This talk of national dialogue is nothing but politics and the government should reject it
By Ssemanda Allawi
Over the past days, the talk has been about the so-called National dialogue with its agitators claiming the country needs it badly. While I respect the view that we need to respect different opinions, in this article, I will not speak as a public intellectual but as a realist.
Uganda going into such a dialogue at this time is wasting time and politicking, President Yoweri Museveni should be given a break so he can deliver his manifesto - it is his covenant with Ugandans who voted him in 2016 and therefore, anything beyond that is secondary.
As Winston Churchill taught us, the further backward we look; the further forward we are likely to see. Put differently, if we look deep backward, as a country, we have wasted a lot of time politicking. After 2011 polls, we lost a lot of time politicking in shenanigans of walk to work and the likes, after 2016 polls, we lost several months politicking which was extended to 2017 during the Constitutional Amendments Bill, 2017 (now act).
It is now 2018 and taking us into the so-called National dialogue again, this means more months or years of time wasting because some politicians, the elders' forum and inter religious council so wishes!
The above is outright unfair to the person who Ugandans voted for after he promised to see them move from poverty to middle income status. As Indira Ghandi taught us, questioning is the basis of all knowing and those who don't question are condemned to bondage.
Therefore, it is important we ask ourselves some hard questions: How do we expect the government to work and deliver on all the manifesto promises it made to Ugandans when it is being kept busy politicking with the so-called dialogue? Is the country really divided that we must go into dialogue or this is a creation of selfish politicians? How can one claim the country is divided with the recent local councils elections results conducted country wide that suggest the current government enjoys huge support among the populace?
This talk of national dialogue is nothing but politics and the government should reject it. As Sun Tzu taught us in his Tao paradox, politics is about deception. When strong appear weak, when executing a scheme appear friendly, when near appear distant.
It is apparently clear to Politicians who failed to convince Ugandans to vote them that they are weak and can't win an election, they are politically constipated and they are therefore appearing friendly to execute their scheme calling for dialogue to force government to force it some concessions.
According to 2018 Mo Ibrahim Foundation report, Uganda scored 84.5%, 72.7% and 64.7% in regard to national security, gender empowerment and health services respectively. These figures clearly show a vote of confidence in government and therefore, any talk that the country is divided and need dialogue should be dismissed as an insult to collective intelligence.
Instead of fuelling small issues looking magnified with lenses, lets borrow the words of Kwame Nkrumah: Seek ye first the political Kingdom, and all other things shall be added unto you. Taking Nkrumah's message, as Ugandans including those calling for dialogue, let's unite and rally behind our flag and give government chance to fulfil the the covenant it made with Ugandans in February 2016.
Undoubtedly, if we follow Nkrumah's message; "seek ye first the political kingdom", we will be able to rally behind our national flag and a middle income Uganda shall be added unto you. If we rally behind our government and speak one language of unity, this will instil patriotic feelings which will inevitably cannibalise corruption which many of us detest.
If we rally behind our flag despite our different political beliefs and support government to move us to middle income status, we will be strong as Ugandans and vices we hate like tribalism will be fixed by our nationalistic feelings - we will all see ourselves as Ugandans and there will be no need to go politicking claiming its dialogue. This is why I say, there should be no dialogue, we should give the president time to deliver his promises. Failing him is being unfair to Ugandans whom he made agreement with.
Whereas some may take this opinion as unreasonable, I unapologetically insist that it is not the right time Uganda to waste time and resources into secondary issues. After all, going by George Bernard Shaw - a renown political activist, a reasonable man adapts himself to the world, but the unreasonable man often insist that the world should adapt to him yet in the end, all progress is driven by unreasonable man.
Ugandans are concerned with a promising economy which can be realised by improving infrastructure, providing cheap reliable energy, and security which are a catalyst of development, we can't achieve the above playing politics!
Whether interpreted as being undemocratic or dictatorship signs, the president should not accept to go for this dialogue but should rather invest that time in addressing concerns of Ugandans that really matters. After all, democracy is not a catalyst of development or wellbeing of citizens. Using Albert Einstein analogy, he taught us that if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life thinking it is stupid.
Here in Uganda, some believe democracy will take us to "Canaan" yet whenever democracy delays development through unnecessary delays in name of waiting for consensus, or whenever it makes Uganda lose billions of money and culprits are left in charge - not fired and forced to pay all in name of democracy as we often claim how innocent they are till proven guilty, we blame government for condoning corruption and the corrupt! Like the proposed dialogue, democracy doesn't work!
The point is that democracy is not a foundation of development but rather democracy is as a result of development. Uganda will not develop because we are a democracy but we will have democracy when we develop. Therefore, we can forego the so called dialogue if that is what democracy is and once we develop our country, democracy will inevitably come.
The above is an open secret. In 1962, we (Uganda) were on same level of development with South Korea. South Korea continuously abandoned democracy, they founded LG, Samsung and other serious goodies. China managed to to become one of the world's top economies not because of democracy, and Russia became became industrialised not because of democracy- Joseph Stalin was a dictator.
Japan developed Toyota in 1937 at a time when the country was under dictatorship of Konoe Fumimaro. These countries did not develop because of democracy; they became democratic after development.
Therefore, the talk of national dialogue as a sign of democracy and a need to realise development is a mere rocking chair that will keep us busy swinging but take us nowhere. There should be no dialogue, let's give the president time to deliver what he promised Ugandans!
Writer is a PhD candidate of International Relations & Diplomacy