I have really failed to understand why everyone thinks the violence in NRM party primaries and the defeat of the incumbents reflects badly on the party. On the contrary, all this disorder is not reflective of how NRM as a party fails, but how it works.
To put this idea in simple terms, if I have a girlfriend and we always have in-fighting. We have all the drama. I am better off that my friend who has a girlfriend and they’ve never had a single quarrel.
Considering the NRM as a system. On an individual level, it may look like it’s a fragile system. There’s bickering, there’s in-fighting, exchange of words between members, and most importantly-incumbents being voted out.
Yet when you view the NRM system as a whole, it’s anti-fragile. It gains from these shocks, these stressors and the disorder. Few Ugandan Political parties would be able to go through the same disorder as NRM and still come out strong.
Such parties are somewhat fragile. Yet, unlike in other parties where we have factions, NRM has not had factions.
Consider the disorder on the individual level as a self-preservation tactic. Similar to how cells work in a body, some cells die, others are created. As a result, only the strong survives ensuring the continuity of the whole. It’s a self-correcting mechanism of the system.
We really are not that clever to understand a complex system as this one. On the surface, we may think we understand it, but the moment we think we do, is the moment we all go wrong, and that’s what has happened with most people who’ve postured as analysts, all predicting doom in NRM.
What looks like doom in the short-term, is boom in the long-term. By NRM members having the ability to hold the incumbents to account, vote out useless ones, bring in new ones, they are able to correct errors.
I would be scared about the longevity of NRM if incumbents were untouchable and always bounced back unopposed. I would be scared if NRM had not experienced any form of violence. That would be scary part.
You are more scared if someone who’s never fallen sick, falls sick. You should be more scared if someone who’s never gone through some turbulent times goes through them. But if you have someone who keeps going through such times and comes out stronger and united, that’s a person to bet on.
On a normal day, I would bet on NRM and being anti-fragile. The bottom line is; “NRM is not stable in spite of having all the disorder; it is stable because it has disorder.” This kind of arrangement protects NRM from rare events, it protects NRM from a romanticism of utopias, and this volatility at the bottom results in stability at the top. Thus NRM is still strong as a party because of these petty internal fights, the friction, variations and noise at the local level. This results in a stable party at the aggregate level. That’s why it’s rare to hear of an NRM incumbent crossing to the opposition because of losing in primaries.