NRM has not given enough political cake to Muslims

By AbbeyKibirige Semuwemba

Dear editor,
Becoming a politician is not inborn or prophetic as in like Jesus or Muhammad(saw) born with unique features of prophecy. Anybody can become a politician if the situation warrants one to become one.General Kazini was a�teacher by profession but he died a military officer/politician. Late Dr.Kiggundu Sulaiman was a banker and researcher but he died a politician.The current chairman of the electoral commission,Dr.Badru Kiggundu was an academician in USA and later in Makerere university but now he is fully in politics. But Let me go back to the gist of my message which is Muslims and how we have been marginalised politically in Uganda.

The Muslims have got no viable Muslim in the current NRM government apart from the Electoral Commission Chairman,Dr.Badru Kiggundu, and Hajji Kirunda Kivenjinja who are both insignificant to the Muslim community, yet both the catholics and protestants are well represented. This has been the case since 1996 where no Muslim occupies a constitutional office anywhere in Museveni's government. Muslims were well represented in the first 10 years of Museveni's reign but not anymore.

During Obote 2, there was no Muslim in his cabinet. There was one Muslim ntege Lubwama who had been named a minister but Oyite Ojok and Chris Rwakasisi plotted his death and he had to go into exile.UNLF under Godfrey Binaisa, there was only Ntege Lubwama and Bidandi Ssali.UNLF under Lule, there was none although Lule was once upon a time a Muslim. Obote 1 had only two Muslim ninisters:Adoko Nekyon(Obote's cousin) and Shaban Nkutu (from Busoga).

During Iddil Amin,Uganda was admited as an islamic country at a conference in Lahore, pakistan in 1974 and Amin tried a lot to help Muslims during his reign. Nevertheless, Amin had only one Mulsim in his first cabinet though this later changed as years progressed.

According to the 1958 consensus, i think muslims were not more than 5%. Because we are a minority, we have always needed catholics and protestants at our side when making political decisons.This means that a muslim president or Vice president can act as a bridge between different religions in Uganda and does not need to turn Uganda into an Islamic state which was somehow the dream of Iddil Amin. Therefore,non-Muslims can vote for a Muslim president in future looking at him as a bridge to unite everybody despite whatever happened under Iddil Amin.

Muslims in general do not discriminate people based on religions. In Senegal, there was a catholic president called Leopold Senghol but the majority of the population that voted for him were Muslims.In Tanzania, Julius Nyerere was a catholic but muslims loved him in big numbers. Museveni1(1986-1998) was also loved and supported by majority of Muslims before he came to power.

Religion, culture and politics are like three brothers competing with one another but with a need to work together.The link between religion and politics in Uganda can be explained in the earlier relationship between Sudan and Uganda during the rise of the Mahdi, a force that overpowered the British and Egyptians and later led to what we call 'NUBIANS' in Uganda. When the Acholi, Lugabara, Kakwa, banyoro and others were converted to Islam, they became BANUBI. Amin was a kakwa muslim which makes him a Nubian is some way.The Nubians played a pivotal role in the creation of Uganda as a state.

In the 1950s, religion played apart in party membership and formation. DP was mainly dominated by catholics and it had a catholic Lawyer in Kiwanuka as its first leader.DP was originally supposed to be called christian Democratic party before the word christain was omitted.It also used people like archbisjop of Lubaga, Joseph Kiwanuka, to tap into Baganda and catholic support during the elections. I think Kiwanuka died in 1966, the same year Obote abolished kingdoms.

Uganda National Congress(UNC) and later UPC were dominated by protestants. 75% of the UNC central committee came from King's College Budo School, a protestant school.74% of their branch chairman were protestants.Islam was not an influence but it once acted as a unifying factor for protestants and catholics when the British and Arabs were fighthing for influence in Buganda. The British later sided with protestants as the formal ascendasy or official religion for Buganda.

For UPC, it benefited from the 1961 elections because of its protestant base. The greater the precentage of protestants in adistrict, the higher the vote for UPC though DP benifited from this more than UPC. Nevertherless,UPC tried to move away from religion in the 1962 elections.

Unlike Muslims, protestants have produced national and traditional leaders that have helped to unite them. Most of the Kabakas have been protestants including the current one. Obote was a protestant and presided over cabinets dominated by protestants in Obote and Obote 2. Catholics have also continued to be atleast well representated because they are the majority in Uganda.Muslims were also united when Amin was in power but it was short lived because since then we have not been having strong national characters to unite us. That's why, atleast, we need a strong Muslim Vice president or prime minister as things stand and it could benefit all of us if we get a good candidate. The current NRM governnment should think about this as no Muslim is occupying any of the biggest posts in the government. Buganda's Mengo administration should also think about appointing a Muslim Katikiro soon for the sake of creating balance in political appointees in the kingdom.That position should not be for catholics and protestants alone.

AbbeyKibirige Semuwemba
United Kingdom