Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) has called for dialogue between the government and opposition political parties on the future of the country as the ruling NRM marks 28 years in power this weekend. Specifically, UPC would like issues of constitutionalism and the rule of law discussed in light of recent political incidents that have called into question the state of constitutionalism in the country.
This is a call many Ugandans who have watched the mayhem on the streets as protesters are beaten by police and the executive disregard of other centres of power will welcome. Indeed, it is a call that has continuously been made by religious leaders as well as numerous civil society actors over the last many years but which government has, for one reason or the other, chosen to disregard.
It is likely the NRM government will not yet embrace UPC’s call. However, in the interest of the country and its future stability, it is imperative that government starts engaging other political, economic and civil society stakeholders to chart a new path for the country.
Yes, a lot of progress has been made over the last 28 years but perhaps a lot more progress could have been made had the government listened more to other stakeholders. It is, therefore, time to stop the rhetoric, name-calling, accusations and counter accusation so that we can sit down as a country and have a structured conversation on our shared future.
Some of the key things that need urgent discussion are constitutionalism in general but political succession, democratic space and accountability specifically. Ugandans have witnessed too much political, economic and social impunity over the last years and this is not a situation we want to bequeath to the next generation.
NRM has a unique opportunity, therefore, to step back and right the many things that have gone wrong. If it continues to resist calls for dialogue and maintains muted arrogance to other points of views, it could end up where the other parties, notably UPC, ended up – on the dung heap of history.