We woke up on Wednesday, October 14 to news that a combined force of the Ugandan army and police had raided the offices of presidential hopeful and the charismatic youthful legislator from Kyadondo East, Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine.
The armed forces detained more than 100 supporters of the National Unity Platform (NUP). But the marauding forces took literally every document, computers, and whatever they could land on to stifle the nascent party from organising itself to challenge President Museveni in the forthcoming elections.
The security agencies reportedly confiscated nomination, promotional items, and apparently some money intended to pay for NUP flag bearers in the just-concluded parliamentary nominations.
The raid on the NUP head office is not the first of its kind and will not be the last. The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, Uganda’s largest Opposition party, has suffered its own episodes.
The same combination of army and police have raided party headquarters at Najjanankumbi multiple times and at critical times, to carry away computers and sensitive party documents before, during, and after elections.
The problem is that Ugandans take these violent State assaults as a mere episode, thereby ripping it of the context in which such acts should be assessed and understood.
The limits of democracy in NRM’s Uganda has been apparent and yet we fail to read it correctly. John Stuart Mills once expressed his fears of how monstrous democracy can be.
Mills was concerned with the tyranny of the majority over the minority and argued that such tyranny could generate and impose on the population certain moral rules and culture that the people may not necessarily want. Lenin was more cynical about democracy and many prominent scholars have asked whether democracy even exists.
In Uganda, where the military is preoccupied with violence, what passes for democracy is what Lenin prescribed as the opportunity to spread propaganda to the backward strata. The origin of liberal democracy is exactly what democracy is now reinforcing in Uganda. Democracy arose as resentment to the monarchical monopoly over power.
Democracy aimed at ensuring that ordinary people made decisions on how they wished to be ruled and served.
This gave prominence to equality in society, recognised individual will and rights, which must be exercised freely among free men (and later women). The conditions that constituted a “free man” has eluded Africans and particularly, Ugandans, making our democracy stale.
The freeman in Africa was demolished by events leading to and including colonialism. The violent way that states in Africa were formed must be examined formally elsewhere.
However, the colonial state was entrenched through absolute violence. Franz Fanon ably linked the colonial psychological violence to pervasive psychiatric problems for the colonised.
Elsewhere, you read about physical violence, seclusion, deprivation, and so forth. These forms of violence have a trans-generational impact that must be properly studied and understood.
It seems that chronic repression deforms society in as much as a chronic monopoly of power deforms its bearers. The Ugandan state has maintained this finesse of colonial violence.
In such a suppressive condition, the free will of man is also squashed. There remain men without liberty and freedom, but only dependent men whose “free will” becomes their token for subsistence.
That free will becomes the preserve of violence. Under such a condition, liberation is reduced to a personal endeavour to supplicate the regime’s middle class, for whatever they can spare.
Mr Moriis DC Komakech is a Uganda political analyst based in Canada | email@example.com