Many political players have decided to take the route of overkill in the run-up to the 2021 General Election.
While the law requires that for one to be nominated, they are required to collect at least 100 signatures from each of two thirds of the 146 districts in Uganda, parties are going for the millions.
NRM collected five million. NUP had seven million before they were raided and snatched from their offices by security agencies. DP talked of two million signatures as at the weekend. FDC, ANT and the Independents have not yet given us their returns. But in the spirit of garnering bragging rights before the election, it is likely that their numbers will go well beyond the threshold.
What these signatures are supposed to mean is that the candidates in question have overwhelming support even before they campaign and, therefore, the more they have, the higher their chances of winning.
The reality of the African continent is very different. It is not the one with the most supporter or even voters who gets to be announced on Election Day. It is the one who has the vote of the ‘owners’ of the country. These are the ones that bankroll African countries and have saddled them right up to the neck with debt that benevolently comes in as economic aid. The group includes former colonial powers in Western Europe (Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Italy, etc) USA, then China, Russia and increasingly India.
To understand the significance of these countries, you have to look back and appreciate colonial history. The colonialist, despite claims of Christianising, civilising and introducing the so-called Dark Continent to commerce, the ulterior motive of the scramble and partition of Africa and other colonies, was to get a share of cheap natural resources, including labour for their own development back home.
So carving out spheres of influence; Anglophone, Francophone, etc was just to make it easier to navigate their way to these resources. The so-called struggle for Independence in the 1950s and 1960s was not taken lightly as a threat nor did it deter the colonialist from their original motive of subjugating and cheaply exploiting the continent’s natural resources.
They simply had to devise a better cost-effective and efficient ways of achieving that goal even without having boots of the ground. Circumstances favourable included making sure that the continent was dependent on Europe and the outside world for its survival.
So African countries largely remained producers of cheap primary commodities to be sold to the West and East. They would also have to import manufactured and highly processed goods from the very people who paid peanuts for their production. These goods include medicine and condoms for their own survival. This unequal exchange has endured and created weak or nonexistent dependent ‘Independent’ states that can’t pay for their existence.
These sort of states are prone to disease, poverty, insecurity and lawlessness, which are not good for capital. But global capital still has a presence in them yet we all know that capital is shy and very sensitive to such circumstances. To ensure that that presence is sustained and secure, there is need to have local partners with proven capability to minimise risks.
So when people offer themselves for high office like it is with the 2021 Uganda elections, the first and most important group of people to consider are the captains and owners of global capital both in and outside the country.
The ones within such as the banks, the investors; the telecom companies and the construction firms plus the donors, it is obvious to provide an environment for them to thrive. They must have liberal policies which provide cheap labour, favourable tax regimes and grant 100 per cent repatriation of profit. The ones in power must ensure that they run an economy that is able to absorb more debt and pay interests in time to the lenders.
Then there the external interests, for instance, those who want to swim in the troubled waters of illegal mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These will need a government in strategically placed Uganda that will provide safe passage to the sea for them to achieve these goals of looting. That government must grant refuge for those chased off their land and not think about rising up to protect their land rights so that the miners work in peace.
These government must be willing to provide what are called ‘houseboy armies’ and mercenaries to fight ‘other people’s’ wars like it happened in the World Wars and dubiously stand as allies in the so-called war on terror.
So those who speak of these lofty ideals about freedom, peace, the fight against corruption, etc, without showing proof that they are willing to act for the interests of global capital, will simply remain contenders and news makers.
The so-called donors will continue funding them to give some hope to the citizen that that they can change a regime through the ballot and not opt for the tall grasses. Deep down, they know that it is all a charade.
That is why a sitting government like the NRM has the audacity to raid the Opposition because they know that the real owners of Uganda still endorse them. They have no fear of a backlash, which may include economic sanctions, travel bans and freezing of assets.
If it works, you don’t change it. The NRM is still working for those who matter most in the power play of a poor African country.
Unfortunately, those people are not citizens, who will brave the elements come February, to exercise their right to change the government.