Opinion | Why We Can’t Have a Presidential Contest of Policies or Programs By Moses Khisa

Posted November 15, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Opinion ~ 2,937 views



An often-repeated lie is that Gen Museveni is a strong ‘policy presidential’ candidate. That he wins because he presents the best policy packages while his opponents, principally Dr Kizza Besigye, lack a persuasive policy alternative. This is a most disingenuous argument propagated by sections of the Ugandan elite ensconced in the Museveni establishment.

Presidential elections or rather, selections, in Uganda under the reign of Museveni have never been a contest of ideas and a battle over superior policies. Museveni participates in elections to fulfill a ritual. He does not contest on the same campaign plane and platform as other candidates.

With his savior-like attitude, General Museveni does not see himself as subject to the same rules of the game and minimum decorum expected of individuals aspiring to the highest office in the land.

Rather, belittling and denigrating his opponents, as he did last week at the launch of his manifesto, is part of expressing indignation against the idea that other Ugandans want to unseat him. But who ever imagined that General Museveni would, of all people, ridicule Amama Mbabazi? It was Mbabazi, remember, who chastised Col Besigye for jumping the queue!

Many Ugandans were made to believe that Besigye was implacably opposed to Museveni in personal feud. That Mbabazi, a man who for decades displayed incomparable loyalty and unwavering service to the master, finds himself ostracized shows that Museveni sees the presidency as his exclusive job to which no one can aspire as long as he still wants it.

Having held power for three decades, Museveni now sees himself as infallible, or a ‘deputy’ to God. Only he knows the problems of the country.

Whoever contradicts him is necessarily telling lies. His word is supposed to be sacrosanct. He sees as enemies those who argue that he is leading the country astray and that there is urgent need for change. His opponents are not legitimate competitors; so, they must be crashed.

At the manifesto launch, General Museveni took to his usual self-glorification. He chided his opponents as unqualified to lead the country, taking a swipe at the other leading presidential candidates, each in turn. While he charges at his opponent for being liars, his stock of falsehoods seems not to diminish.

For example, apparently only he has the capacity to arrest the runaway official corruption that most defines his 30-year rule. Yet we know that corruption is the way his government works, and not fails.

Without using corrupt practices to dispense patronage and accumulate ill-gotten wealth that is partly used to buy opponents and rent support, Museveni can’t stay on. So, the sure way to kick himself out of power is to aggressively tackle corruption.

The other falsehood is that having laid the foundation, he is now going to lead the country to middle-income status through expanding infrastructure, pursuing industrialization, and advancing wealth creation. Aside from these being rather hollow pronouncements, they are the same things the president has paraded in previous elections. Nothing new.

So, here is an incumbent candidate who believes his right to continue being in State House is not open to contest except as a ritual to please the so-called international community, his benefactors, and accord chance to the poor man and woman to be paid a thousand shillings to attend a political rally, perhaps the same to turn out and cast a ballot.

If General Museveni had superior ideas for governing the country, and if he is strong on policies that can take the country forward, why not challenge his opponents to a public debate instead of making snide comments unchallenged? He can’t debate with his opponents precisely because he does not see them as such.

But while it might be perfectly understandable that an authoritarian ruler, sloshed with personalized exercise of power, can engage in deceptive politics, it’s shocking that many sensible Ugandans continue to believe the lie that we are having an open contest for who should be our president.

As a country, it seems we are all drowning in the troubled waters wrought by a despicable system of rule. So, you find Besigye’s followers spiritedly attacking Mbabazi’s and the latter’s senselessly firing back. All this is, rather incredibly, done in the name of showing who has the best chance of defeating General Museveni come February 2016! This is an illusion.

Meanwhile, Mbabazi wants us to Go Forward, but only he knows what that means. Besigye is undertaking a campaign of defiance, we are told; but defying what and to achieve what? Not many Ugandans yearning for change seem to be aware.

As I argued here last week, the only way opposition forces can upstage Museveni is through exceptionally superior organization that will not only counter the rigging machinery but also force him to realize that he does not own our country. Short of that, we are only being naïve to think that there will be an election determined on superior policies and the size of campaign crowds.

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

Source — The Observer

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.

One Comment


    Great weighing in.

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