Why Ugandans Should Be Wary Of The Opposition’s Much Touted Political Transition

Change should never result from the instigation of a few people who may harbour vested interests that do not serve the interests of the citizenry.

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By Stuart Oramire

Some author once said that change is inevitable and, in certain circumstances, desirable.

I hasten to add that what this author omitted, deliberately or otherwise, is that mere change, for its sake, can cause disastrous consequences.

Change should be citizen-inspired and well managed for the greater good of all and should never result from the instigation of a few people who may harbour vested interests that do not serve the interests of the citizenry.

Yet in Uganda words like transition, life presidency, peaceful transfer of power and political legacy have become the most widely used political catchphrases of President Yoweri Museveni’s stay in power. The specific objective here is to blackmail the President into retirement.

During the last three elections, the same words were re-echoed with a lopsided argument that it was the right time for the President to retire. How come as the next election edges, calls for the right time become more pronounced?

It is in fact easy for the people not familiar with Uganda’s political trajectory to imagine that there are no periodic elections here through which the president and other leaders subject themselves to the rigours of an election and get elected in their respective offices.

So the current narrative of a political transition or peaceful transfer of power is deceptive because the current Government was democratically elected by the majority vote in the last election. So, what is the hyped transition intended to cure other than deliberately targeting a democratically elected leader?

A political transition is defined as the act and process of changing and evolving from one form of government to a radical form of government, which focuses on human rights, the rule of law and empowerment of the people to ensure their choices, voice and will is heard.

In all these tenets, where is Uganda lacking, a few governance challenges notwithstanding? So rather than blackmail, cajole with words like legacy and coerce, through threats and intimidation, a time-tested leader, why do our opposition leaders not present their alternative ideas and let Ugandans make a choice.

In December 2002, I was in a neighbouring country when the much touted political transition took place as the country’s president handed over power to the former opposition leader.

I recall the outgoing president’s convoy being pelted with clods of mud as it entered the venue of inauguration with the crowd’s chants of “thief!”  Yet, few years down the road, the new government was being accused of mal-governance, grandiose corruption and nepotism. Currently, the country is in a political gridlock. It could have been worse.

There are many other examples of failed transitions as there are others that have succeeded because they were inspired by the aspirations of the majority people and well-managed.

Well-managed because all principle political actors must support the transition. For example, in Uganda, President Museveni is a principle political player and can/must play a central role in any political transition when its time comes.

The other deliberate falsehood that the Opposition peddle is that President Museveni has entrenched himself in power. What is wrong with this if it is done within the realm of the law?  Any government, to be effective, must consolidate its hold on power – and the most important power centres besides the executive, are the army and the legislature.

This is where President Museveni has scored highly. He has successfully consolidated the numbers in Parliament and tamed the security forces. Former US president Barack Obama had to sack General Stanley McChrystal  for undermining his authority as the Commander-in-Chief. This is important.

Every well-meaning Ugandan wants a credible Opposition as an alternative Government and every Opposition must do everything within its lawful means to gain power.

However, it appears, the perennial failure to take power through cycles of elections has left some leaders with political sours and frustrations.

Read the full version on www.newvision.co.ug

This explains why some of our political leaders now employ below-the-belt methods of peddling populist claims and false propaganda to undermine the Government and project themselves as messiahs of hope.  The more radical opposition leaders now have resorted to threats and violence as we witnessed in Parliament. May be the political change the opposition seeks is not the change that Ugandans aspire for. Only time will tell.

The writer is a lawyer

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