By Ofwono Opondo
The recent appointment of three artists, Catherine Kusasira, Mark Bugembe (Bucherman), and Jennifer Nakamgubi (Full Figure) by President Yoweri Museveni as his advisors for Kampala and ‘ghetto’ affairs has kicked up needless raw anger with some leaders across the aisle exchanging political expletives.
Not surprisingly, some NRM leaders especially in Kampala joined the opposition in a chorus of condemnation and damnation with absurd claims that their roles were being taken away, and efforts undermined, not recognized or enumerated. These, appear to be looking mainly at the reported money bits, and other perks that may accompany such deployments which is unfortunate.
The vile outbursts from opposition quarters are perfectly understandable as sulking because some of these measures are akin to pulling the rugs below their feet. The opposition had through falsehoods and political debauchery laid claim to represent the interests of the un-suspecting so-called under privileged groups. So the sneer to down-grade Kusasira, Buchaman and others doesn’t require much response.
These angry public exchanges especially by NRM leaders actually reflect that perhaps many of them don’t understand the NRM mass political line, and Museveni’s long-standing methods of work that has brought NRM, and Uganda this far, succeeding were many failed.
A mass political line means that everyone, peasants, uneducated, blacksmiths, artists, comedians, herbalists and traditional healers, musicians, religious priests, women, youths, professionals and adroit politicians, as long as they are ready and willing to make a contribution should be accepted and offered responsibility while being mentored to the goals of the NRM, and Uganda’s collective aspiration.
It is important for the present leaders in NRM to always remember that they are not the original and first leaders, and that NRM has expanded this big because of continuous recruitment from among young, and quite even among those opposed to it. Had the original founders and leaders adamantly insisted on being the only ones of the stewardship, NRM would most likely be moribund today.
In fact, this was partly why and how NRM missed Teso sub-region for a long time when those who joined first in 1986-88 resisted the entry of those who were in Uganda Peoples’ Army (UPA) when they eventually abandoned rebellion. It took Museveni and NRM another ten years to decisively regain Teso from the opposition in 2011. I can also say without fears of contradiction that false resistance to ‘newcomers’ and unprincipled disagreements by NRM leaders partly explain NRM’s poor performance today in Kasese district.
Firstly, it is important for all Ugandans to know and appreciate that the appointment of presidential advisors and other aides is the sole prerogative of the president. There is no need to shout over it because even those particular appointments were withdrawn it isn’t guaranteed that they would be transferred to the complainants.
Additionally, there is so much work to do in building the NRM as a positive political force for socio-economic transformation, stability and tranquility that everyone’s contribution even if they are from the mainstream opposition is required and should be welcomed.
As presidential advisors, Kusasira, Buchaman and Full-Figure are in mainstream government and do not take away the mandate and functional roles of NRM established political organs if the leaders knew the tasks at hand. They are an addition even if minimal in some peoples’ view. But in any case, had the NRM leaders been performing their roles of mobilization, monitoring, supervision and offering effective leadership as expected, metropolitan Kampala and other urban centres wouldn’t be deemed politically hostile territories to the NRM.
Obviously, as previous similar appointments of opposition politicians like Omara Atubo, Aggrey Awori, Francis Butagira, and most recently Betty Kamya are evident, Kusasira, Buchaman, Full-figure and any that may be brought on board may not be wonder and silver bullets in Kampala, but their joint lifting of the heavy log is needed. Having Atubo, Awori, Butagira and Kamya aboard the NRM has played a positive role in stemming a vile and hostile opposition while demonstrating that the NRM is an accommodative viable political vehicle.
The bitter truth is that many leaders in both the NRM party and various levels of government have abdicated their immediate responsibilities and obligations and consequently there are evident gaps in proactive and persuasive engagement especially with the young population yearning to meet their aspirations. President Museveni’s interventions ought to be seen as strategic operations for the good of NRM and Uganda especially where regular methods have not yield good results as Kampala shows.
It is true and necessary that long-serving and loyal NRM cadres, members, supporters and leaders ought to be recognized and where possible rewarded, but this shouldn’t be at the expense of consolidating, the strategic gains the country has made especially ensuring that Ugandans feel welcome into the NRM fold to make a contribution.
In crying foul, sometimes based on false or half information, NRM leaders may lend themselves to exposure for infiltration by forces that seek to undermine NRM strengthen. Otherwise, NRM is a progressive organisation making it difficult for a few infiltrators to successfully undermine it.
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