The way forward is a national conference instead of coup threats
Posted Friday, February 1 2013 at 02:00
But the coup talk could give ideas to unexpected lower military levels, who are also affected by the economic hardships biting most Ugandans.
The treasonable coup threats by the President and defence leadership have rightly continued to attract varied responses, most of them in condemnation. However, surprisingly no one has called for preparations by the all citizens of Uganda to be ready to exercise their right conferred and duty imposed upon them by Article 3 (4), in case the threat becomes reality. Some commentators have pointed out this citizens’ right but they shy away from calling for readiness to resist these treasonable threats. Article 3 (4) provides that “All citizens of Uganda have the right and duty at all times - (a) to defend the Constitution and, in particular to resist any person or group of persons seeking to overthrow the established constitutional order; and (b) to do all in their power to restore this Constitution after it has been suspended, overthrown, abrogated or amended contrary to its provisions”. Article 3 (5) provides that anyone who resists in accordance with Article 3(4) commits no offence.
We have seen that this threat is a serious since the Constitution was amended, when the presidential term limits were removed for the interests of one man, contrary to the provisions of the Constitution. To facilitate this amendment, an adequate number of MPs were bribed to vote for the amendment and the rules of Parliament had then also to be amended so that the bribed MPs could be seen voting correctly. Secondly, the media has reported a meeting (which has not been denied) that took place on the coup matter and some of the persons who attended were named. Instead, three top defence leaders, including the Chairman of the High Command and Commander in Chief made the meeting discussions public, making it look like a sort of policy decision. Now to some well informed people this is not new. Something similar was rumoured during the 2001 and 2006 elections as a fallback position in case the opposition won presidential elections. What is new, therefore, is that this has now become a fallback position for the dominant group in the ongoing essentially intra-NRM struggles, located in Parliament, the Executive and the wider society. In other words the regime fears what it sees as realistic chances of implosion.
If you look closely at the fire fighting attempts to stump out dissent, they have failed badly. For example, the harassment and mistakes that led to the formation of FDC have backfired as they have emboldened more internal dissent rather than snuff it out. The persecution of officers such as Brig. Tumukunde and others has had the same effect. The promotion of vocal MPs to ministerial posts becomes an incentive for others to become “rebels”. The arrest of some ministers to assuage donors that “big fish” are big punished in the fight against corruption has had the opposite effect. Even the conviction of Mike Mukula for a few hundred millions he refunded looks unconvincing when those who have take billions continue making endless brief court appearances with the usual end result well known to the public – no refund of the billions.
The handling of the death of young Cerinah Nebanda has left a lot of mud of the regime’s face. So the regime mired in debilitating systemic rampant corruption, mismanagement and waste that has resulted in failure to deliver services at central and local government levels, has justified fears of possible collapse. However, the conclusion made, that a coup would save the regime or at least the regime leadership is totally false. A coup by the military leadership is not possible. They can remove the Speaker, arrest some MPs, political leaders, journalists and shut some FM radio stations. But the coup talk could give ideas to unexpected lower military levels, who are also affected by the economic hardships biting most Ugandans. There is no doubt that because of these hardships the majority of Ugandans want a change from the current regime and no doubt that the lower military cadres may share the feelings of society in general.
Therefore, the incitement by coup talk could have unintended consequences. The coup talkers would rather engage society in wide ranging talks (national conference) to find a solution to the current impasse. This is the way to go for a stable Uganda.
Mr Ruzindana is a former IGG and former MP.