Heroism: The weak end of opposition politics


Presently, Uganda’s political scene suggests that there is more to favour the opposition’s advancement towards providing alternative political leadership in Uganda than there has ever been since the inception of Museveni’s NRM regime.

The citizenry’s dissatisfaction with the recent age limit removal amendment, changes in the taxation policy in the face of overwhelming corruption levels in government institutions, recent unaccounted-for killings in the nation, mistrusted electoral processes, to mention a few, serve to show that most of Ugandans crave for a change in the political leadership of the country.

Such an atmosphere, one would think lends credence to Uganda’s political opposition to cause a crucial and desired political revolution in the nation, especially now that Uganda’s opposition seems to comprehend and echoes well the nation-wide longing for political as well as socio-economic transformation.

However, much as it is true that the opposition captures well the yearning of the majority for change in the political governance and is passionate and courageous to push for this cause, the opposition politics as is, can only best be characterised as a politics of emancipation and activism because it fails on a front where it should be strongest: By and large it lacks in solidarity and is more of a politics of ‘heroism’, which idolises personalities and sadly so even at the most crucial and defining moments. It is to be noted that opposition politics is not held together by solid unifying ideology and commitments, but rather revolves around the the given ‘strong man’ at a time.

It can now be confirmed that even the better organised political opposition groupings, ideology and principles only hold to the extent that they facilitate the aspirations and desires of the ‘hero.’ It is also evident that ‘heroes’ will outgrow the ideology and principles they most likely were instrumental in constructing, if they do  not serve their interests-noble or selfish.

The hero phenomenon defines not only the ‘heroes’, who are addicted to enjoying the lime-light of their heroism, but even the greater majority who subscribe to the opposition political ideologies.

In effect, majority of Ugandans who subscribe to the opposition are by nature attracted to ‘the personality’ of those they choose to support and not necessarily to the nature of ideology and principles they represent.

For instance, Kyadondo South Member of Parliament, Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi (a.k.a Bobi Wine), who has suffered much at the hands of the current regime, occasioning his rise to prominence both locally and internationally, is now considered the new boy on the block in comparison to Rtd Col Kiiza Besigye. But apart from his wanting to remove Museveni from power and ensure real people participation in their government, he neither leads a unitary political party nor has a definable political ideology for national liberation and transformation but surprisingly, like a cult-leader, his fame seems to be spreading faster than a bush fire and has by now overshadowed all opposition politics in Uganda, and is ostensibly about to bring all opposition strong politicians to bow at his feet. This is bound to have another dividing rather than the desired unifying effect in opposition politics.

This ‘hero-hero worship’ syndrome sadly seems to define all key opposition political figures ranging from Besigye who for the past three presidential elections has been viewed as the only serious Museveni challenger, Mugisha Muntu since he lost the FDC presidency to Amuriat, gradually out-grew FDC constitutional demarcations which he very much defended while still the party president. Since obviously they were unlikely to facilitate ‘his intended future political ambitions’, hehas announced a break away from the party he so much fought to build. He has now formed a new political party that will have more divisive effect in  opposition politics.

Furthermore, in the recent troublesome parliamentary by-elections in Bugiri and Arua, key leaders in Uganda’s leading political party–the FDC denied support to their own candidates in favour of independent candidates for just one reason: that the FDC flag-bearer   lacked an appealing and heroic personality politically, as was embodied in the candidates they preferred to support, contrary to their party’s policy and the logical expectation to support only candidate sanctioned by the party.

Needless to say, such an approach to politics in a democratic dispensation can by no means bring about the nation-wide desired political and social-economic transformation.

What opposition political groups and individuals need to do at this considerably crucial time is to sacrifice the ‘heroism’ spirit of hinging their politics around the ‘popular-strong man’ political figures and instead seek more the fostering of the ‘solidarity’ spirit.

Undeniably, Uganda’s opposition can be said to understand and possess the desired passion to bring about change in the country, but are lacking in unity which is the power.

The writer is the assistant chaplain and a lecturer at Uganda Christian University

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