As we trek towards 2021, I wonder about the possibility of an upset. In football, when Watford meets Liverpool, the latter is assured of an easy win. Fans of the former write the game off. Yet, Watford could defeat Liverpool – as they did this season – to cause what we call an upset.
So, I wonder if Watford (Opposition) could topple Liverpool (NRM) and cause an epic upset in modern African history. Could Watford overcome that improbability?
For thirty-five years, the State House has housed the same individual. There are many reasons for this. Contradistinctively, Liverpool had not won the league in thirty years – until their momentous run in the 2020/21 season.
This country’s pre-1986 history is bloody. Museveni – not entirely saintly in his role in Ugandan politics prior to the 1980 elections – was a gallant knight in shinning amour. His ten-point program was, to Uganda, what sweet-nothings are to new lovers. In spite of a few bad seeds, NRA was generally aggregable in contrast to UNLA.
NRA overpowered Obote with the good will of the people and a dash of luck that was the crashing of Oyite Ojok’s helicopter. Later, the eviction of Lutwa from State House was easier than learning the first three letters of the alphabet. The fella was uneducated and highly unqualified. Ring any bells?
Museveni’s commission to democracy was evidenced by initiating the national constitutional education and consultations. Although this process had its difficulties, as Odoki noted, it was successful and void of manipulation.
They that tasted anarchy find peace to be priceless. Uganda, although composed mostly of the youth, has a substantial number of elders. This lot treasures Ssevo despite his flaws. It influences national politics in more ways than we care to admit. Getting back to the question; is an upset possible? As I run the unlikely risk of swallowing my words, I’d say an upset is impossible! Let’s review the status quo.
On Friday, the Commander in Chief (CIC) oversaw the graduation of over 4,800 police trainees. These shall soon join the other thousands who are roaming the country. They will become part of an institution that persecutes those who express free thought. The fact that the police conducts partisan operations every now and then is undisputable.
Essentially, the growing police is a huddle for the opposition. Whereas it should not be the case, the POMA has ensured that the police have a right of oppression. Under the Act, one has to notify them of any public gathering they intends to hold. The complexity arises from the police’s right to reject a venue as unfavourable. The chances of an outspoken opposition politician having cooperation from the police on that matter are few.
On the other hand, the ruling party candidates conduct campaigns with nary a query. Besides that, the national development is an incentive to choose Museveni. The government policies prior to 1986 were counterproductive. The economy suffered a huge blow under Amin and did not recover under Obote. Essential commodities were hard to come by and hence expensive.
In contrast, the economic environment is fair enough for a large portion of the population to afford such commodities. The political environment is such that a life of luxury is possible for those who can afford it. All this; despite the inflation today.
The infrastructural development under Ssevo is monumental when one considers our history. Over 5000km of Ugandan roads today are paved. Privatisation has facilitated a rise of skyscrapers over the country. The rate of production and export has also increased. All these developments, albeit slow, make Ssevo a handsome candidate.
Such developments carry a very big load over our will to fight for change. We cannot do whatever it takes for fear of receding. Any financially independent citizen would embrace a monarchy if it offers high per capita. The spirit that was manifested between 1980 and 1986 has been stifled by this bubble of comfort. It may be good governance! Truly, any smart dictator knows that a comfortable populace guarantees entrenchment. Talk of pros and cons! One can use development as a tactic and still be a hero.
The opposition also deals with characters like Mwenda. A hulking structural integrity can only be weakened from within. The ‘old man of the clan’ knows that all too well. He would have us believe that he joined NUP to provide good leadership. Au contraire, there are only two sides to that coin; either he is a virus launched by the enemy or he has a personal vendetta. Neither side of the coin is good for NUP. He is there to weaken their structural integrity. Simply, he is to NUP what Phil Jones was to Manchester United; a player for the other team!
Those factors, although valid, don’t compare to those that we’ve grown accustomed to. The political persecutions, oppression, electoral violence, manipulation, intimidation and alleged rigging drive the final nail into the coffin. These variables have been consistent and evident.
The Supreme Court recognised the existence of these electoral issues. Although it rendered them unsubstantial, its declarations were followed by a recommendation of reforms to the Attorney General’s office; to remedy the same. Nevertheless, the government has not implemented any of the reforms. They simply carry on with the same old rituals.
Various electoral observers have reported similarly. The same factors tip the electoral result in favour of the incumbent in every election. Whether or not the incumbent signs off on these events is questionable. When one trains a dog, it needs no command to attack an intruder! Such behaviour becomes instinctive!
Nonetheless, considering Uganda’s gruesome history, the change is overbearing. Therefore, claims of there being no big difference between then and now are invalid. Many of these claims arise from a generation that is ill informed about the past. The youthful fanbase have forgotten the history; perhaps because it was told to them as opposed to inhaling the ashes and dust of war. Anyone that likens today to the pre-1986 Uganda is an insolent fool!
Also, there are many people in the country whose positions aren’t aired over the media. The call for change seems overwhelming! The people that make it use the media more than those that are content. However, the latter are more than the former. Although Uganda has a young population, it cannot be regarded as anti-NRM in its entirety. There are many youths that are happy with the status quo.
Watford has a lot of barriers to overcome even without Uganda’s electoral rituals. Liverpool has been dominant in the league and is therefore more likely to win it. Yet, Watford is left no room to breathe as numerous unjust circumstances await it. I therefore have no hope for an upset!
Let’s end our denial! The possibility for change doesn’t lie in catchy slogans that stir up the public. It is not to be found in our frustration. Truly, change lies in our patience. We should patiently build a just and equitable structure to defeat the intolerant and oppressive structure that stands today. Patience, in this case, wins this war!
- 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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