By Odaka Asuman
When I worked with my mentors turned friends in the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party, consistent massage by Dr. Kizza Besigye committed me to the struggle and bound us together even in our political diversity…”opposition parties don’t have to compete against each other, they instead need to complement each other”.
He likened National Resistance Movement (NRM) party to a big rotten wood that has fallen on the highway of our democratic competition, the only way out is when all the Democratic forces Marshall that is left to them in terms of energy and resources to remove the huge dead wood off the way.
Dr. Kizza Besigye consistently and passionately convinced us that whereas political parties are a vehicle for dispensing democratic competition and governance, this is just an aspiration in Mr. Musevrni’s Uganda because we are dealing with a vicious and naked military dictatorship that doesn’t require any legitimacy or good will from anyone and yet has no shame or restraint to commit anything or crime as long as it’s what will prolong its life in power even if it’s just for one day.
He also gave us more and more massages that in many ways, acted as glue that bonded us together but the most was his energy to expose Mr. Museveni power hunger. Dr. Besigye’s constant reminders recommitted our desire to see Mr. Museveni and his government out.
He cautioned us against the divisive political games of NRM including setting up little scribbles within and amongst democratic forces, groups, parties and friends.
It surprises me now how things, situations and strategy seem to have changed so fast most especially in minds of a man whose desire and style was to unite the oppressed against the oppressor.
How we have let them and also maybe trained the young and turned them into tools to insult, disrespect and embarrass those whose opinions don’t match ours even when the destination is same.
Who on earth would ever think Basalirwa Asuman can be abused, assaulted and ridiculed by those friends of ours? Ooohh things change!! Who among all those abusing Basalirwa has not been personally rescued by Asuman Basalirwa?
The big questions in my mind:
- WHEN DID WE SEIZE HAVING A COMMON DESIRE FOR CHANGE?
- IS JEEMA/BASALIRWA’S WIN MORE THREATENING TO SOME MEMBERS OF THE OPPOSITION THAN THE CONTINUOUS HOLD TO POWER BY THE JUNTA?
- DOES BUGIRI PRESENT A NEW POLITICAL RECONFIGURATION SO RISKY THAT A SECTION OF OUR FRIENDS WOULD RATHER NOT SEE ITS GROWTH
- IS POSITION NO.2 SO COMFORTABLE THAT ANY PROMISING CHALLENGER MUST BE DEALT WITH VICIOUSLY?
- WHAT DOES ALL THESE TEACH AS ABOUT FUTURE RELATIONSHIPS?
I remember the heated debate about the relevancy of parties we had which partly shaped the 2011 consensus and was led by our leader, Dr. Kizza Besigye who told us that in liberation phase we find ourselves in, there are only two sides; the oppressor and the oppressed. Therefore, political parties don’t matter much; we can even ignore them for now.
Many indeed abandoned their political party lines and followed the struggle. In fact this was at the very foundational spirit which created Inter Party Coalition (IPC).
“Let’s first liberate the country; we shall then get back to our parties after we have defeated the dictator to enjoy real multiparty democracy,” roared Dr. Besigye.
I still don’t think Dr. Kizza Besigye has departed from that narrative; however the signals my comrades in his camp are sending out are mixed & confusing.
Yet 19 July 2018 will come and pass and the ruler will still be here, meaning our united energies to dislodge Mr. Museveni will still be required whether individually or institutionally.
My appeal is therefore that we spare each other this unpalatable exchange. It’s an advice I freely give and we have the liberty to either take in good faith or just ignore.
The writer is a member of JEEMA & pro-change activist.