What you need to know:
- ‘‘The relationship between the people of Uganda and the NRM regime is akin to a marriage that is on the verge of collapsing.”
In 1986, when the National Resistance Army (NRA) toppled the regime of Gen Tito Okello Lutwa and began ruling the country, it enjoyed some degree of trust and legitimacy from the people, especially those hailing from southwestern Uganda. Certainly, in the north-east, the story was different. The raison d’etre for the war was allegedly to end the so-called domination of Ugandan politics by the people of north-eastern.
Consequently, the people of north-eastern resorted to force of arms to dislodge the regime.
Meanwhile, as it consolidated itself in power, NRA used unpopular and undemocratic methods which emasculated the trust and legitimacy it initially enjoyed from the other parts of the country.
It organised fraudulent elections, robbed public assets and funds in broad day light, raped the Constitution, and unleashed terror on dissenting voices.
Owing to its undemocratic and intolerant behaviours, the NRM regime orchestrates violence against Opposition actors with impunity. In fact, the regime has been accused many times of torturing and even killing citizens for holding different views. In effect, this iron fist approach to dissent has rendered the NRM regime more and more untrustworthy and illegitimate.
That is the reason why the deaths of many prominent political and military leaders or even ordinary citizens are blamed on regime operatives. However, what is certainly true is that the NRM regime is no longer trusted and legitimate.
The relationship between the people of Uganda and the NRM regime is akin to a marriage that is on the verge of collapsing. The couple may still be living together under the same roof, but they do so for totally different reasons rather than marriage.
There is no longer trust and familial bonds that tie the two together. There is absence of legitimate symbiotic interaction between the man and the woman. In the same way, Ugandans may still be living with the NRM regime, but they are doing so for reasons that are beyond their control. If they had the free will to choose who rules them, NRM would have long been dumped in the dung heap of history.
When a regime has obese trust deficiencies and suffers from acute legitimacy anaemia, the gun or bomb that can help it has not yet been discovered. They may suppress dissension, torture or even kill people voicing disagreement with the status quo, but they will never kill the urge for change among the people.
They may buy off Opposition leaders and rent support. They may personalise and render State institutions lame duck. They may monetise and commercialise politics.
All that will be in vain. Ultimately the people will triumph.
The writer is a politician, trainer and writer