By Dr Mwaka Lutukumoi
NRM victory in the Soroti by-election is a sign that the opposition must swallow their pride and follow Mao or boycott elections.
With the history, drama and funny politics in Uganda, we need a national dialogue to build a new consensus. It’s time we stop hypocrisy else history will harshly condemn us and time will prove us wrong.
France in the 1830s, a revolution culminated in the ultimate French revolution of 1879. There was a moral question then, “had the Bourbon monarchs learnt nothing and forgotten nothing?
The answer was obvious, they learnt nothing and forgot nothing akin to Ugandans today. Our preamble of the constitution is very clear… aware of the “dirty past”. Yes, Uganda has had its fair share of conflicts and bloodshed and state-making has been an art of war.
Today, the NRM seems to have overcome it. They conduct elections and by-elections much as the opposition calls them shams, they participate. It also has a strong military that no war can succeed.
The by-election in Soroti that saw NRM win and the usual opposition drama is a clear manifestation! A manifestation of no hope for change. The President is the only one to say, no to elections and we go to dialogue.
In 1980, DP won elections and UPC rigged them off! President Museveni with about 40 men and 27 guns, historically took arms and through revolution engaged in a protracted war and to date they are in government.
Juxtaposing Museveni’s opposition in 1980 and the opposition in Uganda today, we have a scam! A joke and hypocrites!
We are reminded of the opposition of our ancestors against the inversion of the colonialists, and Arab slave traders who destroyed Africa. They were a big joke, doing the same thing and expecting a better result.
From 1996, 2001, 2006, 2011, 2016 and 2021, Uganda conducted elections. The opposition claims torture, intimidation, vote stuffing etc but continues participation to legitimise the same.
To date, the Soroti and Omoro by-elections have taught us something; we either have a scam opposition or schemers and Ugandans are getting fed up.
For the past 36 years, money has become so sweet, both for those in government and opposition. FDC and NUP do not see eye to eye because of rivalry. FDC lost the leading opposition in parliament and other opposition leadership positions.
In Uganda today, the leading opposition in parliament gets close to 2 billion shillings to run the party, and each MP contributes some millions. It’s estimated that NUP alone gets over 70 million shillings monthly.
Each MP gets close to 20 million shillings. The leaders and opposition in Uganda can not afford to boycott elections because they come with Lucretius benefits.
Democratically, any country that gets funding from the West, must conduct frequent elections.
They must be free, fair, and credible. NRM has upped their game, from brutal beatings, and open rigging to commercialization and Ugandans are now susceptible to hopelessness and charm offensive.
To date, on the eve of any elections, opposition candidates like their NRM counterparts go on bribing voters, giving money, salt, soap etc.
The difference is that the NRM has more money and gives more. To date, the opposition is a scam and the earlier Ugandans wake up, the better.
The only way the opposition can redeem itself is by boycotting all elections and engaging President Museveni in dialogue given the high costs of elections where EC spends over 800 billion shillings in elections like in 2021. Besides, hundreds of people die, youth are jailed etc.
NRM and DP’s truce is something the opposition must ponder.
There are basically three ways of acquiring power through credible, free, and fair elections. But unfortunately, with the current opposition we have, there is no hope.
The NRM government that has presided over Uganda for close to 40 years, a country where more than 42% live in poverty with a scam opposition, has ironically become the saviour.
The failure of the opposition to show Ugandans they are real, made Ugandans develop apathy and succumb to commercialized democracy. You do me, I do you!
Whatever Mao did, opposition and civil society must do, and plan for a genuine national dialogue.
Finally, we must learn something from the past, and perfect the future.
The world is looking at nuclear war, and how they can protect their citizens. In 1776, Americans felt they must be united, to survive the hostile world. They went through a lot and the 52 states united to become one country, now the most powerful and strongest in the world.
When Russia went to war with the West and threatened nuclear war, I spent sleepless nights thinking of my poor Africans. US, the West can protect their citizens but we are collateral damages. We must wake up Africa! If they can extinct Red Indians and take over America, what of us?
Whereas we are fighting for petty corruption and power as Africans, we are seated on a time bomb.
As I nonchalantly watched President Museveni address Parliament on East African Community orientation, he lambasted African kings and leaders who joked about the extent to of Arabs and colonialists enslaved citizens and colonized.
To date, unless we wake up, and unite now, first as Ugandans and Africans, we are finished.
Dr Mwaka Lutukumoi is an author and scholar based in the USA.