By Andrew M. Mwenda
Uganda’s opposition politicians have been shouting themselves hoarse against President Yoweri Museveni’s plan to amend the constitution and remove the age limit so that he can run for president in 2021. They are supported by a large mass of ignorant and emotional elites in the deluded belief that somehow they represent a progressive stand against Museveni’s monarchical ambitions. Nonsense.
A change from Museveni has emotional value: those tired of his everlasting presence in power will feel some relief. But that does not address the core problems of Uganda. The opposition in Uganda are very much like the NRM and Museveni or even worse – corrupt, incompetent, intolerant, power hungry, shortsighted, irresponsible etc.
Just go on social media and try to disagree with them and see how they will react! They will hurl insults and abuses at you. The only difference between them and Museveni is that he has the power of the state – so he can direct the army and police to crash those who challenge him. But give Uganda’s opposition and their cheerleaders on social media the same instruments and they will do exactly as Museveni and even worse – because Museveni, for all his faults, has finesse. They don’t!
So those fighting to remove Museveni whether through elections or constitutional technicalities can delude themselves that they are the moral conscience of Uganda and even win over Uganda’s easily gullible elites. Not me. They are a worse alternative.
The solution is in creating real forces within society to check those with power. It matters less who is in power. Once the consciousness against tyranny has consolidated, it matters less who holds power. The people, not politicians, will check them.
In fact a lot of those fighting Museveni today like Kizza Besigye, were with him in Luwero fighting an elected government on false claims of election rigging, worked with him as he laid northern Uganda to waste and stood by him as he suppressed multiparty politics and crashed opposition rallies. They actively helped him remove constitutional obstacles that stood in the way of his continued presidency – the first time in 1989 done by none other than Besigye himself.
Having created what they now call a monster, they have turned around and present themselves as saviors. Well they can do that to easily gullible masses and our emotional elites, not me. Here is the real message of progressive change. Power cannot democratize itself. Those like Besigye seeking power to democratize Uganda are deluded power hungry maniacs.
The real campaign to change Uganda cannot seek power but rather will seek to create a self limiting power. It must be rooted in society, not in the state. And it must be based on values and principles that clearly differentiate it from those in power. Using the limited power one has on social media to hurl insults and abuses on opponents is a clear sign that once given command of the state’s instruments of repression and coercion like the police, army and prisons, they would not hesitate to use them to silence dissent.
Serious minded people do not oppose individuals but systems and practices. Museveni is not the cause of Uganda’s problems. He is a product and a reflection of our nation’s problems. We must address ourselves to our nation’s problems, not persons. That is the true message that speaks to the future Ugandans deserve. Merry Christmas