Editorial | Ugandan Diaspora News | April 2016 | The Petition That Was and The Future of Defiance Politics!

Posted April 13, 2016 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Editorial ~ 3,701 views


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Fellow Ugandans,

Greetings from Boston. The news of a tumultuous election petition hearing in which the former Presidential candidate Amama Mbabazi’s petition filed to annul the results of Feb 18th got dismissed and is now part of the public records that have entered our history books.

This particular petition, unlike the previous ones, enjoyed live media coverage and ended with a unanimous decision from all nine justices of the Supreme Court, upholding the election outcome in favor of the incumbent and therefore handing him a new five-year term. This decision, in my view, was a travesty of justice for an election that many found dogged by intimidation, voter bribery, biased State media and many other irregularities.

My learned friends celebrated a big win but I was also quick to remember the affidavit given on camera the day I interviewed retired Maj. Gen. Benon Biraaro, a former Presidential candidate, who two days after the elections, when I asked if he accepted his defeat and the election outcome answered that, true, he lost, but in a system that saw ballot stuffing and state agents involved in paying voters contrary to the electoral laws of Uganda. See link for his take on the elections.

I was among those who thought the petition would be a foregone conclusion and that the Supreme Court would uphold the Feb 18th election result though the lack of dissenting judges equally surprised me.  I support Justice Kanyeihamba’s view that the justices could have looked at the other pieces of evidence and not just those adduced before the court. Public opinion was also quick to criticize the unanimity of the justices in their ruling in as much as the petitioner seemed ill prepared given the timelines presented. Of course the lawyers for all the respondents did well to defend their clients and had sworn affidavits from senior members government. But what we seemed to forget was how about the runner-up in this election that was placed under house arrest from the day the vote counting started and some of his agents that were arrested as they brought documented evidence of election malpractices at witnessed at various tally centers

It’s obvious in a republic like ours, he who enjoys the instruments of power determines justice. The lack of an environment that separates powers from the different arms of government and the appointing authority has greatly diminished the rule of law and compromised democracy in the country. From a monetized electoral process that saw one party outspend the others by about 27 billion shillings the issue of campaign finances will need to be addressed before the next election.

More recently a request for a supplementary budget of over 70 billion shilling to Statehouse by the comptroller was perhaps the proof we needed to see that the State and the NRM party are one and the same. The accounting officer while appearing before MPs told the Parliamentary committee that they had used up all the budgetary allocations during the elections to cover the four rallies held daily including not forgetting the Presidential cash donations.

What has bothered me about this modus operandi is the cash handouts that stretched beyond our borders when the President donated about $200,000 dollars to a school in Rwanda even as children had to study under trees in his own backyard. How does the regime begin to even convince the masses that they have our interests at heart when all we have seen are images of the President giving out large cash donations of the tax payer monies to his party faithfuls or to buy him political support. How does Statehouse even account for this type of transactions or ensure that it reaches the intended beneficiaries.

President Museveni’s legacy as an elder statesman will suffer greatly unless of course he uses this period to addresses some major concerns, such as reforming the electoral commission and takes steps to ensure the fair election of the leader that will hold office after him. After what electoral observers described as a marred electoral process , something I also witnessed first hand as my immediate family members were among those disenfranchised–denied the right to vote, an overhaul of the electoral commission is long overdue. After the clashes that followed the Kenyan violence of 2007 they set up a new independent electoral and boundary commission and that reduced the influence of the President in single handed appointing commissioners to supervise an election in which he was also a candidate.

With a still defiant opposition, the only way to end this impasse is to have a unity government–one that allows the opposition a seat at the table, since there is a general belief that the NRM party and its State functionaries denied other political parties a chance to compete in a free and fair environment.

To sum up the petition — ‘This cartoon couldn’t have said it better’


The other story dominating the election cycle has been the re-surfacing of Christopher Aine four months after he went missing. Speculation among some pundits has been rife as to whether he was a state mole on a spying mission or a genuine individual whose freedoms were indeed violated by the state.  I have spoken to one seasoned journalists who claim that Mbabazi was behind this disappearance, something I personally find difficult to believe, especially given Aine’s body language beside the President’s brother and comments following the interview with NTV (see link below). For a man who had a 20 million shilling bounty on his head, the police is yet to arrest or bring him in for questioning, unless, of course, I am missing something, but I think that somewhere, somehow, Ugandans have been taken for a ride,—police-/-/688334/3155092/-/15cqlao/-/index.htmlride.

On the health front the breakdown of the only cancer machine in the country, meant to serve nearly 40 million Ugandans, at Mulago Hospital and the debate that ensued has further exposed the poor state of affairs in the health sector especially and the dire state of our national referral hospital. Today just like it was with HIV-AIDS almost every Ugandan family has lost a loved one to cancer. However even attempts to address this mismanaged healthcare system have seen some of those working for the government openly clash on procedure to end the crisis.–Mulago-boss-clash-over-hospital-decay/-/688334/3155062/-/a9u8i0z/-/index.html

There have been calls on social media to embark on a campaign to fund-raise for this equipment. How a nation of almost 40 million people can have just a single radiotherapy machine is a story for another day. Unless we embark on building institutions that encourage accountability at all levels we might not see much change after the rehabilitation of this main national referral hospital. It all starts with Uganda building strong institutions that will end the endemic corruption and nepotism that now permeates all facets of our government.

Equally disturbing is the type and quality of opposition we see today. It is incumbent that we as Ugandans demand leadership that has the will to fight for every Uganda.  Some of today’s biggest noisemakers have been the creation of police due to their many running battles with the law enforcement agencies.  It would be interesting to know what if any were some of the achievements or pieces of legislation some of these opposition candidates passed during their tenure in parliament.  It is said that change is good, but going from what to what? We need to revisit this question and evaluate the so-called opposition legislators we have today in order to avoid those who see this as a new opportunity to collect hefty allowances. Whatever happened to the elites that formed part of the seasoned political debates of the late 1960s.

In my analysis we had three types of voters– those who said that they would vote the old man with the hat because they did not see a formidable opposition. And then there were those who voted the opposition because they were simply tired of more of the same. And of course don’t forget those who never voted because to them there lacked a credible candidate or simply because they were rigged out by the new registration requirements that prevented them from participating in the process. As we head for 2021 the opposition needs to go back to the drawing board, especially since their failure to unite during the elections did not help their chances.

Let the Washington Post editorial be the latest reminder to the regime that the international community is now watching Uganda quite closely. Arresting politicians under the guise of preventive arrests or public management order laws is also getting supporters of those who feel let down by this political process agitated.  It is incumbent that reforms are instituted sooner rather than later to allow for a free and fair political dispensation. Otherwise it will be sad to see us go the Qaddafi way where his collapse meant that Libya was buried with him.

Finally the American Presidential race has now witnessed some of the longest primaries in decades. On the Republican side we have Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. John Kasich still at it for the presumptive nominee. It is now clear that the Republican establishment is pushing for a contested convention in Ohio. On the Democratic side Sen.Hillary Clinton is facing the ghosts of 2008 all over again, this time in form of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who will not go away without a fight. Hillary has been suffering from trust issues that have dogged her political career, whereas others point to the politics of entitlement, since the Clintons were in the White House for 8 years. The democrat socialist has has not slowed down since the super Tuesday fever ended. Clinton still has enough super delegates to cross the finishing line however the two big races will be New York and California, two of the most populous states, thus having a large number of delegates.

Hillary sacrificed Wisconsin to concentrate on New York where she and her support base have been “feeling the Bern” lately. But to some of us in support Bernie Sanders his message of repealing student loans and increasing the minimum wage are key issues that some feel we need to address. Obama promised to tax the wealthy, and although this did not happen, he brought us the Affordable Care Act — “Obamacare”. So we wait as we draw closer to what will be a very interesting election in November.

Some food for thought — “There’s a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people,” — William Adama

God bless.
— Ronnie Mayanja
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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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