Uganda: Prof. Latigo Responds

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[Uganda: Commentary]

Member of Parliament and leader of Uganda’s FDC opposition party inside parliament, Prof. Morris Ogenga Latigo responds to December 22, BSN article “Uganda Opposition Leader Denounced,”  by Norman S. Miwambo

Thanks for the article. I have read and looked at the article and have nothing much to add.

I can see that there is a strenuous effort by many to portray me in bad light. I formally wrote to the two gentlemen who purportedly wrote to me but I have gotten no response yet. I have also not yet received their letter which was supposedly sent to me- either through email, through the post or through a currier.

So I do not know whether the letter you published about me is genuine or not. You have not also indicated, neither in your article nor in the conversation we had, whether you contacted these two people to authenticate the letter and seek clarification on whether they actually sent the letter to me. Your article therefore hangs in the air and will remain speculative in as far as the authenticity of the letter and it authors are concerned. If it was a trick then it was unfortunate and could only be the work of those who do not wish me and the Opposition well!

On the discontent of those in the Diaspora, and even the discontent of some supporters within the country, there are two critical issues to consider: (i) whether we share a common understanding of what our strategic objectives as the Opposition are, and (ii) whether we share a common understanding of the strategic political paths of action that we believe can lead us to achieve our objectives. Without commonality on both, many of our judgments, preferred actions, and the things that make us feel politically good or bad are all individualistic and purely subjective. In that case no one is wrong or right, and any outcome is purely speculative. So what do we want?

The answers are many, but not all are important. At the onset, the point we have been making is that Museveni is no democrat, and his regime does not merit support, and that we are the best alternative for the country and need to be supported. We have been making this point to the international community and Ugandans (at home and in the Diaspora). But do we still need to make this point?

To the international community the answer is yes, although I can assure you that, through the efforts of Ugandans aboard and various contacts that we continuously make, nearly the whole world knows what Museveni is. We have arrived here through concerted action, and I am sure the two gentlemen and their colleagues have no knowledge of the role I have and continue to play in this regard. Our greatest challenge now is to convince the international community that we are truly a better alternative. How can we do that? Because in the formal State structures the opposition is recognized through the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, the task of portraying the Opposition in good light (over and above raw politics) falls with me.

I may seem yielding to some, but I have to move everybody with us. That means sometimes bending over backwards, particularly when Museveni's greatest tool against the Opposition is that we want to wage war (through PRA etc.) and that we cannot be trusted to hold this conuntry together and lead it in the best interest of all- local and international. How well have we done in this regard? I dare say very well indeed! The argument now is that we do not seem to have a critical mass of objective leaders- a situation which is not correct and only seems so because we have not yet overcome Museveni's negative campaign about us.

To our people, locally, the challenge is to overcome fear on both sides. Our supporters fear Museveni's brutality, and many do not want to be identified with us. During the last campaigns, many people who supported us gave us money clandestinely- even along the streets- to avoid being identified and victimized! For those within NRM who are dissatisfied with Museveni, they have seen former colleagues like Besigye suffer persecution. Others fear what we who are angry with Museveni, may do to them if we took power. On both sides fear freezes possible moves towards us. Therefore, on both sides, the question is how can we help Ugandans to overcome their fear and come out and actively support us? What is the best approach: reckless, dramatic ones that reinforces Museveni's propaganda against us or one that allows our fearful supporters and the disgruntled NRMs to lift up their heads, walk and speak out in support of us? As Parliament is the best platform, how must I conduct myself to ensure the above?

Again from the response of the population so far, how well have we done in this regard? I also dare say very well indeed! While some of the Diaspora feel cheated by me (I am not that raging bull of theirs that gores the NRM bull at the water point and takes over all the cows on heat), they need to take the pulse on the ground. Yes, it is becoming cool to be an Opposition member, and people willingly and actively associate with me in public as an Opposition leader! Also by acknowledging my conduct, the NRMs are not saying that I am a traitor to the Opposition. No. On the contrary, they find no fear associating with my kind of Opposition. This is a critical first step for them to take in order to change, i.e. that they are able to think about us positively!

Yes I am more than convinced that what I am doing is what Ugandans want, and we politicians are obligated to do what is best for our people. My actions have been based on objective, empirical and very active, thorough and continuous consideration of complex factors that are at play all the time without lifting my eyes off the target. Not many critics do the things I do. Those supporters who are possessive of our being in Opposition also do not realize that unless people change to our side (that is why I am F-D-Change!), we will never prevail.

The alternative to the above is for us to take a purely confrontational approach so as to make governance of our country impossible, or even try to actively remove Museveni's government unconstitutionally. Is that an option for us? Hell no! Ugandans are tired of violence. We as FDC are also committed to a democratic process- that was the very first resolution of FDC NEC when it met in South Africa in October 2005.

For all our people of FDC and the opposition in general, we must avoid rash criticism and approaches meant to kill-off alternatives just because we do not see things other people's ways. The best we must do is to allow open dialogue and seek information so as to infer, decide and take stands on the basis of facts. That is my leadership approach; that is what informs all my actions.

I have bothered to send you this detail because I believe it is important for you know who I am, what motivates me, and how I do my things. It is only then that you will be able to truly contextualize everthing about me- whether a purported letter of complaint, a news item or just some gossip.

Thank you and have a Merry Christmas.

Prof. Morris Ogenga-Latigo MP. LEADER OF OPPOSITION.

Editor's Note: The letter was authenticated and the reporter, Miwambo, spoke with the authors and obtained a copy.

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