The hypocrisy Uganda’s opposition, I would like to begin by stating that I am no political analyst, and that this is my first political article and I would therefore like to apologize in advance for anything that might seem to be over-exaggerated, far-fetched, and/or anywhere I might completely miss the point. I do not even qualify as a dilettante in this field and my opinions should at best be expected to be jejune if not utterly irrelevant. I have however been writing non-political articles for a while and my skills as a writer have been termed as interesting by some credible literary critics.
According to Taoist philosophy, especially Zhuangzi, everything including time length is relative but in this era, a lot of people, from distinguished political analysts to newspaper columnists as well as University essayists have been less than hesitant to point fingers of accusation at the longevity of the current regime in Uganda and to paint at that, more often than not, a caricature of its failures in comparison to what they seem to unanimously consider to be an embarrassing reality of the accurate portrayal of what they claim that it has ‘honestly done’ whatever that means, and those are the few that are willing to admit that it has done anything at all.
At this point I would like to clarify that in my personal opinion Uganda’s opposition is comprised of three major categories. Of course there are more but for the sake of this particular article I am going to classify them according to age, using the President’s age as the point of reference. In the first category we have the old gentlemen – those educated old men who are either the same age or slightly older than our president, saw all the previous governments including the colonial regime and therefore are not only very informed but are also a bit kinder to this regime despite their issues with it and are willing to give it some credit where it is due.
In the second category we have those educated (and a few uneducated but usually either financially successful or politically ‘woke’ in the contemporary vocabulary) gentlemen that range from the president’s age to about twenty to forty years younger than him and therefore either know entirely, only this current regime or were old enough to catch a few glimpses of one or two of the past regimes and can consequently analyze with first-hand knowledge of what they think was a brighter past or potentially brighter present and/or future had circumstances dictated otherwise.
In the last category we have those who are now popularly known as the Bazukulu, that is, those young enough to pass as the President’s grandchildren. These are by far the least informed as far as the scope of first hand witness comparison is concerned, but they are also the bitterest and dare I say, the most gullible. According to them, they have the noblest of intentions for the banana republic and they would not hesitate to lay their lives down for the greater good.
If I were into politics (which I am not) I would belong to the last category. I will therefore use my life, if only slightly, as a reference point to counter-analyze the political ideologies that are now popular among the Bazukulu.
I am the second last of seven children. My mother was a secondary school head teacher for about twenty or thirty something years and my father is by profession an electric engineer with a bachelor’s degree from some University in Russia which he attained only because he got a scholarship during the much hated Idi Amin regime. He however gave up engineering for farming very quickly for reasons that I am not going to discuss. What I am going to state is that he from the very start was and still is a UPC man.
His dedication is I must admit uncommon. Right now he holds a position on the Milton Obote Foundation board of Governors and is one of the few UPC henchmen in western Uganda. I am only stating this to clarify on the fact that despite being from Western Uganda, I grew up in a household where opposing this government was not only encouraged but also considered to be honorable.
As such I gave my primary school teachers headache whenever they tried to make us sing pro-government songs and in high school I pointed out this current regimes flaws long before most of my colleagues were forced into it by high unemployment rates and crashed expectations. I think my elder brother and I were, in high school, probably the only underage teenagers in the whole of western Uganda who were registered as UPC members and actually held Membership cards.
I even attended a UPC conference at Lake View Regency hotel when I was thirteen and got the opportunity to rub shoulders with the likes of Norya Nonywa, the only UPC guy in Western Uganda political talk shows at the time. For those of you who used to listen to political talks shows on radio stations in Mbarara around 2006 that was the gentleman that used to speak Rutooro.
From here I am going to proceed to clarify on why I think that each of the three categories of opposition that I have already mentioned has been less than forth-coming in regard to stating what the current regime has done. Like I stated, those who are either the same age as the president or older are usually more willing than the other two categories to admit that this regime has at least done a few things, among them maintaining stability for over thirty years since they were around to witness those days when some presidents were staying in power for a only few days at times and the challenges that came with that.
They also admit that the UPDF is more disciplined than all the other previous government armies and they give this government a few other credits. Their biggest issues with it however usually include the following; one that it has failed to curb the levels of corruption and unemployment rates. Two is that although the current levels of inflation are lower than those of several past regimes, the Ugandan shilling is doing worse against the dollar with each passing year.
Their third issue is that the president has over-stayed in power, and lastly, although some of them admit that the 1980 elections were rigged, they seem to think that the Obote II regime should have been given some time. That is when Uganda’s opposition gained a step up.
And that even if someone should have gone to war with it, it should have been members of the Democratic Party whose elections were ‘stolen’ and not UPM which they are always more than willing to point out had won only one seat in parliament.
I think there are several flaws in this kind of reasoning. First of all, it is not like there was no unemployment and corruption at the time the NRM regime came to power. Corruption, tribalism and nepotism were there and the only question is whether it was or was not worse than it is today. I do not know whether the Lango Master Plan for example was real or a mere conspiracy fabricated by the succeeding regimes but I remember studying about it in political education when the subject was still taught in high schools.
And as far as tribalism goes, it is common knowledge that Uganda was run by Kakwas during Idi Amin’s regime, and that the main reason why the Baganda who became presidents never lasted in power was because they were more interested in Buganda and the Kabaka than they ever were in Uganda as a country. So there was no Uganda’s opposition.
As for unemployment, at the time there were only two universities and a handful of graduates who were very easy for the government to employ in comparison to today when there are tens of universities and millions of job seekers. Not to mention that the population has been exploding at unprecedented rates. This of course does not exonerate the government for not keeping up but it should be cut some slack for lagging behind a bit.
As for Obote’s second regime not being given enough time and UPM youths going to war instead of the Democrats… well, Obote had stayed in power for close to eight years the first time and not only had he failed to organize elections, he had organized a coup against his ally and instated himself as president and there was no guarantee that he was not going to pull off similar stunts during his second regime.
Secondly, the democrats who up to now, despite being one of the oldest political parties in the country have never even been in power could hardly be counted on to bring about the required change which means that if we admit that the 1980 elections were rigged and proceed under the assumption that change was necessary, the Democratic Party could not be trusted with effecting that necessity which means that the NRA can be justified in taking the course of action that it did.
Lastly, the old gentlemen do not appreciate the stability they have thrived in. You would think that having seen the challenges that came with undemocratic changes in power from past regimes, despite the fact that this regime has overstayed, they should be more appreciative of the thirty four years of stability and peace and of the fact that as of today there are no rebel groups of any kind in the country. This is a great achievement by the NRM.
The second category of Uganda’s opposition, that is those ranging from slightly younger than the president to forty years younger than him are guilty of the following. First of all, and top amongst their evils is the fact that although they have ‘put up’ with this regime for thirty four years, they are, without shame putting the burden of changing it on the shoulders of those much younger than them. The same people who accuse our generation of what they term as entitlement expect us to lay our lives down so that they can finally see some change.
Secondly they accuse this regime of inconsistency but they are by far the most inconsistent of the three categories. Most of those in Uganda’s opposition who fall in this category started out as part of this regime and are in fact former rebels turned retired soldiers. They have since then had issues with their former boss, had fallings out with him and then turned against him but they expect us to believe that had they not had what in most cases are personal issues with him they would have still turned against him for the greater good of this nation.