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Tribalism can never breed nationalism

By P. Matsiko wa Mucoori

I am now under no illusion that no political party is immune to internal intrigue. The only difference perhaps is in the scope. The opposition used to laugh at NRM when infighting was, or is it still, threatening to tear the party apart.

Before they recovered from their celebrations, the FDC’s backyard was on fire, ignited by the party’s former special envoy Beti Kamya. Then everybody at the party headquarters seemed to get involved in the fire-fighting. At the height of this Kamya-FDC cat and rat game in January, I was loathing with rage why the party was wasting a lot of valuable time on a member that had intentionally decided to fall on the wayside, instead of devoting itself to addressing other critical issues ahead of the 2011 showdown.

Kamya resigned her job as Special Envoy in the party president’s office in October last year after the FDC refused to yield to her demands that a Muganda succeeds the late Sulaiman Kiggundu, who was the party’s national chairman. She however tactfully declined to defect from the party because this would require her to relinquish the Lubaga North parliamentary seat and seek re-election on another party ticket which she sufficiently knew would be hard for her to win.

But the party has now done the right thing'”barring Kamya from representing FDC or speaking on its behalf at any forum. But this is something the party should have done earlier. I wonder why it took too long for the party to reach this decision. On several occasions, she refused to appear before the party’s disciplinary committee for questioning. When she finally did on January 12, she came with a group of supporters and a fight ensued between them and FDC loyalists. The party headquarters was paralysed for hours and work virtually grounded to a halt. I had failed to understand why FDC was so bent on disciplining Kamya. You discipline a member who is still interested in the party. I doubt whether Kamya is. My honest belief is that she is only technically in FDC to avoid losing her parliamentary seat, but in heart and soul she is somewhere else. A person who is still in the party cannot be seen at public functions of another party dressed in its official colours.

The Banyankore say: Akanyatsi kamwe karuga aha nju teritura (when one grass falls off a roof, the house cannot leak). But I am also aware that the roof is made of thousands of single grasses. Therefore, if one grass keeps going off, eventually the roof will be depleted and the house will start leaking. However if the fall-off of that one grass cannot cause a chain fall-off of other grasses, why cling to it? You can let it fall off and the roof remains intact. I do not think that the cause which made Kamya’s fallout with FDC would make others follow suit. This school of thought has been vindicated by what has happened after the FDC decided to say enough is enough with Kamya, one of its most articulate and vocal members but on whose honesty you cannot dare bet your head. The FDC has remained intact and everything has gone quiet at Najjanankumbi as if there has never been a fracas before.

I don’t think Kamya commands a reasonable number of followers in FDC who believe that tribe and region should be the parameters for ascending to political positions.

In fact the FDC should completely forget about Kamya. Accord her the freedom to quit for another party.

But the biggest lesson has been learnt- this monster called regional or tribal balancing is recipe for disaster. Parties must learn to appoint leaders on merit, not on their tribes, regions or religions. If FDC had not started this cancer during the 2005 Delegates Conference when it elected most of its national leadership on the basis of ‘sectarian balancing,’ this circus of a Muganda to succeed Kiggundu for the party’s national chairman would probably not have arisen at all.

This cancerous ailment called tribalism is eating up the whole Ugandan society, be the elite or less educated. This cancer started in NRM. Some incompetent people are appointed to big positions in government in the name of ‘regional/tribal balancing.’ Ultimately, everybody is a loser including their own regions and tribes because they do not do for their people or constituencies what they are expected of. We have substituted merit with region and tribe- we are doomed as a nation.

Why on earth would an aspiring national leader front tribalism as a means to win political power? But there is a bigger picture that all Ugandans must realise and reject regardless of their tribe, religion or religion. This pseudo-Buganda ‘nationalism’ will continue to spoil Uganda’s politics and nobody will benefit be its architects or sympathisers. This so-called Buganda nationalism cannot stand on its own. It must be integrated into the mainstream Uganda nationalism if it’s to succeed and have impact. Fronting one’s tribe as a basis for climbing to leadership is a defective strategy in contemporary politics.

But let’s assume Kamya was right to say a Muganda should succeed Kiggundu. Would she support other people to do the same if FDC leaders from other tribes or regions were to be replaced? For instance, today Dr Kizza Besigye, a Munyankore from western region, is the FDC president; Prof. Ogenga Latigo, an Acholi from northern Uganda and is head of opposition in Parliament. If Besigye was no longer party president tomorrow, would Kamya support that the Banyankore in FDC should demand that the presidency be returned to a Munyankore? Or if Latigo is no longer in his current position in the party, would Kamya support that the Acholi insist on Latigo on being succeeded by a fellow Acholi? Let’s get serious a little bit.

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