NRM must reject Bribery, Violence and Sectarianism

Ofwono Opondo
June, 4, 18 
The just concluded bye-election in Rukungiri, for the district woman Member of Parliament, won by Forum for Democratic Change’s (FDC), Betty Bamukwasa Muzanira (50,611 votes), over National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) Winnie Masiko (46,379), has got the opposition flying passed the moon, although it doesn’t that much change the political balance of forces in a parliament of 425 MPs. By this victory, FDC now has 37MPs compared to NRM’s 302, in addition to 55 independents, allied to the NRM.
But perhaps, this jubilation, demonstrates, the opposition’s very low expectation levels, as it were, because in normal circumstances, this is what in soccer could be treated as a ‘losers’ match after the main tournament, where the ‘winner’ gets a consolation prize. Never-the-less, for some reason, NRM that has a huge majority decided to make this bye-election a highly prized contest, laced with internal squabbling.
As often demonstrated, President Yoweri Museveni continues to be the NRM’s best flag because he leads in mobilization for candidates however weak or unviable they may appear to be, usually in the hope he can stage electoral upsets. In doing so, Museveni has quite frankly, demonstrated that he is ready for election outcomes whichever way they go, and therefore, the false and absurd view that NRM must win every contest should be disabused. The defeats that NRM has recently suffered, when it and Museveni have put their all, should be sufficient proof, that in fact if the opposition organised itself better, rather than agonise, it could actually win national elections including the presidency. Therefore, the opposition doesn’t to resort to hooliganism or war mongering.
While the NRM should constantly field candidates in all electoral seats, and campaign vigorously with prospects of winning, it’s becoming absurd and counter-productive, that it fights, a do-or-die battle, with occasional incidences of bribery and violent behaviour. It should be born in everyone’s mind that consolidating a functioning democracy characterised by freedom and fairness is more important ingredients, than mere electoral victory. It’s quite embarrassing that tinges of primitive sectarianism based on religion, tribe and ethnicity is resurrecting under the watch of NRM leaders. It is even more appalling that some them should be cited in or accused of inciting and fanning sectarianism to win votes.
The angry voices of disappointments coming from the NRM wing is understandable but not entirely surprising, considering the pseudo efforts they put into this election at the eleventh hour, when they been embroiled in prolonged intrigue. It appears that the NRM leaders in Rukungiri who have been consumed by unprincipled conflicts for some time now, only decided to temporary burry their hatchet against each other to hoodwink President Museveni that they were  genuine and serious, whereas not. Due to their unprincipled conflict, Rukungiri that was previous an unassailable NRM stronghold is steadily slipping away and even returning to religious and tribal sectarian politics. Without a doubt, the main driving factor for this trend is internal multiple internal weaknesses, although NRM leaders there, instead, prefer, to blame opposition ‘lies’ and ‘propaganda’.
If this trend isn’t addressed, Rukungiri could soon join Kasese district where similar petty and unprincipled conflict perpetuated by local NRM leaders was left to fester until when NRM was completely knocked out, and today has neither a single MP nor local councilors. In fact, Kasese as presently is, can be categorized as a politically hostile territory to NRM and President Museveni.
It is high time that NRM strategists shift more emphasis towards having leaders, and more specifically, MPs, that will infuse intellectual and analytical vibrancy, and conscious discipline in leadership, rather than merely boasting of numerical strength of MPs, who ‘sleep’ and ‘wake up’ only to cast votes in favour of positions they can neither articulate nor persuasively explain to the broader public. NRM’s current major dilemma is not having the requisite numbers, but rather qualitative leadership that is capable of engaging constructively on multiple fronts as it used to be between 1986 and 2006. It saddens to see that NRM MPs are unable to shape and sustainably drive a positive and progressive national narrative on any matter including those that often originate from them as has been demonstrated in the just concluded age limit debate, which although they won on vote, left sour tastes in many mouths.
The NRM has, or is leaving its mainstream leadership at the secretariat, cabinet, parliament, and other critical levers to be motivated and driven by immediate personal gains, petty materialism, and populism devoid of progressive philosophical or ideological content. Consequently, in many places and especially during elections, contests are seen more as avenues for personal self advancement or satisfying egos rather than taking principled positions on critical issues facing the respective communities or the country. It has become usual and even acceptable for ‘candidates’ to join elections with the sole hope that they will be ‘bought’ off with juicy appointments or direct soft cash, which is perpetuating a mercenary behaviour.
And as such, the NRM leaders and its fraternity must disabuse themselves of, and reject electoral bribery, violence and sectarianism because these, tarnish, the otherwise glorious record of the liberation movement.