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Is Museveni and NRM as tolerant as Andrew Mwenda has consistently argued?

Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo, one of the latest to cross the floor. How much do such moves show how accommodative President Museveni is?
COMMENT | Moses Baguma | When the National Resistance Movement (NRM) parliamentary caucus endorsed Anita Among for speakership on March 24 2022 , Andrew Mwenda, a very influential, articulate and highly opinionated Ugandan journalist tweeted: “NRM has endorsed Anita Among, a former FDC politician, as its candidate for speaker. Jacob Oulanyah was UPC, joined NRM and rose to the top. While the opposition fights everyone who disagrees with them, NRM embraces its opponents and gives them top posts!”
Andrew’s tweet was reinforcing his string of argument to the effect that Museveni and the NRM are highly tolerant and accommodative.
I think that Mwenda’s arguments could be significantly flawed, not necessarily because Museveni and the NRM are intolerant, but because appointing opposition leaders to high ranking offices and absorbing them into the NRM isn’t an automatic indicator of high tolerance levels on the side of the Preident and his political party.
Appointing opposition leaders to much coveted offices, I suppose, reflects that Museveni has a strong desire to weaken the opposition, strengthen his government and therefore maintain grip on power. In all potentates, the desire to maintain power is stronger than most desires harbored in any human being. Whereas Museveni might want to wreak vengeance against his opponents, his strong desire for power can’t let him do certain things.
When one is hungry, it means one has a strong desire to eat. One might, therefore, eat a meal they don’t like in an effort to yield to their desire. An onlooker might even erroneously assume that the person eating enjoys the meal, just like Andrew could be erroneously assuming that Museveni is too tolerant.
Museveni has some other options to weaken the opposition but bribery or compromise through appointing opposition leaders could be the cheapest (in regards to consequences) and safest. If Museveni appoints Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine to the office of Prime Minister today, no National Unity Platform (NUP) supporter — however radical — can go to the streets and burn car tyres in protest. Bobi Wine’s appointment can actually win Museveni some supporters from the NUP camp or atleast de-radicalise some NUP fanatics.
But if soldiers attached to Special Forces Command (SFC) shoot Kyagulanyi in head in an effort to weaken NUP,  Kyagulanyi’s end of life can also mark the end of Museveni’s presidency. So, in such circumstances, Museveni finds it easier to subdue his intolerance and emotions by appointing opposition leaders to lengthen his stay in power.
Also, to understand that the opposition isn’t as non-accomodative as Andrew Mwenda portrays it, one should interest themselves in what motivates opposition leaders to join, serve and promote the Museveni administration. When Museveni wants to win over an opposition figure, he doesn’t articulate NRM’s ( or his) ideology and vision to the same. He knows that things such as ideology or vision don’t adequately attract a typical Ugandan politician.
Museveni presents job offers and “power”, and a fat purse to the opposition member he is targeting. Because human action is partly prompted by the love for power, acquisitiveness and vanity, Museveni’s offers are usually irresistible to many opposition figures. Opposition politicians, therefore, join NRM not because they’ve developed an ideological appreciation for the NRM over opposition political parties.
So, even if the opposition side is more tolerant or accommodative than Museveni and his NRM, Ugandans may not know that the opposition is that virtuous because it can’t successfully outcompete Museveni in extending power, money and jobs to dissidents.
Just like a woman can endure a tragic marriage with a wealthy man, many opposition leaders are willing to forego any opposition political party – however ideologically grounded, tolerant and democratic it might be. This, for them to join a rich, influential and powerful NRM – however undemocratic, future-burying, incompetent, corrupt and torturous it could be.
 Moses Baguma is a business man and social critic

One comment

  1. You are on point. I have never been convinced that Andrew Mwenda means what he says. Largely I find him a pseuo-intellectual who forms an opinion then cherry picks facts to support it: as opposed to analysing facts then form an opinion.
    For instance he will argue ANC worn the apartheid because they were tolerant and NUP is failing because its intolerant but he won’t add that ANC had an armed wing and NUP doesn’t.

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