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Besigye; Go for Elections, not Transition Government

By Ofwono Opondo

  July, 12, 17 

Col. (Rtd) Dr. Kizza Besigye, Uganda’s indefatigable opposition run-around, having lost presidential bid four times, has come to the absurd conclusion that universal adult suffrage elections don’t work for him, and so he is demanding a ‘transitional’ government without elections.
It should be known that when the original NRA/M extended its ‘interim administration’ (1986-90) to 1996, without elections, then Lt. Col. Kizza Besigye was NRM’s National Political Commissar (NPC) and minister, office of the President. After a short debate, upon a motion moved by Eriya Kategaya (RIP), and seconded G.W. Kanyehamba and Kirunda Kivejinja, Besigye closed up by saying “sufficient consultations,” had been done, and the matter ended. The reason given, was that the NRA/M needed to build Uganda as one broad church accommodating everyone. Besigye then addressed a media conference banning open political party activities.
Without a doubt, there has been many manifest good done under NRM and President Yoweri Museveni in rebuilding Uganda and addressing human needs, which we must not lose perspective of. It’s dangerous to create a climate of fear and uncertainty, fed by false stories of harm and danger as Besigye and ilk seek to do.
Besigye has been drumming support for a storyline that everything in Uganda including his own party, FDC, is broken, simply because voters haven’t entrusted them with the mandate to lead Uganda. Also, Besigye has concluded that the opposition in parliament led by FDC with thirty-five MPs is neither credible nor legitimate. For those reasons, he is now demanding that Ugandans opt for a purported government of national unity presumably led by him as if there is a national crisis and elections cannot be held. Besigye and his small coterie seem to prefer trying a transition stretching into the blue yonder, instead of demanding for a transparent election he could win if he had credible platform Ugandans can buy into.
Talking about last week’s parliamentary bye-election in Kyadondo East, Besigye falsely claimed that unlike in 2016, this time around, voters were allowed to vote freely, and uses that to explain away his loss, and Robert Kyagulanyi’s win.
However, the facts in Kyadondo East are, in the 2016 presidential elections there were 68,131 registered voters compared to 72,818 in 2017. Of these, only 32,815 and 32,991 voters turned up for the respective elections, and so the difference is mere 176 voters. It would be appropriate to pass some salt to Besigye.
Under his proposed transitional government of national unity, which is a mouthful, Besigye states ‘they’ would constitute a “Constitutional Review Commission,” to overhaul Uganda’s constitution, and yet he rejects the one being mooted by an elected government led by President Museveni. Again we can tell Besigye to suck up.
It’s preposterous and unclear why Besigye assumes the false confidence that he would be more legitimate to majority of Ugandans who wouldn’t have elected him in the first place. While Uganda has moved by leaps and bounds over the last three decades, it remains remarkable that national pessimism, anger and despair is at odds with those broad achievements, and the NRM leadership must seek to the reasons and address them.
Never before have so many Ugandans been so relatively well-fed, lived longer, and decently housed. Never before have so many Ugandans had so much say in their local and national affairs, and had so little fear from random state- sponsored violence. In fact, today, fewer Ugandans are at risk of untimely death due to war or famine.
But, it is fair to say that large swaths of Ugandans are disappointed and angry because they are increasingly becoming aware of all that is broken, although many things have been fixed. I think, it is this perception that lends credence that as a country, we could be heading into the wrong destination. The glaring and ubiquitous incidences of impunity and corruption by a few public officials, a sense of inequality and inequity, which leave many people behind is causing despondence and threatens the gains made.
While there have been voices, especially from President Museveni and NRM cadres reminding Ugandans of how much our lives have improved over the past thirty years, somehow, those factual explanations are being drowned in the chorus of despair.
Leaders ought to know that NRM raised the bar of expectation, which Ugandans have continuously reset upwards.  As life has improved and political injustice an exception than the norm, people refuse to tolerate that which used to be tolerated. The media has become a daily focus on what is broken, rather than on what is working. While this doesn’t make it wrong, it coincides with limping businesses, bankruptcy, economic harm, unemployment, and jobs made irrelevant by technology.
And those ‘left behind’ are not just the peasants and un-employable folks, but also youths with affluent parents trying to find decent work and affordable life. Nevertheless, for a day, at least, we should a breath, and say, we are making it, especially when we see that  at least when the parliament couldn’t go to the Bobi Wine’s ‘ghetto’, the ‘ghetto’ has come into parliament.