Former presidential candidate Wrn Kizza-Besigye has announced a new wave of protests that will see the country’s elite identify with ordinary citizens in the fight to defend the constitution.
Besigye’s new type of mass protests dubbed “Stand With The People Campaign” borrows from “The Non-Cooperation Movement”, a significant phase of the Indian independence movement from British rule.
It was led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi after the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. It aim to resist British rule in India through nonviolent means.
Protestors would refuse to buy British goods, adopt the use of local handicrafts and picket liquor shops.
The ideas of Ahimsa and nonviolence, and Gandhi’s ability to rally hundreds of thousands of common citizens towards the cause of Indian independence, were first seen on a large scale in this movement through the summer 1920.
Gandhi feared that the movement might lead to popular violence. The non-cooperation movement was launched on 1st August, 1920.
Addressing media at his office on Plot 6 Katonga road in Kampala, Besigye reacted to what he called “the gruesome murders of women, the assault on parliament and the intended rape of the constitution by the junta”.
He went back to basics to illustrate the distinction between the oppressed and the oppressor system using a board.
He said the “Stand With The People Campaign” is process of isolating the “dictatorship” and that it starts now. “You are either with the people or with the hostage taker.”
According to the campaign, every Tuesday, all members of the middle class are encouraged to use public transport to and from work.
“This is one way of all of us identifying with the People. Move with buses, taxes, boda bodas or walk,” Besigye said.
He argued that this way, the people will see those who continue to identify with the “hostage taker” by travelling in their tinted screen vehicles.
“Let us isolate them,” he stated, diagrammatically illustrating the construction of power control in Uganda today.
Calming the storm
This week, Besigye met the former Minister of Lands and UPC stalwart Omara Atubo at his home in Ngetta, Lira district.
Besides condoling with the veteran politician for the loss of his son Innocent, they also talked about politics and how to mobilise grassroots support to end President Yoweri Museveni’s anarchy.
Atubo expressed strong views against Age Limit saying “Uganda is now a vehicle moving without brakes. It will definitely crash.”
Atubo gifted Besigye with his latest book “Calming The Storm: A Record of Struggle for Justice, Peace and Democracy.”
Besigye also visited Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze and Mityana MP Francis Zaake who are hospitalised after being beaten by Museveni’s elite guarding unit, Special Forces Command [SFC] soldiers in parliament.
Personal view on the term limits
Asked for his personal view on a term limits in an interview with Daily Monitor, Besigye said as long as there is election, the people should elect. And there are some good examples. And indeed all European countries do not have term limits.
“Except US, but all the others—Britain, I think even France, certainly I know Israel. So as long as people are electing that will be the limit. And, if the people don’t want you that will be the end of the story. So, it is a diversion and not a serious issue in my opinion.”
Monitor further asked: “if term limits are lifted why should the country have the age limit? What is your view on age limit, should it be there, anyway?”
Besigye said they had ignored and never discussed it, but it can be discussed. He thinks after the age of 75, there is some scientific idea there that may be the vigour is not as much as before.
“So that one I would quarrel so much, I know there are some leaders who have been leading even beyond the age of 75 but I think if you want very active leaders it is good to have ones below the age of 75.”
“Are you saying you wouldn’t go beyond the age of 75?” Monitor asked to which Besigye replied, “Not at all. Certainly not. That is in the Constitution now. And I will not involve myself in wanting to change that. Because I think there is some scientific logic behind it.”
To religious leaders telling him not to run again, Besigye said that is none of their business because they have a lot of work to do — preach the gospel of God.
“And from what is happening I don’t think they are doing the work very well because we have all these young people who are taking drugs, engage in prostitution and even the corruption they are talking about starts from the homes and the families. So they should spend a little more time preaching the gospel.”
Besigye said when they came from the bush, Uganda was about to disappear because of Aids. The prevalence rate was 35 per cent in some cases, and it was we the non-religious people who had to preach what should have been preached by those religious people.
“They can have their views because I don’t stop them from having their views but I think the arrogance of going to the pulpit and giving me a lecture about something I know better than they do is something they should check themselves on.”
He used to work with some of the religious leader like the late Cardinal Nsubuga, he would have his view, come quietly and they talk about it, but “when you go in public to give me a lecture one day I will also give you a counter lecture, so it is not a good method”.
Africa’s problem is leaders who overstay in power
As young man in a primary school, Besigye said that the problem of Africa is leaders staying in power for so long. “What I said is staying in power without the mandate of the people.”
He told monitor: “Because the people of Uganda have never expired. Haven’t you heard of a population called Ugandans? They are there and they are the owners of this country. They have the power according to our Constitution to, every five years, change whoever they want to change. So, why do you want to usurp their role? What I was saying that time was leaders who stay in power without the mandate of the people that is what I was saying.”
The Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, said she is under immense pressure from NRM leaders to deny the opposition free debate in Parliament, Besigye noted.
Besigye said he is not the one putting pressure on Kadaga and will find out from her who are putting pressure on her to violate the Constitution to stop people expressing their views in Parliament.
“First of all I don’t know if what she said is true because your newspaper [Daily Monitor] is famous for telling lies, but if that is what she said I would ask her to tell me who are those putting her under pressure not to observe the Constitution. The Constitution says give everybody a chance in Parliament in a balanced way.”
He says NRM is like a railway station. There are normally arrivals and departures. But the railway station never closes. So those who are tired can leave and those who want to continue go ahead. And there is nobody who will derail this railway but themselves.