Saturday March 22 2014

…there was Eagles Production and then came the NRM party

By Asuman Bisiika

Eagles Productions was not a band or orchestra. In the real sense of the word, band or what most people my age associate with bands, Eagles Productions may just be described as a production suite where a group of musicians known to each other did studio productions (recordings).

Lacking in group management, the young men and women did not know how to manage the fall out. Congolese outfit Zaiko Langa Langa (Zaire ya Bakoko or Zaire of our ancestors) than the number of bands worth the name in Uganda.
But Zaiko Langa Langa, which started in 1972 at the height of Mobutu’s Cultural Revolution, is still led by Josart Nyoko Longa, the founding leader. And all the mature Congolese musicians you know may have either been in (or with) Afrisa Internationale, Zaiko Langa Langa or TPOK Jazz.

But the political significance of Eagles Productions as a brand and a group is that, like Monitor Publications, it is (was) a Museveni thing; the Museveni generation’s social commentary music. Music for the people.
Which brings us to the similarities of leadership challenges at Eagles Productions and the National Resistance Movement. When musicians started leaving Eagles Production citing poor management (like was the case with NRM), they were accused of being disgruntled.

A friend blamed the collapse of Eagles Production to that Ugandan self-attrition disease that’s caused by failure to manage success. Trouble though is: like Eagles Productions, the NRM also seems to be afflicted with failure to manage their success.

I have been invited to interact with NRM cadres in the near future. Being a ‘disorganised’ man, I decided to put some notes down (complete with a power point presentation).
Below is the summary of the paper I have so prepared.
“In spite of accusations that lengthy regimes breed dictatorial tendencies, Museveni’s overstay has had its advantages.
It has bred consistency in policy rationalisation, harmony and systematic approach to what used to be referred to as intractable national challenges like the lost counties, restoration of kingdoms, etc.

Even the novelty of a president ruling for more than 10 years has its psychological feel-good factor. For instance, a besieged regime is most unlikely to hold elections (poorly managed or otherwise) four times.
The holding of four consecutive elections (their quality notwithstanding) may be seen as a small matter but it remains a precedent that may turn out to be irreversible. Any leader thinking of postponing elections (like was the case 1967) for whatever reasons would quickly be suspected to harbour dictatorial tendencies.

In sum, President Museveni’s lengthy regime, as opposed to what had become the Uganda’s staple of short-lived governments, has had its benefits to Ugandans: economic stability, relative peace in most parts of the country and the removal of non-tariff military-manned road barriers popularly known as road blocks.”
Now when I hear that some NRM Members of Parliament are toying with the idea of postponing the 2016 elections, I feel like they are blowing wind from my sails.

The NRM enjoys a dual legitimacy to lead Uganda. This duality derives from the liberation struggle between 1981 and 1986 and the four electoral victories from 1996 to 2011.
However, political dynamics obtaining in the country show that the value of the armed struggle has been diminishing; leaving electoral victory as the only legitimate mandate. Without elections, the NRM would be denuded and rendered empty. The idea of postponing the 2016 Polls is dangerous and offers enough moral ammo (or cuasa belli, as the Romans would say) for the people to take up arms.
And need I say: any support or rationalisation for the postponement of the elections, whether logical or otherwise (and however much colourfully packaged), has nothing but mere propaganda value.

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of the East Africa Flagpost.