Since the appointments of Uganda People’s Congress MP for Oyam County North, Betty Amongi, Beti Olive Kamya, the president of the Uganda Federal Alliance and Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi from the Democratic Party into cabinet as ministers, there has been mixed reactions, some castigating them for capitulation. The recent appointment of DP national chairperson Mohammed Baswale Kezzala as deputy ambassador designate, has renewed the political hullabaloo over which direction Uganda’s politics is headed.
Amongi is the minister for Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Kamya is the minister for Kampala City Council Authority, and Nakiwala is state minister for Gender in charge of Youth Affairs. All these have been appointed without first asking them, at least not publicly, to renounce their existing political affiliation. And it is interesting that the same critics who demand that President Yoweri Museveni and the NRM exercise political moderation and accommodation, are the same ones castigating the appointment of opposition leaders and members into government, often accusing them of betrayal after being ‘bought’ off. And it is perhaps prudent to ask these oppositionists, if they also ‘buy off’ NRM people like Kizza Besigye, Mugisha Muntu and Amanya Mushega who have joined them.
While Uganda adopted a multiparty dispensation in 2005, and currently running a multiparty parliamentary system, the core values of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) ideology as a broad-based and inclusive democratic organisation never withered. In fact, the NRM and especially its founding leader Yoweri Museveni does not believe in the “winner-takes it all,” political philosophy and practice as the British colonists left behind, and indeed still practice in their own country. On the other hand, in the US that many people often admire, it isn’t uncommon to find a known republican appointed and serving under a Democrat president’s cabinet and other senior federal government positions.
And because the NRM is broad-based, it seeks out Ugandans from diverse and sometimes divergent political worlds to work on the common issues that unite and build Uganda to stability, transformation and prosperity. The destination of any reasonable Ugandan leader whether NRM or opposition is, or ought to be the same which is to make Uganda peaceful, secure, and prosperous. We only differ on the route, and mode of transportation to that destination
Some of the tenets of the broad bases that NRM has over the years harnessed to rebuild Uganda include feudal traditionalists who were diametrically opposed to the so-called republican democrats in DP and UPC when they didn’t practice democracy itself. The structure of the current NRM party comprising the mainstream, and the leagues of special interest groups of the women, youths, persons with disabilities, elders, workers, veterans, entrepreneurs, and historical members, is a demonstration of the broad-base and inclusivity, which no other Uganda political has.
The other category of the broad-base that the NRM has brought on board are the women who previously were believed to be inferior to join mainstream competitive, and often combustive politics allegedly because as the ‘fairer’ sex, they were born ‘weak,’ and only fit for the kitchen, secretarial and teaching duties, and as nursing aids to male bosses. As evidenced, today thousands of Ugandan women are competently leading both public and private enterprises, big and small, that they drive trucks through the walls of male chauvinism.
And by accepting, bringing in and integrating the former armies from Idi Amin, UNLA, second UPC, and military junta regimes, the NRA had vanquished, and many of them thought to have murderous and other criminal records, the NRM has managed to build a strong, effective and disciplined national army, the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF).
In the broader sphere of national politics the NRM has applied the same principles of broad-basedness, inclusivity and non-discrimination to reach the political consensus that has led Uganda for the last thirty one years without have a major system breakdown. It is also the reason either new-comers who join, or those from opposing sides are given seats at the high table, while the so-called historicals, founders, and ‘real’ NRM cadres and members take the back seats. NRM does believe that this system and consistent practice has been correct and useful in bringing Ugandans together than previously.NRM members and especially cadres, must fully understand and appreciate these very critical tenets and practices of the NRM defend it as well as be able to win over more supporters. It is only those who on their own feel they don’t want to serve under the NRM leadership who may turndown appointments or opportunities, otherwise the NRM is an open political organisation.
It should be recalled that even as early as January 1986 when the original NRA/M came to power leaders and members from the various opposition parties and groups joined government without first having to renounce their party affiliations. However, those that chose as the time passed by to abandon their affiliations in preference of the new NRM ideology did so solely on persuasion or having seen that the NRM was and still is, a good vehicle to deliver Ugandans to their desired destination.