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Struggle against misrule isn’t FDC’s alone

‘It ain’t as bad as you think.’ This is the first of General Colin Powell’s famous Thirteen Rules of Leadership.

There is always the morning after when things will look better than they seemed the previous night. When facing a turbulent time in life, sometimes it helps to let the night pass.

Someone who just arrived here and listening in on matters Ugandan opposition will think the roof has collapsed on the main opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).

The party has fired a few blanks recently. In the recent by-elections across the country, FDC emerged quite beaten, the highlight being the race for Bugiri municipality MP. The needless war of words on social media ended with a heavy egg on the face of a coterie of FDC activists whose loquaciousness betrays a lack of foresight.

Then came the storm over a leadership reshuffle in parliament, contemporaneous with Kassiano Wadri, a founder-member, running as an independent against the party’s official candidate in the Arua municipality parliamentary by-election.

Whichever way one looks at it, whether as a case of imprudence in sacking Winnie Kiiza as leader of opposition or the reaction by her and others sacked, it looks very bad that a political party falls short on managing the little power that comes with being the majority opposition party in parliament.

But the behaviour and conduct of opposition parties cannot be divorced from the overall nature of the political system in place.

What we have in Uganda today is essentially an authoritarian regime that uses institutions of democratic government, like parliament, as instruments of rule. Parliament, the judiciary, political parties, elections, etc. provide the façade that masks a regime whose leading architects and beneficiaries are focussed on employing all manner of tactics to remain in power.

One such tactic is to sow discord among opposition parties, encourage and sponsor politics of blackmail that ultimately seeks to portray everyone as not credible, as materially compromised. As a senior NRM MP told me at parliament last month, Museveni’s most potent and highly dependable weapon today is not coercion and the military; it is money.

Because he is willing to throw money at individuals and groups that remotely threaten his increasingly tenuous hold on power, the impression created is that everyone has been financially compromised.

The upshot is to dampen any trust in alternative political leadership and to propagate the cynical view that all politicians are crooks out to pursue personal, selfish interests.

The ultimate beneficiary of this environment where broad strokes are used to paint a cynical image of all political actors is Mr Museveni, who then ironically stands on a higher political (not necessarily moral) pedestal because he is able to manipulate everyone around.

We have an environment polluted by salacious allegations about night deals and schemes involving opposition figures. True or false, it serves the overall strategy.

There is undoubtedly truth in the allegations of financial inducements thrown at opposition leaders for the simple reason that Mr Museveni is a very vulnerable ruler willing to pay his way to clinging to power.

But the mistake many are making including, unfortunately, respected and otherwise sober-minded people like former leader of opposition, Philip Wafula Oguttu, is to fall in the trap of singing along that everyone has been compromised except one individual – Kizza Besigye.

By embracing this narrative, people like Oguttu have inadvertently set up Besigye against a broad spectrum of other actors both in his party and in other opposition groups as well as sections of the ruling group that otherwise wish to see change.

Yet, as night follows day, there is no way one individual, however much popular support he commands, can defeat an entrenched military authoritarian and patronage-powered regime without the active role of not just other opposition groups but also progressive factions within the regime.

A critical part of the struggle has to include reaching out and winning over the goodwill of those inside the regime and drawing on the resources of all who are keen on change.

Propagating salacious stories of so and so went to State House for money falls perfectly in the grand scheme of the regime. Blackmailing and smearing whoever says anything remotely critical of FDC or Besigye is a very good way of serving Museveni’s mission of destroying any organised and credible opposition against his rule.

There is opposition disharmony today, but there is always the morning after. The economic squeeze that many Ugandans face even as the rulers loot state resources, the mass unemployment and youth hopelessness, the regime’s criminal conduct in dealing with intrepid and credible opponents, are all issues that will not go away overnight just because FDC is facing a seeming conflagration.

The struggle to free Uganda from Museveni’s misrule is not any one individual’s project, and nor is it the exclusive business of one party.

It is a shared agenda for which all concerned Ugandans have played varied roles in the past and will do so in the future. To press on with this agenda does not need forming a new political party; there are way too many today.

moses.khisa@gmail.com

The author is an assistant professor of political science at North Carolina State University.

Comments

+3 #1 Budapest 2018-08-15 12:32
I have rather liked your subtle dig at the Besigye-can-do-wrong brigade within the FDC, something that has slowly strangled any semblance of unity and to an extent democracy, in the party.

You see Moses, if you claim to be the alternative, you need to show values that are distinctly different from the status quo. FDC has failed to provide this feeling of being different. It's can't just be in words.

They have the opportunity to exploit the NRM/M7 fatigue across the country, but with this non compromise attitude, it appears they just want to be opposition for life.

Why could they sit and find a middle ground between the approaches of Besigye and Muntu? Show the ability to compromise and/or agree on a show of unity?

We are very disappointed.
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0 #2 Akot 2018-08-15 19:33
[Struggle against misrule isn’t FDC’s alone]

At last, the right call, THANK YOU SO MUCH!

It's fight for second Independence of Uganda & this takes every individual, every tribe, every region, but in UNITY to achieve!

This means Ugandans MUST have just 1 opposition leader to UNITE them for this common cause without which, no individual, no tribe, no region will ever be free & Museveni is going no where!

Once UNITY throws Museveni out & second Independence is obtained, Ugandans will go back to having tribal leaders just as they want: it's clear as day light now that Ugandans don't want to Reform the Republic of Uganda & have a common National leader!...
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0 #3 Akot 2018-08-15 19:38
...UNITY of ALL is the only means to have control of tribal land riches, manage them then give social services to individual tribes in independent states!

Why is migrant Museveni chief tribal leader depriving every tribe of everything, yet controls all tribal land riches?

For how much longer will Ugandans be laughing stock ruled by a migrant tribalists taking advantage of their tribalism to finally mortgage the country to World Bank-IMF... while UN fills Uganda with tribalist refugees at armed wars in their countries, simply because tribalists Ugandans have not taken to arms & the shithole is peaceful for refugees?
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0 #4 Akot 2018-08-15 19:45
Quoting Budapest:

I have rather liked your subtle dig at the Besigye-can-do-wrong brigade within the FDC, something that has slowly strangled any semblance of unity and to an extent democracy, in the party.

You see Moses, if you claim to be the alternative, you need to show values that are distinctly different from the status quo. FDC has failed to provide this feeling of being different. It's can't just be in words.

They have the opportunity to exploit the NRM/M7 fatigue across the country, but with this non compromise attitude, it appears they just want to be opposition for life.

Why could they sit and find a middle ground between the approaches of Besigye and Muntu? Show the ability to compromise and/or agree on a show of unity?

We are very disappointed.


Thanks!

It all comes to UNITY for common cause!
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+1 #5 Lakwena 2018-08-16 10:38
Quoting Budapest:
I have rather liked your subtle dig at the Besigye-can-do-wrong brigade within the FDC, something that has slowly strangled any semblance of unity and to an extent democracy, in the party.

You see Moses, if you claim to be the alternative, you need to show values that are distinctly different from the status quo. FDC has failed to provide this feeling of being different. It's can't just be in words.

... We are very disappointed.


Budapest, you are barking the wrong tree. It is easier to be disappointed when you are sitting on the fence, while those disappointing you are putting their lives, families and limited/personal resources on the line to please you.
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0 #6 Akot 2018-08-16 19:45
MOSES KHISA,

Ugandans have not yet realised the country is conquered by Museveni & it will take their UNITY to get second Independence, thus FREE every tribal land & stop Museveni owning/looting them!

Ugandans are not even aware it's tribal leaders they worship & don't want Akot to get at, are the ones maintaining the triablistic system keeping Museveni in power & that there will never be a Ugandan from any tribe accepted as common National leader as long as it's tribalistically ruled by former asylum seeker, Museveni!

Akot thanks Lakwena though for calling Acholi tribal leader to make his stand clear; because while the tribalists gets his share from his chief Museveni, he turned/turns blind eyes deaf ears to destruction of Acholi by his chief!...
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+1 #7 Akot 2018-08-16 19:49
...To obtain independence from Britain in 1962, ALL tribal leaders stood down & this allowed negotiations for peaceful transfer of power: Ugandans wanted to form a Republic, had the leadership without which, Britain would never have relinguish authority over their Protectorate!

Pitty, even Ugandans living comfortably in democratic developed countries have not joined Akot in calling Ugandans to UNITY, yet they know it's the only means to throw Museveni out without giving him chance to further destroy the country!

Present +1 opposition partie/leaders are only helping Museveni consolidate his position of chief tribal leader while further dividing an already tribally divided & ruled people: Ugandans don't even see Museveni went further & intertribally divide them/will continue to do so as & when he wants!!!...
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+1 #8 Akot 2018-08-16 19:52
...Opposition leaders fighting one another to replace Museveni = Ugandans fighting one another & non will replace the demon, NEVER!

So, who is fighting Museveni while Ugandans fight one another?

What is more pathetic is that not 1 tribal leader sees that his own subjects too, are poor, while tribal land riches belong to their chief Museveni who, by the way, has no tribal land in Uganda, yet is mortgaging the country to the highest bidder: IMF-World Bank..., while Ugandans fight one another!

So, who will finally own Uganda in reality?
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0 #9 Jama 2018-08-21 15:58
The incorruptible ones must be eliminated as the chaotic scenario staged in Arua by the totalitarian leader.
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0 #10 Edward M 2018-08-21 19:47
Dr Khisa, you told us about Wafula Oguttu's narrative and those who think like him, ...what about the other side that has frantically fought him since he emerged on the scene??
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