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Uganda’s coalitions have been a travesty of democracy

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By  Ambassador Henry Mayega

Since the advent of the Yoweri Museveni administration in 1986, Uganda has had a host of coalitions formed; all of them cobbling together opposition political parties plus the disgruntled few from the NRM. After the promulgation of the 1995 constitution, citizens woke up to the ill-fated Paul Semogerere-led coalition that took part in the 1996 general elections (it brought together UPC and DP, originally arch political rivals).

The subsequent general elections of 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016 basically saw that political colossus with clay feet, Kiiza Besigye, failingly lead upstarts in those futile political experiments against the indomitable and safe-paired hands of Yoweri Museveni. Kiiza Besigye, a usually conspicuous common denominator in those futile schemes, and sybarite Bobi Wine are at it again; they have birthed the “united forces of change” without ably defining what it stands for; they are better known for their ill-intentioned defiance hooliganism through such outfits.

But those coalition machinations were not without a precedent; the 1962 UPC-KY coalition was, some have argued, an absolute necessity because the alternative would have delayed Uganda’s independence yet the most popular slogan then was “independence now.” But the enigmatic fall out of 1966, from which we are still reeling, diminished the sloganeering of the time. All those enumerated coalitional attempts were, hugely, a travesty of democracy, including the one of 1962 that yielded a particularly unstable governing cabal. Why?

First, all the post 1986 coalitions have always collapsed, like a card-house at a flick of a child’s finger, before elections majorly because they have all lacked minimum agendas and the requisite yarn to piece and stitch them together; many men and women with many thoughts and egos have had no one to forcefully whip them into line, otherwise theirs has been a wild goose chase.

The only exception was in 1962, but the UPC-KY cabal, mortifyingly, did not navigate the then political rapids. Likewise, faced with President Yoweri Museveni’s charm, appeal and formidability, all the coalitions of the period 1996 – 2016 have vanished from Uganda’s crowded political canvass faster than they came.

Secondly, by focusing on just the removal of Uganda’s best President whose score card speaks volumes before the eyes of the voter, it has been a nightmare for the opposition to recharge their political batteries at every other round of elections; their outbursts against the president have been devoid of any well-articulated and salable agendas.

That in itself has boomeranged on the entire opposition in the past and will do so in the years to come. They have had neither an appetizing brand, nor a coherent voice that echoes favorably in the ears of the voter and no assurance that they can secure us as President Museveni has done; this president has defeated over seventeen rebel groups and warded off hostile neighborhoods.

That fit is not achieved by cream-puffs like the myriad of our past leaders; it is won by valiant and valorous individuals like Yoweri Museveni.

Thirdly, Kiiza Besigye, Mugisha Muntu and their other collaborating fifth columnists cannot be democrats; they have been chocking and muddling up democracy for far too long, keeping the gullible in their tight-controlled stranglehold ; that group formed PAFO, the Reform Agenda, then the FDC and now the infamous “peoples’ government and ANT. Their impatience has neither permitted democracy to take root in any of those creations nor respected the leaderships left behind.

They have systematically stifled intra-party and inter-party democracy by not permitting a conducive environment for the growth and healthy permutation of structures of their own and others’ parties. In all former coalitions, Kiiza Besigye has devoured huge chunks from independence parties, the UPC and DP and he continues to cajole the gullible Erias Lukwagos and Bobi Wines of this world; by the time they wake up, the game will be over because he has mastered it.

Ugandans must have seen the theoretical, miserable and laughable comments from some Makerere University academics in support of those coalitions; those theorists should not be begrudged because they imagine these are lecture theatre matters.

Fourthly, those coalitions have been elitist, opportunistic, disruptive, and a disaster in waiting. They have had no ideology; they have been an aggregation of political incompetence, bringing together derelict and tumbledown groups that have, largely, neither grass-root support, nor national appeal and they get fused into the mire of a confused political cobweb; a repeat of the 1979 UNLF debacle that was born in Moshi, Tanzania after the ousting of Uganda’s most diabolic regime of Idi Amin which demised in Uganda the following year!

Ambassador Henry Mayega

Deputy Head of Mission, Uganda Embassy, Beijing, China

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