Participating In Tyrant Museveni's Sham Elections Lends Him Credibility

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Constitution serial rapist Gen. Museveni--dictator now annointed life-president by pliant Parliament

[Letter From Gulu]

Change seekers in Uganda must rethink approach.

Steve Biko, the fiery anti-apartheid struggle icon, said many years ago that; “The greatest weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”

Mr. Biko’s assertion cogently describes the dilemma and predicament of change seekers in Uganda today. President Museveni and the NRM regime have systematically programmed and or conditioned Ugandans to think within a box he created and duped us to believe are democratic institutions meant to midwife democracy.

Lest we forget, nearly every dictator needs nominally democratic institutions to get legitimacy and rent support. To achieve these, they co-opt to their ruling machine, what is supposed to be the political opposition. They make sure the political opposition partakes in the largesse of the kleptocratic state at the expense of the people they purport to lead. The SUVs, the money, the mansions, the jobs, the business deals, and the political connections.

In Uganda’s case, the regime has successfully used elections and parliament to that end. That is why there are many ‘opposition’ politicians that have been sponsored in parliamentary elections by the regime. In fact, the regime has many times ‘donated’ constituencies to the ‘opposition.’ In parliament, legislators across the aisle are bribed to get controversial and illegitimate laws enacted.

Secondly, despotic regimes lack organic support. Thus, they create a mirage of institutions to rent support and force compliance to their rule. That is why, for instance, the NRM regime allots a disproportionately huge budget vote to the armed forces rather than the health and education sectors. This is because the regime relies on coercion to procure allegiance and support.

Change seekers in Uganda have unfortunately bought into this political subterfuge. We have chosen to believe in the institutions of the despot. We play his game and adhere to the rules he sets for the game. Consequently, we have failed to deliver change. We have, instead, become accomplices to the shenanigans and criminality that the regime orchestrates on the people of Uganda.

It is, therefore, disingenuous for change seekers to react to the age limit amendment as though we expected a miracle to happen in the despot’s parliament. That is impossible. We sowed beans. We couldn’t have harvested groundnuts.

In fact, we have always had our strategy wrong. We want to eat our cake and have it. We participate in elections whose rules we know disadvantage us from start to finish. In the end, the entire change movement gets a paltry number (60 or so out of 450) of MPs whose legislative impact in the national assembly is at most negligible. What do we realistically expect ‘opposition’ MPs to achieve in a parliament swarmed by nearly 90% of NRM MPs?

Look, in the 2016 elections, The Democratic Alliance (TDA), an alliance of seven political parties (CP, DP, FDC, JEEMA, UFA, PPP and UPC) and two pressure groups, headed by Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and Vice President Gilbert Bukenya, could not field candidates in all parliamentary constituencies, let alone district, sub-county, youth, women, disability and the elders’ elections. This has been the case in all previous elections. 2011, 2006, 2001 and even 1996.

If Gen. Museveni rigs the presidential election's outcome in his favor, why would he tolerate a different outcome for Parliamentary elections?

Before the first vote was cast in 2016, NRM already had more than ten District Chairmen winning unopposed. So were a number of NRM MPs. In the lower local councils, there were also several seats won unopposed by the NRM. How can we surely expect to win in such elections? What do we, therefore, look for in such elections?

As change seekers, we must critically and honestly rethink our approach. Going by our past experiences, it is evidently clear that elections won’t necessarily deliver change to Uganda. We have in the last 21 years tried that route and failed. It is a high time we tried a new approach. Let us reflect on the words of Albert Einstein who opined that doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result is a sign of madness!

We must do things differently this time around. It can’t be business as usual. Until fundamental electoral reforms are done, we must refuse to participate in the elections of the regime. That way, we shall deny it legitimacy and introduce a new dynamic in the politics of Uganda. We must compel the regime to negotiate with change seekers a new dispensation rather than participate in barren elections.


Mugabe Robert, NEC Member

People’s Progressive Party. 

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