Is Mbabazi Now the Opposition?

As President Museveni and Amama Mbabazi fight, an already weak, disjointed opposition risks being marginalised further, writes Deo Walusimbi.

The fallout between President Museveni and his erstwhile political confidant Amama Mbabazi appears to have shifted the media spotlight from the traditional opposition parties, to the internal rumblings within the NRM.

Some political observers told The Observer this week that while the wrangle has generated some negative press for the NRM, the publicity from the fall-out, whether good or bad, has ensured that the NRM dominates the media headlines, in the last couple of months.

The loser in all this appears to be the opposition parties, whose activities and pronouncements have been relegated to the inside pages except where they are related to the internal wrangles within the NRM. The Museveni-Mbabazi saga also appears to have obscured the debate on some of the emerging political issues that were being pushed by the opposition such as instituting electoral reforms and reinstating Erias Lukwago as Kampala lord mayor.

“Every political party needs some publicity, whether good or bad. That is when your supporters know that you are working,” said Aaron Mukwaya, a senior lecturer of political science at Makerere University.

Some political analysts, like Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a political historian at Makerere University, argue that the opposition appears to have failed to come up with a strategy that would help them confront the NRM when it is perceived to be in chaos. In his view, one way the opposition can seek to take the limelight away from the NRM – or at least share in it – is by forming an alliance with Mbabazi.

Captain Francis Babu, the NRM vice chairperson for Kampala and a member of the NRM Central Executive Committee, believes that the media attention enjoyed by the NRM proves the ruling party is still a force to reckon with.

Babu told The Observer last week: “The opposition have been riding on the wave of not telling the truth [within NRM] and that is the reason why some of the people left NRM and they didn’t have the patience to change the status quo and what is happening now, is that the party is re-engineering itself, putting what could have gone wrong right which is beginning to affect the opposition, because they have nothing to hold on.”

Yet even if they had something, the opposition has the odds stacked against them, according to Dr Kabumba Busingye, a lecturer of Law at Makerere University. Kabumba says it is obvious the opposition is too powerless to influence what is happening in the NRM.

“What we are seeing now doesn’t necessarily depend on the merit or strength of the opposition but I think it’s a natural result of transition.The uglier situation is that the transition within the dominant party isn’t taking the right path in the political context,” Kabumba said.

Opposition opportunity?

Political optimists, especially the former FDC President Kizza Besigye, however, see some light at the end of NRM’s tunnel of dominance. They argue that the Mbabazi factor shows an NRM that is falling apart.

“It provides an opportunity to the country to get rid of the whole lot and some elements in leadership of the dictatorship can opt to join the opposition,” Besigye told The Observer in a recent interview. “It will be helpful if they do [join the opposition] and that is what I have been aising Mbabazi to do such that he can become part of what we are doing.”

Yet with the opposition consumed by internal fights, Kabumba still believes they still have a long way to go as far as dislodging the NRM is concerned.

“I don’t think the opposition should be focused on the Mbabazi-Museveni scenario,” Kabumba said. “The opposition should continue preparing for the transition through continuing to build structures and articulating different alternative vision and working together to assist the country move towards peaceful transition.”

Source : The Observer

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