NRM, MACHIAVELLI AND A VANQUISHED OPPOSITION ON KNEES
The political ground is beginning to shake again in preparation for 2026 general elections as inter and intra party elbowing come to the surface, possibly realignments and NRM needs to keep possible opposition resurgence within check. After 37 years under President Yoweri Museveni, NRM no longer enjoy much of the rose garden considering various internal malaise, impudence and public dissatisfaction over sluggish service delivery.
In 2021 ministers and NRM MPs especially in Busoga and Buganda made denouncing policy failures from the pulpit a specialty to distance them from public criticism and left Museveni to hang alone. They chorused how corruption failed health, education and agriculture, while taxes and highhandedness suffocated businesses, fisheries and industries which they falsely claimed perpetuated poverty.
Some NRM leaders like to shift blame to critics in the opposition, media, CSOs, and other shapeless entities who they claim frustrate NRM policies, and it rarely occurs to them that we have been here 37 odd years. NRM strategists should get worried that a party that stands for socio-economic transformation but with each election circle loses the urbanites, educated and moneyed elites stares peril.
The ongoing country tour by NUP, accompanied by some US embassy people, so far left to proceed without police disruptions, has denied it the sensational and wide publicity they had hoped for, and as well as the evidence of brutality and human rights violations to present for their case lodged at the ICC.
The 2021 election brought a humbling, if not humiliating defeat to FDC, Norbert Mao, and two retired UPDF Generals Mugisha Muntu and Henry Tumukunde but NRM still seems damned. Muntu and Tumukunde were Museveni’s protégés rushed through the ranks but whose ambitions turned them into stubborn turncoats. It has been soothingly entertaining to watch their politics flounder as they eat humble pies although they tried unsuccessfully to spread the blame game.
When dropped as army commander in 1998, Muntu previously loyal turned bitter, detached, and politically ambivalent and finally abandoned NRM for FDC where he grumbled throughout his stay as being undermined by the radical wingers.
Twice Muntu ran in futility to upstage Besigye as president but finally succeeded against Nathan Nandala Mafabi in an acrimonious contest that left FDC spilt down the middle and a prolonged internal brawl. In the subsequent contest Muntu was toppled by Patrick Oboi Amuriat favoured by Besigye forcing Muntu and his allies to bolt out to form Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) now seen more as a stillbirth.
Tumukunde, ever sneering man, who had billed himself a smooth operator crushed in the 2021 election and is silently sipping coffee. Many pundits saw Tumukunde more as an arrogant schemer seeking Museveni’s third beckon while others even thought he was a sly dubious double agent Museveni had sent to infiltrate and disorganize the opposition.
FDC that has rumbled and touted by the media as a strong party has now tumbled due to intrigue with just 30 MPs supplanted by NUP, a motley group. Meanwhile Besigye having sensed FDC’s decline kept safe distance from Amuriat as a presidential candidate who he left to shoulder own burden, and the current squabbles may bury its arrogance and belligerence. FDC has lost its fifteen-year status as Leader of Opposition in Parliament. At district Local governments FDC has only eight chairpersons, and evicted from Kasese, Rukungiri, Kampala, Teso, West Nile, and Acholi except Amuru district its former strongholds. And although now in a climate of desperate hope rewarded by one bad media headline after another, as a party afraid to admit its own mistakes FDC finds comfort pursuing imaginary traitors, scapegoats and conspiracies.
NRM’s defeat of political yellow dogs Ronald Okumu, Ogenga Latigo, Gerald Karuhanga, Paul Mwiru, Ezati Kasiano Wadri, Robert Centenary, Samuel Odonga Otto, Hassan Kaps Fungaro, and thwarting Alice Alaso and Miria Matembe from regaining parliamentary seats has more than compensated its loses elsewhere. Mao who suffered desertions when DP MPs abandoned the party for NUP, and is now minister in government doesn’t deserve further castigation, while NUP that’s cutting and pasting Besigye’s discredited bellicose tactics ought to be made to regret its follies.
While NRM has a comfortable majority of 359 MPs, the combined opposition is for the first time beyond the one hundred mark which should worry NRM, partly due to demographics, yet NRM hasn’t been playing smart legislative politics and public relations, relying mainly on sheer numbers and President Museveni’s weight. To manage better, the NRM caucus should improve internal methods so as to effectively deal with various filibusters and regain higher confidence among Ugandans.
Unfortunately, NRM that hoped to dismantle corruption, sectarian and elite politics now appears to rely on their potency to achieve its desired goals while failures inflate the strength of imaginary foes. NRM is no longer riding the revolutionary conveyor belt, but watching being fluffed along, and lacking the courage to disrupt it. Going by what NUP isn’t achieving when not unduly disrupted, it serves NRM and Uganda better when the underhand political methods are kept in the closest.