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Is Kiiza Besigye re-imposing his stranglehold on the opposition?

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Is Kiiza Besigye re-imposing his stranglehold on the opposition?
Ambassador Henry Mayega

It is the most tantalizing supposition that Kiiza Besigye is re-imposing his stranglehold on Uganda’s unsuspecting and hugely fractious opposition! In his usual futile antics, Besigye, in the company of sheepish Elias Lukwago and a host of others recently announced the formation of a pressure group tagged “peoples’ front for transition.” In Besigye’s words, the PFT is purposed to “expand the frontier in their struggle to oust Museveni,” who has been in power for over three decades.

The reference to ousting the President is the most hilarious and preposterous postulation ever from that tired political colossus with clay feet; who bragged, while announcing his PFT that he was “an expert” in ousting Museveni! For a man who has lost a string of elections to indomitable Yoweri Museveni since 2001, there is no credence in his wild and outlandish claims meant to soothe the mental frames of his shrinking number of his admirers.

In order to bring the Ugandan voter and his westerly backers to speed, let’s interrogate Besigye’s past string of personally created and still-birthed-coalitions whose language was always laced with politically charged jargon and empty threats: Kiiza Besigye was politically created in 2000 under a short tree at the Makerere University’s Guest House by UPC stalwarts, namely Sam Odaka, Adonia Tiberondwa, Edward Kakonge and a couple of other opposition gurus in order to insulate him against being court marshalled by his then employer, the military, over some misdemeanours; that paved way for the formation of the infamous subsequent coalitions of 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016.

The hallmark of all those still-birthed coalitions was that another soldier, like Colonel Besigye, would ably tilt the power balance away from Uganda’s indomitable leader, Yoweri Museveni; that has never come to pass in all those futile attempts, the most plausible reason being: the enduring trust majority Ugandans have in this President given his indisputable and indubitable security credentials Ugandans needed so badly since the post-independence debacles that were pulling the country apart and shredding it into pieces; citizens could not wait for many individuals with many minds to offer unworkable solutions.

Relatedly, President Yoweri Museveni is seen by the Ugandan voter as the leader who healed our shame that for so long stemmed from the insecurities of the period between the 1960s – 1980s; he and his compatriots restored our country into the international files of honour. And so, the Besigyes of this world who spend their indispensable time trying to aggregate and cobble weak groups together, do so purposely to remain politically relevant even when it is clearly written everywhere that they are spent zillions.

Poignantly, there is no one who has enjoyed Uganda’s existing and wider democratic latitude, courtesy of Yoweri Museveni, in the last thirty or so years than Kiiza Besigye; he has, together with others in an act of intellectual dishonesty, formed and abandoned more parties than any other Ugandan; he was part of the people who formed the UPM, NRM, PAFO, Reform Agenda, FDC and now, PFT! That in a sense smacks of a general weakness in his consistency; he is not a stickler to group-think thereby rubbing his admirers the wrong side; since 2001, he has, though stuck in the same rut for long, been trying to become president to no avail. His near success has only come in form of his ability to permanently keep a firm and debilitating stranglehold on the incessantly recessing opposition. To re-event himself and steer clear of the 2021 worst ever FDC electoral performance since its creation, he recently cobbled together the PFT which is purposed to snatch NUP’s newly acquired political space recently pilfered from FDC; note that his objective is not to “oust” Uganda’s finest President, Yoweri Museveni, because he knows he has no capacity of doing so.

The use of the word “oust” is in utmost bad taste because it speaks to Besigye’s lack of democratic credentials! Ideally the term subsumes the use of force/defiance to acquire power using extra-constitutional means. But it is also understandable; after losing a string of elections, Besigye’s political wounds run so deep. He has previously attracted the attention of his usual westerly praise singers as well as elements within the recalcitrant opposition during post-election violent riots; political gymnastics meant to firmly grip a fraction of his original support.

Interestingly, maintaining a stranglehold on that unsuspecting fraction ensures that the donor money taps remain open in the foreseeable future for Besigye and his ilk most especially as we draw towards elections, the trajectory of his usual deportment is clear: start the infamous “defiance” campaign early, attract sympathy from donors and local admirers, stay in the news headlines and eventually upstage the Kyagulanyis of this world before 2026.

Elsewhere, the misplaced song by Besigye and his ilk regarding President Yoweri Museveni’s prolonged stay at the helm of power was completely lost long ago; the former has been a domineering and subjugating constant in the opposition since 2001 to-date! And that bad record of creating and abandoning parties or pressure groups as and when they no longer serve his ego excites no serious Ugandan voters. The PFT, the latest of his outfits, will not last beyond 2026 because it has not appealed to a sizable chunk of the recessing opposition let alone any serious personality on Uganda’s crowded political canvass.

 

Amb. Henry Mayega

Deputy Head of Mission

Uganda Embassy

Abu Dhabi, UAE