By Ofwono Opondo
With the surrender of Mugisha Muntu to the Kizza Besigye crusade, it is fair to wonder what the Forum for Democratic (FDC) still stands for especially against the backdrop of the “Policy Agenda for Uganda’s Leap Forward,” that Muntu launched in March, 2015. Since Besigye left his freewheeling days as NPC travelling on the public wagon, he has become a permanent fixture in Uganda’s opposition politics, and a committed rebel.
In that role, Besigye has unsuccessfully been trying to sow fear and despair rather than hard work and hope among the unsuspecting public in the futile hope he could get elected as president of Uganda.
Besigye continues to say that we should build institutions, political parties inclusive in which there is regular change of leadership. But, what does that say of a man who espouses the need to create change in leadership, then doesn’t want to leave the stage or perhaps bidding time for his wife to replace him! Besigye and the rise of anarchy could be the price we are paying for living in a democracy.
FDC has always claimed the moral high ground of Uganda’s recent politics although that should be laughable, now that it is a refuge for sowing hate. With Besigye, FDC is running towards a wall or indeed the wall is getting nearer to it now. If FDC refuses to update its democratic credentials it could reach its end sooner. Innovation, is a cliché across every trade, yet FDC seems to believe that Besigye can continue using his four failed attempts as if Uganda hasn’t changed.
Even after Museveni has rebuilt the state, and started getting positive returns, Besigye gets misty-eyed about achievements pretending to be the one deeply caring about the poor, the vulnerable and underdogs. He claims that NRM is rotten.
It is Besigye who has fretted about internal change, giving room and social justice, portraying Museveni as seeking life leadership with privileges, and heartless to the point of sadism. But, when a party’s presidential candidate clings to power than perhaps necessary, it’s more than a bad look, it’s a sign that something has gone fundamentally wrong.
If NRM looks like it’s having a tough time, FDC’s troubles is even more tectonic because, it is not one party, rather, it is at least two irreconcilable factions running confused. The NRM is already burying its divisions over elections to ensure stable and effective government, with eyes firmly on the next general election. FDC is in a free fall with arguments over the legality of elections past while Muntu supposedly its real elected leader has been swatted away like a fly.
We now know that Besigye has clipped Muntu’s wings as he seeks to ensure there is no challenge in 2021, with prospects he will be returned to the leadership, with a free hand to de-select those ‘rebels’ who may want to cause him headache. All of this FDC infighting has to be seen against Uganda’s enormous progress, and certainly arguing among themselves and present no coherent alternative to NRM.
There is little prospect of FDC shaping the debate around Uganda’s economic and political future or impact in the region or continent, and in so doing, FDC is failing those who oppose NRM. For Besigye, the purity of opposition beats the necessary compromises and reality of government because after all, why stand for something when you can simply be against it. Besigye doesn’t present an alternative and if he continues in leadership, the opposition will lose its ideal brand name and many may conclude that the patient is ready for the mortuary.
For his inner-circle, the priority is not policies but spreading paranoia, not challenging the government but to frame whoever disagrees with their febrile line as conspiracy wreckers inside their party.
During footages of Besigye’s walkabouts, he wants to appear ‘a man of the people’, although he comes across more a schoolboy who suddenly discovers an interest in tidying his room rather than doing his homework. The trouble is, this teenager is supposed to be leading a responsible opposition.
He is probably supposed to be holding NRM government to account over the economy, education, health services, housing, tax avoidance, and possibly even electoral fraud. He is supposed to be making a convincing case to voters for a calm environment as tool to attract especially foreign investments in order to create jobs, but he has dismally failed.
Besigye might be belligerent, but since when has a role model for good leadership been so angry even for no apparent reason, which may as well be his next campaign slogan. One reason for Besigye to seek civility should be to protect the vulnerable against the volatility in investment climate. His anarchy is a scam and thuggish, and the victims will be the poor, who he claims to represent. Most Ugandans support stability, unfortunately Besigye doesn’t see his line as futile.
I suggest to Besigye that what voters really want, more than anything is clear, coherent policies on issues that really matter and the veneer of competence and civility. That would be a new kind of politics, although the black shark is still out.