Years back, a teacher of mine said something odd. Memory betrays me as I try to recall what solicited his statement. With a smug look and the corner of his lip twitching ever so slightly, he noted thus; ‘Cowards live longer but die in large numbers.’ Then and now, no notion of what he meant has ever occurred to me.
As I watch the political scene in the country today, memory of that teacher’s quip is triggered. Having milked the Covid19 cow, the ruling party chairman had to find a way of keeping precious airtime. In a manner reminiscent of 1995-96, he has opted to suffocate the opposition. All the while working within a somewhat legal framework.
As the easing of the lockdown made it inevitable to set the political parties free, there had to be a way of maintaining the dominance. Public gatherings were banned. Thus, political rallies could not happen. This ushered in the ‘scientific campaigns.’ Political aspirants had to air their agendas over platforms that would alienate them from their voters. The political spirit lies within the interpersonal connection between the campaigner and the supporters. Without this, the opposition’s support base is psychologically beaten.
Let us, however, assume that scientific campaigns are politically logical. Many of the platforms such as radio stations and television channels are monopolised by the ruling party. This means that there a few channels or stations that will willingly give air to the opposition. Some of these may be to the government what the Cable News Network (CNN) is to the Republican party in America. Others are simply neutral.
This neutrality was a beacon of hope for those opposition MPs and Presidential aspirants that have the resources to acquire airtime. Yet, they too, are being oppressed.
Before I delve into this nature of oppression, I beg to digress. Recently, a group of comedians (Bizonto) was arrested with accusations of promoting sectarianism through their satire. The art of satire often offends those that know their wrongs! In other words, a negative reaction to satirical material signifies one’s guilt and the truth in the message. This is a very high level of intolerance!
Whenever it comes to the attention of the police that the opposition is about to gain time on air, the host of any such opposition is surrounded. The consequence incumbers the opposition’s efforts of reaching the public. Simply, although the Constitution and the political policies in Uganda make room for a competitive political atmosphere, the party with control has too much fear. They cannot risk losing any more of their waning public favour.
It became so bad that at one point, the police were deployed at a station where Hon. Kyagulanyi of the National Unity Platform (NUP) was rumoured to have a scheduled address. In the end, it was foolery and wastage of taxpayer money. The honourable did not show!
Hon. Betty Nambooze along with others had to spend a night at the Media Plaza in Kamwokya because of a desire to arrest them. I find it funny that one may claim that they were about to break curfew. Other arrests have been made with charges of causing public gatherings, even when it is clear that the SOPs are being followed.
When the same is done by the NRM party members, they face no objections from the law and order maintaining force. The NRM sat at its secretariat to receive forms from contesting members. NUP tried to do the same in Jinja but in vain.
There is a lingering restlessness about the leader of this Republic and his viziers. They have given in to the fear of the opposition. The NUP, before it was such, was mostly known to people in town. These are the people that have to deal with the apparent failures of the state. The crime rate, the police brutality, the embezzlement, the taxes and many other burdens that have been laid upon them. These are the people that have to escape KCCA operatives during their raids. They lose their merchandise and incur losses that set them back. Recently they have been pushed so far as to grievously injure one of the KCCA officials.
Nevertheless, this dissatisfied bunch is in town. Up country, people are less unsettled. They deal less with the indifference of a partisan police force. They wake up, attend to their farms, run their small enterprises and earn enough with little incumbrance from any state forces. Of the 40 million Ugandans, Kampala harbours approximately 5 million. That leaves 35 million. Of course, with adjustments for those legible for voting, the majority of those 35 million are NRM supporters. This is the decision-making number.
It is noteworthy that that majority falls every now and then. The NRM fan base is smaller than it was years before. Their partisan and unpopular policies are costing them dearly. As it is, NRM is starting to show weakness through their overreaction to an opposition stronghold. They now forget the many supporters they have elsewhere and attempt to suppress the little opposition they have in town.
This kind of mentality has pushed the party to the edge. They have opted to gerrymander and enact legislation that is akin to political persecution. Whereas they hope to win their numbers back, they have greatly succeeded in making the party unpopular. This reflects what is almost inconceivable; the old hand NRM is composed of rookie politicians. The kind that lack the tactics to win against the opposition fair and square. Often the things that are done cause one to wonder whether the party chairman signs this nonsense off!
This kind of operation has seen a steady decrease in the party’s support base. More losses ought to be expected. Due to their political ineptitude, the NRM may be loading the gun that will blow it to death. You see, the generation is changing; from that which suffered under tyranny to that which grows tired of pseudo-democracy.
The NRM continually descends into the political black hole. In time, they may have to derogate so many rights that an opinion such as this would send one behind bars. When such times come, the populace will fight for change. Gone will be the days of complacence. Such times will make it nearly impossible for one to make ‘ezaakamezza’. Without the witty Ssevo to neatly tread the line between freedom and oppression, the children of NRM may overstep. If a rat is run into a corner, rest assured that it’ll turn back towards its pursuer; as that will be the only option.
The manner in which the incumbent, or his troop, reacts to challenge stands to show something; the once might NRM is now filled with cowards. They are to live long; but they’ll die in large numbers.
DISCLAIMER: Any and all views expressed in the article are not those of The Investigator News. They are an expression of the author’s personal opinion. Usage, of any kind, of the information herein is at the user’s own risk. The Investigator News shall not be liable for any consequences arising from such usage.
- Joel Kenneth Ndawula is a Student of Law at Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi. He is an inspired writer, the editor and author here; a blogger of sorts.
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