By Richard Todwong
CHAIRMAN Norbert Maoâ€™s article â€œI cannot come to the banquetâ€ published on August 14 has prompted me to make an urgent response. Mao should be encouraged to network more with the NRM to build and solidify his intentions which can never be realised while he is in the Democratic Party.
Coming for a banquet is good as long as you know what you want to eat. Joining the NRM is not like going for a Chinese banquet where you have no choice because of a compulsory menu.
The NRM banquet is like the continental buffet where you eat what you want and leave when you please. Dr Kizza Besigye, Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, Mugisha Muntu and others can testify to this.
My challenge to most of the opposition parties in Uganda is that they are concentrating more on the obvious things that the UN, Churches, NGOs, Rotary clubs and other humanitarian agencies are doing. For example, democracy, human rights, peace and unity are issues that are enshrined in the bill of rights that any government in the world should observe, hence they cannot form a core ream of a political party ideology.
The other area that the opposition is concentrating on is that of public administration. Abuse of public office by any leader whether in Government or Opposition is a crime and any credible government cannot negate the fact that economic development quantitatively and qualitatively is paramount. The NRM has demonstrated this by giving back the structures that distribute wealth (businesses) to private individuals thus rendering the quest for national leadership by the opposition â€˜a hole without an endâ€™.
The public has come to realise that the opposition has left what it ought to do and is doing the reverse. This is adding more to the popularity of the NRM. The sooner these parties realise the need to form an ideology base on the economic principles that search to transform society other than the political and social ideologies they claim to have, the better it would be for their future.
Lack of concrete approach to real issues is making the parties appear shallow, characterised by internal divisions and fighting for trivial issues. Take for example the current conflict between the DP and the FDC. As the FDC struggles to gain territories initially occupied by the UPC and the DP, more nasty episodes might unfold to the glory of the NRM. If the NRM can defeat them combined, how easy will it be if they are fragmented?
In the 1960s when many African countries gained independence, the desire for self-governance rang across the continent. New national flags were established, the constitutions and many other state regalia were formed and Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana once said: â€œwe must achieve in a decade what took others a century.â€
At that time, most African states settled for one of these three development paths, a free market capitalist approach in which the private sector serves as the â€˜engine of growthâ€™, a state directed and controlled model in which the state plays a hegemonic role and a modernised indigenous African model.
The first option (capitalism) was rejected because of its association to the colonialist. The third option was not considered because of a pervasive belief among African nationalists and elite that African own indigenous institutions were â€˜backwardâ€™ â€˜too primitiveâ€™ for the rapid transformation of Africa. The second option became a design by most post-colonial African states. The African leaders who mostly rejected any western ideology soon settled for socialism. Nkrumah, Ahmed Sekou Toure of Guinea, Modibo Keita of Mali, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia constantly preached socialism as their ideology.
They expounded the creation of egalitarianism, just and self-sufficient policies. The second ideology was political pragmatism that was practised by Felix Houphouet Biogny of Ivory Coast, Abubaker Tafawa Balewa of Nigeria, Hastings Banda of Malawi, and Daniel arap Moi of Kenya.
These declared themselves to be non-ideological and as a result, got into trouble with their citizens towards the end of their rules because of open- endedness in administration.
The third group was the military nationalists. This was applied by the first batch of military leaders who burst
onto the political scene in the late 1960s. These included Idi Amin of Uganda, Jean Bebel Bokassa of Central African Republic, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, and Gnassingbo Eyadema of Togo.
These leaders were not central to the independence struggle of their countries, but they felt the need to develop alterative ideologies (mixed African feudal ideology/military dictatorship).
In Uganda, it led to the formation of the NRM which was seen as a liberating force. Ugandans are not up for a second liberation because of the historical attachments they have with NRM.
That is why the FDC has failed to mobilise the public to riot against the NRM. The fourth ideology was Afro-Marxism which was the official policy of Angola, Mozambique, Congo, Ethiopia and the NRM in Uganda. It attributed the malaise of African economies to the emerging effects of imperialism and new colonialism.
Therefore, for any political party in Uganda to capture attention it should re-structure its ideological front in order to match the NRM. Otherwise, they will remain pressure groups, or rights activists in which case they are to wait for the NRM to make mistakes then criticise, thus making the NRM the leading ideologist in Uganda.
The NRM is like running water. You need to reach it in order to fetch and you need a good container. Many have been using â€˜basketsâ€™ to fetch the clean water of NRM. My brother Mao, come to the banquet and select the dish. It will help Gulu to stop being a pay roll district.
The writer is
Special Presidential Adviser Northern Region