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Reconciliation demands self-examination first

By Vision Reporter

Added 15th February 2002 03:00 AM

The opposition falsely see Museveni as a stumbling block

SINCE presidential and parliamentary elections last year, there have been interesting calls for "reconciliation," particularly from the opposition and critics of the Movement. With the Constitutional Review process, and the Political Parties and Organisation bill, this group has added a new demand for a "consensus" on the political system Uganda should adopt. However, listening to the debates, it seems that to the critics "consensus" only means the Movement conceding ground, and not themselves. The language too, is diatribe and not reconciliatory! At the last seminar at Hotel Africana on public dialogue of mostly MPs and urban elite they argued that they want a "round table," meeting with Museveni, presumably to cut political deals. They falsely see President Museveni as the stumbling block in their quest to gain control of both the executive and country. Their easiest solution to reconciliation is sharing out government jobs like ministries. Yet this is in itself not a safety valve because it has been tried before with Ssemogerere, Omara Atubo, Charles Alai, Zakary Olum, Robert Kitariko, Evaristo Nyanzi, and Ssebaana among others. Ssemogerere left government in 1994 as he poured insults along the way, while people like Dr Okullo Epak claim they cannot touch the Movement even with a ten-metre pole! While the Movement includes everyone who states so, most of these seminars dubbed "public dialogue," have turned into platforms to venting crude diatribe against the Movement, and Museveni. But whereas the Movement has become immune to insults, it has no obligation to be charitable to its adversaries. Also these unending insults smear campaigns, blackmail, invective and gunpoint politics cannot be the basis for genuine confidence and consensus building mechanisms. Reconciliation, if there is reason, should be when adversaries realise the futility of their stance that the Movement is an illegitimate system and government. As a mass system, the Movement is comprised of many leaders tested through many challenges over a long time, and not just cowards, minions and soldiers of fortune. There is no doubt that the Movement's achievement under Museveni has done the country a lot of good both within Uganda and on the world stage. Uganda has made big strides and when its leaders find themselves in rounds of trouble soliciting voters for the Movement in Mayoral elections in Kampala is no problem. Contrary to claims that Museveni's mayoral campaign trail in Kampala was arrogance and ill-judged, as a pivotal force he was only doing political mobilisation expected of any executive president. After all, the Movement's objectives include demystifying the presidency as was done with the gun and armed forces, to ensure that no leader is invincible for the voters to have the guts to dump. The Movement cherishes formidable adversaries, and should be proud of handling the UPC and DP combined, alongside their surrogates Dr Kizza Besigye, Aggrey Awori, Chapaa Karuhanga, Kibirige Mayanja, and Francis Bwengye. The adversaries have lately been joined by MPs Maj. John Kazzora and Jack Sabiti who claim that, if you run a one-man-band system, then things are bound to go wrong when the one man is no more. They claim the one-man show is attempting to cast itself as an invincible national saviour whose success in leading Uganda for a record 16 years could have gone into its head. The Movement understands the consequences of different leadership styles but as to whether Uganda should have had it or not, is really for future historians to squabble over. The opposition has often argued that Uganda is so much "polarised," due to alleged tension, intimidation, violence, killings and a "closed" political space. There is no denial that tension, which sometimes degenerated into primitive violence, existed but as an isolated phenomenon during the campaigns. In fact two MPs, Vincent Nyanzi, and Wesonga Kamana are currently out on bail for murder charges, while former minister Othieno Akika is a fugitive after being granted bail on assault charges. But vote rigging, violence and murder are criminal offences for which "reconciliation," however desirable is not provided for in the penal code. Calling for reconciliation presupposes that acts of lawlessness, fears, apathy and despondence is rife and widespread among ordinary people across the country. Fortunately, this is not the case because there is no information that there are people out there scared of going about their activities due to political retribution. This contrasts sharply with the period between 1964 and 1986 when governments either collapsed or generated into crisis, and people descended on each other. This tranquillity and co-existence among people in villages today after heated elections is testimony to the achievements in the democratic process regardless of individual political prejudices. Analysts believe that the purported tension and need for "reconciliation" is an illusion among sections of the elite in Kampala because they are the most outspoken. In fact it is this section of the elites crusading "reconciliation," first to gain news headlines, and receive money from donors. This group in liaison with some local political NGOs, access money from unsuspecting donors to "facilitate" reconciliation, or "public dialogue" seminars. Political seminars are on the rise mostly held at universities, and hotels around Kampala. This is because this is where they easily get media attention and not in rural districts where ordinary people are allegedly traumatised by elections live.

Reconciliation demands self-examination first

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