Why opposition cooperation is crucial

Author: Moses Khisa. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • The logic and rationale for Opposition cooperation and coordination has to be quite obvious.

One fact about Uganda today cannot be overemphasised: the country sits at a dangerous political crossroads. 

With a broken political system and a life-presidency that increasingly presides over pervasive corruption, decay and dysfunction, Uganda urgently needs to reset and refresh, to reimagine and refashion a new politics. 

The NRM rule, with Mr Museveni at the helm, is now a textbook case of misrule, bereft of internal capacity for reform and renewal. 

The only viable solution for the country is to negotiate a path forward from the current rulership. And this can only happen if there is a favourable balance of political forces. 

Change does not come accidentally nor naturally, it must be pursued and pressed. Until the forces for change, both internally within the ruling regime and externally among Opposition groups, can coalesce as to make the status quo untenable, we shall remain hostage to NRM misrule. 

Developments early this week, with Dr Kizza Besigye and Robert Kyagulanyi  alias Bobi Wine, along with their respective political groupings announcing that they seek to join hands and combine efforts, represent the kind of Opposition coalescence and unity of purpose that can make a difference in the grand scheme of things. 

Uganda needs a negotiated political transition and settlement that can help avert a possible violent and disruptive end to the long rule of Mr Museveni.

But our president-for-life believes it is his right to issue commands and exclusively direct the course of the country even when he is clearly out of new ideas needed to propel Uganda. 

President Museveni would rather dictate the terms of any political engagement and give lectures to whoever cares to listen. So, unless compelled and pushed by a drastic shift in the domestic political balance of forces, Museveni cannot undertake principled and good-faith dialogue with his opponents and all Ugandans yearning for a solution to the current hopeless political situation. 

Dr Besigye is the doyen of Opposition to Museveni’s rule, in the trenches for more than 20 years. Not an easy feat by any stretch of the imagination. 

He has stood the test of time, paid the price of opposing authoritarian rule, and demonstrated his steadfast, patriotic and unwavering commitment to the quest for a better Uganda. His courage and determination is never in question.  Bobi Wine came to the political scene with a celebrity status and brought enormous inspiration especially to young, restless Ugandans desperate for change and hungering for a better tomorrow. 

Placed together in pursuing an activist agenda for political change, Besigye and Bobi Wine constitute a team that Mr Museveni cannot ignore or treat with disdain as he is wont to do. 
On their own, both Besigye and Bobi Wine are incapable of marshalling the energy, ideas and resources that can significantly deliver the change the country needs. 

Their individual respective political parties, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) and the National Unity Platform (NUP), on their own, can easily be scuttled and contained by the state machinery. But in concert, they can fashion a formidable force. 

One can easily point out that there is nothing new in Besigye and Bobi  Wine teaming up in some kind of coalition or alliance. There have been numerous previous attempts at Opposition unity that led to no concrete outcomes. 

But we must recall that previous coalitions and alliances were primarily electoral vehicles. That was the case with the Inter-Party Forces Cooperation in 1996, the Inter-Party Coalition in 2011 and The Democratic Alliance in 2016 which ultimately bolted ahead of the elections. 

We have reached a point where elections in Uganda do not mean much. What we need is an overhaul of the system and the birth of a new national political consensus on the rules of engagement, the modus operandi and the return to institutionalised political activity. 

The Besigye-Bobi Wine cooperation, and a shared FDC-NUP platform, can help breath new energy and midwife a sense of urgency necessary for pushing the wheels in the direction of progressive change. 

These two core Opposition groups must be able to pull in the same direction and be at a shared wave length away from the gratuitous animosity that is often blazing among their fans and follows. 

The logic and rationale for Opposition cooperation and coordination has to be quite obvious, so it is trifle shocking that Museveni’s opponents and all those working to turnaround our politics for better have somehow failed to see that the struggle against an entrenched authoritarian system of rule requires pooling forces and forming a common front. 
It is only by pulling together that the forces of change can compel Mr Museveni to realise that a negotiated transition is all we need for the good of everyone.


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