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NUP’s big promises, bad outcomes

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By Amb. Henry Mayega

When NUP was grabbed from Moses Kibalama before the 2021 general elections, its oligarchs talked big promises which ideally bordered on utopia and phantom imagination. Their stance has instead bred bad outcomes. They, like Kiiza Besigye before them, prioritized “removing the 35-year long dictatorship, fixing democracy, …and uniting the country” etc! Two and a half years in, those political nymphs’ bravado, as they sequester in their Bwaise hermitage, has been completely deflated by a long list of near maturing challenges and overgrown doubts from their own rank and file whether they are equal to the task they spoke of.

Early last month, the NUP delegates conference which was largely shunned by its elected leaders – MPS, decreed that holders of public offices should be time – limited to two terms save for their upstart alpha, Bobi Wine. NUP leaders have for long been feuding internally over scores of things leading to resignations and outright withdrawal of support by their crème de la creme.

That civil war resulted from a host of intractable headaches including the following: the transactional candidates’ selection for the 2023 general elections that excluded some who eventually got estranged, a general lack of harmonization of intraparty positions, foul-playing, poor coordination, gross indiscipline as well as primitive and fanatical tribalism – for instance, a one Alex Bahengana was allegedly beaten by Sauda Madada because he descended from a tribe in western Uganda.

The decision to impose a two-term limit, discriminative, draconian and unconstitutional at the national level as it is, vexed many in NUP; one of them is Mathias Mpuuga who had the audacity to oppose it; he gaffed though, thus, “NUP members who imposed the term limits were reflecting on President Museveni’s extended stay in power and yet he has not transformed the country…so longevity in politics leads someone to retard both in politics and personal abilities!” Well, all around the purblind Mpuga there are unblurred and simple signs of transformation since the advent of the Yoweri Museveni administration in 1986.

Let me dwell exclusively on Parliament where he is publicly employed; apart from Mpuga’s transformation at personal level, the august house is being expanded in physical terms to offer bigger sitting capacity for MPs and office space for their staffers; it, currently, has a humongous car-parking area than ever before.

Relatedly, nobody can contest, apart from the purblind, the Yoweri Museveni administration’s affirmative action that saw for the very first time in the history of Uganda pronounced representation in parliament of the hitherto marginalized segments of Ugandans; women, youth and workers are now part and parcel of the august house’s fabric.

That we have had two women speakers (a position that was hitherto dominated by men) of parliament since 1986 is no mean achievement that Mpuga, in his intellectual dishonesty, cannot see. There is also compelling evidence that parliament, in their oversight role, is independent given the many decisions it has made in disfavour of government. Elsewhere, the existence of parliament, unlike in the 1970s when we were ruled by Idi Amin’s most obnoxious and diabolic regime that used decrees to govern, speaks to the growth of our democratic space on Ugandan terms – not on terms from the west which are always laced with booby traps.

To his admirers, Bobi Wine was supposed to be the fixer-expert at dealing with “Uganda’s problems.” From the afflictions that NUP is suffering, what is it that Bobi has done right? Two and a half years in, there’s an overgrown sense in his party that he has lost his way – his bandwagon has come to a permanent halt after being overmatched by the weight of incompetence as well as attempts to punch above his weight. The consequences of that level of incompetence could be lasting; and could potentially be more damaging to the populist persona in Bobi Wine; now, the party he grabbed is imploding on his back – thanks to the problems enumerated earlier which have completely obliterated NUP’s competence thesis.

Within two and half years, NUP’s earlier declarations of putting together robust alternative policy options to those of the NRM are looking silly; bickering between elected and non-elected rank and file has plateaued and tribalism has helped to shred through the group with anyone from western Uganda being perceived to be a mole. While Bobi Wine to continues to be helmed in his party, the appointment of relatives to control party finances, the incessant scrambling to change course and a confounding lack of coordination, have, instead, conspired and diverted their party’s imperilled energies and attention from the more pressing and long-range plans hence befuddling the rank and file.

Amb. Henry Mayega

Consul General

Uganda Consulate General

Dubai, UAE      

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