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OWEYEGHA-AFUNADUULA: Does Opposition Have a Future On The Political Landscape Of Uganda?

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By Oweyegha-Afunaduula

“Naye opposition erina ekifo mu Uganda? Abazungu baagikuba. Obote 1 yagikuba. Amin yaginyigiririza ddala. UNLF yagikweeka. Obote 2 yagifunza. Movement yagibikka mu broad-based government. Terina culture ntuufu era entereevu mu nkola mu ggwanga,”

I got this from one facebook friend of mine who many decades ago was with me at Mwiri Primary School and Busoga College, Mwiri.

Let me try to translate it into the “National Language”, English and modify it in an expanded and extended form.

“But does/will the Opposition ever have political space in this country? It did not have political space during British colonial rule. Obote I suppressed it, preferring the Kabaka Yekka, which he formed the first post colonial government with, to die off and the Democratic Party (DP) elements to join his Party, Uganda People’s Congress (UPC). Idi Amin completely erased it from the political landscape of the country, preferring direct military rule using mainly decrees. Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF) concealed Opposition within itself, preferring the military to hover over it, in the form of the Military Council, and to contradict its decisions and choices. Obote II restricted Opposition and preferred to do what Obote I did: co-opting Opposition members. National Resistance Movement (NRM) or Movement of Yoweri Museveni swallowed Opposition in the political scheme he called Broad-Based Government.

Today President Yoweri Museveni, as Tibuhaburwa Museveni, is determined to erase Opposition from the political landscape of Uganda.

Since 1996, when he offered himself for elective Politics he has unleashed his military and militarized Police on the Opposition, teargassing them, maiming them, killing some and making many disappear. He has sometimes blamed his military and militarized Police but the hounding of Opposition has continued.

He has been consistent in disallowing the Opposition from operating beyond their offices, making the population “out of bounds for them, but in bounds for his Party only. Recently he has allowed his still–in-setvice son, General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to campaign to become President of Uganda while he is still in Office as President of Uganda. This contradiction has not bothered him, so long as the Opposition has no political space to freely access the population to recruit members and de-campaign his regime.

Way back in 1916, during his swearing in for his 5th term as President of Uganda, the President swore to completely erase Opposition from the political landscape of Uganda by 2020. Although he was not able to beat the deadline, he is on course. He has demobilized the DP and UPC by reaching agreements of cooperation and co-opting some of their members and giving them big positions in his government.

The latest example is the President General of DP, Norbert Mao, whom he made his Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and is determined to use to usher in constitutional reforms to de-enfranchise Ugandans so that they cannot directly participate in the election of President, but this is elected by Parliament dominated by NRM. Mao may also propose constitutional reforms that will legitimize hereditary politics and dynastic rule.

The President had succeeded in poaching two top members of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), one of whom is now the Speaker of Parliament and the other is the Deputy Speaker of Parliament.

Today the media is awash with claims of the President having inflitrated the FDC with (public) money to help Party President, Patrick Oboi Amuriat and his Party participate in the 2021 Presidential and Parliamentary elections without financial constraints. Money is a most formidable political weapon available to President Tibuhaburwa Museveni to influence the Opposition.

He once told Opposition in Busia to come to him and NRM because they had the money. Money now seems to be the tool that he determined long ago to use to destroy FDC and erase from the political landscape of Uganda. Only God knows how FDC will rise out of the political crisis precipitated by President Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s money.

If the President succeeds in killing FDC, his next target will be National Unity Party (NUP) of Ssentamu Kyagulanyi, which surprisingly is today the largest Opposition Party in Parliament of Uganda

Because Opposition has been treated harshly and with disrespect since colonial time, it has not been able to develop a clear political culture like what obtains in countries like USA and Britain. They remain individualist in approach to politics. They are unlikely to unite in purpose when faced with a formidable political enemy. In a way they encourage their enemy to oppress them because they don’t unite when unity is most needed to confront the enemy.

Right now they should be united with one voice on issues of citizenship, sovereignty, nationality, justice, equity, refugees, development, failed state, deep state, exploitation of natural resources, dictatorship, and allocation of the national budget far more on military affairs than on social development.

Because they are most likely to fall apart rather than come together, their common enemy, helped by the deep sea of poverty among them, their common political foe can divide them further using money.

The future of political Opposition in Uganda is in jeopardy.

For God and My Country.

The Writer Is a Uganda Scientist And Environmentalist

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