Monsters can devour activists but they can never kill the struggle
Posted Friday, November 1 2013 at 02:00
The defection of Maj Rubaramira Ruranga from FDC to NRM has triggered animated responses, especially from members of the political opposition. Many have interrogated the reasons/ motivations presented by Maj Ruranga in explaining his defection. Some, especially the NRM-leaning ones, have questioned the viability of Uganda’s political “opposition”.
In the circumstances, it’s important that those of us struggling for democratic change represent the dynamics of our struggle; to enable everyone appreciate what defection of a leader means.
Firstly, the immediate struggle we are engaged in is not one between political parties. It’s not about influencing Ugandans to support a particular view of the world (ideology) or influencing State policy; important as that may be. Our immediate struggle is for creating the environment in which Ugandans can have the power and freedom to determine their destiny. It’s a liberation struggle.
The struggle for “Independence” still continues 51 years after the colonial masters were replaced by African masters. The “Independence” central aspirations of “freedom, justice and power to the people” are still elusive. The guns used by the colonial government to subjugate Ugandans are still the source of power for today’s tyrants.
In fact, whereas the colonial governors were accountable to a democratic system in Britain, the black governors (Ssabagabes) are not accountable to any authority. Whereas the colonial government built strong institutions, the African governors have undermined and destroyed most State institutions.
Without real power, our people have no say in what happens to the country’s resources. National resources are controlled by, and mainly benefit, the armed cabal that controls State power. That’s why official mega-corruption, plunder, opulence, and dispensing of “favours” by ruling armed gangs go on with impunity.
That’s why, on the other hand, the majority of (excluded or marginalised) people continue to live in humiliating poverty, with massive unemployment, lack of decent education, healthcare, and the whole range of public goods and services. Therefore, unless the people of Uganda liberate themselves from the cabal of armed gangs that control State power, the humiliating conditions in which the majority of our people live will continue.
Our people, therefore, desire and struggle for liberation in their own interest. The majority now know, very clearly, what’s responsible for their terrible conditions and what needs to happen before they can expect lasting and meaningful improvements.
That’s why our youth have been treating with contempt all attempts aimed at soothing their suffering or diverting their attention; like the youth funds, Sacco “donations” and other handouts from Mr Museveni, or the return of Buganda Kingdom property. People support leaders whom they consider to be working in their interest. As soon as they detect that a leader is pursuing other interests they abandon him.
Secondly, it’s important to recognise that removing an entrenched military regime is not an easy task but an imperative one. Certainly, it cannot be removed through elections organised by the regime. Even if the electoral laws are changed to make them fair, it’s not likely to help. This is because the military regime does not respect constitutionalism and the rule of law. Additionally, all institutions of State are directly controlled by the ruling tyrant.
Dictatorships also control and paralyse citizens through continuous use of four measures: 1) terror and intimidation- causing fear among citizens; 2) dispensing favours - personal rewards for show of loyalty or betrayal of opposition; 3) control of the Fourth Estate (media) and information to the public; and 4) factionalising communities (divide and rule).
The main intention of all these measures is to paralyse the population with fear, lack of knowledge/ information and perennial conflicts; while using favours (bribes) to co-opt leaders. It’s not surprising, therefore, that leaders succumb to the dictatorship from time to time. The sacrifices made by leaders are quite high as already mentioned.
It takes a high level of ideological commitment and resilience to remain in the struggle leadership for many years. Most leaders who succumb to the dictatorship are not persuaded by it’s actions; they are coerced into seeking survival means from it. In fact, defectors are inwardly more revolted by the regime (for the humiliation they go through) than the colleagues they abandon in the struggle. Quite often, defectors get marginalised or even ejected by the dictatorship after serving its purpose.
It’s also worth mentioning that some leaders in the liberation struggle are not convinced about the purpose of the struggle. They would be happy to be in the shoes of the dictator only that they lack the opportunity. Such leaders are usually problematic, always making unrealistic demands and putting their interests ahead of the struggle’s interests. They seek every opportunity to interact with leaders of the dictatorship and they, generally, do not last long in the struggle. They use the struggle to gain recognition and co-optation into the dictatorship.
What the dictatorship seems unable to realise is that there is an inexhaustible reservoir of leaders in the struggle. It’s impossible to compromise enough leaders in the struggle to cripple it. Leaders of the struggle are not appointed; they emerge from the masses of marginalised people. This is why all dictatorships are doomed to collapse.
All the above must have been going through Ms Betty Nambooze’s mind when she told Maj Ruranga after his defection that “the monster you’ve been fearlessly fighting has devoured you”! Leaders who succumb to the monster die politically and spiritually and are in effect devoured. It has been happening to politicians who defected to NRM since “multiparty system” was allowed in law.