As such it can be fairly asserted that Juba was an example of international justice at its best.

Agenda Item 3 in which I am most interested was a true representation of what happens when ideas come together to forge the way forward. Parties agreed to promote traditional justice mechanisms (TJMs) as practised in the communities affected by the conflicts albeit with their 'necessary modifications'. This was to be 'a central part of the framework for accountability and reconciliation.' Therefore, whereas Juba acknowledged that “formal criminal and civil justice measures (would be) applied to any individual who (was) alleged to have committed serious crimes or human rights violations in the course of the conflict,” it did not hamper the use of TJMs. This is because Juba had been lobbied to realise that in finding sustainable solutions to the LRA war, there was need to end the ‘immense pain and suffering of the victims, as well as the ‘socio- economic and political impacts of the conflict.' The call was therefore for a nuanced understanding of Justice – one which not only answered the demands for retribution, but also sought to heal the wounds of the past, reconcile warring tribes, reconcile the government and 'its' people, compensate those who had suffered, facilitate the medium for truth, healing and memory, while attending to the psychological needs of the victims who often doubled as perpetrators. In essence challenge the notion that peace and justice are unable to walk hand in hand.

It is for this reason therefore that one wonders why the trial of the former rebel commander Thomas Kwoyelo has taken its current path. Kwoyelo is alleged to have been abducted by the LRA rebels and then recruited into their ranks. He was arrested in the DRC in 2009 and his trial started on the 11th of July 2011 at Gulu. He however challenged his trial on the grounds that he applied for Amnesty which was denied although other rebels have been granted amnesty before and after his application was made. The Constitutional Court agreed with his arguments and ordered his release. Kwoyelo however remains in custody since the State insists that he has other 'civil crimes' he committed which were not covered by amnesty.

The aforementioned actions by the State are self defeating. It is possible that international partners will look at non – prosecutorial justice as a form of impunity, but the examples of South Africa, Mozambique Rwanda and Sierra Leone should show that judicial remedies come in all shapes and sizes. This is the opportune time for the nation to test the feasibility of Juba and give credence to the long sleepless nights which the negotiating teams spent in the Garamba forests of the DRC. It is expected that many will argue that since Joseph Kony as leader of the LRA failed to sign the comprehensive peace Agreement, then the rest of the agreements are nugatory. However, there is nothing in law or fact that prohibits these agreements from being performed since they were executed by duly authorised officers whose principals have not reneged on the authority they bestowed. More over, former rebels continue to be granted amnesty by the Uganda Amnesty Commission ( inspite of the fact that the Attorney General argued that its own Act is unconstitutional) and formerly abducted children continue to return home where attempts are made at rehabilitating and reconciling them. Equally, the various programs such as the Northern Uganda Rehabilitation Action Plan which is supervised by the Office of the Prime Minister as assisted by other NGOs continue to be performed – albeit with challenges.

All these show that there is a willingness by the State to perform its obligations under the Agreements through the mainly national institutions. Although the government has controversially continued to pursue its military campaign against the LRA, evidence has always shown since 1986 that the results have been a backlash on the populations as seen in the December massacres in DRC after the failed 'Operation Lightning Thunder.' The death toll, forced migrations, abductions as well as the high numbers of injured people in the DRC, Central African Republic as well as the South Sudan all seem to indicate that there is need to re-think the merits of this military campaign since it has now become a regional problem. However, that is a discussion for another day.

However, it is the TJMs that the government seems very reluctant (or unable?) to use. For example, Kwoyelo has remained in custody in spite of the decision of the Constitutional Court and the International Crimes Division of the High Court of Uganda setting him free. IIn so doing, the State ignores its obligations under Juba which calls it to use 'alternative justice mechanisms' which include ‘customary processes of accountability’ as mentioned in the fourth Preamble to Juba. It is doubtful that a successful prosecution for other 'civil crimes' for which Kwoyelo is held is likely. One can only wait to be proven wrong since courtroom cases – with all their complexities- tend to have a life of their own. The government should instead facilitate the processes that will enable traditional justice mechanisms to take place as prescribed by Juba. Kwoyelo is arguably the most viable opportunity for the other arm of Juba to be used especially in light of the increased criticisms by African governments of the International Criminal Court. Kwoyelo is a unique case in which a former abductee' (victim) turned rebel (perpetrator) gets to test the feasibility of traditional justice systems in helping to achieve a holistic and heterogeneous form of justice.

These mechanisms are said to be all inclusive – they are diverse, reconciliatory, retributive, compensatory, rehabilitative and help in achieving social reconciliation. Kwoyelo's case would therefore be the first opportunity to learn about these mechanisms as well considering their 'necessary amendments' as alluded to by Juba. In light of the fact that Kwoyelo was allegedly abducted as a child by the LRA and rose through the rebel ranks, it will be interesting to see how the DPP successfully prosecutes him for a crime he committed while he was not in a state of rebellion. The Government rather to give a clear signal that its commitments to Juba were real and not Realpolitik. It should make it clear to those rebels who are still in the forests of Garamba that it is still committed to having a peaceful and holistic resolution to the conflict and that they should not give up their bid to escape the clutches of Kony and the LRA. However, should the government miss this opportunity, it will have taken confirmed that Joseph Kony was right after all – that the Government of Uganda does not honour its word.

The snake of atrocities has bitten Uganda. Help was sought and obtained. We ought now to treat and save the lives of the injured victims -using all possible means instead of only insisting on looking for the snake in the thickets.

The writer is a doctoral researcher on international criminal justice

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Reference is made to what is now being referred to as ''the Luzira shooting'' which was a botched attempt by the Kampala City Council Authority to remove illegal structures along the Port Bell Road in Kampala as reported here and here

I have not fully internalized the provisions of the KCCA Act or the legalities of implementing an eviction in Uganda. As such, these are my preliminary comments which will be subject to review-if need be.

I realize the leadership at KCCA generally has the tough job of improving the city while dealing with past mistakes, in competencies or omissions. The former KCC leaders clearly did us a disservice by allowing the city to degenerate this far. Some Ugandans seem to be happy with the status quo and are now battling change. It seems they do not really want 'actual change' but would rather whine as and when problems occur! We need to make a decision here – either we get our act together or we go the alleged italian way of having the city run by mafia who its rumored collect the rubbish while the authorities step aside. It is my contention that we should become law abiding citizen’s in the true sense of the word and should not rely on legal excuses as the police seem to suggest in the above report. Due to the mess in our social or moral rubric, we are going to pay the price if things are to start working again. We now have to witness many people being inconvenienced each and every day in order for the City to get some kind of sanity. I suspect this is the price that Rwanda had to pay and we should be ready to pay it.

As a matter of principle, the illegal occupiers of the road reserves had no right to prevent officials from carrying out their functions. They should not have taken the law into their own hands but should have called the police to intervene. The situation at hand is in my view clearly distinguishable from situations of civil disobedience which I have commented upon before. In the current case, there is need to criticize both camps – the use of unreasonable force by the KCCA officials as well as the ill-advised way in which the ‘occupiers’ ignored the eviction notices .
Let us not be fooled - with or without a Court order, evictions have always been the hardest things to carry out. Any practicing lawyer will tell you their worst case file is an eviction. That is why they hire court brokers to do this dirty work and conveniently stay out of harm's way. Remember the challenges KCCA had with General Tinyefuza and with former Mayor Ssebagala when recovering KCCA official houses. I am glad that the KCCA Executive Director Mrs. Musisi started with the 'big shots' so the 'smaller fish' can have no or limited justification to complain.

Let us all agree that it is for the good of us all that these illegal structures in the city be torn down! Even the huge expensive buildings should go as long as they breach the laws meant for the governance of all. The inconvenience of these illegal structures is clear. I recall a church that decided to build in a swamp in Kitintale. I often wondered what the Pastor or his congregation used to talk about when the rains would come and submerge the floor. I am personally tired of defending the illegalities around me. If one is in the wrong as in the instant case, one should stop wimping and move. A two month’s eviction notice should be sufficient or any reasonable human being to find alternatives. This is the perfect case of The Bakayimbira play called ‘’Ndiwulira’’ about the corn worm that kept postponing the day it would leave the maize cob only to be killed in the saucepan as the water started boiling.

What the KCCA employees did was wrong and deplorable in so far as using excessive force was concerned but no amount of burning tires by the occupiers of these illegal structures will give them a right to remain legally entitled to stay there. However responsible, objective and impartial journalism is needed. This video clips begins with a woman crying and tends to immediately bias the viewer against KCCA's actions. Whereas I entirely agree that her loss is unquenchable, the story line is quite alarmist and diversionary. I do agree that the KCC officer was wrong. He should be disciplined and sanctioned but the facts still remain that there is an illegality which the authorities were trying to correct. That is why the KCCA was created in the first place. I do not think that the Police is helping the situation simply by saying ‘’they were not informed’’. The question remains - If they were informed would they have refused or protected the KCCA officials? What would they have done if confronted with stone throwing hooligans? The Kasubi incidents and the recent walk – to – work scenarios are fresh in our minds. Journalists and the Uganda Police force should therefore tell the whole story.

I do not know whether the KCCA security teams need to consult the police before doing what they ought to do. However statements to the effect that the local leaders should also be consulted are not helpful either. We cannot have our cake and eat it too. By frustrating the work of the KCCA, we invite disaster upon ourselves. This is what we call ‘volenti non fit injuria’ (voluntary assumption of risk). Stories of haulage trucks smashing into homes and shops built in road reserves are ever in the news.

As for those who pelt armed men with stones, remember the adage, ‘’People in glass houses should not throw stones!’’

Daniel R. Ruhweza Esq.
Attorney & Lecturer-At-Law

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

You Lazy (Intellectual) African Scum!

Just received this and have been challenged!!!

They call the Third World the lazy man’s purview; the sluggishly slothful and languorous prefecture. In this realm people are sleepy, dreamy, torpid, lethargic, and therefore indigent—totally penniless, needy, destitute, poverty-stricken, disfavored, and impoverished. In this demesne, as they call it, there are hardly any discoveries, inventions, and innovations. Africa is the trailblazer. Some still call it “the dark continent” for the light that flickers under the tunnel is not that of hope, but an approaching train. And because countless keep waiting in the way of the train, millions die and many more remain decapitated by the day.

“It’s amazing how you all sit there and watch yourselves die,” the man next to me said. “Get up and do something about it.”

Brawny, fully bald-headed, with intense, steely eyes, he was as cold as they come. When I first discovered I was going to spend my New Year’s Eve next to him on a non-stop JetBlue flight from Los Angeles to Boston I was angst-ridden. I associate marble-shaven Caucasians with iconoclastic skin-heads, most of who are racist.

“My name is Walter,” he extended his hand as soon as I settled in my seat.

I told him mine with a precautious smile.

“Where are you from?” he asked.


“Zambia!” he exclaimed, “Kaunda’s country.”

“Yes,” I said, “Now Sata’s.”

“But of course,” he responded. “You just elected King Cobra as your president.”

My face lit up at the mention of Sata’s moniker. Walter smiled, and in those cold eyes I saw an amenable fellow, one of those American highbrows who shuttle between Africa and the U.S.

“I spent three years in Zambia in the 1980s,” he continued. “I wined and dined with Luke Mwananshiku, Willa Mungomba, Dr. Siteke Mwale, and many other highly intelligent Zambians.” He lowered his voice. “I was part of the IMF group that came to rip you guys off.” He smirked. “Your government put me in a million dollar mansion overlooking a shanty called Kalingalinga. From my patio I saw it all—the rich and the poor, the ailing, the dead, and the healthy.”

“Are you still with the IMF?” I asked.

“I have since moved to yet another group with similar intentions. In the next few months my colleagues and I will be in Lusaka to hypnotize the cobra. I work for the broker that has acquired a chunk of your debt. Your government owes not the World Bank, but us millions of dollars. We’ll be in Lusaka to offer your president a couple of millions and fly back with a check twenty times greater.”

“No, you won’t,” I said. “King Cobra is incorruptible. He is …”

He was laughing. “Says who? Give me an African president, just one, who has not fallen for the carrot and stick.”

Quett Masire’s name popped up.

“Oh, him, well, we never got to him because he turned down the IMF and the World Bank. It was perhaps the smartest thing for him to do.”

At midnight we were airborne. The captain wished us a happy 2012 and urged us to watch the fireworks across Los Angeles.

“Isn’t that beautiful,” Walter said looking down.

From my middle seat, I took a glance and nodded admirably.

“That’s white man’s country,” he said. “We came here on Mayflower and turned Indian land into a paradise and now the most powerful nation on earth. We discovered the bulb, and built this aircraft to fly us to pleasure resorts like Lake Zambia.”

I grinned. “There is no Lake Zambia.”

He curled his lips into a smug smile. “That’s what we call your country. You guys are as stagnant as the water in the lake. We come in with our large boats and fish your minerals and your wildlife and leave morsels—crumbs. That’s your staple food, crumbs. That corn-meal you eat, that’s crumbs, the small Tilapia fish you call Kapenta is crumbs. We the Bwanas (whites) take the cat fish. I am the Bwana and you are the Muntu. I get what I want and you get what you deserve, crumbs. That’s what lazy people get—Zambians, Africans, the entire Third World.”

The smile vanished from my face.

“I see you are getting pissed off,” Walter said and lowered his voice. “You are thinking this Bwana is a racist. That’s how most Zambians respond when I tell them the truth. They go ballistic. Okay. Let’s for a moment put our skin pigmentations, this black and white crap, aside. Tell me, my friend, what is the difference between you and me?”

“There’s no difference.”

“Absolutely none,” he exclaimed. “Scientists in the Human Genome Project have proved that. It took them thirteen years to determine the complete sequence of the three billion DNA subunits. After they

were all done it was clear that 99.9% nucleotide bases were exactly the same in you and me. We are the same people. All white, Asian, Latino, and black people on this aircraft are the same.”

I gladly nodded.

“And yet I feel superior,” he smiled fatalistically. “Every white person on this plane feels superior to a black person. The white guy who picks up garbage, the homeless white trash on drugs, feels superior to you no matter his status or education. I can pick up a nincompoop from the New York streets, clean him up, and take him to Lusaka and you all be crowding around him chanting muzungu, muzungu and yet he’s a riffraff. Tell me why my angry friend.”

For a moment I was wordless.

“Please don’t blame it on slavery like the African Americans do, or colonialism, or some psychological impact or some kind of stigmatization. And don’t give me the brainwash poppycock. Give me a better answer.”

I was thinking.

He continued. “Excuse what I am about to say. Please do not take offense.”

I felt a slap of blood rush to my head and prepared for the worst.

“You my friend flying with me and all your kind are lazy,” he said. “When you rest your head on the pillow you don’t dream big. You and other so-called African intellectuals are damn lazy, each one of you. It is you, and not those poor starving people, who is the reason Africa is in such a deplorable state.”

“That’s not a nice thing to say,” I protested.

He was implacable. “Oh yes it is and I will say it again, you are lazy. Poor and uneducated Africans are the most hardworking people on earth. I saw them in the Lusaka markets and on the street selling merchandise. I saw them in villages toiling away. I saw women on Kafue Road crushing stones for sell and I wept. I said to myself where are the Zambian intellectuals? Are the Zambian engineers so imperceptive they cannot invent a simple stone crusher, or a simple water filter to purify well water for those poor villagers? Are you telling me that after thirty-seven years of independence your university school of engineering has not produced a scientist or an engineer who can make simple small machines for mass use? What is the school there for?”

I held my breath.

“Do you know where I found your intellectuals? They were in bars quaffing. They were at the Lusaka Golf Club, Lusaka Central Club, Lusaka Playhouse, and Lusaka Flying Club. I saw with my own eyes a bunch of alcoholic graduates. Zambian intellectuals work from eight to five and spend the evening drinking. We don’t. We reserve the evening for brainstorming.”

He looked me in the eye.

“And you flying to Boston and all of you Zambians in the Diaspora are just as lazy and apathetic to your country. You don’t care about your country and yet your very own parents, brothers and sisters are in Mtendere, Chawama, and in villages, all of them living in squalor. Many have died or are dying of neglect by you. They are dying of AIDS because you cannot come up with your own cure. You are here calling yourselves graduates, researchers and scientists and are fast at articulating your credentials once asked—oh, I have a PhD in this and that—PhD my foot!”

I was deflated.

“Wake up you all!” he exclaimed, attracting the attention of nearby passengers. “You should be busy lifting ideas, formulae, recipes, and diagrams from American manufacturing factories and sending them to your own factories. All those research findings and dissertation papers you compile should be your country’s treasure. Why do you think the Asians are a force to reckon with? They stole our ideas and turned them into their own. Look at Japan, China, India, just look at them.”

He paused. “The Bwana has spoken,” he said and grinned. “As long as you are dependent on my plane, I shall feel superior and you my friend shall remain inferior, how about that? The Chinese, Japanese, Indians, even Latinos are a notch better. You Africans are at the bottom of the totem pole.”

He tempered his voice. “Get over this white skin syndrome and begin to feel confident. Become innovative and make your own stuff for god’s sake.”

At 8 a.m. the plane touched down at Boston’s Logan International Airport. Walter reached for my hand.

“I know I was too strong, but I don’t give it a damn. I have been to Zambia and have seen too much poverty.” He pulled out a piece of paper and scribbled something. “Here, read this. It was written by a friend.”

He had written only the title: “Lords of Poverty.”

Thunderstruck, I had a sinking feeling. I watched Walter walk through the airport doors to a waiting car. He had left a huge dust devil twirling in my mind, stirring up sad memories of home. I could see Zambia’s literati—the cognoscente, intelligentsia, academics, highbrows, and scholars in the places he had mentioned guzzling and talking irrelevancies. I remembered some who have since passed—how they got the highest grades in mathematics and the sciences and attained the highest education on the planet. They had been to Harvard, Oxford, Yale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), only to leave us with not a single invention or discovery. I knew some by name and drunk with them at the Lusaka Playhouse and Central Sports.

Walter is right. It is true that since independence we have failed to nurture creativity and collective orientations. We as a nation lack a workhorse mentality and behave like 13 million civil servants dependent on a government pay cheque. We believe that development is generated 8-to-5 behind a desk wearing a tie with our degrees hanging on the wall. Such a working environment does not offer the opportunity for fellowship, the excitement of competition, and the spectacle of innovative rituals.

But the intelligentsia is not solely, or even mainly, to blame. The larger failure is due to political circumstances over which they have had little control. The past governments failed to create an environment of possibility that fosters camaraderie, rewards innovative ideas and encourages resilience. KK, Chiluba, Mwanawasa, and Banda embraced orthodox ideas and therefore failed to offer many opportunities for drawing outside the line.

I believe King Cobra’s reset has been cast in the same faculties as those of his predecessors. If today I told him that we can build our own car, he would throw me out.

“Naupena? Fuma apa.” (Are you mad? Get out of here)

Knowing well that King Cobra will not embody innovation at Walter’s level let’s begin to look for a technologically active-positive leader who can succeed him after a term or two. That way we can make our own stone crushers, water filters, water pumps, razor blades, and harvesters. Let’s dream big and make tractors, cars, and planes, or, like Walter said, forever remain inferior.

A fundamental transformation of our country from what is essentially non-innovative to a strategic superior African country requires a bold risk-taking educated leader with a triumphalist attitude and we have one in YOU. Don’t be highly strung and feel insulted by Walter. Take a moment and think about our country. Our journey from 1964 has been marked by tears. It has been an emotionally overwhelming experience. Each one of us has lost a loved one to poverty, hunger, and disease. The number of graves is catching up with the population. It’s time to change our political culture. It’s time for Zambian intellectuals to cultivate an active-positive progressive movement that will change our lives forever. Don’t be afraid or dispirited, rise to the challenge and salvage the remaining few of your beloved ones.

Field Ruwe is a US-based Zambian media practitioner and author. He is a PhD candidate with a B.A. in Mass Communication and Journalism, and an M.A. in History.