Before the introduction of multiparty democracy, political changes in Africa used to be violent and bloody
By Richard Todwong
As we continue to reflect on the success story of NRM for the last 33 years, we have to refresh our minds with some of the key events that took place in Africa after independence.
According to an article published in one local daily of March 3, 2018, by 993, Gabon, Congo, Mali, Nigeria, Togo, Zaire and chad had convened national conferences to re-write their constitutions and adopt multiparty democracy.
As of February 2018, there were five countries under leadership transition. These were South Africa, Ethiopia, Libya, Morocco and Zimbabwe. Early this year, DRC experience change of leadership while Sudan is experiencing demonstrations in the capital, Khartoum.
Between1990 to 1994, 29 countries in Africa conducted elections under multiparty democracy and in 13 countries out of the 29, incumbent presidents lost the elections. These were Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe, Benin, Zambia, Mali, Congo Brazzaville, Madagascar, Niger, Lesotho, Burundi, Central African Republic, South Africa and Sierra Leone.
Before the introduction of multiparty democracy, political changes in Africa used to be violent and bloody. This was because of two major factors:
a). the colonial legacy that put tribes and religion against each other amidst the fundamentals of chiefdoms.
b). the struggle by the external powers over supremacy, resource exploitation and continuous control of African states even after independence.
Between 1960-1990, Africa had 64 successful coup d’état and 114 attempts and during the same period, 23 presidents and prime ministers were assassinated while 44 states had experienced a coup or attempted a coup.
Therefore, it is worth noting that the affairs of the state are not things to play games with. Bobi Wine seems to be excited without reflecting on the wider question of national stability. Those that keep encouraging him without proper mentoring/guidance are like parents encouraging a child to play with fire near a grass thatched hut when they are inside the hut.
For those calling for change (transition from President Museveni to another), we have to remember that a skilful statesman like President Yoweri Museveni would not
wish to see this country slide into what we experienced in the past. Before we call for the transition of leadership from above, we need to understand that transition can take place from the middle, bottom or we can have a system transition. We are missing key ingredients of change because we have put the focus on one person, the president and yet even if we change the president, the other levels of change and system would remain the same. Unless the Bobi Wine group are talking about changing a constitutional order whereby elections would mean nothing even if the NRM sponsors President Museveni to run in 2021.
We have witnessed struggling/failed transition in the Arab springs where countries like Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain, Morocco, Iraq, Algeria etc fell victims of externally driven transition that have left these countries in ruin. We have witnessed sustained street demonstrations in Morocco, Iraq, Algeria, Iranian Khuzestan, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman and Sudan. The wave of these protests faded by mid-2012 and large scale conflicts followed and resulted in the Syrian civil war, Iraq insurgency, Egyptian crisis, the Libyan and Yemen crisis. In short, the whole of North Africa is in crisis up to date.
The illusions that these popular demonstrations would end corruption, increase political participation and bring about greater economic equality collapsed because instability that they were experiencing is due to such misguided demonstrations could not allow these countries to be stable.
As of February 2018, only the uprising in Tunisia had resulted in a transition of democratic governance. In sub-Saharan Africa, the following countries are managing struggling transition; Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, DRC, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia.
Congo Brazzaville, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Kenya are struggling to balance family rules whereas Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, Ghana, Angola, Liberia, Zambia, Senegal and South Africa have, to some extent, controlled the after effect of a change from one political party to another or from one leader to another.
The NRM Government has been a good student of all the above and it stated managing transition right from the time it restored constitutional order in the country that gave back power to the people by empowering the previously marginalised members of our society (Youth, Women, PWDs), conducting regular free and fair elections, granting the independence of the Judiciary and Parliament and encouraging the principles of functioning multi-party democracy. Our philosophy in managing political change is that we galvanise all available human resources and allow Ugandans to make a choice.
As we skilfully guide the community, the management of peace and stability is one of our core vocations, managing the economy, managing expectations/excitement, managing foreign interference in our economy and democracy, managing the geopolitics and geo-economic situations as we skilfully utilise our limited resources.
In all these, we are safeguarding human rights and the rule of law as we nurture Uganda into the maturity of tolerance and coexistence regardless of our social, political and economic situation.
These are the reasons why Ugandans trust the leadership of President Museveni and the NRM Government more.
Writer is the deputy secretary general of the National Resistance Movement