Ugandans protest rising fuel prices ("Walk to Work"), 2011

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Timing
Time Period:  
February 2011 to June 2011
2011
Location and Goals
Country: 
Uganda
Location City/State/Province: 
Kampala
Location Description: 
This is the Capital city of Uganda
Goals: 
To convince the Government to comes up with a plan to lower the prices of fuel and essential commodities.

To convince the government to set priorities based on the needs of the people by stopping all forms of irresponsible expenditure and channel resources in areas that benefit the ordinary citizen.

 

The Walk to Work was a campaign that happened in Uganda led by the leader of The Forum for Democratic Change, Kizza Besigye. Its main goal was to curb the high cost of living as result of high food and fuel prices.

This campaign started after the general election in February 2011 and ended in June 2011. Though the leader of opposition lost the election in Uganda, this campaign propelled his “cause to the top of the agenda and won him far greater popularity than during the general election.

Besigye was joined by a coalition of opposition parties called Alliance for Change who encouraged Kampala residence to “commute on foot twice a week to show solidarity to those who could no longer afford the high cost of transportation”.

This provided an avenue for the poor, the middle class and the sympathizers to express their grievances to the oppressive government led by Museveni. This support increased when the security officers sprayed tear gas to innocent civilians merely walking in the streets. Support for the protesters increased again when the leader of opposition vehicle window was smashed and himself sprayed with tear gas until he literally lost sight for a while and smashed his face in the back of a track.

To include people who could not join the protest on the specified two days each week, the protesters changed their tactic, they required that at five o’clock in the evening every day, motorist would hoot their horns for five minutes.

To achieve the goal of convincing the government to change its policies on commodity prices was not easy for the walk to work campaigners. Nevertheless, there were a number of achievements which were close to the main goal. The campaign “challenged the myth of Museveni as a kindly old man in a hat”. His oppression to the protesters and especially the leader of opposition Kizza Besigye proved to Ugandans that that myth was not true.

The walk to work campaign proved it wrong to believe that Museveni was too pervasive and Ugandans too passive for civil disobedience. When the walk to work campaign continued in the streets even after Museveni called it off, this showed the people “for the first time in twenty five years that they can defy the government”. The walk to work campaign has shown Ugandans “the way forward for future actions against the regime”. This is not only true for Uganda but the whole of the Eastern Africa region. People in these countries have joined the people of Uganda to protest on the streets of their respective countries pressuring governments to lower prices of essential basic needs and set priorities according to the needs of the people.

Research Notes
Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Joseph Kiranto, 29/03/2013