EACH passing day brings out more the fact that the real danger to the internal democracy within the National Resistance Movement organization (NRM/O) are those spending needless energy on the hypothetical â€œThird Termâ€ for President Yoweri Museveni.
By diverting the public to worry about â€œThird Termâ€ they are effectively seeking to blind and drive millions of Ugandans into political apathy. They are building up the grossly erroneous perception that Ugandans are in such a hopeless situation that they have no choice but dance to the tune of the leaders. Of course, Ugandans without self-imposed political blinders know that nothing could be further from the truth. As President Museveni has repeatedly explained, the political crisis that existed in this country since 1966 ended in 1993, which was the first milestone year when Ugandans got the key of universal adult suffrage-starting with the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections.
The resultant Constitution of 1995 only strengthens the power of the people to determine any matter, either through elections or a referendum. Since then we have had almost countless adult suffrage elections and one referendum.
In the process, leaders at various levels of government have come and gone-as the people wish. No need for reminders that the only leader who has stayed on in the face of two stiff adult suffrage elections has been Museveni.
This is not because Ugandans have been incapable of replacing him. If this was the case, then the president would have won by 100 per cent or at least 99.9 percent, as it is fashionable with infamous dictators across the world.
The naked truth is that at both polls the electorate found the president still the best to lead the country. Nonetheless, some voters felt Museveni was good enough, yet he could not force them to vote otherwise. In the end, the president was elected with respectable landslides of 75 % and 70% in 1996 and 2001, respectively. Clearly, the hullabaloo about deleting article 105 (2), which restricts the president to run for only two five year terms, is just that; hullabaloo. The question of who will determine the leadership of this country after 2006 is settled: It is the people.
What all genuine political actors should concentrate on is ensuring that at all times Ugandans will have the opportunity to freely express themselves on how they should be led and by who. Any other fears about the political future of the country are unfounded. But let me return to the question of â€œThird Termâ€ and democracy within the NRM/O. In these pages last year, I wrote about how Museveni steered the NRM/O founders to write a constitution for
the organisation that effectively tied his own hands to determine its leadership.
The organisationâ€™s constitution is very loud and clear on how its presidential candidate will be chosen: Secret ballot by national conference delegates.
More importantly during the formulation of the constitution some members had pushed for vetting before one is allowed on the ballot paper for presidential candidate of the NRMO.
â€œNot every bull in the kraal should mount the cows,â€ one member argued. But guess who opposed the move and said whoever was of age, requisite education, sound mind, registered membership, no criminal blot etc. should be allowed to contest: Museveni.
This effectively means that even without 105(2), Museveniâ€™s contesting
of the 2006 presidential elections would not be by his wish. It would only happen by popular will, expressed in a secret
ballot, starting within NRM/O.
Now instead of encouraging Movement supporters to embrace the NRM/O and prepare to determine its leadership, those harping about the dangers of â€œThird Termâ€ are sowing despondency. While claiming to love the Movement more, they are actually plotting its death. They are making the people feel they have no stake because the leadership of NRM/O is already pre-determined. What a lie and injustice to the cause of democracy in the organisation. Those accusing the President of machinations may discourage free political thinking and get people to take obstinate political positions.
Because of the false fear that the presidentâ€™s opponents are creating, supporters on both sides of the â€œThird Termâ€ argument will hesitate to cross lines. This could be bad news for those targeting Museveni because the voting record favours him.
The Presidentâ€™s supporters will then have no choice because they are not being sweetly wooed to abandon their favourite.
NRM Dissenters Are A Danger To Democracy