Junior William Deng – Uganda does not need an armed revolution or reckless defiant and disruptive political change. It’s not because change is not a necessity or priority but a lot could be lost in this strategy; a hundred of thousands may die, property and wealth will be destroyed, a million people may be internally or externally displaced.
Thence opportunistic problems associated with war such as the death of pregnant women, and uncontrollable child mortality, diseases such as HIV/AIDs, Hepatitis, Ebola, transactional crimes, the emergence of militia, war economics of looting, racketeering and pillaging, tribal cleansing and political assassination are likely to be the order of the time. This shows that it’s a route not worth taking.
What can/should Kyagulanyi Robert ( Bobi Wine) do?
Uganda has produced two influential populists for the last 20 years since 1995. Dr. Besigye has been in the forefront to bring change to his nascent state of Uganda. He tried from prong strategies through political mass mobilization to the adoption of populist rhetorics. He was closer to the presidency in 2006 general elections than any time in history.
However the ruling party grip on state machinery narrowed his influence forcing the opposition leader to introduce new strategies such as “Hood to Work”, and ‘Walk to Work” and amongst others. I believed between 2006 and 2016 general elections, he read Gene Sharp’s book: From Dictatorship to Democracy, also William. J. Dobson’s book: The Dictator’s Learning Curve. Gene Sharp is responsible for the Arab springs.
Dr. Besigye adopted a strategy called defiance; to disrupt, insist, resist, and counter plan against state and market programs. I have seen Besigye wearing clothes with a hood to protect himself from teargas and other dangerous substances. This, however, didn’t yield to the advantage of the opposition instead the regime learned and adapted to it quickly rendering Besigye to conduct talk shows in his compound or in the hideouts.
Mr. Kyagulanyi Robert is a promising young man, very energetic, and sees a change of the regime as his duty. He is a populist. His rhetoric is to remove the people of Uganda from slavery and deliver them to democracy. Notwithstanding this rhetorics, change is a good thing but it’s always resisted with vigor and aplomb. However, Mr. Kyagulanyi is repeating the same strategies Dr. Besigye had tried though they are bundled into populism.
He should not put his supporters at the gunpoint. He needs to copy and paste what Museveni is doing by adopting quarter or council campaigns. Before he visits a region, he should use representatives from his party and command them to carry on with house to house vote hunting. By doing so, he will be able to reduce the crowds that render his rallies unlawful.
The sooner he learns to play by Museveni’s chessboard, the better he may get closer to achieve his goal. I have learned that entrenched political systems in Africa are not easy to remove, if you become hard in your approach you may lose the whole project.
Warning. Arab springs can’t be repeated in black Africa particularly in Uganda. Arabs are bound together by Islam and unflinching faith but Uganda is highly a multi-religious state. Therefore, you can’t use religion or faith to mobilize.
This is the reason why black African leaders resort to ethnicity as an instrument for political change, however, it’s a dangerous strategy given the diversity of the Ugandan people. Uganda has been there before, never try.
Going that way will be the fastest way to the oblivion of the Ugandan state and the arrival Congoism. Mr. Kyagulanyi Robert has other means other than populist strategy. He needs to redraw his plan, and take a slow and strategic change strategy. Uganda deserves better than killings and politics of defiance.
Author: Junior William Deng, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.