Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Dr Kizza Besigye Not Standing for the 2016 Presidential Elections: What This Means for Uganda’s Democracy
By Bakampa Brian Baryaguma
[Dip. Law (First Class)–LDC; LLB (Hons)–Mak; PG Cert. Oil & Gas–Mak; PGDLP Candidate–LDC; GC Candidate–GCA]
In 2016, Ugandans will be going to the polls to vote a variety of political leaders, including the president. Now Uganda’s top opposition leader, Col. (Rtd) Dr Kizza Besigye, has said that he will not contest for the presidency in the coming elections. In what he has said is a personal decision, yet to be decided upon by his Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, Dr Besigye says that he will fight “the Museveni dictatorship through other means.” I must confess thatI was shocked by this pleasant surprise. Honestly speaking, I did not expect it. For the reasons appearing sufficiently below, I gladly welcome and applaud Dr Besigye’s decision.
First of all, it should be remembered that Dr Besigye has thrice contested against his political arch rival, President Museveni for the presidency, albeit unsuccessfully: first, in 2001; second, in 2006; and third, in 2011. The results of the first two elections were challenged in the Supreme Court and although in both instances the justices unanimously found that the elections had been rigged and not free and fair, they nevertheless, by majority decisions, held that the malpractices were not substantial enough to necessitate the nullification of the results. In 2011, Dr Besigye did not challenge the results because he had lost faith and confidence in the judiciary. “I will never ever go back to that court again,” he declared, after the Supreme Court dismissing his petition, after the 2006 election.
By choosing not to contest in the 2016 presidential election, Dr Besigye has done a noble and wonderful thing for Uganda. He must be commended for it because it is an expression of nationalism and political maturity. In Uganda, like in many other parts of the third world, political power is everything and its attainment is a matter of life and death, whereby political actors would be willing to do anything and go all possible lengths, to acquire it, in order to access and control national resources. This includes unleashing political terror, scheming and also resorting to rebellion against the sitting government, all of which have characterised Mr Museveni, in so far as he shot his way to power by the AK 47 and has consolidated his stay there through rampant corruption and patronage.
It is my considered opinion that Dr Besigye’s decision marks the beginning of the end of personalized politics in Uganda, worsened by what I may call ‘the Museveni politics’ – the politics of domination, subjugation and annihilation – whereby, as I have argued elsewhere, political parties and processes are mere vehicles or means to selfish and individualised ends, particularly, the attainment of political power, for personal satisfaction and aggrandizement. Here the public good and benefit is cast aside, often with scorn and contempt. Genuine public interest is sacrificed at the alter of personal desires or at best, the wishes of a select group of elites, usually comprised of kith and kin. This is exactly what Mr Museveni’s nearly 30 years in power have done for Uganda. Dr Besigye therefore, comes as a blessing because he is providing a viable alternative that power need not be pursued at all costs. Otherwise, the political opposition itself may fall into the very trap of those it seeks to remove. Fortunately, most likely this won’t happen at all, thereby resulting in engendering political decency.
Dr Besigye has found the right niche for himself because truth be told; the likes of him are extremely rare, in this part of the world. In so doing, the good doctor has projected himself as Uganda’s true political hero and saviour. In terms of providing people-centred leadership, he has tactfully pulled the carpet from Mr Musevenl’s feet and effectively beaten him to the top, coveted crown of wisdom and prize of public glory and admiration. Henceforth, Dr Besigye will go down in Uganda’s political history, as the country’s legitimate and undisputed visionary. Congratulations and bravo, to him.