Uganda is heading to presidential elections in March. The country seems to have hardly matured as its politicians are pre-occupied with their own interest and not that of the country and its people. Whether President Museveni retains power next year or the opposition unseats him, there is no hope that this state of affairs will change for the better.
There is currently dire need for Ugandan politicians to treat our country as a nation, and not just a huge chunk of arable or pastoral land whose ownership is always up for grabs every five years. Notwithstanding the fact that Uganda has since independence had over six general elections, none of these has ever culminated into a peaceful transition of power. Ironically, the closest we have come to a peaceful change of governments was through a ‘peaceful’ coup d’état, (where a sitting president was orally asked out of the presidency). Otherwise, change of power is never different from land grabbing.
For the record, a nation is a large aggregate of people united by common descent, history, culture or language, inhabiting a particular country or territory. In this respect, the preamble of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda reiterates that we are a people united by our history which is characterized by political and constitutional instability. I.e. we are a nation.
That said, I have for the better part of this year observed the politics of this country unfold ahead of 2016 general elections, but I am at pains to say that all players treat Uganda as an estate whose ownership is contentious. Right from the analysts on both social and mass media, through the opposition politicians, to the ruling party, every one of them refers to Uganda with no sight of what is to happen beyond April 2016.
The opposition through The Democratic Alliance (TDA) seems to have all its efforts geared towards dislodging President Museveni come March 2016, with no empirical plan of where they will take the country in the event it lands in their hands. Such a myopic syndrome was the very reason the Inter-Party Co-operation (IPC) of 2011 seems to have been deleted from the history of Uganda’s Multi-party politics. The ruling government is equally oblique, given their silence on progressive issues like Vision 2040, National Development Plan 2, and other developmental issues which will only appear in campaign manifestos that are ultimately never implemented.
I recently set out to sit in the gallery at parliament to observe the plenary discussion of the NGO Bill 2015 which I have keenly followed, given its implications not only on my livelihood but also on my modest contribution towards nation building. To my surprise and disappointment, the honorable members seemed to express far less honor than they always exude to the general public. I witnessed these noble men and women approve acquisition of loans, infrastructure development projects and creation of new districts without internalizing the implications of such approval. Paradoxically, they only discussed 10 out of 51 clauses of the NGO Bill leaving the rest till further notice.
Save for a few members of the opposition, who occasionally stood on a ‘Point of Order’, there was utterly no one to direct the house as everyone was impatiently waiting to vote in an approval of new districts, and leave the house immediately. No wonder, some grumbling MPs only stood up to lament over their villages not being made districts as well. Shame on you all! Given the category of people (pastors, musicians, athletes and traditional healers) who are expressing interest for both parliament and the presidency, I cannot help but keep my fingers crossed.
It goes without saying that after 53 years of independence, Uganda as a nation may not be ‘an adult’, but it is equally not ‘a baby’ anymore. Let us act our age by expressing maturity in politics. As a country, the subsistence of problems such as maternal deaths, youth unemployment, poverty, disease, malnutrition and CORRUPTION, should be steering the political discourse now that we have only five months (approximately 150 days) to elections.
Issues such as oil and gas and other minerals whose production is going to be the centre piece of our next five years’ economic development, should be elaborately discussed with government; layout its policies and the opposition its alternative policies. It is therefore my humble appeal that anyone with an appropriate platform should call this chaos to order and get our politics back on track.
* James Muhindo, a lawyer, works as Project Officer at Global Rights Alert [email protected]
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