By Ofwono Opondo
For the last two years there have been ominous political signs bolstered by political grandstanding and finger-wagging directed against the NRM and President Yoweri Museveni, which make it appear that the revolution is riding under rain before a violent storm descends towards the much hyped 2021 general elections.
Unprincipled rivalry, intrigue, lack of seriousness of purpose, laxity or failure to implement programs as agreed, negligence and abdication of duty, glaring greed and corruption are all sores that NRM leaders at all level must deal with firmly because they are causing public disaffection.
In addition, NRM leaders must return to pro-active and constructive engagement especially with the young educated population yearning to meet their expectations raised by the ongoing changes in Uganda. The good news is that much of the drenching has been self-inflicted, and can be corrected in time to give the opposition a thorough political beating.
There is also need for the NRM to support, rather than become contemptuous towards those NRM MPs and leaders who appear either unprincipled or spineless, and trembling in their trousers in the face of opposition adversities and harassment as we have seen in some parts of the country.
The entire opposition all seem settled on the strategy to directly attack Museveni personally over his long stay and the alleged accompanied failures. If the question over the past two years is whether Museveni still has got stamina, then the answer is a clear yes. And short of staging a violent riot as in Sudan or asking for foreign direct help via military intervention like in Libya as some opposition quislings have been seeking, then probably Museveni is home and dry. Of course seeking change through foreign intervention would be a fool’s rendezvous with destiny.
As much as we may loathe the opposition leaning political media, they nevertheless raise issues that affect people’s lives, and expose much of the opposition as mere charlatans. NRM would do better now to challenge opposition leaders to a series of public debates with President Museveni to test who has a better grasp on economic, health, education, agriculture, security, law enforcement, women and youth transformative empowerment, and international issues. Museveni could be tested on literally every subject.
Many believe that some of the opposition leaders who have recently had good media time could have done so perhaps because they were granted attention than their public support warrants. However, the main takeaways from these debates and media exposures apart from being healthy in a democracy have proved that they cannot make any giant policy revelations.
UPC and DP both led respectively by eloquent grandstanders, Jimmy Akena and Norbert Mao, are in terminal decline. FDC currently led by Eng. Patrick Oboi Amuriat and Nandala Mafabi as president and Secretary General, respectively is incapable of solving the lack of policy and intellectual vision, vitality and consistency, and is simply continuing the downward trend.
And with Besigye who has returned to re-assert himself as king, any compromise either with NRM or other opposition groups is considered cowardly and an unconditional surrender. The mould of Amuriat, Mafabi, Erias Lukwago, Semujju Nganda, Salaamu Musumba and Ingrid Turinawe all presumed powerful in the Besigye project, it is very unlikely that FDC will be toning down belligerence.
Apparently, they don’t believe that the same stubbornness and determination that has kept the Besigye project going for this long is the one stopping it from becoming flexible in times of political fluidity. But the challenges now confronting that project are formidable as the last two years have shown threatening to consign Besigye to the fringes, yet he had made opposition hothouse his lifeline and hoping to make the coming election an existential one.
Already as the Besigye alliance hurtles towards 2021, information from the grapevine indicates that split is emerging with Mafabi, in addition to an array of senior FDC MPs who are furiously talking of not returning to the party’s fold in 2021. They complain that ultra-Besigyeists are planting surrogates in their respective constituencies such as Serere, Soroti and Kasese districts seen as their enclaves. Betty Aol Ochan, the LoP is considered an inevitable inconvenience. The operation appears blindsided by Bobi Wine’s yet to be confirmed rise as some weak-knee opposition figures sit uneasily hoping they can cash on the gale cutting through their ranks before it settles. Amidst the angst, there are signs that FDC’s agenda risks being defined in this election by internal opposition.
With a mass mobilization of support countrywide, NRM continues to clearly offer realistic routes for national stability and socio-economic transformation to the broad majority of Ugandans. As the 2016 election showed, the more we get to the goal, the more NRM and Museveni are liked. And also as Museveni gets challenged to his limits is also as he gets his element. But as the ongoing political rumblings perhaps show, party loyalties have been eroded significantly and replaced by soft money and immediate personal calculations leading fluidity. Any confident prediction of the coming contest emerges either from naivety or delusion.
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