Without Electoral Reforms, 2016 Is Meaningless [opinion] (allAfrica.com)

History shows that no amount of weaponry and coercion can restrain repressed masses

The news that the NRM dominated Parliament has rejected all the seventeen (17) proposals, containing the core areas recommended for electoral reforms, leaves this country in an unstable state. It also offers no credibility to the current Electoral Commission, and does not guarantee that the 2016 general elections will be free or fair elections. Without dialogue and reforms to the electoral laws, the 2016 elections are meaningless.

Going into 2016 for the Opposition looks like a free man willingly ceding his freedom to a tyrant. Let us not mince words; without elaborate and widely agreed upon electoral reforms, there is no pretense about the quality or manner of conduct of any elections in Uganda.

I envisage tough times ahead for Ugandans after 2016 if these elections were to be mishandled. These are critical moments for Ugandans to rise up in defence of the ongoing peace and tranquil. One needs to understand that the concept of national security is not about the presence of armed men loitering villages and manning major highways with weaponry. It is about the conviction among citizens, that their living conditions are just and tenable. When citizens feel that they have control over their destinies, and can freely negotiate for common goods and to share liabilities, then we, as a nation, will enjoy stability.

The Uganda that is evolving under the NRM regime is that nurturing intolerance and greed around safeguarding power. The People of Uganda are feeling the emptiness associated with disempowerment. And yet, we have a regime that is constipated with power. These disparities are the ingredients that feed the seeds of violence and instability in society, however sophisticated it is.

I prophesy that, if we continue on this path, Uganda will slide into a graveyard in the near future. Unless Museveni wants to transform Uganda into a prototype of North Korea, there is no way he will continue with this belligerence. The Civil Society and the Opposition have endured the pain of providing alternative policy proposals to government. At least they have played their roles. A healthy democracy is adjudged by the vibrancy of its opposition and civil society. A government which fears competition will also thwart any possibility for highlighting its oversights. Without these options, a balancing act in governance cannot obtain for public good. No one has monopoly over righteousness and no one person, least of all a corrupted regime, can be right all the time. The essence of democracy is that dissenters are treated with decency, humility, and respect for the beauty of diversity.

Rejecting the reform proposals also indicate that the Parliament is in contempt of the will of the people. It is becoming apparently clear that the regime would pander to reforms proposed by America or Britain, but will reject those from its own people. It just starts to feel that we are in the era of slave trade where the Chiefs conspired to sell its own people. By disempowering its people, modern slavery or savagery has become the novelty of the NRM regime.

Intolerance though, is a recipe for disaster because it alienates agents from the mainstream to the periphery, eventually excluding them. When the locus of dissent realigns itself, and finds a new shape outside the shades of the state, then other forms of liberation modalities may be chosen over a stale democracy.

The problem with a military dictatorship is that it is inundated by its investments in the industry of coercion. History has shown us that no amount of weaponry and coercion can restrain a critical mass with full consciousness of their repression.

President Yoweri Museveni is a legend of a revolution with contempt for democracy and elections. He scorns the ballot for the bullet. Demanding free and fair elections is a waste of time. The fear of internal democracy within NRM demonstrates that the presidency is up for grabbing, forcefully.

Mr. Komakech is a Ugandan social critic, and political analyst based in Toronto, Canada.


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