For more on Uganda’s 60th Independence Day commemorations and the challenges faced by locals’ post-independence, VOA’s James Butty spoke with opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye.
The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
VOA: What challenges are Ugandans facing post-independence?
Besigye: The biggest challenge faced by Ugandans, 60 years after attaining independence, is that our country has never had any peaceful change of leadership.
Since we attained independence, whoever ascends to presidency has done so by force. Ugandans in these entire 60 years have no power to remove them from office, and this has huge implications.
Even as we celebrate independence there are many parts of the country that are suffering from hunger and surviving off food aid from donors. This goes to show that 60 years after independence, the vision of the immediate post-independence leaders which was focused on ending ignorance, poverty and disease has not made significant progress.
We can only say we are marking the time when foreign domination ended, but this also marks a time where domination by Africans or Ugandans continues.
VOA: What would you say to those who say under the leadership of President Yoweri Museveni, Uganda plays a pivotal role within the east African community?
Besigye: That is not entirely true.
The east African community was far more advanced in its integration in the 60’s than it is today. We had a common currency and services such as the railway, airlines, and industrial projects, which are all nonexistent today.
There have been efforts to revive the east African corporation. As you know, until recently, borders between member states have been effectively closed.
VOA: What do you make of last week’s events that witnessed the promotion of General Muhoozi by his father, President Yoweri Museveni, regardless of his social media comments that caused friction with Kenya?
Besigye: I think we have family rule within Uganda.
That was demonstrated by how ordinary government protocol does not relate to members of the first family.