By Morris Komakech
The wishy-washy, unconscious, and self-regarding Uganda elites
The online dictionary defines “elites” as “part of a group that is superior to the rest in terms of abilities or qualities” (Refer to Classical Elite Theorists such as Pareto, Mosca, Michel, Mills, Putnam etc). For this article, elites are those who have attained certain privileges in society, such as higher education, formal employment, exposure to the global common, and individuals who self-identify as intellectuals.
It is expected that people who hold themselves as elites in society are also conscious of their social, economic and political conditions to be able to fulfill their roles in society. Seemingly, a good number of these so-called elites, are either naturally or deliberately unconscious, or are out rightly wishy-washy and too self-regarding to acknowledge the precarious conditions in which Uganda is plunging itself into, as a modern State.
There is a general consensus among Ugandans that the leadership of President Yoweri Museveni has been appreciated. But it has an overdose of under performance. Clearly, given the situation of infrastructure, social services and endemic corruption, the performance, mission and vision of Museveni has tapered off the growth curve into a steep decline. The elite groups should be able to capture and synthesise these obvious trends to enable them set pace for meaningful change. And yet, paradoxically, the Ugandan elite is remote in their demeanor and insensitive to any notion of change.
Since 1996, the most potent Presidential candidates have emerged from Western Uganda. All of them have been a splinter group from the mainstream NRM. This also shows how well established the NRM is on the ground, given nearly two decades of No-Party Democracy in Uganda. It is important to understand that leaders emerge from within a society to reflect societal aspiration and economic interests. To illustrate that the contemporary Ugandan society is neither critical nor proactive, it has not produced any leadership outside of the traditional contenders – Museveni (NRM) and Besigye (FDC) since 2001.
Further, because of the accumulated wealth in western Uganda, the expression of economic interests from this region is more compelling than from any other regions. Therefore, change or no-change, for the groups that associate with this regime, theirs is an in-house thing. It is the people from the North and East of this country whose expressions of economic interests do not capture the mainstream national sentiments.
This trend gives rise to potentially two parallels; one – any Presidential contest has been monopolised by candidates from the western part of Uganda since 2001, and it will remain so for a while. For instance, both NRM and FDC are led by people from the west and are structured such that, the current leadership and the one thereafter, will be occupied by their own.
For instance, currently in FDC, Mugisha Muntu is on standby to replace Dr Besigye; Mbabazi is on standby to replace Museveni. For the NRM, a more elaborate family rule has been anticipated.
These patterns reflect the glaring gap both in the unequal distribution of socio-economic privileges, and human resource development in the last 30 years. In other words, for individuals from the North and East to make any serious inroads into national leadership, it will require, on the minimum, two decades of a radical change in the current political and economic formation.
Second – there is the delusional convenience that afflicts the elite groups, making them an obstacle of change. Many of these people who are reluctant to support the forces of change, are deliberately unconscious, illusive, or self-regarding, given their temporary convenience of employment and perks of power. Their real fear is change that would alter such states of minimal appeasement – the market for trading their loyalties. This precisely explains how the elites have become opportunistic and predatory.
The obvious choice
Going into 2016, Dr. Besigye is the most experienced, fearless, consistent and dedicated agent of change among the candidates. Besigye draws such humongous crowd out of his charisma as a natural leader. His enduring dedication has endeared him to the masses. Further, Dr. Besigye has been very instrumental in exposing the “bad” and the “ugly” of this regime beyond what other people could have imagined.
Lastly, there has never been a free and fair election held in Uganda to claim that Besigye “failed” to win. Clamouring about his previous failed attempts at wresting power from the claws of the leopard is only subversive to the causes of change. These elites did not expect Besigye to pick up guns to fight the regime for rigging elections. KB has maintained that obtaining power by the gun will further entrench tyranny and deprive Ugandans of experiencing the true exercise of their power, which is the bedrock of meaningful democracy. If these are not exceptional attributes of a capable leader, then who else is better placed to offer alternative leadership to this country?
Morris Komakech is a Ugandan Social Critic and Political Analyst based in Toronto, Canada. Can contact via firstname.lastname@example.org