2 December 2012

Uganda: Muntu, Musumba Teach Us Something


The Forum for Democratic Change vice president, Proscovia Salaamu Musumba, was last week elected LC-V chairman of Kamuli district.

It was her second attempt to take that job, having lost by-elections to Stephen Mubiru in 2007. Musumba had also lost her Bugabula South seat to Asuman Kiyingi in the 2006 elections and again in 2011. Not to mention her failed bid to join the East African Community Legislative Assembly earlier this year.

Preceding Musumba's victory was the election of retired Major General Mugisha Muntu as president of FDC, replacing Col (retired) Dr Kizza Besigye who has retired from that position two years before the end of his term. Just like Musumba, Muntu had attempted to get elected a few times without success.

At the FDC delegates' conference in 2010, Muntu took on Besigye, seeking to become the party's flag bearer for the presidential election but was soundly defeated. He had earlier in 2008 contested against Besigye in the race for party president but was again defeated. That Muntu had the mettle to go for it a third time, is a mark of determination and resilience that is as important in politics as popularity itself.

Indeed, many politicians in Muntu or Musumba's shoes would have despaired after losing at least two elections, blaming the electoral system and vowing to sabotage whoever has been elected. But these two have shown the others that politics is like a game where there can only be one winner. Sometimes crucial decisions might go against you during the game, but a determined player gets up and prepares for the next game.

Politics is not a matter of life and death, as many politicians' behaviour tends to suggest. Therefore, losing is not the end of the world. There is always another chance to make amends if one has done enough to deserve the people's favour. The idea that one either gets elected or hell breaks loose is not only undemocratic but also dangerous. For our democracy to grow, we need to learn to accept defeat with grace and wait for another opportunity, or take victory with magnanimity.

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