Sunday June 8 2014

The message and lessons learnt from the Luweero by-election

By Harold Acemah

Luweero was the cradle of the NRM “revolution” and indications are that Luweero will be the deathbed of whatever is left of the NRM’s “revolution” which increasingly looks more like a facism.
I rather like Timothy Kalyegira’s analogy of Luweero 2014 and Bushenyi 1980.

In an incisive perspective titled, “Luweero by-election: the barometer for 2016” published in the Sunday Monitor of May 25, 2014, Kalyegira wrote: “If there is one place in Uganda where the NRM party should, in theory, be guaranteed victory, Luweero is that place. For a candidate backed by President Museveni to lose in Luweero is like President Milton Obote losing an election in Bushenyi in 1980.”

The question which begs answers is why was the NRM defeated decisively and hands-down in its very cradle? In other words, why did the NRM lose so badly in Luweero District?

Many commentators have attempted to address this question and let me join them and give my take on this interesting development.

First, what happened in Luweero on May 22, 2014, was tantamount to a paradigm shift in Ugandan politics. The decisive victory of DP with the full support of the key Opposition parties of Uganda, including the UPC, has put an end to the big lie that NRM is the defender of the interests of the Bantu in South of Uganda vis a vis the interests of the barbaric and primitive greater North.

It must, no doubt, have been a difficult decision for the voters of Luweero to make, but I am sure the valiant sons and daughters of Luweero weighed all the pros and cons of the matter before they arrived at the correct and best decision in the circumstances.
Second, Ms Brenda Nabukenya’s historic victory in Luweero has put an end to the belief and myth that Buganda is NRM territory; from now onwards Buganda is politically open to free and fair competition and, in this regard, I believe the Opposition has excellent prospects to reap enormous dividends in Buganda, come 2016.

Third, in many respects, the Luweero by-election was a referendum on the NRM’s 28-year misrule of Uganda, and contrary to what the Toronto-based columnist, Lapwony Opiyo Oloya opined in his comment published in the New Vision of June 4, 2014, the results of the by-election clearly reveal that the people of Luweero have thoroughly and almost totally rejected the NRM/O and its leadership.

Oloya wrote: “Although the opposition will claim otherwise, the people of Luweero were not rejecting NRM as a party or even Yoweri Museveni as president, but rather were keenly declaring their unhappiness with the stagnation in the economy, the slippage back into poverty and the need for an urgent programme to get them moving forward again. Although a member of the Opposition, Nabukenya offered them a glimpse of hope, and they took it.”

Oloya should visit Luweero next time he is in Uganda from the world-class city of Toronto and hear for himself what the majority of the poverty-striken wananchi of Luweero are saying and singing loudly without fear and he will swallow his words without any delay!

Fourth, the victory of the wananchi in Luweero reveals and confirms the old saying that nobody can fool all the people all the time. When the people of Luweero traverse Uganda, I am sure it dawns on them that the primary beneficiaries of the NRM “revolution” did not sacrifice as much as they did for six long years; this reality has naturally bred anger, bitterness and frustration in Luweero which is as backward today as most parts of the greater North.

Fifth, the Luweero poll of May 22 was a vote of no confidence in the NRM regime, especially its leaders who campaigned with their usual arrogance in the belief that the ill-gotten billions of shillings at their disposal would buy enough votes to enable their chosen candidate to sail through.

Alas, the “childish” DP candidate taught the rich and mighty a hard lesson which they will never forget! For their information, this is only lesson one and there are many more lessons to come on the road to 2016. DP egumire!

The notion that DP and the combined Opposition to rigged elections in what former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya calls a “police state” would be preposterous and such wild allegations should be dismissed with contempt. It is another big lie Ugandans should simply scoff at.

The outcome of the by-election was a stinging indictment of the corrupt and morally bankrupt NRM regime which is leading Uganda into a bottomless pit. I am glad the people of Luweero have given hope that Ugandans can and will soon rescue themselves from landing in that dark and bottomless dungeon.

The challenge for the Opposition is to unite and build on the solid foundation which the people of Luweero have laid for a new Uganda.
Peaceful change in 2016 is now inevitable! The people of Uganda must neither give up nor give in. Let us keep hope alive. Aluta continua!
For God and my Country!

Mr Acemah is a political scientist, consultant and a retired career diplomat.