For every challenge witnessed in politics, there is a cultural-side to it. So it is with the case of the so called rebel MPs of the ruling NRM-; Banabas Tinkasimire(Buyaga,) Mohammed Nsereko (Kampala Central,) Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga,) and Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East.)
These four who (are) were wont to go against the position of the party in Parliament and in public were fired by NRM-O. The Constitutional Court ruled that they could not keep their Parliamentary seats anymore, after the punitive action of the party that had hitherto sponsored them.
What these four gentlemen have been up to is a sign that they have not fully understood the environment in which they operate.
Most of our political decisions are the replication of the feudal autocratic institutions of old with an all powerful chief at the helm. The rest of the subjects were expected to do the bidding of the chief without question. Any divergent view was treated harshly as disobedience and disrespect or outright bad manners originating from a bad upbringing.
If you had the favour of the chief he gave you tracts of land and powers which made you prosper. If you contradicted him you were either put to death, rusticated or ostracised.
So is NRM-O. The talk about ‘our party,’ and internal democracy is infantile.
Museveni has always made it clear that NRM-O is his party and that whoever disagrees with his father should leave his home and go and start his own.
What has happened in NRM-O, happened with UPC in the turbulent 60s when Obote sought to tighten his grip on the party against the threat of the young Turks, the Bidandi Ssalis, Kintu Musokes, etc. It has happened to Julius Mlema of the ANC in South Africa.
NRM and most political parties in Uganda are run along the lines of this single-handed mentality above. Where a party like FDC is founded by several like-minded people, the one who provides financial muscle becomes the leading light and the most influential member. He becomes the defacto owner of the party who everyone looks up to.
If it is the party in power like the NRM-O, the party becomes a State party with total control of all the institutions and instruments of governance be they financial or coercive. This is what is used to keep people in proper command and control.
It is very Machiavellian by nature. Machiavelli always advised that the prince who shows weakness plays in the hands of the enemy. As President Museveni grows older, it becomes reckless and risky to allow a situation where everyone in NRM-O behaves as they will without caution. His options are like those of a cancerous patient. Do you amputate the limb with cancer or let it stay put and the cancer spreads?
Museveni has ably demonstrated this Machiavellian trait. You crush those who show signs of divergence to achieve two things. First to destroy them and second, to make them act as an example to those who may have such desires.
That is what happened to Kiiza Besigye, Henry Tumukunde, David Sejusa, Eriya Kategaya, etc. To perfect this strategy you design society in such a way that it is very difficult for anyone to survive outside of the political realm and shield of the ruling ‘government party.’
Many of the people who left NRM-O to form PAFO, then Reform Agenda and FDC, have found it too hot to handle and have made their way back to NRM-O, with Rubarabira Ruranga being the latest in line. Many ignominiously claim they were misled or confused.
The rebel MPs have two choices. Either to with stand Museveni’s onslaught (Besigye) or crawl back like the prodigal son (Rubaramira Ruranga.)
Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues. firstname.lastname@example.org