OPINION: Challengers’ Manifestos Have Absolutely No Ideological Anchoring – Mafabi

By K. David Mafabi

The Manifestos 2021 Elections of various challengers to President Yoweri K. Museveni which we have so far seen, have absolutely no ideological anchoring and depth. This is quite worrying and disturbing for three or so reasons.

First, while reading of the documents may offer an interesting pastime, the challengers’ Election Manifestos certainly do not provide comprehensive and coherent alternative policy frameworks to that provided by President Yoweri K. Museveni.

The Manifestos provide only incongruous and mismatched wish lists of possible interventions across different sectors – floating around without an anchor.

Second, the Manifestos are reflective of the total absence of ideological clarity in the political groupings that produced them. This means that unwittingly, these groups render themselves almost irrelevant to the fundamental liberation processes of the Ugandan and African peoples.

They can, of course, work harder on this, and grow. In the meantime, because of this severe deficiency, the effect of the more reckless of them on the body politic can be likened to that (metaphorically speaking) of a bull let loose in a china shop.

Third, the lack of ideological clarity prolongs and compounds the process of consolidating a national democratic consensus. Such a consensus, over the medium to long term, is built on the back of the consolidation of an internal market for Agriculture, Industry and Services.

A democratic ethos, in turn, is grown in that evolving material and economic reality. These are historical processes – not single events or acts of creation.


Worse, the leaderships of these groups seek to transmit their own ideological confusion and deficiencies – to wananchi. Always in a great hurry, always populist, sometimes anarchist, they are engaged in a futile search for short cuts to historical processes, and trying to drag everybody along with them in reckless adventurism!

Worst, these gullible country women and men usually end up in the demeaning role of mere pawns in the hands of external forces – whose core interests are diametrically opposed to the objective and fundamental interests of the African people.

Let us present to the reader, the “ideological” anchors of two of the Manifestos of some of the challengers to President Yoweri K. Museveni! Extract from Forum for Democratic Change Manifesto 2021 – 2026: “This election period is one which must end Museveni’s state capture … his nepotism, arrogance, and failed economic policies.

It is time to stop his impoverishment of the people, his era of unemployment and joblessness; his bad land policies, which have resulted in dehumanizing evictions, which have made you landless, deprived, unproductive, and poor.

We are in this election to end Mr. Museveni’s abuse of our fine military and police. We are seeking to put a full stop on his tendencies to unleash the military on unarmed and peaceful civilians, and end the unjust society he has created.”

Extract from National Unity Platform Manifesto 2021 – 2026, “The National Unity Platform grew out of the People Power movement. The movement was formed to spearhead the first ever inclusive, non-violent transition of political power in Uganda … We seek a transition from the 35-year long dictatorial regime to a people’s choice government through free and fair elections. We are compelled by Article 1 of the Constitution of Uganda 1995, which grants all power to the people of Uganda. Our aim is to guarantee respect for the Constitution.”

As for the Alliance for National Transformation, I am not sure that their Manifesto is out – but, I remember their leadership provided a preview. The “ideological anchor” for the thoughts they shared last month, appears to be encapsulated in the slogan, “The Change You Can Trust.”

Why are we raising the red flag on the category “Ideology” yet again? Why shall we do this again and again? It is because “ideology” refers very simply but clearly to a systematic, coherent and consistent world-view – with a compelling internal logic.

Normally and very important, “Ideology” is reflective of definite socio-economic interests. “Ideology” therefore, cannot refer to random, sporadic thought. A clear ideological identity defines clear purpose, clear programs of work – in the short term, and over the medium to long terms.

Now, in the excerpts from the FDC and NUP Manifestos 2021 to 2026 shared above, the world view of the two organizations is incredibly built around “removal of Museveni dictatorship”! The raison d’etre – purpose for existence – is the “removal of Museveni”! The two organizations therefore, serve no other purpose …!

This then, is not about the fact that every election must have a winner. For these two organizations, Yoweri K. Museveni is the source of all Uganda’s problems, nay, the problem! The “solution” then becomes, simplistically, “remove Museveni, and all shall be well”!

These groups have no comprehension of the structural … No comprehension of trans-regime challenges … No comprehension of the fact that all visible phenomena, have a history … The challenge of resolution of the contemporary Ugandan National Question means nothing to them … The challenges of consolidation of national statehood have never crossed their minds … The challenges of growing a democratic ethos in enclave peasant economies do not occur to them … They have never thought about how norms and values emerge in society.

The theoreticians of these groups have never been required to take a position on John Maynard Keynes’ “General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” – and its relevance or otherwise in our para-capitalist enclave economies.

Their theoreticians have never been required to comment on Karl Marx’s sharp disagreement with Adam Smith on original accumulation of capital, also known as the primitive accumulation of capital – and the historically equivalent processes in the para-capitalist enclave economies of the world …

But, how would we expect them to exert themselves to that extent, when their world view, their “ideology” – is the “removal of the Museveni dictatorship”?


The writer is a Senior Presidential Advisor/Special Duties State House


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