Dr Warren Kizza Besigye’s memorable speech revisited


I was in prison in 1981 and almost died. Many of the people I was with in that prison have never been seen again. I went to exile.I was in govt in 1986. I was a minister in the NRM. I was the National Political Commisar. I was a Minister for Presidency. I was in the military as a member of the High Command. 

I went into exile, ran away from NRM. I have been in the NRM prisons countless times.Those in NRM today love it because it has power.We loved NRM when it had no power.We worked with Museveni when he had nothing.

It’s from that background that I come to talk you. In spite of the struggle, the situation is still too bad. For more than 50 years, non of the leaders has handed over power. Museveni bombed his way to power. If history is to repeat itself, he might be waiting to be bombed out of power. 

Wherever you go in this country, poverty is very wether and citizens have been turned into beggars.You have health centers like this one in Kwapa that don’t have drugs and others that don’t have medical workers.

At independence, Uganda was at the same level of development as Singapore. What is the problem? The problem is that we have no citizens. I suspect that all of you here have registered as citizens. What is citizenship? Because you are born in a country’s boundaries?No. You only become a citizen when you possess the power of your country. 

You only become the head of your family only if you can control it. Power means you have the ultimate authority to decide for your country. Nothing should be decided without your authority.

The Constitution dictates that power belongs to the people. When a decision is taken in this country, is it taken with your consent? Do you have any authority as to how your money is spent? Do you have any authority as whether our children should go and fight outside Uganda?

The second thing that power gives you is the power over the country’s wealth. If you don’t have that power, what is the difference between you and refugees? We go to elections to give power.

When you go to an election without power, the ballot remains a piece of paper. And Museveni has always told you that a piece of paper cannot remove him.Those papers can be burnt, they can be changed. When you don’t have power, you can’t talk about elections. In 2006, we knew we had won the elections but different results were announced.

We went to court and the Supreme court said the elections were not free and fair. Gen. Sejusa while in London said that in the year 2006, we got 69% of the election. Now while in Kampala, Gen. Sejusa repeated the same thing and said the same thing. Since they were just pieces of papers, they couldn’t make me President.

Unless you get power, you will not be able to change any thing in this country. You will remain in poverty, without services. Power, in Uganda since colonialism, has remained with the gun. It’s the guns that make us fear as it was the case when whitemen brought the first gun. Fear has become part of our culture. We have a local saying that, “you rather be ashamed than dying.”

1. We must come out of fear and become confident that we can change those things. For the last 30 years, we feed Mr Museveni, we buy him clothes, we buy him vehicles, we pay him a salary. He should be the one to be begging, but instead it’s the reverse.

We must change our mindsets.You don’t stop at fearing Museveni alone, you fear the GISO, RDCs who are actually your servants. For years we have developed a mentality of submitting to our servants. We must change this and become the owners of this land so that whoever is working for us is our workers, not our masters. We should know we have no power but we can get it.

2. We must unite and coordinate. That is why the dictator employs that tactic of divide and rule. If you are coordinated and work together, you can get power. Sometime back, government put a lot ofconditions on businessmen in Kampala. They asked government to reduce the condition which the government refused. They coordinated and they closed their shops.

The government couldn’t find anyone to teargas, couldn’t arrest them, could not run the shop. After three days ,the government was not getting taxes. The government bended and called them to a round table and gave in to the businessmen. Because of they were organised and acted together, they were able towin.

Be confident that this is your country. Organise in groups of 10 members, the 10 should each get other 10 that when we have information to send to you, it becomes easy to communicate and act together.

3. Take action. We will be able to achieve our goals. Going to the next election without power is a wastage of power. Mr Museveni has the power to appoint and fire the entire Electoral Commission.

This is like two teams in a football match; one of the teams coaches the referee, it’s supporters are linesmen and the fourth official. When the other team player is about to score, they rule him off side, their best defender is given a red card. 

Would you allow to play such a game? NO! We must keep in the field, stop the game until the rules are clear, a neutral referee is chosen then the game can be played. We can’t boycott because when we boycott the other team is given three points.

If Mr Museveni doesn’t surrender the whistle, we shall not allow the game to start until his term expires on 12 May 2016 and he leaves so that we organise a free and fair elections. So if you want to be rich, you must have power and control over your wealth. 

Forget this propaganda of Bonna Bagagawale. They can’t save you. We can maneuver by working together with Mbabazi, Sejusa, and others and see Museveni off, but this will still leave you powerless.

I have retired from the army, I have retired from the medical profession, I have retired from FDC Presidency but I will never retire from fighting for freedom. Be firm, you may be inconvenienced for sometime, you may suffer for sometime but this is the only way we can give our children a good future.

Part of the evidence we took to court was a Declaration Form where we got 500 votes and Museveni got 17. The Electoral Commission announced that we got 0 and Museveni got 500 votes!