Progress towards Democracy in Africa: Uganda as a Case Study

  • Oliver Furley


In recent years there has been considerable progress made by many African states towards more democratic systems of government. This is partly because of international pressure, where foreign aid, whether it is from the World Bank or IMF, or from donor states, is often made conditional upon ‘good governance’, which is measured by, among other things, progress towards democracy and the better observance of human rights. This progress also, results from internal pressures within African countries, especially where technology has vastly improved knowledge and information about world-wide movements towards democracy. Examples of ‘people power’ in Eastern Europe, the Philippines or Indonesia, and scenes of mass protest in many countries have increased African awareness of the power of these movements. The mainspring of African aspirations for democracy, however, comes from Africans themselves, tired of the dictatorial and corrupt regimes of the decades since the 1960s, and determined to force a change. Many of the old leaders have gone, some having been swept away by revolution or civil war, a recent example being President Mobutu of Zaire. In other countries, where leaders cling to the older oligarchic or elitist forms of rule, as in Kenya under President Moi or Zimbabwe under President Mugabe, patience is wearing thin and protest is mounting in favour of more democratic systems.


Political Parti Draft Constitution Constitutional Issue Uganda Wildlife Authority Elitist Form 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    At the Paris Peace Conference in November 1998, Uganda and Rwanda took part in discussions over a cease-fire but ‘demanded guarantees and commitments on security at their borders’. President Kabila made commitments regarding democratisation, openness and dialogue, while earlier he had announced that political parties would be legalised in two months’ time. Panafrican News Agency, 28 November 1998, and IRIN Update, 20–26 November 1998. For a general overview of the progress of democracy in Africa, see M. Ottaway (ed.) (1997) Democracy in Africa: The Hard Road Ahead (Boulder, Col.; London: Lynne Rienner); M. Bratton and N. van de Walle (1997) Democratic Experiments in Africa (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press); J. Widner (ed.) (1994) Economic Change and Political Liberalisation, in Sub-Saharan Africa (Baltimore, Md.; London: Johns Hopkins University Press); and J. Wiseman (ed.) (1995) Democracy and Political Change in Sub-Saharan Africa (London: Routledge).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For the events of these years, see Phares and Mutibwa (1992) Uganda Since Independence (London: Hurst & Co.); G. Kanyeihamba (1975) Constitutional Law and Government in Uganda, (Nairobi: East African Literature Bureau); A. G. Gingyera-Pinycwa (1978) Milton Obote and His Times, (New York; London: NOK Publishers); F. A. Bwengye (1985) The Agony of Uganda from Idi Amin to Obote (London; New York: Regency Press).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See O. W. Furley (1992) ‘Uganda: The Second-Phase Bid for Legitimacy under International Security’, in K. Rupesinghe (ed.), Internal Conflict and Governance (London: Macmillan); (n.d.) ‘Towards a Free and Democratic Uganda: The Basic Principles and Policies of the National Resistance Movement (NRM)’ (Kampala).Google Scholar
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    Museveni, Y. (1985) The Ten-Point Programme, NRM Publications.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Guidelines on Constitutional Issues (Kampala: Government Printer) 1990.Google Scholar
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    Guiding Questions on Constitutional Issues (Kampala: Government Printer) 1990.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ogwal, Cecilia, letter to the Minister of Constitutional Affairs, 5.6.94.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    For a general survey of the process, see H. B. Hansen and M. Twaddle (eds) (1994) From Chaos to Order: The Politics of Constitution-Making in Uganda (London: James Currey); and for a detailed study of the Constituent Assembly, see G. Sabiti-Makara, B. Tukahebwa and F. Byarugaba (eds) (1996) Politics, Constitutionalism and Electioneering in Uganda. A Study of the 1994 Constituent Assembly Elections (Kampala: Makerere University Press).Google Scholar
  9. 9.
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  10. 10.
    New Vision (Newspaper), 3 September 1993, 18 October 1993 and 30 December 1993.Google Scholar
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    Legal Notice No. 1 of 1986, amended by Statute No. 1 of 1989. I am indebted to Dr J. Katalikawe for this reference.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    New Vision (Newspaper), 3 August 1993. These proportions represent a climb-down by the NRC, which had previously considered themselves a sufficiently democratic body to discuss and adopt a draft constitution. It was Major General Mugisha Muntu, Commander of the NRA, who persuaded them that the Constituent Assembly should be very largely a newly-elected body. See Ondoga ori Amaza (1998) Museveni’s Long March, from Guerrilla to Statesman (Kampala: Fountain Publishers), pp. 178–80.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    The Monitor (Newspaper), 4 October 1993.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    New Vision (Newspaper), 22 December 1993.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    See Ondoga ori Amaza, Museveni’s Long March, pp. 180–8.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    See O. W. Furley and J. Katalikawe (2000) No-Party Democracy: Uganda’s Elections to the Constituent Assembly (Kampala: Kampala Centre for Basic Research).Google Scholar
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    New Vision (Newspaper), 3 September 1993 and 18 October 1993.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    The writer was privileged to attend some of these debates, and the determination to ensure that the terrible violations of human rights that Uganda has suffered in the past were not to be repeated, was most impressive.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    See S. Villadsen and F. Lubanga (eds) (1996) Democratic Decentralisation in Uganda: A New Approach to Local Governance (Kampala: Fountain Publishers).Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    See Ondoga ori Amaza, Museveni’s Long March, pp. 189–94, for a detailed account of this debate.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Republic of Uganda, Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995. It is 196 pages long.Google Scholar
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    The People (Newspaper), 13–20 December 1995; and New Vision (Newspaper), 13 December 1995.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    The East African, 1–7 July 1996.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Interview with Dr J. Katalikawe and Mr J. Byamugisha, Coventry, 15 October 1997.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    The East African, 1–7 July 1996.Google Scholar
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    New Vision (Newspaper), 30.10.97, and the Monitor (Newspaper), 29 November 1997.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    The Sunday Vision (Newspaper), 9 November 1997.Google Scholar
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    Professor T. B. Kabweguere, ‘The Lessons from Jim Muhwezi’s Censure’, The Sunday Vision (Newspaper), 28 March 1998.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    New Vision (Newspaper), 23 December 1997. ‘Are they serious about corruption?’, was a rhetorical question put to me by Dr J. Katalikawe, Kampala, 23 July 1998.Google Scholar
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    New Vision (Newspaper), 1 September 1998, 16 December 1998; and Guardian Weekly, Special Report on Uganda, ‘Corruption Haunts Economic Success’, 23 December 1998.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    The Monitor, 2 June 1998; and interview with Mr George Baitera Maiteki, MP, Kampala, 12 May 1998.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    ‘Donors’ Darling Losing Its Allure’ was the headline in the Financial Times, 9 December 1998 (though this was chiefly regarding economic performance). The Guardian, however, wrote of Museveni: ‘His no-party system is beginning to look suspiciously like a one-party state. There are growing complaints that by stifling opposition, he is encouraging disaffected Ugandans to turn to rebel groups in the northern and western areas’, Guardian Weekly, Special Report on Uganda, 23 December 1998.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    The ‘Human Development Index’ for developing countries ranks Uganda 160th out of 174 countries, and the ‘Human Poverty Index’ ranks it 57th out of 77: United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report, Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 21 and 26. President Museveni admits in his book that ‘the main issue facing Uganda now is the underdevelopment of the rural economy’: Y. Museveni (1997) Sowing the Mustard Seed. The Struggle for Freedom and Democracy in Uganda (London: Macmillan), p. 214.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver Furley

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