By Ofwono Opondo
For those who follow Uganda opposition politics there appears to be a rhythm of history being repeated both in and outside parliament that doesn’t take much intelligence to know how it may all end probably in disarray, disintegration and dreary tears as what’s unfolding in the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), split into Najjanankumbi and Katonga factions much like FORD-Kenya-Ford-Asiili many years ago now. What passes for a National Unity Platform (NUP) is walking the steps FDC has walked two decades now.
Mathias Mpuuga’s bombast as Leader of Opposition in Parliament (LoP), abrasive conduct of NUP MPs and opposition quisling charade fighting proxy wars on faulty battle-lines have become common sights on house floor where they regurgitate with hyperbole old, mostly falsified accusations to gain attention traction now skewed to FDC clan brawls. It’s being disingenuous and a play to the public gallery for Mpuuga and opposition MPs to be alarmist about security deployment within parliament when many of them enjoy state security close protection. The purported boycott of sittings and braying for blood is a scam and part of their well-planned filibuster tactics to derail work whenever they stare defeat in a house over-dominated by NRM. It’s also a displacement activity in a desperate effort to look busy and important while covering up their incompetence and powerlessness.
With two chaotic weeks when NUP MPS seem more a problem to be managed, and an insurrection to be suppressed, the Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa’s command and control is visibly ebbing partly due to appeasement and weak tact in navigating rules of procedure. Meanwhile, the opposition remains cheeky as they egg the scoundrels into more aggressive behaviour aimed at humiliating opponents.
Muwanga Kivumbi, who first called the walkout three weeks ago over alleged human rights abuses of their members, is a man who often looks sweaty, frothy and nervy each time he comes to the floor microphone. Often he may not have anything substantial to but will come nevertheless bouncing with big energy in his chest and that’s probably because not telling the truth has become his second nature. A verbal brawl between Mpuuga, an ever sneering and condescending man whose words are usually thrown with batshit and Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja have become commonplace if not entertaining. Mpuuga seeks to portray Nabbanja more as a school head girl out of her depth, and many fear that our democracy is being punched by propaganda mobsters.
And while the walkouts over alleged ‘kidnaps’ and ‘disappeared’ don’t reveal new facts, they must be listened to and adequate, transparent and verifiable corrective measures are taken by the executive. Unfortunately, the relevant ministers appear enfeebled to provide convincing explanations in parliament enabling many false accusations to mutate with intellectual fashion like a virus. Surely, after thirty-seven years in government, the fear for reputational damage ought to make NRM leadership very embarrassed to be compared to Idi Amin Dada or second UPC regimes when state security agencies turned vagabonds and unaccountable to the law. At this point there are no shortages of evidence of arbitrary behaviour. Therefore no one, no less line ministers ought to plead ignorance when complaints about abuses have been rampant and loud, and Ugandans shouldn’t let NRM get away with impunity and tomfoolery.
Many Ugandans find some of the tone in parliament and on media platforms disdainfully casual which portrays NRM as having people who have simply taken the wrong turn on a pubic road. They don’t appear to know that NRM has been in government for 37 years and would like to continue getting elected to lead Uganda.
Then the gullible media carried a rather sensational story two almost obscure MPs have mooted a proposal to reduce parliament from 559 to 229. Well, probably a good view but dead on arrival because no monkey can cut a forest from which it grazes. It’s a hoax and populist gimmick considering the patronage political class built over three decades.
I take a long and dim view that the crop of MPs in the 11th parliament are so capricious to have the wisdom or plain courage to undertake such a drastic step to restructure themselves out a lucrative income portfolio. After all, there is ample evidence that many former MPs having gotten used easy, but mostly free perks find it difficult to thrive in the rough economic terrain. However, since most Ugandans publicly profess being religious believers, they can still plead with MPs to at least on this matter, summon collective wisdom and courage to carry out the much needed political restructuring for Uganda’s long-term good beyond their own immediate survival instincts.
And more like in the famous Oliver Twist, even extortionists always come back to ask for some more. Don’t take them at face value, although there is a fear that Uganda could be entering another round for the prize of frivolity and stupidity in politics. Your guess is as good as mine, and we really have no one but ourselves to blame for that which is going on.
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