By Joshua Kingdom
We can by now count on our finger tips the months left before we go for national polls_ at least that is what the constitution says. And while there is a considerable calm for an otherwise chaotic season, recent developments show that we will likely hold elections come January. These include the pronouncement by the Electoral Commission on the new mode of campaigns early in the week as well as the joint press conference held between Bobi Wine’s People Power together with Dr. Besigye’s FDC.
For over four times now, there have been legally acceptable attempts at changing the possessor of the mantle of presidential power with very little success. Panelists have rightly said that this has a bearing on the weight of incumbency. While it is not known how the next race will play out chances are high this factor will still come in.
The incumbent has been big on tools such as police brutality, dishing money and to many of these the opposition has had responses here and there, an example is setting up demonstrations. In that regard however, less attention has been given to probably the most ruthless tool which for me is propaganda. Understandably, this feature is one whose impact comes indirectly thus hard to notice yet at the same time has far reaching consequences. Its fangs are manipulative and have the rare capability of infiltrating the receivers’ minds right to the bottom line. The result is blindfolding them from the reality.
The president has mastered this and as such he has employed all sorts of propagandists; from motherly and fatherly figures, to masters of blasphemy and blackmail, from fine intellectuals armed with selective statistics, sarcasm, and humor to ghetto fellows and religious preachers. Sometimes it is as small as a remark at the end of an RDC speech which explains how a given project is inseparable from the NRM government. Each of these is uniquely structured to target a different audience. They will use every opportunity, and they will do it swiftly and smartly.
As the claims come in little but consistent packages, the overarching effect is an entrenched portrayal of a life president. Many if not majority of Ugandans as a result can’t imagine a Uganda without the incumbent. It is a sad but important admission for those eyeing state house if they are to start off in the right direction. Consider the following arguments, I suggest that 70 per cent of Ugandans have come across at least two of them; one is that the president is a ‘god’ of sorts; two is that Uganda is a nation that can only be led by a military man. Others include the fact that no one in the opposition is as wise as the NRM chairperson as well as the notion that if there was to be a relinquishment of power as it stands, we would degenerate into a war zone.
I talked of people interacting with these ideals but for a country where only few individuals attain higher education later on quality higher education, coming across the same is as good as subscription to them. In addition, few people have time to decipher the propaganda talked of as they are busy struggling to find ways of surviving the following day.
The opposition on the other hand either because of excitement for first time runners, or ignorance driven egos tends to concentrate on one aspect i.e that the president is evil. While this is appealing to some people, it is certainly not for majority of the populace. You still have people for instance who think that a call for accountability is but disrespect for the elders. As an interested party, whomever it concerns ought to reason with everyone at their level of understanding.
The Writer is a student of Law at Makerere University