The Observer | It’s crunch time for the TDA Opposition — By Moses Khisa

Posted September 20, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Uncategorized ~ 3,422 views



The last-minute admission and nomination of John Patrick Amama Mbabazi (JPAM) as one of the contenders for opposition joint presidential candidate set off protests from especially avid supporters of veteran opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye.

The protests turned on a technicality: JPAM submitted nomination forms hours after the deadline. The secretariat of The Democratic Alliance (TDA) has been accused of bending rules to accommodate JPAM. Ordinarily, this is an important point of objection. But we are not dealing with a normal situation in Uganda today.

That said, I doubt that the issue is the technicality of late nomination. The real issue is that JPAM has emerged as a possible opposition frontrunner, and is likely to replace Dr Besigye, whose ardent followers consider the opposition presidential candidate.

Dr Besigye has carried the cause of opposing the Museveni dictatorship in a manner that no other individual might ever do. His selfless determination to stand up and pay the heavy price of resisting a deeply-entrenched authoritarian regime has earned Besigye unmatched moral high ground. But for someone who has spiritedly fought for a genuinely democratic Uganda, for freedom and human rights for all, the sentiments and attitudes of a section of his supporters betray his cause.

When it emerged last weekend that JPAM could be taking the lead in the circles of TDA as the favoured joint candidate, Besigye’s overzealous supporters took to social media to pursue a campaign of blackmail, ridicule, and falsehoods. Their targets for blackmail included Bishop Zac Niringiye, the head of the TDA secretariat, and Mr Godber Tumushabe.

Apparently, these two and others at TDA are allegedly only after money and that the bending of rules to accommodate JPAM was done in exchange for money! Having been involved in some of the TDA discussions and activities, I find these blackmail charges against Bishop Zac and Godber rather cheap and hollow.

Lest we forget, not too long ago, some of these fellows opted for a campaign of smear instead of issues when Gen Mugisha Muntu and Nathan Nandala-Mafabi competed to succeed Dr Besigye as president of the Forum for Democratic Change.

They labelled Muntu a ‘mole.’ And some still look at him as someone whose mission is not to lead FDC but to kill it. But then, in rather dramatic fashion, the head of that guild and the smear campaign against Muntu at the time, Major Rubaramira Ruranga, decamped to State House to work with General Museveni!

None of them, as far I know, ever came out to explain to the world how the individual who was leading them in savaging Muntu ended up at the State House dining table.

Unfortunately, as Andrew Mwenda has rightly put it, some of these people are not just undemocratic; they are fundamentally antidemocratic. They want to patent the right to genuine opposition and ring-fence opposition leadership against Museveni.

Dr Besigye being a statesman that he is, and having the highest respect of many of us Ugandans, would do the nation a great service if he made some of his overzealous supporters appreciate one thing: that the struggle against Museveni’s misrule is neither a personal project nor an individual agenda. Rather, it is a collective cause for which every individual’s contribution counts.

Many of us opposed to the Museveni dictatorship do not love his former prime minister Amama Mbabazi, an architect of many wrongs against the country and those opposed to the system. We don’t have to love him, nor should we look at him as a saviour; he is not. But he brings something to the forces arraigned against perpetuating Museveni’s dynastic rule. To shun him is precisely what Museveni and his courtiers want.

It is understandable why many have reservations about JPAM leading the opposition. For one, he has not done himself much favour by insisting that he is still in NRM when clearly he is not. Worse, he has not come out strongly to denounce the rot that he contributed to and the decadence that festered under his watch as a leading member of the regime. But these are among the issues on which JPAM should be put to task.

If JPAM must lead the opposition, he must be subjected to a thorough scrutiny. It is not as though we desperately need another Museveni-like messiah to ostensibly free us from Amin and Obote dictatorships.

We need a team-leader to bring together a cross-section of Ugandans to chart a new course for the country, to reform a totally-corrupted and broken political system, and redirect the country. This must be a collective effort with a minimum agenda, under a fixed timeframe.

Dr Besigye and Ndugu Mbabazi, as well as other eminent Ugandans, have critical roles to play; it’s imperative that they work together and pull in the same direction.

The task at hand is not for Dr Besigye or JPAM to singlehandedly execute. None of them can succeed in the context of competing against the entire state machinery. What we need is a team that can rally all forces to bring a long-awaited end to an entrenched military regime.

 The author is a PhD candidate and teaching assistant at the department of Political Science, Northwestern University, USA.

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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