Besigye’s Dimming Star Brighter Than That Of Amama Mbabazi

Uganda’s youthful and urban niched television Urban TV has finally launched on the digital platform GoTV. This was announced Tuesday morning at the Multichoice Head Offices in Kololo, ambulance Kampala.

Urban Tv will now air on Channel 95 on all Go TV bouquets (GoTv and GoTv plus).

Patricia Kiconco the GoTv Manager at Multichoice said that GoTv is committed to helping the analogue to digital migration.

“We have seen Urban Tv as being among the top TVs according to research, advice ” she added.

She disputed the circulating information that the GoTv starter pack prices have been hiked saying there are enough decoders in stock.

The Urban Tv station manager Michael Owor noted that this was a milestone. He said they had waited for the moment for 3 painful years adding that it will make the television the leading in Uganda.

By Morrison Rwakakamba

Sitting here at Harvard exposes one to quiet reflection, more about introspection, ferment of knowledge, information and major discourses around the globe.

At the Kennedy School of Government, it is too much politics- because politics matter and remains the most important platform to channel public service energy. Here, one must learn to juggle, sieve and combine different points of view to deliver hybrid solutions.

A bevy of folks here are united by a common desire to make the world a better place. They believe so, because those who walked through these very corridors before have impacted the world at the very highest level and continue to do so through politics and other public service platforms around the world.

In this particular environment, it easy to take eyes off from goings on back home and immerse oneself in global public affairs- but that would be a slip-up considering that Uganda has distinguished itself as a global actor, and a sub continental power in the geopolitics of the Great lakes region. There is so much curiosity around here- How do you guys in Uganda do it?

So, the common question goes! This is of course in spite of binding constraints that Uganda still faces as a developing nation state. Beyond the foregoing, Uganda is going into elections in a few months. Political temperatures are oscillating.

I have been keenly following developments, from The Democratic Alliance (TDA) to the declaration of candidature for President by former Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Amama Mbabazi. For, the ‘alliance’, NRM and Chairman President Museveni will likely not pay too much attention because since 1996, alliances of various disguised forms have been defeated. This particular alliance, even with infusion of Amama Mbabazi won’t be different.

Secondly, besides the signatures and shiny hard covered protocol, the larger than life egos of leaders in the loosely allied parties will not allow a strong and indomitable alliance to happen. If Kizza Besigye fails to take leadership of the alliance, he will disrupt it and collapse it. The first logic to this conclusion is that most leaders in the alliance have no grassroots support base except Kizza Besigye if we are to go by the latest recent scientific and empirical polls.

For example, on January 24th, 2015, a poll by an independent French Agency IPSOS put Besigye ahead of Mbabazi, Rebecca Kadaga, Norbert Mao and other big name political actors. All combined Museveni defeated them by 57%.

In a May 2015 poll published by International Republican Institute (IRI), a global non-profit and non-partisan organization, 69 per cent Ugandans said they are confident Uganda is headed in the right direction under President Museveni.

Second logic is that Besigye’s record in organized platforms and politics is self centered – a sort of it is either me or everything else collapses; For example, when he left Rukungiri Development Committee (RDC) as its leader in year 2000s, he undermined it and it collapsed.

When he supposedly left Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) leadership on 24th November 2012 he allied with a faction of radicals and belligerents in FDC and other political parties to undermine the fairly logical leadership of his predecessor General Gregory Mugisha Muntu; now FDC is in disarray. Will the TDA survive? Your guess is good as mine.

The issue of Amama Mbabazi announcement as candidate for President has been widely discussed. In some cases it has been emotive, largely because some sections of the press obsessed around its punditry – and when the announcement came –oops – hell broke loose.

But soon the teacup storm will calm down and everybody will go home. This is because, Amama Mbabazi candidature in not in any particular way special or even ground breaking and surprising like the candidature of Kizza Besigye in 2001.


In a multiparty dispensation intra and interparty competition is convention and normal. Besigye’s candidature in 2001, under the movement system was unconventional, bold, charismatic- yet limited on ideology, because it aimed at veneer reform and not transformation.

A reflection on Besigye’s 2001 campaign shows it lacked a coherent message, machinery and organization to deliver him to victory. Besigye’s visible vitality was because he was less known, young, and bold.

His charismatic personality provided the override for his absence of record and experience at the national level. Uganda’s media and supporters were unwilling to examine him deeply. Over the years, Ugandans have come to know him. His curve is bending down low and star dimming. But make no mistake; his darkening star has more light than that of Amama Mbabazi. This is why;

Rt. Hon. Amama Mbabazi’s political record is on record. As operational chief within NRM party and in government for the last 29 years, he truly shares the successes and challenges. His latest ‘8 points’ are even well articulated in the existing National Development Plan and Vision 2040 . Although Amama Mbabazi was previously awed as a royal cadre who along the way like many others made mistakes, broadly, he is no particular angel of democracy.

To verify this, one needs to look at Amama Mbabazi vs. Musinguzi Garuga James in Election Petition No. HCT-05-CV-EPA-0003 of 2001 and Court of Appeal Civil Application No. 19 of 2002 – 2/10/2003. Mr. Garuga was a candidate in the Parliamentary elections that took place on the 26th of June 2001.

He was a candidate in Kinkizi West Constituency. Amama Mbabazi, was the other candidate in the same constituency. Mr. Garuga petitioned Court accusing Mbabazi of rigging Kinkizi West Parliamentary election in 2001.

In Court, Garuga argued that the entire electoral process from beginning to end was characterized by acts of intimidation, lack of freedom and transparency, unfairness and violence through the commission of numerous electoral offenses, illegal practices and or acts of contravention of the relevant law.

Both the High Court and court of Appeal agreed with the petitioner (Musinguzi Garuga) that Respondent 1 (Amama Mbabazi) was involved in three aspects, (a) Intimidation, harassment and violence, (b) Ballot Rigging and (c) Illegal, Sectarian and defamatory campaign.

That election was nullified. Musigunzi Garunga refused to participate in subsequent bi-election, arguing that doing so would put his supporters, his people in Kinkizi West at a huge risk. Mbabazi went back, he still represents Kinkizi West constituency in Kanungu district up to today. Media and democracy loving Ugandans should fully examine this and guide the Country on whether such a record would deliver ‘forward’ change if extrapolated and exercised at the national level.

While Secretary General of the National Resistance Movement, Amama Mbabazi actions did not reflect a leader who fully respects merit above family based patronage, favoritism and zerosomeness. His actions defeat his latest attempts at renewal, projecting himself as a leader who values systems and meritocracy. Then and now Mbabazi surrounds himself with a closed family circle as spokespersons, strategists and representatives. Though unofficially, his sister-in-law and former Agriculture Minister Hope Mwesigye recently showed up at the opposition alliance meeting, reportedly, to represent his interests.

Is Mbabazi now part of the opposition alliance? His family members may be competent professionals, but was there a rigorous and independent hiring process conducted? Were they elected to run the secretariat?

In the Daily Monitor of Sunday, March 16, 2014, former Vice President, Prof Bukenya stated “contrary to the known view that Mr Mbabazi defeated me and Gen Kahinda Otafiire with a landslide victory for the post of Secretary General, the reality is that he should have won more resoundingly since the elections were manned by his daughter………

“How can Amama Mbabazi without shame then brag of a landslide [win] in an election that was organised and directly manned by his daughter? Indeed he should have got 100 per cent and beyond. Who would expect President Museveni or Kizza Besigye to lose or perform poorly in an election organised by Muhoozi or Anslem respectively? Who doesn’t know that the polling register of the NRM delegates was and is still in the hands of Nina Mbabazi, the daughter of Amama Mbabazi? She accredited whoever she liked to Namboole [venue of the party elections] and whose vote she was sure of,” This same line of logic has been echoed on various forums by the Justice Minister Kahinda Otafiire who participated in that election alongside Amama Mbabazi and Gilbert Bukenya. Ugandans must truly examine this record.

Recently, Amama Mbabazi is talking of a tired government system. Looking at the Office of Prime Minister website, one is greeted with its mission statement – To instill and maintain efficient and effective systems in Government that enable Uganda to develop rapidly – Why didn’t he live up to this mission when he was Prime Minister?

If he claims he had no bandwidth to act, why didn’t he resign? Of course as a lawyer and Prime Minister, he was more eloquent in vending and defending a particular law that in my view scales down democratic gains in Uganda.

Beyond the wiretapping, phone tapping, triangulation and other legislations; As a salesman of Public Order Management Bill (now law), certainly Amama Mbabazi is not a paragon of democracy. Why is it that such laws did not find space on parliamentary business order paper during the reign of Professor Apollo Nsibambi as Prime Minister of Uganda?

Whereas everybody in government must carry some responsibility for these laws, certainly the leader of government business in parliament and eloquent vendor of those laws must take a distinction. Again we must boldly interrogate this record.

Recently, most Mbabazi supporters are vehemently apprehensive to those who seek to question his record. In their obsessive opposition to President Museveni, they are willing to close their part of brain that reminds them of previous Mbabazi actions.

They naively convince themselves, that once Museveni is gone, they will sort themselves out. What a lazy way of looking at public affairs! They are pandering to blackmail accusing young people who disagree with Mbabazi as disrespectful of elders, ill-mannered, fortune hunters etc.

But when Yoweri Museveni, Kizza Besigye, David Sejusa, Kahinda Otafire etc, challenged Obote regime, they were young, determined and committed to public service. Young people should not be broken by this paternalistic blackmail. Now Ugandans have a chance to evaluate whether latest Amama Mbabazi talk of ‘forward’ is authentic, honest and true or whether it is hollow, false and reverse ‘forward’. I want to urge the police and state security operatives to act responsibly and be blind to pluralism in Uganda’s politics.

Don’t harass Amama Mbabazi or his supporters and any opposition actors in Uganda. Let NRM members and wider citizenry challenge Amama Mbabazi’s record- Lets concretely evaluate merit of what he says- and Ugandans will be the judge.

Morrison Rwakakamba;

HIID merit scholar of the Edward S. Mason Program in Public Policy Management at Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.


Header advertisement
To Top