By Onghwens Kisangala
The opposition in Uganda has been blamed for not making the right preparations for the Presidential and Parliamentary general elections in 2011, resulting in public disillusionment about both the opposition and government. FDC Vice President for eastern Uganda, Salaam Musumba, explained to The Independents Onghwens Kisangala why that perception is not correct.
Public perception is that the opposition is not prepared to cause change in Uganda. What do you say?
As an opposition, we are exercising our constitutional responsibility of providing an alternative to every aspect of public life. The only problem is Ugandans have not really engaged themselves into another political dispensation. They have not transited, they are still in a Movement mode and they are not listening. Their expectations too are confused about what an opposition is, but that is understandable. After two decades of no multiparty politics, it is understandable that the public does not appreciate the roles of an opposition. But we have proved that we have alternatives. That is why whenever we make a response to the budget we do present an alternative one, but nobody reads it. Not even the press understands them so how will they be propagated and rolled out to the public? We have made a response to every government policy providing an alternative for betterment.
The issue here is not having these alternatives but rather failure to market these them. You are more likely to launch an attack on President Museveni and government instead of making people believe that you can do a better job.
The problem is that we are not operating in a normal political environment, before opposition politicians get to address the people, there will have been so many interruptions in their programmes such that what becomes relevant in that function is how to deal with the roadblocks, not propose alternatives or propagate your own views. We are operating in a very skewed political environment that does not allow competing political views to be articulated and propagated. This is deliberate so that an impression is created that we are a people who cannot offer alternatives. But we are very knowledgeable and hard working people that have pursued opposition politics in this country under a very hard dictator.
What do you say about the view that the oppositions and FDCs message in particular, can not win new converts but only sustain the committed supporters?
That is not true.Â Every effort of government is to deny us access to the public and the public media. That is because FDC is the fastest growing party. Only three years old, we are attracting new members and that is why wherever we go, people attend our rallies in large numbers, and they are braving a lot of insult and fear to attend those rallies. They know that we are the party of hope. This is not to denigrate any other party but we have put in substantial efforts to prove to Ugandans that we are a viable alternative. And we have used this leadership position in parliament to invite other parties that we have a common challenge as a nation to unravel the stalemate in our politics. We even enjoy the trust of others. That is why we are able to organise and hold a very successful delegates conference even with very limited resources. Given that Ugandaâ€™s problems are organisational and managerial, it means we are a group with viable programmes.
I find that a little academic, and probably that is why you have not been successful in removing Museveni.
I think you should be happy for Uganda because we are not doing this for ourselves. We are doing this institutionally to build institutional politics in Uganda. Short of that, we will have a Somalia here; we will all go back to our tribes. Therefore, the effort to put a thread through all the tribes to have a common denominator should be an accolade to FDC.Â Some times I worry for this country that when elections are stolen, this will be our last chance for a united Uganda. We cannot continue to see success for one tribe that has privatised government. We cannot and will not.
Are you sounding a warning for 2011 elections?
Yes. If we continue that way as we see the signs. If for an LC III election you can deploy the military as was in Bulisa, where the target is FDC, God forbid it will not work. We are not going to accept to be beaten. To be beaten physically by all these black hooded idiots they are employing; no we will not.
You are pushing for political reforms, but assuming none of them is tackled, what would happen?
I am not a doomsday seer. And let me make it clear even for the blind that the hope of building a peaceful or durable democracy only dwindles as events towards 2011 unfold. And we have already told this nation that we will not go back to court. We will not. The only alternative left is to To Whom It May Concern. I do not know how it will unravel but I can assure you it is going to disintegrate this country into tribes and it is going to be violent. And so for me 2011, as we propose these reforms, we are preparing for an election without any of them. That is the worst case scenario. We are preparing to win elections without electoral reforms and with the same Electoral Commission.
But you are also suggesting in the same reforms that without them elections cannot be sensible.
Who said that? That is what you are imagining. We will participate in the next elections and we will win it with the same Electoral Laws. Did you know that that is why there are no LC I elections? Every research or intelligence feedback tells the President that he has lost support. We know elections are stolen in this country and we have fixed that internally.