Op-ed: UPC should field a presidential candidate

J. Akena. Courtesy/File photo.


By Ongom Ongom Adero

Lira—27, August 27, 2020: I’m overwhelmed by a desire for literary correctness. Every thought is in a dilemma, and my sight is too keen to edit out every impulse not carrying my perception of certain facts at play in the UPC.

Unfortunately for me, the current dilemma in the party may also be a political dilemma for the future of Uganda. The UPC definitely presents a formidable fabric of opposition. She boasts of tested alternative welfare policies vital for the development of our country.

However, as it is so far, the ‘so called’ party president will not represent the UPC in the forthcoming national presidential elections. The claim is that the party will need more MPs in parliament before finally breaking even to contest in the presidential race, at which point, victory shall be certain.

This is not a new allusion. The argument follows precisely a similar argument in 2015 when UPC delegates in Lango sub-region were promised that the incumbent president, Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni would gracefully hand over power to the UPC in 2021 as a result of a controversial negotiation that had been initiated between the party and the NRM.

The only known or assumed results of the controversial negotiation were a compromise of shillings 2 billion offered to the party leaders from the NRM and a ministerial post. I believe with it too, the necessary conscience and integrity to lead a social democratic party like the UPC.

Worse, all criticism in the party is often met with a ‘fight – fight’ attitude. You’re ‘pro-Obotes’ son or anti’. I have been caught in this fable. It ignores all circumstantial realities, principles, or rules set in place to guide an institution as respectful as the UPC. It also involves contempt of Court where need be, a bit of sycophancy, and an absolute apathy to the party constitution.

Naturally, or by default of this status quo, we have been forced to reminisce about the bitter wounds of Legal Notice No. 1 of 1986 that banned all political party activities in the country, especially the UPC. Later embedded in the 1995 Constitution, the Legal Notice heralded an effective beginning of the demise of the UPC.

Sadly today, the party is finding itself in a worse reality, battling not only the subtle continuity of Legal Notice No. 1 but also a very cancerous growth (national political inactivity) not even future political chemotherapy may cure.

Otherwise, the relevance of presenting a presidential candidate under a multi-party system cannot be underestimated. It is an opportunity for any political party in opposition to revitalize its base, sell its policies and recruit new enthusiastic members – youths – into the party.

The five-year sequence creates a rhythm that is continuously built upon to create a beautiful atmosphere of sustained progress that ultimately culminates into victory over time.

Without active participation in every competition for the highest office, UPC members or faithful are disfranchised and left without viable alternatives, or opportunities to express their loyalty and undying trust in the party.

Under multipartism, this failure to present a presidential aspirant tantamount to an injustice. Moreover, in the consequent luck of national visibility, other forces have emerged to fill the void that would have hitherto been filled by the party. We see this in the recent struggle for the color red between the UPC and a neophyte, the NUP.

I think this presents us an opportunity to stop, think and reflect on the future of the UPC, and definitely Uganda. We need to reestablish the national character of the party, encourage criticism, internal democracy and respect for the rule of law, and most eminently, a truth, dialogue and reconciliation process within the party that is if we still believe that the UPC still has some life left worth fighting for.

The party should also uncompromisingly present a candidate to vie for the national presidency.

The writer is a former volunteer at the Department of Ideology & Research UPC HQ, currently running for Lira City East, Member of Parliament.

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