The square call by NRM secretary general Kasule Lumumba to President Museveni to stop poll violence in the party was bang on. See ‘Stop impunity within NRM, Lumumba tells Museveni’, Daily Monitor, September 8.
Ms Lumumba’s call, which comes without any evasion, seeks durable solutions to the difficult question of electoral violence, not only in NRM party, but also our national body politic.
Ms Lumumba’s direct way of confronting this longstanding political sickness should be well-received, except that she is only crying out after the disease has hit her own legs. Indeed, we should all agree with Ms Lumumba that “when that [violence and rigging, etc.] happen[s] and nothing is done, the impunity hurts and scares away people. … We are not above the law. …Impunity is what I want to see dealt with within the party before we talk about the outside.”
When Ms Lumumba contends that Mr Museveni should start with his own NRM party, she had correctly read that the violence is not only plaguing us now, but has for much longer. The same security forces have, at every election cycle, brutalised the Opposition, but have sadly been praised for their strong-arm tactics.
As recently as last month, at the passing out of some 4,800 police officers in Masindi, the President praised the Special Forces Command for ‘handling very well,’ Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine. It should be recalled, Bobi Wine came out of the incident tortured and required referral abroad for better medical management. Other MPs as well as 30 other Ugandans, were brutalised in the fracas that involved reported pelting of President Museveni’s motorcade in Arua during a by-election.
So when these security forces get praised for meting out violence, they become emboldened and more brutal. And when they now mete out self-same brute force against the NRM party members, and not counterparts in FDC, NUP, and other Opposition party outfits, they now become rogues.
This disparity makes Ms Kasule’s call to President Museveni apt; that the State and its armed forces should protect Ugandans and their property and not take their lives!
In sum, the chaos witnessed in the NRM party polls should also teach us that systems as complex of methods or rules governing behaviours should be upheld and made to count for what they are. The tossing out of the window of what used to qualify one as a member and voter in the NRM – the register of party members – plunged the party into a chaotic, violent and rigged elections.
We challenge President Museveni to see through his resolve to have perpetrators of the violence, who shot defenceless civilians, punished in our courts of law.