By Dennis Adim Enap
The dawn of a new era is upon party members who are fully prepared to meet challenges
The Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) is locked in political and constitutional crises following the un-honourable departure of Ambassador Olara Otunnu from the presidency of the party. Otunnu left without organising party elections of new office bearer of the office of UPC Party President and subsequently, the Party Cabinet.
Precedence has had it that elections to replace the UPC Party President and Cabinet are organised a year to the expiration of a sitting presidents tenure. It is what former Party President, Mama Miria Kalule Obote embarked on in the year 2009 that led to the election of Olara Otunnu on March 13, 2010.
The basic essence of organising and having the Party president elected one year to the end of a sitting president’s tenure and approximately one year to general elections is to give the new party leadership an opportunity to re-organise the Party so to ably provide viable and more pragmatic policy alternatives to Ugandans.
However, this is a process and opportunity Otunnu has either deliberately or negligently denied the UPC for reasons not known (though, believably to frustrate all efforts of the UPC in rebuilding its base as he once did when he participated in the 1985 coup against President Apollo Milton Obote and the UPC Government and subsequently served the Tito Okello stratocracy).
Otunnu and former UPC deputy spokesperson Okello Lucima blame their failure to organise the elections for party president on the injunction placed on the former party leadership by three party elders. To the contrary and to the shame of Otunnu’s failure to appreciate the spirit of the injunction, the court order only restrained Otunnu and his cabinet from implementing any party activity without the ratification of the UPC party organs as the National Council and Annual Delegates Conference. These organs are mandated to congress every year by the party constitution and the court injunction was made on the December 23, 2014 after we realised Otunnu was unlawfully handpicking people who have never belonged to the UPC as delegates in his bid to extend his grip on the UPC presidency.
With all these and other fights coming up in which Otunnu continues to nametag party members as NRM moles within the UPC (even when it is perfect knowledge now that Otunnu participated in the 1985 coup so to make it easier for the NRA to capture power in exchange for an endorsement to the UN President Yoweri Museveni), the UPC shall not fall apart as we are not as divided as Otunnu wants the public to think.
This is not the first and most striking instance of such struggles within the party. The earliest politically explosive challenge at independence was the implementation of the constitutional provision which required a referendum to be held within two years of independence to determine whether the people of Bugangaizi, Singo, Buhekula and Buyaga wanted to stay under the jurisdiction of Buganda kingdom or transfer their allegiance to Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom or form a separate District. There was also an internal rift where Grace Ibingira and others wanted to oust the party president in the 1960s, the combined demonisation of the UPC by President Idi Amin Dada between 1971 and 1979 and by President Museveni in a bid to destroy the UPC when he banned political party activities and political parties through the Legal Notice No. 1 of 1989.
The resilience of the UPC and its ideology of social democracy have for years been a source of profound humility and source of inspiration. Again, the UPC should rise up and get out of this Otunnu orchestrated impasse stronger, more united and a formidable party to address the challenges of Uganda. These range from poverty, ignorance, disease and cutting across to a failed economy, gross unemployment and underemployment, the censored insecurity, moral decay, breath-taking corruption, and institutional breakdown.
The dawn of a new era within the UPC is upon the UPC party members who are fully prepared to meet the challenges that await us in our continued struggle to rebuild a strong party irrespective of our varying ideas, so to make a lasting positive mark on the lives of all Ugandans through social democratic policies as we did in the 1960s and early 1980s. The UPC will overcome the Otunnu crisis.
Dennis Adim Enap is the UPC Youth Leader of Jinja District.