Uganda’s political parties are important platforms for generating ideas from ordinary citizens and developing programs to mitigate them, through advocacy, legislative, legal, economic, and political means. They all matter in championing good governance in Uganda. However, for successful operations, exhibition of internal good governance practices is key. Leaders of political parties are servants of the members and citizens at large. Any shortfall in how best they have resolved to serve members and Ugandans implies collapse of the covenant that binds them with the people the look to serve. Of course, the consequences are severe and leaders of political parties pay heavily, either in a short run or long run.
The country has evolved to a level, where stakeholders in development take parallel paths, unwilling to compromise, and insensitive of the wishes of the people they lead. This is not a new phenomena. The difference between the actions then and now are boldness and lack of remorse like gods of life, who control whatever consequences that comes with their actions.
The country has come a long way to where it is now. The country was found without strong control systems to guide leadership. The country was at stake, without direction, and a known future. At that time the country was experiencing the worst levels of economic and political crises in the history, largely self-propagated by elites of the day. This was a period of time stretching from Amin era (1971 to 1979), shortly after his fall (1979 to 1980), and in the early 1980s. From the same elites, more organised ones, enforcement of order and peace in a Uganda was done, which majority citizens yearned for, celebrate, took pride in, and worked hard to support for the country to prosper. The country has since 1986 been run on bases of ideological sanity, discipline of men and women in the forces, and elective offices, where citizens contest for the highest offices in the land, and elect leaders of their choice, only until concerns about increased foreign interests in governance distorted trust in countries own products of the struggle -democratic governance and rule of law. Otherwise, the country was liberated from lawlessness, political decay, and collapsed economy, to one of the fast developing economies it will in the region. This changed as priorities changed to invest in security more as ‘basis of good governance’ rather than in improving the quality of life of Ugandans as best measure of stability. However, looking back from where the country was in the 1980s to, moreso, around 2011, a lot of pride was felt by majority of Ugandans, appreciative of the instrumental leadership of the National Resistance Movement and Army. Even leaders across the political spectrum were proud and found a great foundation to build on towards a greater Uganda.
The National Resistance Movement leadership is undisputed at offering the most impacting leadership on country’s development since independence. However, time has come for us to reflect on ourselves as leaders and determine how much effort and influence on citizens we still having in terms of reducing inequalities, alleviating poverty, eliminating corruption, and saving collapsing business of indigenous Ugandans, and recovering weak institutions of government. Also, we need to ask ourselves as leaders if, individually, there is any value added for our respective roles in the last 10 years, or if new values and leaders can be found to accelerate growth and development of the country. And, if not, what succession plan do we have in place for peaceful transition from less effective leaders to more visionary and results-centered one?
At the moment, we see a change of mandate from a pro-people to a cluster of groups of ‘governments’ that are constantly conflicting and stalling development programmes and service delivery, or simply determined to undermine central government’s efforts to operate effectively all-together. The atmosphere has not only hindered work and development, but given rise to worst forms of corruption in terms of nepotism, siphoning of public funds, and bribery to gain office or favour, yet these elements are almost unstoppable. The government of the day turns out to be toxic and an enemy of democracy. This means that political parties and alternative leadership will be no more in Uganda. As a consequence, this erodes same achievements Ugandans died for and labored to gain for over 40 years.
Still, it is Ugandans with keys to save the country from the sharp downturn and pending destruction of the very beautiful country – Uganda. The future of the country is taking the path of its predecessors -Uganda Peoples’ Congress and Democratic Party, which at their peak, lost democratic values and took a crashing dive into the ground. This will potentially mark the demise of the ruling party, which its leaders are reluctant to see. Fortunately, the ball is still in hands of the same leaders, who sacrificed tens of thousands of lives to dethrone ideologically corrupt governments, have all resources at their disposal to ensure that the worst does not happen to the governing political party, our people, and achievements from the same mistakes of oldest political parties and their leaders. Every election should be able to each us one or two things, especially understanding the wishes of the people and humility in service.
The country must confront new challenges with new solutions and drivers of the change Ugandans want to see. We can not afford rely on old ideas and rhetoric that have proved worthless in the previous 2 decades. It is impossible and experience has showed this dilemma. We have to own up the dilemma and take responsibility over where we want our political parties and country to be. We cannot keep resisting good change, good proposals, and cries of Ugandans dying from preventable diseases, poverty, and starvation, simply because they painfully remind political parties and leaders about how miserably they failed. At the end of the day, it is the people of Uganda, who always suffer because of corruption, election violence, poverty, inequalities, and marginalisation. We need to reform our political parties, return them to members and reflect wishes of citizens, whose membership and vote justifies their existence. We need to identify mistakes and consistently replace actors responsible. Above all, we may have to reconsider the 10 point programme and implement it without deviation. It is still a solid programme, which does not require alterations and challenging to implement. It was well intentioned and purposed, born out of consensus between patriotic Ugandans. The historical challenges since independence were taken care of by the same document -the 10 point programme. Indeed, reconsidering implementation of same document is direct remedy of current socioeconomic and political issues the country is facing. It will reduce tensions within political parties and among Ugandans. We do not have to look any further than his document. The agenda that came after it have proved worthless to Ugandans.
Also, it is important that we look beyond ourselves when discussing matters of national concern. The cries of the ordinary citizens are what should concern us most. The greatest mistake today is the use personal interests to influence national policies instead of participatory democracy and civic roles and actions put together. If we continue taking a parallel line with the people, the citizens of this beautiful country, we risk throwing it into the undesirable past, where leadership and grievances are met by violence and deaths. Surely, this is not what we need to see happen, well-knowing what they mean to us as leaders and the people we claim to lead.
We need to address urgently the greed and violent attitudes mong ourselves. This politics of elimination is unsustainable as much as the consequences to such barbaric tendencies. After all, the life of the human terminators of life too comes to an end, either through revenge or natural death.
Therefore, it is pertinent for leaders and political parties to open up to the inevitable change that keep knocking on our doors: changing greed and violent attitudes, restoration of the rule of law, responsive leadership, and work towards transparent elections and accountable leadership. It is the wish of all Ugandans that political parties and leaders offer the much-needed change that nearly 1 million people died in vain for, a pro-people leadership, an accountable leadership, a leadership by consensus, guided by a citizen’s constitution, and a leadership that protects rather than kill or steal from Ugandans.