Opposition Should Use Amuru Win to Regroup [opinion]

The win of FDC’s Lucy Akello in the just-concluded Amuru District Woman MP by-election is a significant victory for the opposition as a whole.

It will not alter the numerical status of the 9th Parliament, but it has potential to rejuvenate an opposition so much battered by the ruling regime and the media. For the record, Lucy Akello polled 7,420, defeating NRM’s Jane Frances Okilli Amongin who got 6,701. This is another seat the opposition has snatched from the ruling NRM.

Lucy brings the total number of real opposition MPs to 68. The FDC now has 37 MPs, DP 15, UPC 10 and CP and JEEMA one each. There are independent MPs who are real opposition – the likes of Moses Kasibante, Mathias Mpuuga, Kaddu Mukasa, Gilbert Olanya etc.

All these put together, it puts the opposition strength at 68. Of course there are also MPs like Gilbert Bukenya, Theodore Ssekikubo, Wilfred Niwagaba, Barnabas Tinkasiimire and Muhammad Nsereko. If you count these ones, opposition against the regime now boasts of about 75 MPs.

My good friend Samuel Odonga Otto has just prophesied the death of the opposition in northern Uganda. To him, it will be a walkover for the sole candidate in the 2016 general elections.

And a story in Daily Monitor on the eve of the Amuru by-election didn’t help the situation. Quoting a survey done by an “independent” NGO, Daily Monitor reported that the NRM candidate was leading the Amuru race by 70 per cent and that the FDC candidate would get 20 per cent.

I have a lot of respect for Daily Monitor not only as an independent media platform but also as an institution that laid my journalism foundation. I thought this report was off the mark. I think it only served to demoralize the opposition.

In a way, the story invited us to pay a close look at opinion polls done in this country. I will, in a future article, focus on the role the media should play in pushing for democracy. My focus today is the Amuru by-election.

For me the most positive development was the role of Norbert Mao, the DP president general. In 2006, the opposition nearly eliminated NRM from Acholi sub-region. I think, with the exception of Hilary Onek and one other MP, all legislators from Acholi were opposition.

In the general election of 2011, the NRM reversed this humiliating defeat and shared nearly half of the MPs from the sub-region. I still think this was majorly because of Mao and Olara Otunnu’s candidatures. The opposition never spoke with one voice and instead went for each other. I am very happy it is Mao who headed the campaigns for the FDC candidate.

This was, therefore, as much a DP victory as an FDC victory. Fielding one g opposition candidate is the line some of us took in 2011 and it nearly cost my life. In fact it is the reason I and other activists from Buganda formed Ssuubi 2011.

We believed then, and we still believe today, that to neutralize the regime, we must work together not only as political parties, but with civil society, religious institutions and democratic elements from within the NRM.

Many of our people have fallen victim to this regime. Instead of vilifying them, we must work towards their liberation. Some of our people have joined Museveni not because of any discovery but out of personal frustration and welfare.

Even those who seem to be very close to Museveni are bleeding internally. Who knew that the NRM Secretary General John Patrick Amama Mbabazi and NRM Women League Leader Canon Jacqueline Mbabazi would be treated like fugitives within their own party? Mbabazi participated in hounding out the Ssekikubos from the NRM.

Little did he know that the monster he was feeding using his bare hands would turn around and chomp off those very hands. That is why for me I don’t treat elections in Uganda as competition.

It is an opportunity for us to widen the democratic path. It is an opportunity to recover lost ground. For this, I have been rejected by some members of my party who think I am a DP mole there. But at the same time, some DP people see me as an agent bent on undermining their party. For me the victory in Amuru is not in Lucy’s win but in Mao leading her campaign.

Mao didn’t do this to promote FDC against his own party he did it to free more space for the opposition and I salute him. Rescuing our country will require many of us to sacrifice our personal glory and pursuit. That is what people have done elsewhere. The battle to keep presidential term limits in Zambia and Malawi was headed by priests. That is why the country must salute Bishop Zac Niringiye.

In one of the many of the chits we exchange with Prof Tarsis Kabwegyere in Parliament during the plenary sittings, I pleaded with him to stop cheering up Mzee Museveni because he is a captive of his personal ambition.

And in this pursuit, he is determined to go down with the country like Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi. Both Gen Muntu and Mao like building their parties but please, let us first rescue the country.

The author is Kyadondo East MP.

Source : The Observer

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