- Appeal. I do believe strongly that we need to change tactic if we genuinely want to free Ugandans from the yoke of economic enslavement and hegemonic rule of the NRM.
- Foremost, the referendum is a good political event for us. It provides us as individual political parties and the Opposition fraternity as a whole with the opportunity to put our houses in order. We need to mobilise and organise ourselves to speak and act in concert.
It is no longer speculative, it is a fact. The NRM regime wants to hold a referendum purportedly to ask Ugandans about whether or not the tenure of the President should be extended from five to seven years. They want to do this in spite of a near unanimous objection of the scheme by Ugandans. The MPs’ consultations that preceded the removal of the age limit from the Constitution clearly revealed this.
However, as usual, the regime doesn’t care about what Ugandans think about their country and how it is governed. So, according to this psyche, whether the Ugandans need it or not, they will proceed and hold the referendum. It will be rigged and the country will continue doing business as usual.
We in the political Opposition have unfortunately, knowingly or unknowingly, abated the commission of scandals on Ugandans. We have done this by participating in processes that only serve to lend credibility and legitimacy to the regime. Take elections for instance. We have always participated in the elections of the regime well knowing that we stand no chance whatsoever of creating impact, let alone winning such elections.
That is why in all the elections that the regime organises, we perform abysmally and life continues normally. The regime, expectedly, basks in the ‘victory’ that the Opposition gives them. Of course, it continues visiting ruin on the country as we watch helplessly.
As all these are happening, a few of us in the leadership of the political Opposition are complacent and contented because we are partaking in the crumbs and largesse that the kleptocracy throws at us.
In fact, we fight ruthlessly against anybody who attempts to think in a manner that threatens our ‘enjoyment’ of the crumbs. We would rather share the same table with the slave master, rather than fight to be equals on the table!
I have never seen a successful political struggle with such a stratified comradeship. On the one hand, you have comrades who are making all sorts of sacrifices in the interest of the struggle. They abandoned their careers, education, families, etc. On the other hand, you have comrades who are ostensibly pursuing the same cause with you, but are living comfortable lives. That is a catastrophe to the cause.
I do believe strongly that we need to change tactic if we genuinely want to free Ugandans from the yoke of economic enslavement and hegemonic rule of the NRM. We can’t continue doing business as usual. In the words of Albert Einstein, doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results is a sign of madness.
What then should the Opposition do?
Foremost, the referendum is a good political event for us. It provides us as individual political parties and the Opposition fraternity as a whole with the opportunity to put our houses in order. We need to mobilise and organise ourselves to speak and act in concert.
We must avoid sending mixed signals to the population. If, for instance, we say, we shall not participate in the referendum, we should all pursue this in word and deed. This will help in restoring hope, trust and confidence in the Opposition.
Secondly, let us define our short, mid and long term goals clearly. In the immediate term, I do believe that we should use the referendum to demand for dialogue that will give us the opportunity to pursue reforms in election management.
We need to be consistent with our demand in this regard. If the regime won’t grant our demands for reforms, then let them have their elections. We should, of course, have an action plan that counters their machinations.
Thirdly, this is not the time for mere politicking or promoting individual ambitions. This is a time to salvage our country. We must, therefore, subjugate our individual interests to those of the nation.
Finally, I implore political party leaders to initiate consultations on this matter. These consultations should be done between and among individual political parties, between and among civil society organisations, youth and women groups, etc.
The writer is a member of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) national executive committee.