By Muzinyabigere Huza
For those of us who wish for change, but have been beaten down by years of being told ‘there is no alternative’, mass acts of civil disobedience offer inspiration and a space in which there is safety in numbers. I was listening to Dr. Kizza Besigye Besigye a couple of days ago and I want to break down his Plan B.
Successful social movements have generally followed a path of:
Consciousness – the stage of realising there is a problem and creating conditions for change. Here I believe we all agree there is a serious problem!
Coordination – building movement power by sharing information; networks and organisations working together and developing. I understand this is a very important stage but our selfishness and greed slows down the arrangements.
Confrontation – a direct challenge to the power of the junta system, through civil disobedience. In a junta electoral roadmap and after two decades of state aided malpractice, if any group still believes in Museveni’s elections, they must be probed.
Consolidation – after the people have regained their real power, there must be ensuring that real-life change occurs and is lasting.
Civil disobedience/ Defiance (the confrontation stage) has been a necessary part of practically all successful social/political movements. Even here in 1981 it worked. I wonder why Mugisha Muntu who witnessed the fruits of defiance now prefers compliance!
The power held by this dictatorship is not yielded to the force of good arguments and nice asking alone as I see that group opposed to defiance vehemently suggests!
The dictatorship exerts many sorts of power. Defiance can exert its own “Counter power” in three main ways:
Idea Power – challenging accepted truths, refusing to obey laws and finding new ways to communicate.
Ssikukkiriza buli kijja like I see now.
Economic Power – exercised through strikes, boycotts, tax resistance and ethical consumption.
Physical power – non-violently placing bodies in the way of injustice. I saw Bukedde’ headline today 30th Aug 2020 saying that Updf say they’re ready to tackle Besigye. But we shall defeat the junta by its own rules at it’s game. We are non-violent, they are violent. We choose otherwise.
Non-violence is a principal we adhere to because:
We believe in the adage that “violence breeds violence” and we seek peace. Uganda is our home more than it is to our oppressors.
Violence has been largely ineffective in social movements because the dominant power can counter such forces most readily.
Principled non-violent stances against oppression or for justice are most likely to appeal to others to support or join a movement, through the force of their moral position. It’s this that has overwhelmingly drew the youths away from the junta.
Examples of all of these are found in our history of civil disobedience section.
The theory of change suggests how ideas spread through cultures, beginning with innovators like the Besigye’s (2.5%) and then early adopters, the me’s (13.5%).
Whilst civil disobedience may seem extreme to some and the narrative in Besigye’s explanation alien, the path to change is tread by innovators and early adopters. When ideas become mainstream, huge power is unleashed, however even before then change is possible with just a few percentage willing to make a stance.
Nelson Mandela said it always seems impossible until it’s done. It is often the people most involved in the movement that are caught most by surprise when the tipping point arrives suddenly, making the longed for change inevitable.
In countries that we admire, their people stand today in a better world because there were those willing to struggle on for change, some of whom never saw the fruits of their labour.
Damage to property and machines is not necessarily violent, when undertaken to sabotage damaging processes or raise awareness when a movement is being ignored (Emmeline Pankhurst spoke of how the “noble art of window smashing” had been crucial in winning the vote for men, thus eventually adopting the tactic as a suffragette).
However I don’t support that not to the smallest beat. I suggest such actions may often be unwelcome and unhelpful until we are clearly pushed with impunity. Isn’t this what Article 3 of the Ugandan Constitution politely asking us to do!?
I’m not wasting more time on elections because no one in Uganda owns a vote. I’m for #PLAN_B.