By Besi Ndereya
Democracies are generally thought to die at the barrel of a gun in coups and revolutions. These days however, they are more likely to be strangled slowly in the name of the people.
Mr. Joseph Kabuleta, recently released from police custody, resumed his usual rant by attacking the state of democracy in Uganda. In his missive, he does not offer a definition of democracy.
Kabuleta’s petulance manifests in this statement “the hallmark of an oppressed society is when the public starts blaming victims. It’s like a woman gets raped and people accuse her of dressing indecently. It’s typical of a people that have lost their soul, their fight, and have gone into survival mode.
Kabuleta rants not because parliament rubber stamps the national budget without any challenge and hastily passes lamentable laws like the National Coffee Bill and still has all the time in the world to discuss Pastor Aloysius Bujingo’s marriage shenanigans has given up its ghost and gone into survival mode but because his perspicacity of Ugandan political society is low.
In seeking to portray himself as both victim and saint, Kabuleta uses his lengthy parathion to paint Ugandan society as meek and incapable of determining their own course. These same Ugandans have consistently engaged in national elections held every five years, and generally thought to be free and fair. They are not in ‘Survival mode unless of course he is trying to justify the increasingly obnoxious antics of his prophet and followers.
Uganda’s elite middle class would rather discuss everything else but the manner in which the country’s wealth is being shared out among the ruling class. There is a big and imminent problem when intelligent people eschew political talk and spare their most impassioned debates for leaked nudes and miss curvy beauty pageants, all in the name of survival. We risk going down the perilous path of Congolese.
In this, he mimics especially Dr. Besigye’s Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) as well as Mr. Robert Kyagulanyi’s hastily arranged political group ‘people power’. Both are actively seeking to degrade Ugandan democracy. At the heart of this attempted degradation is cynicism.
Three years ago, edged on by radical and cynical politicians in FDC and against voices of reason led by Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu. Dr. Besigye losing presidential candidate of the FDC illegally swore himself in as ‘peoples’ president. Puzzled Ugandans watched as he proceeded to create a ‘peoples’ government. It was not the first time FDC was attempting to usurp the authority of the state.
Cynical politicians and many in our political circles are, denigrate institutions and then vandalize them. Cynicism drags democracy down. Parties fracture and head for extremes. Populists persuade citizens that the system was designed to work against them.
Fortunately, the riposte to cynicism starts with politicians who forsake outrage for hope. The rise of Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) is proof of this as is the growing condemnation of ‘people power’ rhetoric by the elite middle class in pubs and saunas.
For us to understand democracy, it is important not to discard Uganda’s cultural values and history. Democracy’s core values of inclusion, respect for all, community cohesion and fairness, are also some of the key values within Ugandan society.
These values are also entrenched in Uganda’s 1995 Constitution, which states: “Everything shall be done to promote a culture of cooperation, understanding, appreciation, tolerance and respect for each other’s customs, traditions and beliefs.” This helps ensure that democracy, human rights and the rule of law are upheld while promoting social justice, national unity and stability.
Uganda’s ‘elite middle class’ continues to partake of national resources. The distribution of these resources, of course could be fairer. This is something H.E. Yoweri Museveni is personally championing through his Wealth Creation Programs, Skilling girl Child programs and others.
It is why just recently, he launched the West Nile Investment Symposium. The Democratic Republic of Congo (perilous Congolese in Kabuleta speak) was the second largest recipient of Uganda’s exports in 2016 at $398m (about sh1.47 trillion).
Democracy is precious and those of us lucky enough to inherit it must and will strive to protect it. So, Kabuleta should keep quiet and change his wanting behavior of understanding.
The writer is a Communications Assistant at Government Citizens Interaction Centre, Ministry of ICT and National Guidance.