Opinion | Charles Onyango Obbo | Wishing Museveni bad luck and misfortune will not end his rule

Posted March 5, 2014 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Opinion ~ 3,791 views


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After President Yoweri Museveni signed the anti-gays Bill, a couple of very interesting things have happened. At home, some of his previously outspoken critics have supported him. Internationally, some of his rather uncritical Western supporters have turned critics, and even symbolically suspended some aid.

In the middle, there are the cynics who are not impressed. Museveni, they say, has done worse things than sign an anti-gays law; fiddled elections, jailed critics and rivals (some of whom were tortured), had others like Kizza Besigye beaten savagely, and so forth. People have been killed in dungeons that were bizarrely called “safe houses”.

In the rebellion in the north and northeast, anything up to 300,000 were killed, and more than 1.4 million internally displaced into miserable camps. None of these attracted aid cuts from the countries that are cutting it back over gay rights, they say dismissively.

There is a forth tendency in all this that has caught my attention. These are the people who say that Museveni’s homophobic actions have annoyed his donor friends so much, they are now willing to do something to get him out of power. These same people are behind the gossip – and satirical spins – online that there are gays in State House, and the law is hypocritical.

It is difficult to take stuff like that seriously, but it represents a big problem in the broader democracy movement in Uganda. There are simply too many critics of Museveni who think that wishing him bad luck will force him out of power.

This belief in bad luck has led many people to seize on the smallest things and to use them to predict regime collapse. Thus when MPs and leaders in the ruling NRM criticise the President, immediately they portray it as a rule-ending for Museveni. When the Shilling dramatically loses ground against the dollar and traders begin protesting, again we hear predictions about Museveni’s days being numbered.

When Somalia al-Shabaab militants kill UPDF soldiers, “it is the end of Museveni”, we are told. US President Barack Obama snubs Uganda during an African tour? Museveni won’t last long, goes the analysis.

Why does this happen? First, it is for the same reason people resort to superstition and irrationally high doses of religion in times of personal crisis, when they cannot come up with solutions. The belief in the supernatural makes hope and surprises delivered by higher beings possible.
Secondly, it is desperation. It is the last grasp at something.

I guess the one thing someone can say for this is that it is a refusal to give up.

Thirdly, this looking to someone else to do the hard work that will bring political change or expand democratic space is a form of cowardice. I remember the years when we were in court every other week over stories in The Monitor that had displeased the government.

I would get 100 messages of support and solidarity, but when I needed someone to stand surety in court, only two of them would have the courage to show up. Yet, standing surety for someone is a low-risk activity.

All these things come from an uncomfortable reality: Uganda is a country where it is usually a few who stick their necks out and take risks. Museveni and a band of just about 30 men launched their guerrilla war in early 1981. Their ranks grew as people fled persecution by Obote II – and rose dramatically as the prospect of victory grew better after the July 1985 coup.

Former Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) opposition chief Dr Besigye and a small group of diehards stood up to the Museveni regime and took 90 per cent of the blows.

Otherwise, most of the activity around making Uganda a fairer, just, more law-abiding nation seems to be done through reading signs of trouble for Museveni.

It is better than doing nothing, yes, but it is also very disempowering because it makes the point that the responsibility for bringing change is in someone’s hands. And it gets worse, because the surest way to lose a game against the opposing team, the surest way to get beaten by an incumbent, is to underestimate them or to think that what you hope is their weakness is their weakness in reality.

The irony of all this is that there is a living example of how to change things and get your way in Uganda – the man Museveni himself. Those inside and outside the NRM who want change, should watch and learn from his methods. Praying for misfortune to bring him down won’t do it.

Source – Daily Monitor

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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