By Margaret Muhanga
Ugandan media is awash with stories of political nature that spell disaster for our future.
The opposition is hell-bent on poisoning the minds of Ugandans with exaggerated lies about political inefficiencies. Ugandans have heard all this since 1986, when the NRM captured power, but they have stuck to its leadership to this day.
Such wishful thinkers have made reference to the Arab spring that saw Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria slip into lawless states since the uprising in December 2010. They also refer to the recent fall of Jacob Zuma and Robert Mugabe Presidents of South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively. They predict this will happen in Uganda sooner than later. The circumstances that led to regime changes in the mentioned countries are far different from what is happening in Uganda.
On a sad note though, in their prediction, there is no intellectual and/or analytical explanation given. Uganda is nowhere compared to what happened in any of those countries. Even at the height of the Arab uprising, many people said the NRM was the next government to fall. To this day, the Government chosen, loved and cherished by majority Ugandans, is growing from strength to strength.
Whereas in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia the security agencies joined protesters, Uganda’s armed forces have worked tirelessly with loyalty to quell lawlessness and useless demonstrations.
In the whole of Arab world, the uprising had nothing to do with looting and sorting out other matters, but about removing their long serving heads of state; which they did, and have lived to regret.
The world watched the events as they unfolded. Gripped by the narrative of a young generation peacefully rising up against authoritative and oppressive governments to secure a brighter economic future, the uprisings spread like bush fire in North Africa and the Middle East. Now the same world is facing the bitter truth of lawless states and economically disempowered nations that hitherto were very successful.
The raise of a notorious, non-regulated social media in Uganda may turn into a dangerous ground for extremism and anger generation among the youth. Most chats and media platforms are used to insult, humiliate, blackmail, bully and scare away anyone with divergent views from those of the extremists about the goings on in government. The Ugandan elite fear cyber bullying and turn into bystanders and do not join the discourse for fear of insults. This may be ignored for now but it has far reaching consequences for the future.
I have not come across platforms used for purposes of constructive engagements. Most internet platforms are used to incite and build anger against government among young people.
Everything in the country is politicised. Even the main stream media has more political debates than any other development of business oriented discourse. TV talkshows all focus on politics and nothing else.
The Unregulated social media brought down governments in the Middle East and North Africa. The naive population thought they were getting a better deal. Eventually when the political and social economic landscape changed to the worst, the same groups have lived to regret their actions.
Ugandans need to stand warned that even the so called media houses and our gullible practitioners trying to ‘promote democracy’ may not be operational when we set this country up in flames. The economy may collapse and lawlessness prevails and none of these business entities will be operational in that era.
Uganda’s youth uprisings have never lasted even three days in a row. A few people go on streets some with intentions to loot and others to find something to do that day. All these happen in not more than four districts in a country of 128 entities. That means many Ugandan communities are not interested in sinking their country into chaos for now.
In the wake of the Arab spring in 2010 alone, there were 10.000 demonstrations weekly in each Arab country that was affected and it happened in all towns. Hundreds of thousands of protesters moved into public green areas and never left for days on end. The security forces joined in and the governments collapsed.
However, with the raise of the internet in many upcountry urban centres, there may be such experiences in future.
The solution for Uganda’s young people is giving them hope through many youth empowerment projects which the Government must take as a priority and appropriate enough funds to lure many of them off the streets. Young people have dreams and governments the world over focuses on how to fulfill their dreams for the future generations.
The NRM has got many youth programmes running; though concentrated in rural areas. Young people in urban centres need to be engaged in development activities in order to keep them away from selfish politicians who give them false hope and use them as shields to their unlawful activities.
Young people are now finding common ground in anyone who gives them that hope. Previously, it was Rtd Col Dr Kizza Besigye. Now it is Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine (MP Kyadondo East). However, their loyalty will shift to anyone who gives them hope in a more serious and well thought out strategy as opposed to the usual rhetoric of ‘Museveni must go.’
There was a time when Haji Nasser Ssebagala was the most popular leader in Uganda. His popularity grew from strength to strength to the extent that even after a short stint in prison in the US, he was received as hero and Entebbe road got jammed-up for the whole day. Where is Ssebagala today? Or Ugandans have forgotten that he even failed to secure himself a position as DP President General against Norbert Mao.
Ascending to the presidency of any nation state is not as easy as our new folks in opposition imagine. There are many intricacies involved. The revolutionaries that liberated countries across the world had a well thought out plan with a clear ideology and vision to transform and cause change.
They took time, fought wars in an organised manner, made calculations, built structures, developed policies and programmes to propel their nations to greater heights. It is not a question of just grabbing power without any values, ideals and vision as we see with today’s so called ‘people power.’ And I predict that their ambition will die out as fast as it came at the speed of wind. I rest my case.
The writer is the MP for Burahya County and the publicity secretary of the NRM Caucus