By Tony Moturi
On Thursday 18th February 2016, Ugandans of all walks of life having attained the age of majority with full expectations thronged to their respective polling stations to elect persons to various positions including that of the Country’s CEO.
The Campaigns preceding this election were characterized by forms of intimidation and skewed favouristism to the disadvantage of the opposition candidates. Despite odds being against them, the leading opposition Forum democratic Change under the stewardship of Col (Rtd) Kizza Kifefe Besigye ran an animated campaign full of pomp and colour.
The air was filled with excitement from Bushenyi to Kapchorwa; from West Nile to Busia as young and old; rural and urban folks looked forward to a change. A Real change. The change that Yoweri Museveni and his coterie under the NRA revolution promised when they attacked Kabamba Military barracks on the night of February 6th 1981. The attack marked the beginning of a five-year guerilla war against the government of Apollo Milton Obote.
The change that Museveni and his comrades promised Ugandans on the morning 22nd January 1986. 30 years down the line, Ugandans are still yearning for the real liberation. The past four general elections after the enactment of the 1995 Ugandan Constitution have been a political charade meant to sanitize the ruling regime.
The goodies the NRA/NRM government promised in 1986 are just promises. Though nothing drastic has changed from a military to a civilian government over the years, the discontent of the men in uniform is growing by the day. The list of the so called “NRM Historicals” keeps on contracting as most Generals who led the 5 year bush war have fallen out with comrade Museveni.
It is interesting to realise that candidate Museveni lost in most military barrack votes to his friend turned foe, candidate Kizza Besigye. This perhaps sends a strong message to the Commander-In-Chief that he’s not in charge of his troops and if remedial action isn’t taken, then expect tough times ahead. The journey for real change in Uganda is still on. The opposition might have lost the battle but the war rages on.
Regionally, events in Uganda paint a glim picture of a rising Africa. Uganda as the mediator in the Burundi crisis lacks the moral legitimacy to question the deplorable situation in that country. Countries such as Rwanda and DRC Congo have good company in Uganda as their leaders seek to extend their terms beyond what the supreme laws of those countries prescribe.
As Kenya prepares for the August 8th 2017 polls, we pray that our leaders don’t copy the bad habits from the NRM regime. Am I expecting too much from a regime that took less than 3hrs to send a congratulatory message when all and sundry are in agreement the election was not free and fair?