Opinion | Kampala – A City Of Two Tales By Arthur M. Katabalwa

Posted September 19, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in TDA Protocol ~ 4,071 views


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Ugandan Diaspora Special Correspondent — What a weird week we have had here in Uganda. Two main stories have held the nation to its grips. First there was the absolutely shocking death of General Aronda Nyakairima on a flight from Seoul Incheon airport to Dubai. The details are well known. If not where have you been? Then of course we have had the debacle at The Democratic Alliance TDA offices, The TDA is a loose coalition of opposition people who want to remove the government in the general election next year. The four main protagonists have been trying to work it out who will be the “flag bearer” (I hate that term) of TDA. The two main English daily newspapers have actually summed up the confusion by either one of them leading on one of the stories; The death of Aronda Nyakairima and the TDA.

The issues with TDA have been a while in the making. But the death of Aronda was shocking. And not only in the traditional sense of “shocking” because a death has happened, especially in the manner and location by which it happened; but by the general reaction of the public.

Aronda by all intents and purposes was a government insider. We have a problem here where everyone is certain that the top brass of the army are government supporters. They are not just sympathizers. So when Aronda passed away, with the degree of government opposition in certain circles of the public one thought that they was going to be a sort of “good riddance” reaction. But no! It is incredible that there has been a near universal approval of the man. Once I had a radio station try to dig up some “dirt” on him but the discussion died as soon as it started.

I was riding pillion the other day through the city and I engaged the boda boda man in a conversation about the death of Aronda and he was deeply saddened. He said: “Aronda ye tabadde na taboo” (Aronda had no problems). I said that but he was a member of the government to which he was quite disparaging but he seemed to lift and defend Aronda from that.

That brings me back to TDA. Isn’t it incredible that three out of the four main contenders of the TDA flag bearer are former (if you can say that with certainty) members of the ruling National Resistance (NRM) stalwarts? What does that say of the NRM? And what does it also say of the TDA. Well, many have contended, like Keith Kalyegira, that it is a creation of Mbabazi . This man is capable of anything I must say.  He must be illuminati (which has been another story in the papers…illuminati people in Uganda? Give me a break!) I wonder why the opposition can’t have someone they feel like can challenge the NRM other than Norbert Mao.

But this is why; and I have argued this before. On January 29th 1986, the then a youthful Yoweri Museveni made probably the most famous speech in Uganda’s political history on the steps of the parliament. He was being sworn in as the President. He alluded to the fact that on that day we were not only seeing a change of guard. We were seeing a fundamental change. He believed it. We believed it. The generals in the army believed. Do we believe in that now? But then probably the whole country believed in the work ethics of the NRM/NRA and they thought that the system would work.

Fast forward to today and there is a lot of discontent. In my view and in reading the way that boda boda man reacted to the death of Aronda Nyakairima and the fact that the TDA has three people who are trying to be its flag bearer from the NRM stock, that ideal espoused on those steps in 1986 has been lost. In my view the public may still believe in what the NRM stands for but ironically the NRMs most selling individual may as well be its main vote looser. So the NRM is incapable of looking beyond Museveni the NRM founder. The TDA is also proving that it is incapable of looking beyond two other formerNRM founders. What a curious situation!

Most political parties in Uganda as I have argued before have no coherent vision for Uganda other than the desire to remove Museveni from power. Unfortunately at the moment the TDA is also coming together for that sole purpose. And there are egos here to massage. Besigye has been beaten and tear gassed in part by a security apparatus that he was once part of and later on an apparatus that Mbabazi, with whom he is now sharing a platform also controlled. The sooner they come up with a strategy and position themselves as an alternative to the NRM the better. But I am yet to see that. And they need to learn that being in opposition doesn’t mean being a refusenik of all government programmes. One might say that the government should not also see the opposition as enemies of the government and Uganda.

As of now, the TDA is yet to pronounce itself as to who will be its flag bearer. And my hope is that when they do the national interest will be put at the forefront. As for the passing of Aronda, I will refer to the words said by the FDC Party President when he had an altercation with some hapless security man “My friend, be sure that you are safe when you finally retire from that uniform.”  According to the reaction I have seen in Kampala over the past week, I think Aronda was safe even when he was still in uniform. Are the ideals that Museveni so eloquently put forward on that January day in 1986 all clad in combats still safe?

Arthur M. Katabalwa is a special Correspondent for Ugandan Diaspora News based in Kampala.

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