Reform efforts are unlikely to bear fruits in this country

I watched the Uganda Afcon qualifying matches against Ghana at Namboole Stadium and Guinea in Morocco. What is outstanding in both matches is that our players work very hard throughout the matches and it compensated for the apparent superior skills of their opponents. The commitment of our players is quite uplifting and one cannot help feel proud of them.

It was, therefore, a great disappointment to us all and for the players to have worked so hard and then eventually fail to qualify. However, besides robust, hard work, I noticed something else that is already part of the life of this country, i.e disregard of rules and the law.

In the match in Morocco, before the free kick was taken, I saw our player unnecessarily and clearly angrily push off a Guinean player from standing in front of our player’s wall.

The Guinean player went down but luckily, the referee did not reprimand our player, the incident distracted our players so much so that the ball shot in the net was a surprise to all, including the goal-keeper.

Perhaps our players were under intense pressure but playing at such levels requires the capacity to control emotions, like anger, and also to obey rules, such as not raising a hand against another player. The worst incident resulted in a penalty and the second goal when one of our excellent players pulled a Guinean player by the neck and a penalty was awarded and the player was sent off.

A team that had worked so hard against the skilled Guinean team ended up with 10 players and our fate was sealed. I commend the spirit of our team but urge them to exercise caution, even under intense pressure from the whole country to perform well with poor facilitation.

The routine disregard of the law, rules, regulations and procedures by government leaders, for decades, has eroded the conduct of society and is now replicated in everyday life in innumerable ways.

For example, no one has right of way on the road property rights are violated by the State and citizens due process is a privilege not a right fundamental freedoms are routinely trampled upon corruption, embezzlement, fraud, mismanagement, false accounting, neglect of duty are the order and they attract no legal or administrative sanctions and no public anger either.
Impunity by public officials that attracts no stigma, flows over to the public and you end up with a lawless society. Thus fraud has invaded religious and civil society organisations, thereby eroding their moral high ground in society.

Similarly, the fact that standing of elders, teachers, and academia have become supplicants, often beggars and dependants of those in power, has lowered their social respectful influence. The political class is generally despised and the media too is suspect of having been compromised. The result is that society has no anchor, no guiding institutions, no accepted standards and values.

In this situation, how will the oncoming important political events, namely the national consultation next week, the FDC national delegates conference in the first week of December and the NRM national conference in mid December, help in the correction of the deficiencies outlined above?

I have serious doubts that the most important decisions and recommendations of the national consultation or the Opposition will be taken on board by the regime as serious reforms could endanger the indefinite regime tenure of power.

A level playing field, not allowed within the NRM party, obviously cannot be allowed in the wider society. The results of the reform efforts, therefore, can only be limited to averting the alternative of resorting to the option of armed struggle or popular mass action.

Mr Ruzindana is a former IGG and former MP.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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