MBALE – I read with amusement an article in Mulengera News [January 24] an on-line Newspaper that the president said during his Friday interview that “Having 50 MPs in the house of 500 legislators does n’t make NUP that important to the extent that others can can’t proceed transacting business under IPOD framework without them,
“IPOD is now the deal when it comes to transacting dialogue between me and political parties, we shall move on without NUP whose leaders are undisciplined, arrogant and disruptive,”
He added “We shall move on with or without [them] if we call you and you don’t come, Bye Bye. We shall continue without you……. If some people don’t want, that is up to them,”
Although president Museveni described NUP as arrogant, undisciplined and disruptive, going by the definition of the word arrogant; behaving in a proud, unpleasant way towards other people because you believe that you are more important than others, our dear president suits in here well.
Mr President while pointing an accusing finger at NUP, you forgot that three fingers were also pointing at you and asking do you have the internal and moral justification to describe NUP MPs as arrogant?
It should be noted that the objectives of IPOD include, among others, helping the membership to pursue and promote fundamental principles of good governance, democracy, human rights and uphold tolerance of divergent political opinions. Why then would you speak this way?
The IPOD’s purpose is to offer parliamentary parties a common forum for discussions, training, and collaboration and also oversee an interparty dialogue process which aims to provide a safe space for every parliamentary party – no matter its size – to participate in dialogue as equals.
When our president forgets and speaks this way, it leaves us with no option than thinking that IPOD is just there to enable a continuation, perhaps even a consolidation, of his political culture which poses a serious obstacle to achieving a much needed multiparty democracy.
Ugandans have been quite for some time, and looking at what is unfolding at the IPOD and going by the African proverb “Don’t think there are no crocodiles just because the water is calm,” Mr President, get some lessons from this please.
My late grandmother, RIP, told me one time that “In a family if you have somebody who is troublesome it’s the family members who should be more worried than the troublesome member,” hope this makes sense to you.
In 2010, the six parties represented in Parliament formed IPOD as a platform through which they could continuously discuss the challenges facing the country but ever since the formation, the offered window of opportunity for dealing with past abuses has been closed.
And the very nature of this opportunity has proven to be among the greatest obstacles for giving effect to the promises of justice, good governance, democracy, human rights and upholding tolerance of divergent political opinions.
IPOD now seems to be facilitating deal between political elites struggling for power and wealth, and allowing these political elites to control the justice tools which have enabled a continuation, perhaps even a consolidation, of the NRM political culture.
It is often characterised as a contest between ‘hustlers’ – Uganda’s vast underclass typically working in the informal economy – and the ‘dynasties’ of the Ugandans, President Museveni and other political families who occasionally take tea and later take pictures at this meeting.
In December 2018 and the subsequent year IPOD held its first and second leaders’ summits, which were boycotted by FDC, as Ugandans who value IPOD, we felt let down because this also constrained the pursuit of positive peace and transition of power in the country.
And today, when President Museveni says “We shall move on with or without NUP at IPOD, it again takes a back because the objectives of IPOD won’t be achieved without all parties in attendance; it makes us think that NRM is using IPOD for its own selfish political motives.
It is also crystal clear that IPOD like other state institutions are skewed to the wishes of the ruling party and sometimes act as if they were extensions of the ruling party.
It is clear that in order to hold on to power; President Museveni has strategically seized the functions of state institutions and to date there is little difference between the current politics of the NRM and the single-party state of the past in Africa to the level that the victory for NRM in any election is a foregone conclusion.
Those who have lived in the country since the NRM’s first elections have seen the Electoral Commission widely perceived to be a partial organization and the question that has been consistently raised by the opposition parties is: How can a partial electoral commission produce impartial results?
Despite the regular elections since the 1990s, the quality and outcomes of these elections have remained subjects of debate and democracy has remained elusive in Uganda despite the re-introduction of multiparty politics.
President Museveni’s incumbency, manipulation and unconstitutional use of state resources and apparatuses, and the removal of the constitutional term limits on the presidency have combined to hamper effective growth of multiparty politics and democracy in the country which is supposed to be tabled at the IPOD for discussion but it is never part of the agenda.
The re-introduction of the democratic multiparty politics in Uganda in 2005 led to the embattled history of electoral conflicts in the country and democratic politics occasioned the creation of a multiplicity of political parties, most of which were conceived without substantive political ideologies and served solely as political instruments to acquire political power like PPP, DP, UPC, FDC, NUP, CP etc
I want to stress that despite the return of multiparty politics in Uganda, neither has democracy been consolidated nor have elections acted as effective instruments for advancing democratization in the country.
And I want to add that even with the formation of IPOD in Uganda for parties to contribute to the rich discourse of diverse opinion in order to foster the much needed consensus on pertinent national issues, the parties are yet to take the pattern of shared responsibility that allows IPOD member parties to build trust and take action on issues of the day because it [IPOD] is not being used and manipulated by President Museveni.
To IPOD late Saddam Hussein said this; “Politics is when you say you are going to do one thing while intending to do another. Then you do neither what you said, nor what you intended,” when we keenly look at your objectives, do you want Ugandans to believe in this?
And even if NUP stayed out of IPOD, IPOD will never inspire the resolve to pursue positive peace in the country because it seems to have become a vehicle to facilitate and consolidate the dictatorship of Mr. Museveni and his NRM state.
It is in black and white that President Museveni’s government is responsible for conducting arbitrary arrests, torture and killings of members of the Opposition without any remorse and therefore how do you expect other parties to meet with Mr. Museveni and his NRM government.
It must also be noted that the Electoral reforms proposed by the opposition parties have been pushed aside by IPOD probably on advice of President Museveni and police have intensified their harassment of opposition supporters.
And because President Museveni’s resolve is to remain in power, he will do anything in his means to ensure that he is back in power. My grandmother taught me one thing I still remember up to now; “If your only tool is a hammer, you will see every problem as a nail,”
True, IPOD is today seen as ineffective and ineffectual forum for opposition because there are understandable frustrations for the opposition where they are taken as enemies and not participants with alternative views.
Although the opposition has been keen on resolving the matter of the military’s deep entrenchment in Uganda’s politics, which makes it appear like the final arbiter on all contentious issues, our dear government never pays attention to this.
It is clear that the 2026elections will be a microcosm of the nature of the state of politics in Uganda and the country’s reluctance to promote and deepen multiparty democracy, even after opening the political space in 2005, our parliament still suggests that parliament votes President Museveni.
This shows you how state institutions are skewed to the wishes of the ruling party and sometimes act as if they were extensions of the ruling party and also gives the background fact that whereas the ruling NRM reluctantly agreed to re-introduce multiparty politics, it has not been willing to allow the proper functioning of a competitive party system.
And whether or not the 2026 elections in the 40 years of NRM rule will lead to a deepening of democracy or will end up becoming yet another “fallacy of democracy and elector reformations,” remains to be seen.
This is because NRM has frequently used the state apparatus to frustrate the activities of the opposition political parties; the police and other security agencies have been staffed by mainly military personnel, who seem to perceive themselves not as servants of the state but rather as agents of the ruling party and its leadership.
Although the party’s dialogue at IPOD involves getting various stakeholders under one roof for the purpose of advancing a vibrant multiparty democratic agenda for the country, I want to contend that it is important that the opposition sit down and look at the modus operandi of IPOD.
The writer, David Mafabi is a veteran journalist and PML Daily senior writer