The Observer (Kampala)

27 December 2012

Uganda: Nation Has Lost Any Pretentions to Democracy

opinion

Ugandans have continued to be treated to awful scenes of quirky wobbling in the conduct of its affairs by Parliament.

Each time a matter necessitates appropriate scrutiny of clauses of proposed major legislation or studying the conduct of the top brass in government, the great house of MPs always starts in vehement fits with the promise to decisively root out any perceived infraction or disagreeable premises.

But, like the famed Ugandan kick-boxer who claimed to posses the colossal strength to kick river Nile out of Uganda, the final delivery of the thunderous blow invariably often collapses into a patter of silent sighs. At no time has this been more evident than in the recently-concluded revisiting of the enactment of the oil law.

The MPs had adamantly rejected government provisions in the law to empower the minister of Energy to regulate and manage licensing of the oil sector, arguing that it was a recipe for unmitigated abuse. As soon as President Museveni summoned NRM MPs a short while later, the esteemed Parliament quickly whimpered and reversed its earlier decisions.

The ease with which President Museveni has frequently mustered dribbling the ball past many legs in opposition to his desired stand makes him the undisputed maestro of political soccer wizardry. It increasingly accentuates the glaring handicap of the MPs in the field of their independent faculties for political judgment and leadership.

They seem to agree that without the showering of light by President Museveni on them, they would be constantly ditching themselves in blind fumbles.

We are then confronted with a grim social anomaly. The country seems to repose its political resources onto a very diminished and precarious thin line: the complete dependence on the pre-eminence of President Museveni.

Wherever organic forms exist, the different species flourish by close connection to each other in the food chain. Most flesh-eating animals like lions and hyenas rely on feeding on plant-grousing kinds such as zebras, gnu or buffaloes. Apart from the unusual plants that can trap animals or insects for food, the bulk of the world of vegetation draws its nutrition mainly from the soil by recycling it from dead plant material. In this sense, weeds are composite ingredients for bumper crop harvest.

It follows that meat-eaters are not only linked to grass through the food chain, but they also enjoy camouflage of vegetation for successful hunting prowls. In effect, the eagle cannot soar proudly in the sky unless the ground teems with immense variety of other life. In society, too, the same rule holds sway. Social ideas emanate from the richness of social activities.

The wisdom of great sages and venerated prophets arises from their extraordinary insight into the wealth of the common activities and experience rather than from the abstraction of their own reclusion. For this reason, when society gets atrophied and unable to reproduce and practise political ideas from its own circumstances despite boasting of myriads of political parties, we must investigate the texture of the political soil to determine the serious causes of social infertility and drabness.

Although Ugandans chose to overthrow the UPC-Obote regime with the hope of building a new flange of politics to cleanse the political arena of its profanely careerist and autocratic aura, there is a regrowth of the malignant tissues. The despicable past is being replayed without as little as dabbing off any previous dust or rust.

While the portfolio of money spinners have given Uganda a positive rating, the spree of looting the country of its resources renders no distinction for the privileged oligarchs between stealing and engaging in economic activities. The country's elite, squeezed between adverse economic factors for the country as a whole and its own slender survival, has had had to seek refuge in the narrow ledge of servitude to whoever holds the vault, not out of convictions, but in brinkmanship for space to bid for available paymasters.

The meaning of this situation is that issues are resolved by juggling between the swings of the pendulum rather than articulated principles. It necessarily drives political democracy backwards, cultivating unscrupulousness against the people while fortifying autocratic habits. No wonder, we can detect manoeuvres to turn Uganda's governance from any pretension of a democracy towards unblemished dynasty.

Such a scheme may give protection to the interests of the entrenched oligarchs, but it is harmful to the people of Uganda.

The author is a member of NEC (NRM) representing historicals.

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