Uganda: Why Col Besigye Behaves Just Like Gen Museveni

Ugandan MPs debate the age limit bill.
27 December 2017

For over a decade, Col Dr Kizza Besigye has been attacking and accusing President Museveni of being a dictator and a selfish individual.

He has accused Museveni of failing and using NRM as a personal party and a vehicle to advance what doctor Besigye calls selfish interests.

In 2015, when NRM announced President Museveni as its sole candidate in the 2016 elections, the good doctor said Museveni was covertly using some party members (especially those who moved the idea of his sole candidature) to ring-fence the ruling party's top position for himself.

He has also accused President Museveni of being intolerant to those who hold dissenting views. Whether this is true or not, I will not discuss it now. What is clear is that he (Besigye) is exactly what he has been accusing President Museveni of.

Last month's Forum for Democratic Change presidential contest in which Besigye supported Patrick Amuriat's candidature against incumbent General Mugisha Muntu exposed his long-hidden true personality.

He is a bully, intolerant to those with dissenting views and, yes, like President Museveni wants an NRM secretary general who will listen and dance according to his tune, Dr Besigye, too, wants an FDC president who will bow before him.

Even in 2012, when Mugisha Muntu contested for FDC's top position, Besigye did not support him, at least not in public, and many believe he was behind Nathan Nandala-Mafabi's candidature.

This of course is his right to support a person of his choice, but we should know that from a political moral perspective, for party cohesion and unity, Besigye should have played a neutral role.

It was after Muntu defeated Mafabi in 2012 that Besigye resorted to almost weekly press conferences at his Katonga road office, literally running a parallel FDC office and activities, thus undermining Muntu's leadership.

Besigye's decision to run a parallel office and also campaign for Hon Amuriat against incumbent Muntu was due to his selfish reasons - he wanted a party leader who would follow his demands without asking why. His decision followed the Machiavellian principle: the end must justify the means.

Besigye can speak with all spiritual eloquence, play patriotic games in public, maintain a holy and democratic appearance before the public, but he is opposite of what he preaches.

Like he says of President Museveni, Besigye too believes he is the only Christ Uganda has been waiting for to liberate it. He thinks he is the only man with a vision to lead FDC and others are either moles or can be bought.

This is the reason why Besigye did not caution his camp against party-dividing statements when they started to spread baseless allegations of General Muntu being an NRM mole.

Indeed, on the voting day, Besigye seemed to suggest that Muntu's camp was using money to win the contest, words which his close confidant MP Mubarack Munyagwa echoed claiming they had defeated and rejected NRM money, an insinuation that Muntu was funded by NRM to run for the FDC presidency.

As Indira Gandhi taught us, questioning is the basis of all progress, and those who don't question are condemned to live in bondage. This is the time for FDC members to question Dr Besigye's claimed sainthood.

Is he the only Christ FDC and Uganda in general has been waiting for to liberate it?

Is it right for a group of a few people to brand those who don't subscribe to what they believe in as moles or objects to be bought? If it is right, how do we know that these few people are good people and that they are not corrupt or moles? And that their actions are simply patriotic? These are questions Ugandans and FDC members must ask themselves.

As we wait for General Muntu's promised personal decision, there is no doubt Besigye's selfishness and his supporters' irrational behaviour are throwing FDC in what Professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb called The Black Swan.

This is a moment which can happen and bring disastrous effects when people are seeing but only understand long after it has happened.

As Nassim explains, once a society is infected with Black Swan virus, everybody buries their head in the sand.

This is why many FDC supporters don't see that Besigye's moves are meant to personalise the party. The best way FDC can liberate itself from Besigye's Black Swan virus is by questioning his actions. After all, Albert Eintein taught us that it is important to ask and question everything.

Leave alone being one of its founding members, they must question his morality even if he claims he is incorruptible, question his sanity even though many believe he has never tasted alcohol, there is no need for FDC to assume nothing.

The author is a Phd student of International Relations and Diplomatic Studies.

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