Why Uganda’s opposition need more defectors like Rubaramira Ruranga
Posted Tuesday, October 29 2013 at 08:35
In 2011 after the general election, I told a journalist that FDC president Kizza Besigye would count himself successful as a leader come 2016 if he kept his party and its faithful together.
For long, FDC has had the problem of having members who play it like Nicodemus in the Bible, who spent time with the Pharisees during the day, and met Jesus at night.
There is the famous story of an FDC leader who was known to wear Muslim attire to disguise herself at night as she made her way to meet a top NRM leader. In Kenyan politics during the time of Moi, this was termed ‘eating ugali at State House.’
The structure of our politics and economy makes opposition parties all too weak and vulnerable. They exist in a situation where most of the institutions and facilities of the State have either been personalised or run down. The final provider of solutions to our troubles becomes the President. If one needs medical attention, the President may come in handy like he did when opposition MP Beatrice Anywar had an accident.
Politicians are terribly affected by this structure because being in politics raises one’s station in life and their expectations. The children attend good schools. There is a brand new car and easy access to loans for a house and other allowances.
A look from high up the political tree, one sees poverty and suffering. It makes them feel very insecure and vulnerable. The examples of people who have fallen from grace to grass because of their position far away from the President and his party, is too long and disheartening for (opposition) politicians.
NRM has made the situation trickier by mastering the psychology of winning and losing and the opposition has been terribly affected by this psychology.
When one makes winning a habit, soon they appear invincible to their contenders. The contenders feel that it is impossible to win anything when faced with a perennial winner, especially if they are faint-hearted and are not in the business on principle. Coupled with this, a loss means going into debt as politics is a job in which one invests millions to get a seat in parliament or to be influential in a party.
The reason why President Museveni will leave his tight schedule to campaign for an NRM LC 3 candidate, is to rub this point in further. Soon competition starts feeling the fear and fatigue of losing and any slight attempt to lure members to the winning side will do the trick.
On a positive side, FDC and other political parties in Uganda should be happy if more Rubaramira Rurangas come out of the closet and cross to the NRM. Even if their reasons are as bizarre as Ruranga’s.
To join NRM in order to re-enforce the fight against HIV/Aids is ridiculous and irresponsible. It insults victims and relatives of victims, considering the Global Funds and GAVI funds money which was stolen under the watch of the NRM with such impunity.
There is nothing as bad as fighting a war with wolves in sheep skin on ones side. You never win as commitment is half-hearted and your strategies and secrets are most probably leaked even before you test them. You can never tell your real strength.
Uganda’s opposition has been excited by huge numbers and loud voices before elections only to be disappointed and frustrated. The problem, of course, is partly due to the fact that our elections are not clean. But the number of snakes in the opposition is quite high.
Many will let down the party because of money, which the opposition does not have in abundance. Many position themselves in the opposition as critics of the government to attract the attention of the ruling party to silence them with money.
It will be good for the Ugandan opposition if only those committed to the cause remain even if they are just a handful. Rubaramira Ruranga’s move is definitely a blessing if not good riddance.
Mr Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues.