Thursday May 29 2014

Minister Todwong, the NRM party has already had its long haul in Uganda!

By William G. Naggaga

Mr Richard Todwong, the Minister Without Portfolio in Charge of Political Mobilisation, authored an article in the Daily Monitor of May 23, titled “Why the NRM is here for the long haul”

He called the ruling NRM a mass liberation movement and compared to ANC, ZANU –PF, MPLA, FRELIMO and even tagged in the CCM of Tanzania, which emerged out of the defunct TANU which is not a mass liberation movement.

It is a political party like Uganda’s DP and UPC, formed to agitate for independence as opposed to those in southern Africa which fought for independence through an armed struggle. The NRM is not also a mass liberation movement per se for that matter.

In his article, Mr Todwong said it was “a matter of time before we (NRM) will win over the Luweero Woman seat”. Unfortunately for him, his article came out on the day DP’s Brenda Nabukenya trounced NRM’s Rebecca Nalwanga in the Luweero by-election, in spite of President Museveni’s spirited campaign for the latter.

The people of Luweero responded by rejecting Nalwanga for the broken promises NRM had made to them for the 28 years and perhaps longer if you include the promises it made during the Bush War period of 1981 – 1986. NRM’s loss in Luweero was a direct body blow to President Museveni since he considered it his safe haven politically.

Mr Todwong misread the mood in Luweero, just as he was too ‘generous’ about the continued longevity in power of NRM.

The NRM has had one leader in last 28 years and it looks like he will stretch his leadership to 2021, when he wins the 2016 elections, as the polls published in the Daily Monitor seem to indicate.

After that the NRM is likely to break up into factions and disappear from the political scene. Its ‘military architecture’ may also disintegrate along the ‘fault lines’ of the political factions.
President Museveni has ruled without challenge.

With Museveni, the party exists but without him it will be a ‘long haul’, to use Todwong’s words, for the party to get back on its feet. NRM may suffer the same fate as KANU after Daniel arap Moi’s 24-year rule in Kenya.

TANU / CCM would have gone the same way if Julius Nyerere had not read the political barometer well and handed over power to the next generation; while he was still able to influence events.

Nyerere handed over to a chosen successor, Hassan Mwinyi, who ruled for 10 years before passing on the baton to Benjamin Mkapa who also handed over power peacefully to Jakaya Kikwete after two terms. All were duly elected and CCM has continued to dominate Tanzanian politics.

Nyerere’s good friend, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, lacked the same foresight and his party UNIP, remained firmly under his grip until he lost elections to Frederick Chiluba and UNIP went into oblivion. It was a sad end for a man who sacrificed a lot for the liberation of southern Africa.

Mr Todwong also mentioned the ZANU-PF of Robert Mugabe but deliberately omitted ZAPU –PF of Joshua Nkomo, both of which made up the Patriot Front (PF).

When independence came in 1980, Mugabe marginalised and suppressed Nkomo and his supporters, forgetting that Nkomo was the man who actually started the liberation struggle in southern Rhodesia.

Mugabe has stayed in power for 34 years and his ZANU -PF may not survive his eventual demise. The same can be said of the MPLA in Angola where President José Eduardo dos Santos has been in power for more than 30 years.
The ANC and FRELIMO have fared better because they have allowed for orderly succession through term limits, thanks to presidents Nelson Mandela and Joachim Chissano respectively and their successors.

Longevity of a party will in the long run be determined by building strong institutions in the country that are not subject to the claims of a few individuals.

Mr Naggaga is an economist, administrator and retired ambassador.