Uganda: However Much NRM Will Dismiss Him, Looks Like Bobi Wine' Story Has Only Began

23 September 2018

This week, minister of ICT and National Guidance Frank Tumwebaze appeared on a morning television talk show where he remarked that "what alternative policy has Hon MP Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) articulated?"

Mr Tumwebaze's comments offer a glimpse into how the NRM government seems to be undermining itself with a mindset of impunity, intolerance, hostility, reactive and unstructured media responses, and the dismissive attitude playing out before the nation and the international community.

One would think that the entire Bobi Wine saga should actually give the NRM government a window of opportunity to restrategise and reposition itself.

This would include areas such as adopting different ways of interacting with Opposition politicians, relating with civilians, proper use of public funds, streamlining government communications, professionalism of security agencies and addressing youth unemployment.

It would have been more appropriate if a Cabinet minister managing government communication conveyed a unifying message and condemned the recent violence, torture and human rights violations of Ugandans.

He should also have offered condolences to families of Ugandans killed recently by security officials and updated Ugandans on the ongoing investigations.

Instead, Mr Tumwebaze's remarks insinuated a divisive message that a large silent majority of Ugandans feel doesn't augur well for the future of our politics.

What is disappointing is that government seems to have taken a defensive position that exudes arrogance and impunity towards both Ugandans and the international community for their alleged interference.

In reality, government is only driving a wedge into the crack that already exists between it and the wananchi on one hand and the international community on the other.

In February 2009, President Museveni addressed teachers and students at the launch of the patriotic clubs programme in Kampala.

In his speech, the commander-in-chief emphasised that "without love for Ugandans, you are flying blind, [and] by not caring about the other Ugandans, you are undermining yourself".

Interestingly, only nine years later and the NRM government seems to be undermining itself by not caring about Ugandans.

If the current political disturbance was objectivity analysed, with consideration from different perspectives, perhaps love from the ruling NRM party has not only progressively diminished over the years but also love from Ugandans for the NRM government has lessened to an extend of necessitating permanent military presence on the streets.

Since Uganda has the second youngest population in the world after Niger, the area of interest seems to be the youth that make up almost 80 per cent of the population, where majority of voters will come from in 2021.

Although NRM would want to wish away Bobi Wine, the large following that he commands is difficult to ignore by both the ruling party and the international community.

The NRM can decide to open more warfronts, but at the risk of damaging its relations with both the Ugandan youth and the international community, which will ultimately affect the tourism sector which is still our biggest foreign exchange earner at about $1.4b (Shs5.1 trillion earnings in 2017).

But as fate would have it, whatever direction the NRM government decides to take it seems the story of MP Robert Kyagulanyi has only just began.

Ms Victoria Nyeko is a media commentator.

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