By Nicholas Sengoba
It is a tragic story that bedevils the disadvantaged in society. The tendency to work against each other. So one finds women falling over each other to bring down one of their own in a male dominated society. She is up there because she has slept her way to the top, they say.
Same story with Blacks, in the middle of the predicament of racial discrimination. The one who is on the rise, will be a back side licking Uncle Tom, who would be on the floor like the rest of them, had he not sold his soul to the White devil.
This time like never before, Uganda’s weak Opposition has taken to attacking each other ferociously. You would think incumbent President Yoweri Museveni and his NRM party are not taking part in the 2021 elections. Like kettles calling pots black, Opposition political parties have made it their preoccupation to amplify the mistakes and shortcoming of other Opposition parties in their embellished form. Many times, they peddle outright lies to discredit their peers.
As happens with in-breeding, you also have Opposition parties trying so hard to weaken other Opposition parties by recruiting their members as a ‘show of strength and viability.’ In other scenarios, especially in traditionally strong Opposition territories, the same Opposition is fielding what they think are strong candidates against others to ‘teach them a lesson’ that they are not as strong as they think.
The seat of the Kampala Lord Mayor is an example. His fallout with the Democratic Party (DP) did not go down well with DP, who are looking for someone to stand against him. At every turning when the Opposition scores a point against a rival party within their ranks, they rejoice like they have won the elections.
The problem here is the excessive monetisation of politics. You have to invest very heavily to buy the vote. As is with every investment, sentiments are thrown out of the window and a ‘me and my money first’ approach takes over. The lofty ideals of equity, freedom, egalitarianism, etc, take a back seat. One has to recover their investment by becoming the MP or whatever office they vie for. It is a do or die affair.
What is happening in the Opposition is a lot of movement without progress. Because the Opposition parties are competing against each other they are mainly concentrating their efforts in Opposition strongholds. So they are more visible and vocal in urban areas and areas which have a huge presence of key figures in the parties. The example of FDC in Rukungiri is vivid. So is DP in vast areas of Masaka and UPC in the Lango Sub-region.
They are not doing much by way of venturing into the traditionally NRM strongholds of western, north and north eastern and south western. It is like a football team possessing the ball in its own half. It does not harm the opponent because they rarely move into their half to attack and target their goal. You may not discount the guerrilla tactic of infiltration by Trojan horses to divide and rule the Opposition by causing confusion. We have seen many Opposition Sauls turning into Pauls overnight.
In this day of social media and the developments in Internet and communication technology, many are being juxtaposed in their former and present lives starkly contradicting themselves in an abnormal way.
One fellow who recently took an NUP membership card has now come out to fight them vehemently because they are obscene and immoral.
Second, their focus is mainly on the lucrative position of Member of Parliament, which has become one of the most lucrative jobs in the land in financial and influence peddling terms for very minimal unsupervised work. There is very little emphasis on the not so fancy job of councillors at lower levels yet having these in the spread is very important for the reach of a party at the grassroots.
Ultimately, you have parties with chiefs and very few or no Indians at all. The party becomes a headquarters entity that leaves what happens in the vast provinces to the mercy of God and the magnanimity of the ruling party.
So should elements within NRM attempt to tamper with the ballot, (which is something you can’t put past them), a field day awaits them.
In the last election many Opposition parties got votes in areas in which they did not have representatives to secure and sign declaration forms for them. Well-wishers and whoever cared took it upon themselves.
Yet on the face of it, their rallies had huge numbers of enthusiastic would be followers. This is something that deceptively motivates many Opposition parties into believing that they have a chance without investing in organising on the ground to know who is their own and formally appoint plus facilitate them to represent the party.
That detailed level of organisation is lacking, meaning that we may never know if many of the votes that the Opposition gets will be counted to their satisfaction.
Granted, being the biggest Opposition party comes with its pecuniary benefits. A party gets the trappings of Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, the Opposition chief whip and seats in the East African Legislative Assembly plus, of course, the monthly financial contributions from MPs.
Beyond that, the parties with such ambitions remain small and ineffective, especially if their gain is a loss to other Opposition parties.
It is like a contest of midgets to select the tallest among them. They all remain midgets. That may continuously be taken for granted and ignored by the ruling NRM.