In politics, where rulers claim that they are actors in democracy building or democratisation, the Opposition comprises one or more political parties or other organized groups that are opposed, primarily ideologically, to the government or the administration or party or group in political control of the state or country.

In Uganda, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) has been in charge of Uganda politically and militarily continuously since 1986. Originally formed, together with a military wing called National Resistance Army (NRA), by a former President of Uganda, Yusuf Kironde Lule and a few neotraditionalist Baganda in Kabete, Nairobi it, and its military wing, were handed over to the former Front for National Salvation (FRONASA) rebels, Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM) and Patriotic Resistance Army (PRA), which were all dominated by immigrants. Central to all these was President Tibuhaburwa Museveni

The inheritors of NRM and its military wing currently dominate the sociopolitical space militarily, politically and socially. It is the NRM that dictated the political tune almost exclusively, despite the presence of Opposition, which falsely gave the impression, especially to outsiders, that there was a functional Opposition in Uganda and that, therefore, pluralism is valued under NRM/A rule. This false impression persists to this day

Apart from NRM, which functions more like a single-party organisation with a supreme leader, there is the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC), Justice Forum (JEEMA) Democratic Party (DP), Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), Conservative Party (CP) and some other smaller parties. They are all registered with the country’s Electoral Commission (EC). They have all participated in the NRRM-organised elections since 1996 when President Museveni said he had retired from the army, but every result has just produced Tibuhaburwa Museveni as President, often with different names with Museveni as the constant.  As I set out to write this article, I learned that Kizza Besigye is strategizing to form a splinter party from the FDC, which he helped create. Just by by looking at the list of the parties a visitor to Uganda will conclude that the regime of President Tibuhaburwa Museveni is tolerant enough to the existence of alternative political organizations and that, therefore, pluralism works in Uganda.

Politicians in the Opposition have to ensure that the Government does not take any steps, which might have negative effects on the cultures, environment, ecology, ecosystems, education, health, economic well-being and the people of the country.

The role of the opposition in legislature is basically to check the excesses of the ruling or dominant party, and not to be totally antagonistic.

Opposition in a working democracy is responsible for scrutinising – closely examining – the work of the government, asking the government to explain its actions, especially during Question Time, and debating bills and proposed laws by the Executive or Government in the Parliament.

President Tibuhaburwa Museveni has sworn to eliminate Opposition from the political spectrum of Uganda in favour of the one-party rule of NRM and is doing everything possible to stifle it in order to build one-man rule as well as ensure that hereditary politics cultivates a dynasty in the country, ultimately resulting in his son, General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, inheriting the reigns of power on a silver plan, the Opposition has not only let down itself but has also undermined the aspiration of the Ugandans.

Way back in 2009 Odoobo C. Bichachi, wrote an article in The Independent of May 26 2009 under the title “10 Failures of Opposition”. The ten failures he listed were:

1. Failure to set the agenda on issues like the economy and electoral reforms.

2. Failure to mobilise supporters countrywide in order to build a critical mass around issues

3. Failure to develop its message beyond just the need to remove Museveni from power.

4. Lack of concrete alternative policy proposals on the economy, public service, security, communications/roads, etc.

5. Failure to change its leadership and thus appearing to mirror NRM.

6. Failure to push an alternative vehicle for change outside Parliament to achieve minimum constitutional changes such as the return of presidential term limits.

7. Disunity, failed alliances, inter-party and intra-party fighting

8. Opportunism and outright sell-out of key members like DP’s Nasser Sebaggala, FDC’s Beti Kamya and Alex Onzima, UPC’s Jacob Oulanyah, and Aggrey Awori.

9. Failure to mobilise funds from supporters to finance opposition activities.

10. Failure to shed an urban/elitist image to embrace the rural population that constitutes more than 80% of voters.

These failures have stood the test of time since then.  The Opposition has left the President of Uganda and the supreme Chairman of NRM to continue setting the agenda. Today, the President has set the agenda to have his son, General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, inherit the reigns of power after him and seize the ineptitude of the Opposition to build a dynasty. He recently raised him to the post of Chief of Defense Forces (CDF), and during a Birth Day ceremony for him at State House recently, he cast him as the most patriotic person in Uganda.

The Politicians in NRM and the Parties are silent. None of them questioned how a person born outside Uganda by parents born outside Uganda can be more patriotic than those who were born in Uganda and belong to the indigenous groups in the country. Instead, the political leaders in the Parties are engaged in intrigue and infightings within their parties as the citizens yearn for meaningful change, meaningful development and a future worth living. It is as if for them patriotism is not an issue. What if the patriotism of Muhoozi Kainerugaba is not exactly the patriotism of those whose parents were born in Uganda and have belonged to Uganda all their lives? Something is grossly wrong with our politicians.

Just like before, the Opposition has allowed itself to be herded and controlled by the military and police both mind-wise and physically. This is to a large extent due to its failure to unite ideologically and in purpose and action for meaningful pluralism and democracy in the country. Instead, individual members of the parties are eager to reap as much as they can from the regime of President Tibuhaburwa Museveni in terms of money and properties, including land. They are competing with the nomadic pastoralists in displacing and dispossessing our hapless people from their land, thereby turning them into internal refugees. They are unaware that the President long ago decided to use the money to destroy the independence, sovereignty, self-determination, unity, citizenship, identity and nationality of Ugandans.

Some of the Opposition leaders have abandoned their constituents in service of President Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s goals of power, domination, control and familial rule. They have been happy partaking of the national cake leaving the people to wallow in poverty and suffer exploitation by President Museveni and his caste. This way, they have only exacerbated their selfishness and greed at the expense of Ugandans and more or less handed the country to the people who came from the bush, many of whom were foreigners.

Unfortunately, the Oppositions today continue to have only one message for the people: removing President Tibuhaburwa Museveni, not challenging his policies, choices and laws, many of which are oppressive. They are silent when our people suffer multiple taxes simultaneously with diminishing public services. Some of the Opposition members in Parliament have clandestinely supported the oppressive choices, policies, laws and taxation for money in complete disregard for the sufferers of oppression.

I have never seen the alternative policy blueprints of most of the political parties. I just hear their leaders making noise about the dictatorship of President Tibuhaburwa Museveni. If I have not seen and read them, which people in the rural areas have? Instead, they, like the NRM politicians have chosen to use funerals as campaign platforms to tell people what they will do when they are elected, not what alternatives their parties have strategized to offer the country.

Since Odoobo Bichachi wrote his 2009 article, many more Opposition members have been coopted in the NRM Government for their own benefit and the benefit of President Tibuhaburwa Museveni and his Party; not so much for the benefit of the Members of NRM and the parties whose leaders are poached. The best glaring and best example of a political party letdown is Nobert Mao who continues to insist that he is the President of the Democratic Party (DP). He unilaterally reached a political agreement with President agreement with President Tibuhaburwa to cooperate politically. He immediately reaped the post of Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. It is he the President sought to use to change the Constitution of Uganda 1995 to disenfranchise the citizens and have the President of Uganda elected by Parliament. Since the President has manoeuvred the political space and used Parliament in the past to get whatever he wanted, using money as the medium to stupefy the Members of Parliament in the process, it is easy to see where Mao will take Uganda legally: the Constitution will be changed to make the people peripheral to the election of the President. The whole country and world now know that ultimately the beneficiary will be President Museveni’s son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba.

We already know that one other Party, which reached a cooperative agreement with the President to work together politically with the NRM, is the Uganda Peoples Congress of Jimmy Akena. So, with DP and UPC in cooperation to create dynastic rule in Uganda, and they are the oldest parties in the country, they have more or less disempowered their members in the face of daunting political challenges of denationalization, desocialization, de-radicalization, bantustanisation, ethnicization, and dynastic rule.

With the commercialization and monetization of politics in Uganda, the role and responsibility of politicians in organised parties, both outside and inside government, have been greatly distorted and undermined. Politicians now focus on personal gains of posts and money for themselves and those connected to them It seems when the President said, during a political campaign in Busia some years back, that he has all the money and that all politicians seeking to rise should go to him, many politicians – actual and potential – were listening.

There are claims that many politicians in the Opposition are paid agents doing political work in their parties for the President. for which they are handsomely paid. Such politicians, it is said, are good members of their parties during the day but flock to the State House for payments at night. There are even claims that some parties had the hand of the President in their formation, who it is said has some of his people in powerful positions in the leadership of those parties.

One thing is true. It is difficult to build viable, political parties independent of Government or State House in a sea of poverty and ethical and moral decay. Under President Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s rule, there has been proliferating impoverishment and ethical and moral decay. They are unconcerned about the complex, difficult issues facing their people and country. As such they will be easy prey for manipulation and use by higher-order political forces – internal and external.

What is needed is a new cadre of politicians who are down to earth, will not put personal gain first and foremost and have their focus on both current and future generations to liberate them from corrupt and immoral political forces that use others for their gain and the gain of their families and ethnic groups.

Currently, it is difficult to identify one politician who is not helping President Tibuhaburwa Museveni to build dynastic rule in Uganda. Both Opposition and non-opposition members can be accused of abandoning Ugandans and helping the President to succeed in building both hereditary politics and dynastic rule. Many Ugandans are already resigned to the idea that unless God intervenes it is Muhoozi Kainerugaba to become Uganda’s next President after his father, as planned by his father, and that Nobert Mao is laying the legal foundation for this to happen.

It is political corruption being legalised by Nobert Mao on behalf of President Tibuhaburwa Museveni to deprive Ugandans of their right to choose their leaders. It is an injustice being justified legally by first tinkering with the Uganda Constitution 1995. When Nobert Mao succeeds in the grandiose plot, he will have been central to sowing the seed of dynastic rule in Uganda. The Democratic Party he heads spent decades combating dynastic rule. By the stroke of the pen of Mao, this will make nonsense of DP’s past resistance to dynastic rule. It will put the party at the forefront of the plot to disenfranchise Ugandans for the sole purpose of legalising dynastic rule. Mao is still the President of DP implementing the cooperative agreement between his party and NRM. The outcome of the cooperation promises to be a dynastic rule, but of course, most members of the DP are opposed to the sinister plot as are most Ugandans. The cardinal question is: Which way Uganda?

For God and My Country.

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Written by Oweyegha Afunaduula (3)

I am a retired lecturer of zoological and environmental sciences at Makerere University. I love writing and sharing information.

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