About me.

Andrew M. Mwenda is the founding Managing Editor of The Independent, Uganda’s premier current affairs newsmagazine. One of Foreign Policy magazine 's top 100 Global Thinkers, TED Speaker and Foreign aid Critic

Monday, February 20, 2017

Uganda is stuck with Museveni because the opposition is stuck with Besigye

Given the high growth of visits to my page during the this festive season, I will be posting daily briefs on the crisis of the opposition in Uganda which I want to blame largely on Dr. Kizza Besigye. Indeed Uganda is stuck with President Yoweri Museveni in large part because the opposition is stuck with Besigye. Why is this so?

Besigye has never seen FDC and a party that should cultivate leaders fromthe grassroots to the national level. If that were the case he could focus his energy and political capital to ensuring that the party is present in every district, sub county, parish and village and that FDC fields candidates for all parliamentary seats and at all levels of local government, from LC5 down to the village level. 

However Besigye sees FDC only as a vehicle for him to become president of Uganda. So he has focused all his energy on this singular objective believing (actually deluding himself) that once he captures the presidency all the problems of Uganda would be solved by him alone. His wife, Winnie Byanyima, holds a similar view but only about herself. This is what has stunted the growth of FDC in parliament and local councils. And this is why Museveni remains in office. And finally thus is the debate FDC should have. However, Besigye had captured all the structures of FDC and has used them to stifle such debate.

But to subordinate the institutional growth of a political party to one’s personal ambition is the issue Besigye criticizes M7 about. And Besigye has achieved this by allaying with an extremist faction inside his party and they have taken control of party structures.

I don’t want to blame Besigye alone for this. In fact this process of the capture of FDC by extremists has been largely helped by Museveni. By having police harass and intimidate opposition leaders at the local level, the NRM has scared many potential opposition leaders into silence. As a result only the most radical people willing to withstand state intimidation stand in FDC elections and take control of its party structures.

Because Besigye is the sufferer-in-chief in this process, he is a hero to this group. While he has been personally embittered by his personal suffering, he has not done anything to transcend his personal experience. This is a failure of leadership on his part. Mandela overcame his personal anger and reached out to his enemies for talks. Besigye cannot. Instead he exploits extremism in FDC to retain control of the party and thereby keep it focused it on his personal goal to become president. Hence FDC has not only failed to develop institutional structures but has also failed to develop a sound alternative program for Uganda.

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