By Andrew M. Mwenda
Former FDC President, Mugisha Muntu, is going to form a new party. He has done this, I suppose, to escape the radical extremism of the main faction of the FDC. To appreciate why Muntu’s party is a breath of fresh air in our polarized politics, we need to first expose the strategy of Defiance and People Power.
The strategy of Uganda’s advocates for change in Defiance and People Power is crystal clear: deny facts and insist that everything is subjective and relative. Dismiss all statistical evidence as cooked unless it favors your point of view. Make people believe any argument that is favorable to President Yoweri Museveni is not based on facts or conviction but has been paid for.
Over the last ten years, bust most especially during the last five years, government of Uganda has been made huge and impressive investments in transport, energy, water and health infrastructure- roads, highways, interchanges, dams, transmission and distribution lines, hospitals etc.
Defiance and People Power don’t was to hear any of this. Their strategy is therefore to keep insisting that there is nothing else happening in the country other than those bad things that are driving people’s momentary anger. They exaggerate the level of decay in the country to reinforce this distorted version of reality. They focus all debate on these real and perceived failures to the complete exclusion of all the good that is happening.
The aim is clear. It is to create a national consensus that only change (and any change) can rescue the country from this crisis that Museveni has bequeathed onto Uganda. That we should not mind about the kind of change being proposed: for example that we should not worry about the policies and values of the popular leaders of the change movement such as Dr Kizza Besigye and Bobi Wine. That to ask questions about the nature of this change means one is an agent of NRM and Museveni.
We are being told that politics in Uganda is all about the clash between Museveni on one hand and Bobi Wine and Besigye on the other. That these are the only alternatives available to us. That any other alternative is a disguised form of support for Museveni. That one is only a supporter or believer in change if they support defiance and/or people power. Most urban educated Ugandans have been forced to adopt this erroneous position because in our intellectually charged political environment today, this is the politically popular thing to do
I disagree with this. There is more to our politics than this clash between Museveni on one hand and Besigye and Bobi Wine on the other. There are more strategies of change other than defiance and people power. There are many of us who believe Uganda has many more alternatives. These may not be as loud in the polarized climate of this moment. But that does not mean they should be ignored or they are not feasible and better. The loudest are not always the most popular.
I believe politics should first and foremost be about values and principles. That the role of leaders is to articulate these values and principles and impart them on their followers. That leaders should not pander to the worst instincts in their supporters. Rather they should as much as possible try to appeal to the better angels in their followers.
We are told that if Museveni opponents exhibit fascist tendencies of intolerance and violence, we should not blame them. That we should understand this to be an inevitable result of Museveni’s politics of intolerance and violence. That when those fighting for change intimidate, blackmail, slander, character assassinate, forge, lie and hurl insults and abuses at those who disagree with them, this does not reflect on the nature of the government they will run.
In this world view, all that Uganda needs is change. It doesn’t even matter what means are employed to bring about change. Lies, forgery, intimidation, cyber bullying, blackmail, physical assault should be seen as weapons of the weak fighting a dictatorship. Well I do not agree that the end justifies the means. Rather the purity of the means should justify the end.
To this end I welcome the new political party that Mugisha Muntu is forming. I also hope it will espouse the values that I know Muntu stands for – tolerance, openness to contrary views, focusing on issues rather than persons etc. I hope he will consistently denounce liars, fraudsters, cyber bullies and violent protesters in his speeches and social media posts. If he stands firmly behind his values, he can count on my support!