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COMMENT: Talks of hope

If they happen, meaningful Museveni-Besigye talks could re-set political landscape of the country

By Morris DC Komakech

The reported prospect of talks between FDC leaders and the NRM dictatorship is kind of assuring. `Uncle’ Muniini Mulera’s “Letter to Tingasinga” in the Daily Monitor of April 4, 2014 (Refer: Museveni-Besigye talks: a necessary prelude to national dialogue) captures this national sentiment succinctly. However, in this article, Dr. Muniini nearly inundated me with an overdose of optimism in the tone of the text.

Optimism (Latin: optimum) is like fodder for endurance. When nothing seems to work, we tend to project the best possible outcomes. Optimism is medicinal, just like resilience; they help us to endure or bounce back from adversity through several pathways. One such pathway is by painting a colorful utopia, using some of the best literal devices in our possession.

Uganda is at crossroads at a point of adverse economic hardship, and saturated to the threshold with the Museveni hegemony. The prospect of additional Museveni rule, even a minute of it, conjures up the imagination of the claws he has dug into the flesh of this nation.

The viciousness of his henchmen, now turned mafias fed by a well-oiled machinery of the corrupted and greedy tribal cabal, and sustained through sectarianism is more than what Ugandans fathom. This group will sabotage any prospect that threatens their mafia networks, and even cause a coup, or assassinations to subvert talks.

Definitely, those on top or somewhere in the upper middle rungs of the food chain refuse to acknowledge this mess in the country. As long as their plate remains full and their tables have steady supply of “fodder”, the rest of us can whine and rant all we want.

Therefore, for those outside the ruling class strata, it is natural to cling on such “baits” for meaningful “talks”. In psychology, we refer to it as dispositional optimism – a loose set of beliefs that after all, the future will hold-up Ok. This is unlikely in Uganda with Museveni in tow!

However, dependence on optimism alone is like self-inundation that numbs one of their current predicaments, and erases the gruesome memories of past events – the series of events that have brought us to this very abysmal point.

Life is full of the paradoxical because even then, dwelling on the past has its special effect of immobilising societies. Our own history and past experiences have the potency to militate against the fundamentals of “moving forward” or “bouncing back” from adversity.

It is with such consciousness that we ought to discuss and contextualise any dealings with Museveni. First, from purely a historical perspective, Museveni generally scores very badly on agreements, talks, respect for the opponents, and compromises. You can do the search and conclude for yourself. What has changed fundamentally with  Museveni or his circumstances that makes us trust that any meaningful talks are possible? Is it because Sweden has offered to mediate? Would there be a difference if an Angel from Heavens had offered to mediate?

Pundits have variedly observed that this “talks” talk is a ploy to reinvent his legitimacy after the embarrassment of the 2016 Presidential elections. His allies have started seeing Museveni as a liability.

Dr. Besigye on the other hand, has gained substantial command of empathy from governments and legitimate pro-democracy authorities worldwide.

Museveni has continued to benefit from a thin veil of support from rogue capitalists whose economic and security interests he galvanizes at home and in the region. At home, Museveni has lost substantial legitimacy, thus the use of apartheid-era instruments of oppression to subdue.

Given the increasing influence of his family in plundering the country and the standardised decay in public services, Ugandans have become suspicious, fearful, and indifferent towards this regime.

There is a volcano of discontent welling up in the inside of Ugandans. An urgent and genuine re-set of this country through a broad and meaningful dialogue would help to diffuse this from exploding.


Morris Komakech is a Ugandan social critic and political analyst based in Canada. Can contact via

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