TOP
Wednesday,October 28,2020 05:45 AM
  • Home
  • Archive
  • Writing is on the wall for Kisanja opponents

Writing is on the wall for Kisanja opponents

By Vision Reporter

Added 17th December 2004 03:00 AM

PRESIDENTIAL elections in other African countries during 2004 should be an eye-opener for those opposing ekisanja (the removal of presidential term limits) or the third term. They are barking up the wrong tree.

PRESIDENTIAL elections in other African countries during 2004 should be an eye-opener for those opposing ekisanja (the removal of presidential term limits) or the third term. They are barking up the wrong tree.

Onapito Ekomoloit - THE INSIDE PERSPECTIVE

PRESIDENTIAL elections in other African countries during 2004 should be an eye-opener for those opposing ekisanja (the removal of presidential term limits) or the third term. They are barking up the wrong tree.

Specifically in Malawi, Namibia and Mozambique, the ruling political parties won despite fielding candidates who were not incumbents.

In Malawi, Bingu Wa Mutharika, took over the mantle from Bakili Muluzi as the candidate of the United Democratic Front (UDF) and romped home to victory.

In Namibia, independence leader Sam Nujoma handed over to his look-alike Hifikepunye Pohamba, but still the ruling South West Africa Peoples Organisation (SWAPO) won handsomely.

Similarly, Armando Guebuza took over the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) mantle from retiring Joachim Chissano and is set to be announced winner over Afonso Dhlakama of the Mozambican National Front (RENAMO).

These victories should awaken the Ugandan opposition from the slumber of thinking that President Yoweri Museveni’s departure is the only thing that stands between them and State House.

A discussion with any of the leading anti-ekisanja politicians shows that their real problem is not Museveni running again in 2006.

They, too, know that the President’s mere running would not mean him continuing as President. He would have to sweat it out on the campaign trail before the millions of Ugandans decide whether to re-hire him.

The real crisis for the opponents of removing presidential term limits is their belief that they can never defeat candidate Museveni. With him having notched landslide victories in 1996 and 2001, Museveni has simply become unbwogable — unbeatable in Kenyan political speak.

The cry against the “third term” is one about desperation over what to do with an unbeatable Museveni. The President’s opponents feel so hopeless that the best they can hope for is to try and wish him away.

Of course, they will allege that he cannot be defeated because he abuses the advantages to incumbency to steal victory. It is a leaky argument because, for starters, during both the 1996 and 2001 elections, the President did not win by 100 percent. His capacity had a limit, actually declining by five percent in between — 75% in 1996 and 70% in 2001.

More importantly, he consistently under-performed in mid-northern Uganda — scoring below 50%. Does it mean that the President selectively abused the power of incumbency?

In fact, the opposition often peddles the theory that the army is the principal tool the President uses to steal elections, yet the north where he lost is most saturated with soldiers.
The plain truth all this brings out is that Museveni remains unassailable, not simply because he is an incumbent.

The President’s strength is because of what he has done in the office. The incredible story of how he picked Uganda from political abyss, restored order in the country, established mass democracy, turned around the economy — and above all gave Ugandans hope — needs no retelling.

But perhaps what those fixated with the President’s departure should know is that he has over the decades done his political work in such a way that the people own the achievements. Museveni has become more of a symbol for the people’s aspirations — organised under the National Resistance Movement (NRM).

The bad news for the ekisanja haters is that just like FRELIMO and SWAPO — and CCM nearby in Tanzania — the NRM will outlive its founding president. The parallels between the NRM and these political movements are very obvious.

Specifically, FRELIMO, SWAPO and the NRM share the distinction of being former guerilla movements. They gathered massive and genuine grassroots support on their way to power.

Attempts to equate these former guerilla political organisations to the likes of Kenya’s defeated Kenya African National Union (KANU) widely miss the point. Ordinary African political parties such as KANU, Jerry Rawlings’ National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Ghana, Frederick Chiluba’s Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) in Zambia and Muluzi’s UDF in Malawi, tend to have a weak loyalty base. Rawlings’ party has lost two straight elections since he passed on the baton to Prof. Atta Mills. And going by Uganda’s stringent requirement of 50% plus votes for the presidential election winner, KANU has lost three consecutive elections.

Similarly, Uganda’s Constitution would have seen both successors to Chiluba and Muluzi defeated — the new Presidents Levy Mwanawasa and Bingu, respectively scored under 40%.

Clearly, opponents of ekisanja are not helping themselves by wasting energy on the person of Museveni. Naturally, they could have their day many years down the road, but only if they spent more time poking holes on the credibility of the NRM, with or without Museveni.

Meanwhile, for those in a haste to get to State House, the best route is getting back into the NRM mainstream — even if it means staying in the queue. It is the surest ticket to State House in the foreseeable future.

Writing is on the wall for Kisanja opponents

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author