BY WELEBA MATANDA
It is barely six months since the Alliance for National Transformation (A.N.T) was launched at Serena Hotel.
In these few months, we have been able to among others consolidate our policy platform, enhance our leadership structures, roll out a mass recruitment program, develop workplans and/or road maps but more importantly, cover over 12 of the 21 sub-regions in establishing and training local leadership in many cases coupled with launching local offices.
I’m however not discussing what A.N.T has or has not done in this short piece. Snaking through Mokolodi nature reserve in Gaborone, Botswana on the sidelines of the Annual African Youth Conference on Social Justice, I found myself reflecting on the transformation that has happened in Botswana since 1965 to date albeit with challenges, and juxtaposing that with a remark that keeps coming through as we move around Uganda on a mobilisation and organisation mission, and also from some of my friends.
Many people tell us, ” You are good people and your propositions are what Uganda needs but unfortunately, they cannot work within the current status quo. The current status quo requires crookedness, and usage of any means possible! The end justifies the means. You people should use logical and practical means, and after you take power, then implement your ideals! Short of that, you are in utopia”
On first contact, this argument sounds reasonable, but when you do even the slightest of thinking, you quickly realise it is a very hollow, defeatist, and tired tirade.
First of all, our idea of leadership in the A.N.T is about moving a people from one set of circumstances, to another desirable set. Leadership therefore is about vision. Getting a society to get transformed into something better. This is why we have “transformation” in our name. You do not tansform something by mantaining the status quo. You transform a society by offering a better destination.
Contrary to what some people may suppose, we are not naive. We have the capacity and some of us already have the means to engage in gutter politics down the sewer! We are aware that the wrong elements in our midst have made our politics toxic, and premised on intolerance, malice, lies, hate and violence. This is what has among others driven the best of our stock, that we seek to draw back, away from politics.
We however, deliberately refuse to engage in unprincipled politics because we believe you cannot give what you don’t have! To transform our politics, you need a breed of leaders that refuses to be tempted by quick gain to descend into what has actually gotten us where we are! The politics of everything goes! We find that the means are as important as the end and all those who have tried to do things the other way round have failed!
At the risk of seeming to some people as unpopular, in the short run, we still refuse to engage in mere rubble rousing, to trade in politics of provocation, lies & hate, and to do things bent on misrepresenting our strength. We choose the longer haul.
At the risk of being misunderstood, we are not shy to state that the problem of Uganda is beyond Museveni as an individual, but rather is an extractive system that even if we removed Museveni, without due preparation, mobilisation and organisation, just like it has been the case since independence, the system will replicate itself possibly in even worse forms albeit with a different face at the helm!
At the risk of taking longer in the trenches, we opt for the approach of sensitising, mobilising, organising and involving the vast majority of our citizenry in the conversation and actions of liberating their country.
As such, the idea that our ideals and proposals are too good for Uganda does not arise. Uganda can actually be too good. She has all it takes. We know it is possible because history has demonstrated so. All the societies we admire were in situations like ours before, some even worse off. It took the madness of some people in their stòck to believe that things could be different and then inspiring the rest of the population by pursuasion and some cases coercion to create the changes. We can also bring this here. What men and women have done elsewhere can be done here but only if we believe and act.
Some people say, but you talk of organisation, Museveni and his forces cannot let you organise. Well, we don’t expect them to. They may never! Many benefit from the broken system that impoverishes the vast majority in their favour, and will do all in their power to mantain it. We cannot beg them to allow us organise. We must overcome and overwhelm their machinations. This is possible and has happened everywhere in human history. Museveni himself in 1986 said dictators always seem invincible until the hour of reckoning! He is no exception. They indeed do. The odds are tough but there is no short cut.
If therefore you are out there, and you think what we are proposing is what Uganda needs, please join us. You are the missing link. Why let forces of darkness be ahead of forces of light in utilising confidence, resources, resilience and their competences!
By the way, as a last short, change is rarely brought about by everyone. It is usually a result of focused action by a few individuals who are mad enough to believe in it and rest eventually see their commitment and join in.
You are welcome.
In other news, I was challenged with greater responsibility yesterday when Young Activists from over 15 countries in Africa charged me with Chairing the Interim Steering Committee of the Young African Actvist Network in Gaborone, Botswana. (YAAN). A tough feat but this is the life I chose!
Weleba Matanda, is the A.N.T Youth National Coordinator.