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COMMENT: Mwenda wrong on Besigye


COMMENT: By Francis Kiggundu

Museveni must take responsibility for the anger and envy towards the privileged few who are amassing wealth

Without prejudice to either President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni or his nemesis Dr Kizza Besigye, both of whom ascribed to violence to ascend to power, we as Ugandans must recognize the evolution of democracy that we need to experience in order to achieve a nation state.

We are always reminded that the democracy we ascribe to is from the West and that it is a century old experiment whose finesse the West itself is still grappling with, and whose future is uncertain given the regressive trends of Brexit and the U.S. election of demagoguery.

As Ugandans, we have gone through post-colonial idealism for which we experimented with socialism, revolutionary wars and finally achieved the semblance of a state detached from the needs of the people.

It is this detachment that creates fodder for emotive politics. The emotions are then exploited to sustain the kind of undemocratic movements that you point out as being the dominant force for change.

We must thus; like the Arab Spring nations, disabuse ourselves of emotive politics by experiencing the onslaught of change in the way it will present itself. The change we get is dependent on the kind of incumbency that we will be resisting. What cannot be reversed is either the need or desire for change.

What Mwenda calls the intolerant movement in the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) is a direct consequence of the NRM intolerant state. The two decades of police, army and intelligence service brutality on the population is what has created a hateful generation desirous of retribution. This is a people pat the limits of tolerance. These are the social forces that have rallied around Dr Besigye. His thirst for power is what holds him hostage to these forces. It is the brand that could deliver change and the brand that could plunge us into war.

The decades that President Museveni has spent in power have created a significant armed military and intelligence component among the populace; component that claims the title of patriots.

They, including Besigye, are a direct consequence of the Fronasa/NRA revolutionary movements that declared war in 1971 on Idi Amin who had only been in power for one year and Obote II immediately after the 1980 elections.

They are the politically active citizens who took it upon themselves to analyse the leadership of these two leaders and thus arrived at the conclusion that they were dictators and were to be fought immediately.

This crop or its remnants will rise up after the likely intolerant purge that will follow the immediate post-Museveni era, and fight the post-Museveni government. Once again, they will argue that they will have analysed and concluded the new leadership to be a dictatorship worth resisting.

The social forces around Besigye though attracted to the need for change, are more driven by the perceived injustice of corruption that is spread like a blame blanket over the tribal sect presumed to be in power.

One only need attend an emotionally charged rally or street protest to quickly discern that the drive is more a hatred driven by resentment against the ‘tribal class’ that has amassed colossal wealth at the alleged expense of the general population, rather than a clamour for democracy.

It is this anger that will be unleashed in a cleansing purge. This intolerance and abuse of which Mwenda speaks – pent up frustration in my view – is what will lead to a regression to violent reprisals and infighting as witnessed in the Arab nations that were unfortunate enough to undergo the Arab Spring.

The blame therefore, and the solution lies more with President Museveni than with Besigye. This is in the sense that only he has the power to reign in the corruption and mismanagement of resources that will be fodder for the annihilation that will follow his exit.

This annihilation could feature blanket reprisals on entire tribal groupings and all that bear a resemblance to them. It will be fomented by an anger out of control, much like one sees at the rallies and street protests. The leaders of the opposition, as now, will be held hostage and, therefore, unable to reign in their base.

Besigye may believe in non-violence, but the change he represents will directly lead to armed resistance as those targeted for purging and wealth reversal, will once again claim the revolutionary upper hand; that kind of patriotism that leads citizens to pick up arms to fight a newly formed government.

But it is Museveni who should take responsibility for the anarchical opposition politics that may be destined to take power after his exit. He can still diffuse the resentment and pent up anger and frustration in the populace.

A truly tough stance on corruption and the corrupt, in a manner devoid of window dressing, is what will negate the emotion charge in our politics. Besigye’s intolerant movement is about corruption. Their fight is about wealth and livelihood. There is both envy and anger towards those that have privileged themselves to amass wealth in the midst of lack and misery.

As much as Mwenda sees Besigye the man to be accommodative and tolerant, and Museveni to be equally the same, one can only reach one conclusion; their fight is not about love and hate for either, it may be about power struggle by both, but the key of the future is the forces rallying against each. These forces will inevitably clash at some point and out of that clash, with perhaps two more in the distant future, Uganda and Ugandans will evolve as a people born of and fed up with tragedy. Only then will clear rules be spelt out by all; clear rules on amassing wealth and on contesting for power. Until then, the wheel of the revolution must continue spinning – it must absolve and swallow in the same breath!



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