Uganda: National Action for Awakening Uganda (NAAU), including origin, structure, leadership and membership; treatment of members by authorities (2012-June 2016) [UGA105560.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. NAAU

According to a publication available on its website, the NAAU, also known as Sisimuka Uganda, meaning "Wakeup Uganda," was founded in 2010 and describes itself as "a non-profit civil society organization that focuses on changing the mindset of a local Ugandan citizen through economic, human rights, education, capacity building and economic empowerment programs" (NAAU n.d.d, 1). The same publication states that the organization is active in the areas of human rights, democracy and good governance, environmental sustainability, health, and education, and has implemented projects such as the "Plant a Tree, Save Uganda" initiative, workshops on youth economic empowerment, and a project on developing life skills for students in war-affected areas of Northern Uganda (NAAU n.d.d, 2).

According to a Ugandan news website called WeInformers, a Uganda multimedia news and information site managed by the media company Ultimate Media (Ultimate Media n.d.), NAAU was established as a "political pressure group" with the aim of bringing together "all political pressure groups in Uganda to stage a joint pressure group against [Uganda's] President Museveni’s reported despotic regime" (WeInformers 16 Mar. 2012). A Ugandan daily news portal, the Investigator, states that NAAU was founded by "Ugandans from different political affiliations" (The Investigator 20 Mar. 2016).

2. Leadership

Sources indicate that NAAU was founded by Frank Gashumba (The Investigator 20 Mar. 2016; Daily Monitor 4 May 2015), who is described as a "controversial businessman [1] and [a] loud social commentator" (Chimp Reports 14 July 2015) and a Kampala businessman and motivational speaker (UGO 8 Apr. 2015). According to an article in the Ugandan Daily Monitor, NAAU serves as "a platform to drive [Gashumba's] agenda to arouse Ugandans with a view of determining their own destiny, even as many view him as a schemer looking for funding from donors" (Daily Monitor 4 May 2015). The same source states that Gashumba "profiles himself as a social activist, motivational speaker and entrepreneur" (Daily Monitor 4 May 2015). Uganda Goes Online (UGO), a web portal that promotes Ugandan content online and hosts news stories by its own reporters as well as by other Ugandan media (UGO n.d.), reports that Gashumba frequently appears in radio and TV programs that have earned him "a great following" (UGO 4 Feb. 2016). In 2014, New Vision, a Ugandan English-language newspaper, included Frank Gashumba, describing him as a "commentator," on its list of "Uganda's top 100 celebrities," which is compiled based on the number of times a person was mentioned in the Ugandan media and their Facebook and Twitter ratings (New Vision 8 Aug. 2014). Sources report that Gashumba is a "government critic" (UGO 4 Feb. 2016), or a "renown[ed] … critic" of Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni (Watchdog Uganda 5 Mar. 2016). Information on other leaders and members of NAAU could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3. Structure

According to the information available on the NAAU website, the organization has a general assembly, a board of trustees, and "a country[-]wide network of strong and dedicated [constituents]" (NAAU n.d.d, 2). Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

4. Membership

According to NAAU’s website, "NAAU membership is open to all persons and entities who want to continue to ensure a nation that lives up to its constitutional promises" (NAAU. n.d.b). The organization offers "basic membership" for a fee of 5,000 Ugandan shillings (UGX) [approximately C$1.9] (NAAU. n.d.b), "annual membership" for a fee of UGX 50,000 [approximately C$19] (NAAU. n.d.a), and "lifetime membership" for a fee of UGX 500,000 [approximately C$192] (NAAU. n.d.c). Persons who register for the annual and lifetime memberships will receive a membership card (NAAU. n.d.a; NAAU. n.d.b). Lifetime members will also receive a certificate showing their dedication to the organization (NAAU. n.d.c).

5. Treatment by Authorities

Sources report that in 2013, Gashumba met with President Museveni (NAAU 26 Oct. 2013; The Observer 3 Nov. 2013), and claims that he told the President that his government "‘is full of vampires’" and that "‘the challenges [Ugandans] face today are a sign of dead politics in Kampala and failed policies of [his] government’" (The Observer 3 Nov. 2013).

According to an article published by the Investigator, in March 2016, Gashumba announced at a NAAU press conference that he would organize a "one-million-man [march]" against the detention of a former presidential candidate Kiiza Besigye, who was placed under house arrest after the February 2016 elections (The Investigator 20 Mar. 2016). Sources report that the Ugandan police spokesperson subsequently warned Gashumba against holding the march, which would be illegal without a prior permit from authorities (Capital Radio 22 Mar. 2016; Chimp Reports 21 Mar. 2016). The police spokesperson warned that “[i]f they persist, the police have powers to lawfully disperse them for refusal to adhere to our warnings” (Chimp Reports 21 Mar. 2016). Further information on the march, including whether it took place, could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

The UGO reports that Gashumba alleged that the government banned all broadcasters from hosting him until the end of the February 2016 elections (UGO 4 Feb. 2016). In a social post on the alleged ban, published by UGO news, Gashumba states that

… all media houses in Uganda were instructed and ordered not to host Frank Gashumba till elections are done. The reason they are giving is that my words are more poisonous than Ebola.

I have over 90,000 organic and authentic followers on Facebook … [W]e are going to use these organic followers to bring the change we want in our country that even the smallest bacterial on these vampires will feel the heat. (UGO 4 Feb. 2016)

Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Further information on treatment of Gashumba and NAAU members by authorities could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Note

[1] Sources report that Frank Gashumba is the founder of the Mali Group of Companies (Daily Monitor 4 May 2015; Showbiz Uganda 15 July 2015), which, according to Gashumba's own blog, includes companies active in the domains of farming, touring, skills development and mineral exploration (Frank Gashumba 2 Mar. 2012).

References

Capital Radio. 22 March 2016. "Gashumba Warned Over 'One Million Walk' Risks Being Arrested." [Accessed 17 June 2016]

Chimp Reports. 21 March 2016. Kenneth Kazibwe. "Police Warn Gashumba Over 'One Million Walk' Protests." [Accessed 2 June 2016]

Chimp Reports. 14 July 2015. Paul Ampurire. "Gashumba Launches Shs 500 M Suit Against Vision Group." [Accessed 15 June 2016]

Daily Monitor. 4 May 2015. Betty Ndagire. "Frank M. Gashumba: the Business Enigma." [Accessed 2 June 2016]

Frank Gashumba. 2 March 2012. "Mali Group of Companies." [Accessed 15 June 2016]

The Investigator. 20 March 2016. Stanley Ndawula. "Tension Alert: Sisimuka Uganda’s Frank Gashumba Threatens a One-Million-Man Match in a Bid to 'Rescue' Dr. Kiiza Besigye from Home Detention." [Accessed 2 June 2016]

National Action for Awakening Uganda (NAAU). 26 October 2013. Meeting with President Yoweri Museveni. [Accessed 20 June 2016]

National Action for Awakening Uganda (NAAU). N.d.a. "Annual Membership." [Accessed 2 June 2016]

National Action for Awakening Uganda (NAAU). N.d.b. "Basic Membership." [Accessed 2 June 2016]

National Action for Awakening Uganda (NAAU). N.d.c. "Lifetime Membership." [Accessed 2 June 2016]

National Action for Awakening Uganda (NAAU). N.d.d. Our Brief Profile. [Accessed 15 June 2016]

New Vision. 8 August 2014. “Anne Kansiime Tops Uganda’s Top 100 Celebrities List.” [Accessed 14 June 2016]

The Observer. 3 November 2013. Paul Mwiru. "Wolokoso: When Gashumba 'Assured' Museveni." [Accessed 16 June 2016]

Showbiz Uganda. 15 July 2015. Denzel Shantel. "Frank Gashumba to Sue Vision Group." [Accessed 15 June 2016]

Uganda Goes Online (UGO). 4 February 2016. Badru Afunah. "Frank Gashumba Banned from Radio and TV." [Accessed 6 June 2016]

Uganda Goes Online (UGO). 8 April 2015. Yvonne Arinda. "Open Letter to Frank Gashumba." [Accessed 16 June 2016]

Uganda Goes Online (UGO). N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 6 June 2016]

Ultimate Media. N.d. “Ultimate Media.” [Accessed 23 June 2016]

Watchdog Uganda. 5 March 2016. "Gashumba, Bebe Cool Talk Politics, Share a Glass of Juice." [Accessed 16 June 2016]

WeInformers. 16 March 2012. "New Political Pressure Group Similar to A4C Launches in Kampala." [Accessed 14 June 2016]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Canada – consulate in Kampala; Canadian journalist in Kampala; Country Director, ActionAid Uganda; Country Director, National Democratic Institute; human rights lawyer, Uganda; Managing Editor, Nation Media Group; PhD Candidate in political science, University of Toronto; Policy Researcher, Africa Research Institute; Professor of political science, Makerere University; Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Economics and Management, Makerere University; Senior Lecturer in African Development, University of Edinburgh; University Lecturer in African Politics, University of Cambridge.

Internet sites, including: Africa Confidential; Amnesty International; BBC; ecoi.net; Factiva; Human Rights Watch; Freedom House; NTV; United Nations – Refworld; United States – CIA World Factbook, Department of State; Uganda NGO Directory Profiles.