Opinion: During my second last year in High School or what the past generation called secondary school, a friend of mine said during a political tête-à-tête, “I tell you, there is only one tool that can pull out a nail, and that is the very tool that pounded it in: the hammer.” This lad, without being aware, had summarized Ugandan politics in this metaphor.
Precisely, what the boy meant when he spoke of the hammer, was that one that attained power with an iron hand can only be plucked out by an iron hand. If you aren’t caught up yet, I’m referring to Uganda’s ‘beloved’ President Museveni. Thirty three or so years down the road and the old man still has no threatening opposition.
Much as the likes of Dr. Kizza Besigye, Erias Lukwago and other opposition figures blow their whistles, we, as well as them (opposition), know that there is only so much they can do. The opposition went off course a long time ago but have only not realized it. We Ugandans pride ourselves in a multi-party system though we shouldn’t. For a long time now, political parties have weakened at the expense of political individuals.
The recent elections that saw Independent Robert Kyagulanyi’s victory over prominent party flag bearers are proof of the death of our political parties. Ugandans no longer believe in political parties but rather individuals. Take FDC for example, it is almost impossible to talk about the party without an overbearing topic on Dr. Besigye. Or criticize NRM without concluding with Museveni’s personal attributes. In other words, we have developed a syndrome of identifying political parties with their flag bearers.
This is the reason the NRM/Museveni have ruled Uganda for this long without hope for a change. These political parties are meant to have organizational agendas instead of personal ones. It was evident during the second presidential debate back in 2016 that the feud between Museveni and Besigye has over shadowed the agendas of their political parties. Therefore, when Ugandans go to the polls, they vote for either Museveni or Besigye but not NRM or FDC. This makes it an unfair fight for the other political parties, which don’t have prominent individuals for representatives. It is also an unfair fight for FDC which is evaluated by the person of Besigye.
This spirit has seen the death of public morale towards politics. As a teenager, I was more interested in American politics, despite its complexity, than I was in home politics. Like a repetitively played song on the radio, Ugandans grew tired of Besigye’s old claim of rigged elections. The peak of Besigye’s political fame is associated with his cry for an unfair fight. I do agree that the fight between Besigye’s led opposition and Museveni is unfair. However, the disproportion isn’t with the numbers but rather with the spirit of the legible voters.
In the most recent elections, less than 50% of the legible voting population participated in the activity. Half of the total number of voters that went to the polls voted for the incumbent. It therefore isn’t so logical to argue that NRM/Museveni rigged the elections. Nevertheless, it is rational to say that after the system has failed Ugandans over and over, hope has wilted and the ashes blown by the wind into the desert sun. Every time one listens to the opposition’s campaign pledges, one is further assured of NRM/Museveni’s long stay in power.
The constitution on which the country is being run is one that was over seen by the very man in power. It is therefore a quantifiable fact that no one will be able to beat NRM/Museveni using the very system they helped create. Without a man with balls big enough to stand up to the system, nothing is going to change. Even FDC/Besigye knows this although they just won’t admit it. As for Museveni’s age, one can’t be sure that he won’t find a loophole in that clause as well. Or even change it!
Therefore, putting one hundred more Bobi Wines in parliament won’t be helpful without a change in the system/constitution. So, I pity the poor souls that think Robert Kyagulanyi will oust Museveni. Like Butcher man argued, Bobi Wine won’t be capable of doing more in the parliament than he has done in his studios. For his constituency, they might be lucky. But let’s not kid ourselves, the lad can’t oust Museveni.
Telling from history, Uganda has had a violent transition of power. Never before have we seen a leader leave power peacefully. It was always coup that saw one reign kick out another. It is therefore unlikely that Museveni and his ruling party will go down without a fight. Seeing as no other has brought up a forceful plan to oust NRM/Museveni, the last thirty three or so years won’t be the last of him that we see.
This draws me back to my young friend back in High School who bred the ‘law of the hammer’. Only a hammer can pound a nail into a piece of wood and only the hammer can pluck it out. In other words, only with the application of force shall we see NRM/Museveni out of power. The rest of it is just political theatric, a simple charade! And it will only come to an end when someone stands up to the system – starting with the reconstruction of the multi-party system building blocks.