Analysis

FDC Elect Muntu As President: A Study On Democracy In Uganda

site http://cloudninerealtime.com/wp-content/plugins/woocommerce/templates/checkout/thankyou.php geneva; font-size: small;”>The conference attracted 776 delegates according to official estimates, find in which Mugisha Muntu, healing Nandala Mafabi and Geoffrey Ekanya made their final arguments for the right to hold the office of presidency of one of the major political parties in Uganda.

Besigye is one of the driving forces in Uganda’s opposition to President Yoweri Kaguta and his NRM party. Dr Besigye’s announcement of his retirement this year after a decade of rivalry with the president and three failed attempts at the presidency, took many in the opposition by surprise.

The persistent, loud spoken Doctor has almost exclusively been the face of Uganda’s opposition.

He is highly popular and charismatic. His rivalry with the president is urban legend in Uganda and has at times played out like a Shakespearean drama but years of unceasing political lobbying, arrests and ineffective presidential election campaigns have taken their toll on Dr Besigye who decided to retire earlier this year four years before the next presidential elections. His departure has left a giant black hole in the opposition, one that three men are attempting to fill today.

The first of these men was Maj. Gen. Mugisha Muntu, the party mobilizer is more like Besigye, a former supporter of President Museveni. His experience in the army and moderate view make him the most popular of the three.

His major weakness comes from the fact that unlike the other two, his rhetoric doesn’t emphasize his opposition to President Museveni.

He has been accused of being ineffective on the ground, having failed to mobilize FDC party supporters at the grass roots (the party’s weak spot) during the last presidential elections which President Museveni won with over 70% of the vote.

The second was Nandala Mafabi, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament and highly visible MP from Eastern Uganda whose very public campaign against corruption made him very popular.

The race is considered a two horse one between Mr. Mafabi and Rt. Major General Muntu. Mafabi however is considered the more volatile of the two; he believes that the opposition should concentrate squarely on unseating President Museveni something Muntu disagrees with.

WHY ALL THE FUSS?

The FDC presidential election has been followed with avid interest by people in Uganda. There was even a debate on live television which was watched by a majority of the population with television screens and reported on by the local news networks.

There was anticipation in the air yesterday on who to win or loss.

So what was the fuss?

Well firstly, for the last fifteen years there has only been one man standing in opposition to the president. When I say this, I mean that Dr Kizza Besigye was the only man out of a countless number who could pose a threat to the President.

President Museveni has been in charge for twenty six years something that the opposition consider bad for democracy.

They have long considered the idea that one man can rule for so long as long as he is mandated to by the people, a farce but the irony is for the last fifteen years Dr Kizza Besigye has been the only man they’ve chosen to stand up against the President a fact that many in the ruling party like to throw in their faces when cries of undemocratic practice rises from their voices.

This election provided the Opposition with a way to show the public what they think democracy should be.

(The President’s ruling NRM party has no debates and although any member can stand for any post in the party, many in the party know that it isn’t wise to stand in opposition to the President or any he supports.) The public is eating it up. The opposition now has an opportunity to get people involved in the democratic process.

Secondly, this election felt like changing of the guard from one generation to another. Besigye and Museveni both belong to an older generation.

Uganda is a young country; the majority of the population is under forty. This is a chance for the opposition and hopefully the ruling party to realize that the issues affecting people in this age are different and that new answers must be found.

IS ALL THIS EFFECTIVE? DOES IT ALL MATTER?

Many consider the ideal of democracy in Africa a pipe dream. The argument is that democracy works so well in the West because they’ve had years to perfect it to their specifications. Africa is different, Africa will always be different. There are a whole set of rules and conditions here that do not exist in Europe.

Let’s go back in time. Uganda gained independence from the British in 1962, about fifty years ago. Almost immediately we took up the parliamentary representation system used in Britain a country which is largely homogenous but Uganda at independence consisted of tribes and clans all with their own languages and cultures, all of whom the British had played against each other so that by independence there was no such thing as national unity.

It is the problem suffered by many countries in Africa.

You are your tribe first then a member of your country. You don’t have to look further than the inter-ethnic violence of the Kenya Elections of 2007 and 2008 to see this.

The FDC presidential elections have already been billed as an ethnic battle between West (Muntu) and East (Mafabi). Nepotism and tribalism are still major problems in this country and as long as they are not fixed we can never hope democracy to flourish.

Another fact that seems to undermine the hope that Western Democracy can thrive in Africa, is the high levels of illiteracy and poverty in the continent. There are still large numbers of people who can’t read or write or who live below the poverty line. To these people the most important thing is survival and providing for their families.

The NRM always beats the opposition in the rural areas because they appeal to them, promising safety and money. What will a village farmer living from hand to mouth somewhere in Bushenyi benefit from the FDC presidential debate?

Many in the west think that they can wave a magic wand and democracy will exist. The exemption of South Africa actually proves the rule. South Africa was a British settler colony with close connections to Europe. The country has a sizable white community that leaves and works and pays close attention to the country’s democracy something many people in Africa still do not do.

The phones are ringing off the hook in the office, people calling to ask about who won the same way they would to ask the latest Premier League scores.

The FDC Presidential election sets a good standard, one we should closely watch and emulate but until we solve the major sociological problems affecting the country, our own political aspirations and systems will always fall short.

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