Looking at the disrespect, arrogance and abuse that meets those who hold contrary views to the ones that are supposedly the ‘proper ones,’ tells us that the 2021 General Election is going to be different from what we have had in the last 40 years.
By the way, the ‘proper view’ generally is that no one in their right mind should even be tempted to imagine that they may support the NRM.
Someone assured me when levelling an accusation that I had also eaten Museveni’s money. His problem was that I had ‘said bad things about them.’ Granted this election comes at a time like no other. Most people eligible to vote are energetic young people in the age bracket of between 18 and 45 years.
Many are out of job, if at all they had one in the first place. Others have taken a painful pay cut due to the adverse effects that Covid-19 has had on the economy. The shock absorbers like bars, sports activities and even churches are all locked down. There is pent up anger, frustration and energy as we go to the ballot.
It is not helped by the fact that the usual bad habits in the run up to the elections are sticking out their ugly heads. Security agencies stop any mobilisation activities of anyone considered to be opposed to the NRM government. They look the other way or even provide security for those that are for NRM.
This is a huge mistake. Free expression, especially that exhibited at rallies (we may not have any due to Covid-19) even if it lacks the venomous power of changing situations is a form of catharsis. It tends to sooth the soul and offers an escape route for the oppressed.
People go home satisfied that ‘our man’ has stood up and spoken to the face of the bullying dictator who we have no capacity to confront. But again, never has Uganda had an election where the incumbent has been in power for 35 odd years.
President Museveni is seemingly in an unassailable position militarily, politically and economically. Yet he is accused of presiding over a government that dabbles in corruption and impunity. Those contending with him are making it clear his style of governance is the cause of their predicament and that this is the opportune moment to push him out using the ballot.
This has raised so much hope and many think that ‘this time,’ it is possible.
The rise of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi has inspired many young people. A lot of his message, which comes in songs, tickles the emotions. And they are high. Many young people have come out to try their luck at all levels in this coming election.
They think that Kyagulanyi will not only lead them to the Promised Land and redeem them.
They are smelling blood and are ready to give it their all to pounce.
In Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, we are told: “When your army has crossed the border [into enemy territory], you should burn your boats and bridges, in order to make it clear to everybody that you have no hankering after home.”
The trouble is that a situation beyond your control can force you back home. The trouble with this sort of emotional composure that manifests itself in intolerant outbursts against contrary views is that it does not seem to take into account the volatile and unpredictable nature of politics. Or should we say of life itself. Even the titanic sunk.
African politics can be deceptive and heart-breaking just like the weather is to the farmer. The time they plant their seeds expecting good rains often ends up with scattered showers, drought and crop failure. The trouble with too much hope is that it puts one in a situation where there is no alternative for failure. They must win at all costs.
What if they do not win and are highly charged? They have either to become violent or sink into depression. Violence will be met with, the coercive instruments of the State both formal (army and police) and informal (Kiboko Squad.)
But it is a lot of dirty work with bad publicity shows that one has lost the battle of hearts and minds. It is political failure.
It is the later that should worry all of us. When a group of people especially the young suffer from post election stress caused by disappointment, a nation has no future.
A smart dictator may use national financial resources to comfort (bribe) their leaders away from serious political contention and kill the fervent revolutionary fire in them. Many will see the light and tell the lie that they are set on a path ‘to fight from within’ NRM.
It will alienate them from inspiring and encouraging the led, to keep pressing.
They will end up becoming politically detached as they look at national politics as completely bastardised and politicians as ‘all the same.’
There is nothing that dictator love like this. That is why those opposed to Museveni and NRM should teach their followers to hope for the best, but learn to expect the worst.