The Observer (Kampala)

8 January 2013

Uganda: What Are Nation's Prospects for 2013?

opinion

Whoever has major concerns for Uganda must be wondering what the year 2013 might bring.

This question cannot be truthfully answered just by devoting attention to prayers or paying a visit to the diviner's shrine. The horoscopes of astrology may offer varied definitions on individual fortunes, based on declared mysterious scripting of the influence of the stars on the clusters of the dates of birth of different individuals, but none can tell the fortunes of our society as a whole.

The reason why astrology and the various ruses of the diviners attract much interest and curiosity is because the future of each individual is normally clouded in incomprehensibility and uncertainty. But social events do not hinge on spurious fancies and vagaries. They are deducible from present trends. It is from these that the possible future can be extrapolated.

Rains on earth are predicated upon gathering clouds and the wind patterns. They do not depend upon the catalogue of wishes and gazing at the sky by the peasants, however piously they may do so. In order to read our country's future, it follows that we ought to analyse forces currently at play so as to construct the permutation of their various forms of interaction.

From 1986 when the NRA took power, Ugandans reposed increasing faith in the new governance. The fine words of the NRA fighters and their exemplary conduct won the people's trust, eventually making the NRM name a dominant political imagery. However, because the subsequent developments did not mature into an entrenched durable higher quality of management of the country, the settled officialdom nestled in power serving their ordinary selfishness.

Two main trends thus become visible through the smog and putrid toxins being belched out. One part is the crystallization of impunity and deformity of the political process. This is culminating in the curtailment of the slightest pursuit of national ideals. The other is the growing disenchantment of the people. They detect in the actions of the officials looming treachery and fraud.

The affairs of the state and its resources are handled at the pleasure of officials like they were routine private holdings. Corruption has spread at all levels at a scale unknown in the annals of our country. Elections are commoditized transactions. Power is dispensed with obscene shamelessness. Mwalimu Julius Nyerere once remarked that when power is used corruptly, the poor have absolutely no power in the obtaining corrupted exercise of power.

While the political elite in our country may thrive or survive from the tit-bits thrown to them from the high table, the lot of the people remains in total dispossession and denial of their humanity and every semblance of dignity. This is why the behaviour of the officialdom necessarily cultivates disquiet and opposition to itself. The mounting dissension is presently only rudimentary, incoherent and weak, permitting the insensitive and arrogant mishandling of affairs to run amok.

However, this is only temporary. No people can permanently submit to misrule. Wherever there is misrule, there is bound to grow hostility to it. Therefore, there exists excellent a situation for Ugandans to be rid of the current iniquity. But, let there be no illusion. Although, at a strategic level corrupt power is morally and politically weak, it is still tactically powerful.

It is embedded in the organs of the state, commanding colossal sums of money, coercive apparatus, global alliances, all of which can be ruthlessly weaponized in defiance of the dreams of our people. There is also the added factor of the crowds of opportunists who are flitting to and fro in answer to every wedding reception.

These can be found hanging out at the gales of power for favours or posing as opposition politicians when ignored in order to bargain for a good price for themselves against the people. No corrupt officialdom has ever gone away on its own. However rotten a paw-paw tree might be, it does not collapse on its own..

The year 2013 offers excellent opportunity to give Uganda a new direction. But, it all must depend on whether we Ugandans can exert ourselves earnestly and seriously, in a broad coalition of forces, to acquire and accumulate the necessary ideological, political and organizational strength to overcome our adversity.

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

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