Thursday February 20 2014

All power must truly belong to us

A particularly healthy contest is raging inside the ruling party over the succession question, which situation has to be seen as a fresh opportunity to move the country forward from the slumber-induced stasis of the last few years.

Two sides have emerged in the heated exchanges. First, we have the MPs still upbeat from the party’s annual re-orientation ritual in Kyankwanzi. According to them, President Museveni should still lead in 2016 and they are fully entitled to this view. Where they muddle things up is when they get upset that their conviction in the matter is not shared by a faction of the NRM’s youth wing. This intolerance, to put it mildly, is rather reactionary.

Attempts to smack down support for Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi’s undeclared bid for the presidency could actually achieve the opposite effect and win him sympathy.
Mr Mbabazi is the party secretary general and has endured a love-hate relationship with Ugandans, some of whom hate his guts. He has signed onto an informal commitment to stand behind his chairman, the President, in 2016 but all that could change.

The political times are pregnant with expectation. We say: Let the debate run its course unimpeded. Ugandans should not be denied the prospect of choosing from as diverse a range as is possible -- and that includes Opposition politicians too.

Those NRM members who feel the chairman must stick around should not lose sight of the party’s freely declared commitment to foster the spirit and culture of internal democracy. After all, the Opposition appears to be coming to terms with its own internal spasms. In certain aspects, it was indeed quite refreshing to witness the Stately changing of the guard with the replacing of the Leader of Opposition at Parliament on Tuesday.

As we brace ourselves for a barrage of populist bluster as the opposed wings do battle, in a unique way, this also presents just the right platform for the country to ponder the future.
Two years from the election date seems long enough to give hard thought to this important matter. In the past, every Ugandan of voting age seems not to have fully digested what the Constitution means where it says in Article 1 that ‘all power belongs to the people’.