Monday May 19 2014

Ring-fencing positions to specific individuals is political cowardice

I have looked on with dismay at the events happening in my party, the National Resistance Movement, ever since the “famous” February Kyankwanzi resolution that reportedly endorsed President Museveni’s sole candidacy for 2016.
From the onset, this attempt at stifling democracy in our party has had major flaws which if not arrested quickly, could be a recipe for disaster.

To begin with, the NRM Parliamentary Caucus is not an official organ of the party. Chapter 4, Article 10, of the NRM constitution lists only three categories of party organs namely; the policy organs, administrative organs and special organs and a thorough scrutiny of the party constitution does not mention the NRM Parliamentary Caucas under any of the said organs.

It is the policy organs that include the national conference, the national executive council, the central executive council, the district conferences down to the cell as the smallest party organ inter alia that are mandated with among others making a decision about who becomes NRM’s flag-bearer. It is, therefore, not surprising that attempts to smuggle this parliamentary resolution into the CEC, and into part of the special organs like the youth league has been met with resistance. Luckily for us, the party still has some people with heads above their shoulders.

With a political career spanning close to five decades, I am very surprised that President Museveni cannot see through the half-truths that MPs have sold to him. In the past three elections, close to 60 per cent of the MPs have been thrown out by their electorates and one can be so certain the trend will be any different come 2016. Looking at images of MPs throwing money at voters and the resultant stampedes, and ensuing fights, one is at pain to even wonder if the message of the master is being delivered. Have we, as a party degenerated that low?

But that aside, as a youth leader in NRM, what fundamentally worries me about the sole candidacy drive is the long-lasting damage it will have on democracy not just within the NRM but Uganda as a country. We must worry when people begin to sideline others in what should be an in-house healthy, open and democratic contest. The idea of ring-fencing positions to specific individuals is not just a sign of political cowardice but it has the risk of disenfranchising many supporters who could seek alternatives elsewhere, and must not be encouraged.

For youths like me, despite the challenges we face such as unemployment, our endearing connection and identification with the NRM has been based on its ability, real or perceived to offer each and every one a fair chance at leadership.

This crave for democracy is what led President Museveni and his close political colleagues to the bush amidst the risks of the times. Despite other challenges like economic emancipation, many of my era have lent support to the NRM because of this democratic liberation even when we were not alive or understood nothing during the so-called tyrannical regimes. What then happens when the core of this bond is broken by those driven by selfish motives? What happens when even at the thought of expressing the intention to vie for a seat in the party you are ostracised and treated like an outcast?

And yet I am convinced, beyond any doubt that all is not lost. The NRM can regain ground as a party that respects diverse views and those interested in running for different political offices within the party, will be accommodated and treated fairly and justly.

Of course I also shudder to imagine what the Shs5 billion that has been disbursed so far to popularise the Museveni candidacy could have done in terms of supporting income-generating projects for the youth. We should seek long-term investments that will create support for our party and not short-term fixes that dissipate the moment we turn our backs.

Mr Mugoya is an NRM Youth Chairperson, Buwalasi, SubCounty-Budadiri West,Sironko.