NRA’s revolutionary credits and the Constitution’s UPDF

Saturday February 9 2019

Prince Nyabongo of Tooro dead lions tourism police

Asuman Bisiika. 

By Asuman Bisiika

The rumour is that President Museveni will be seeking re-election for an Xth time in the next possible elections. And the biggest asset he will be bringing into the election is the tag of ‘Leader of the Revolution’. And the biggest asset the Leader of the Revolution possesses is the military establishment (and some people say, the national Treasury).
Dear reader, the revolution is not about politics. It has been reduced to the exercise of martial and muscle power; at the centre of which is the military.

The centrality of the military in the body politic can be detected in the fact that militarisation of civil policing is now a new normal. And to complete the picture, institutions of civil policing have co-opted the population into the ‘military attitude’ manifested through crime prevention initiatives.
In the end, those who want to wrest power from Museveni will have to contend with the military establishment (and the national Treasury).
It, therefore, goes without saying that in the eyes of the revolution, February 6 is not just a military day or National Army Day (Tarehe Sita). The military is now the only State institution that has an organic and historical attachment to the revolution and the leader of the revolution, a demonstration of that organic relationship was manifest in the Parliament of Uganda in the last quarter of 2017 during the Togikwatako debate.
The folly of many Ugandans seeking change is to think that they can play politics in a revolution. The military and the revolution is the only political constituency Mr Museveni, from whom political actors want to wrest power, is familiar with. It is his thing.
For those not familiar with the revolution, actions of military ruler Idi Amin and president Milton Obote formed what was not supposed to be done. The argument was: If you don’t know what to do, at least don’t do what Amin or Obote did. But the images of these two leaders - Obote and Amin - have been politically rehabilitated so much that Charles Peter Mayiga (Katikiro of Buganda Kingdom) raised eye brows when he called them bajega (village bumpkins).
MP Semujju Nganda has threatened to petition courts over the designation of February 6 as Army Day. This is a matter we can discuss later. But of what value, save for populist excitement, would such petition add to the politics of the country?
NRA has its revolutionary credentials and the UPDF has its constitutional credentials. But that is not enough; it is their attitude towards the people of Uganda (politics) that matter. And that is determined by the leadership of the UPDF. And we saw that in Parliament when poor MP Betty Nambooze’s back was broken.
So, it really doesn’t matter whether the constitutional UPDF adopted February 6 (or any other date) as the National Army Day. What MP Ssemuju should prepare for is to contend with the martial and muscle of the UPDF and other things incidental thereto. And I have a strong feeling that an Arab Spring kind of thing would most likely not lead to the desired outcome. Yet, we are most likely going there; we are near the Arab Spring than ever before.
To make the argument that the Arab Spring would not spill over into sub-Saharan Africa, is an (academic) attempt to portray the leadership challenges in Arab Africa as completely different from those afflicting Zenji (Black) Africa. The people of Burkina Faso chased president Blaise Campaore from power in a fashion similar to the Arab Spring. But the signature was typical Zenji African.

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of East African Flagpost.

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