UPC’s carrot and stick dilemma


Ongom Adero - The Author. Courtesy/File photo.

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By O’ONGOM Adero

Lira—September 29, 2020: The pen, paper, and brainpower. These are all that we have at our disposal against the NRA. My prayer is that beyond this, the UPC shall be able to stitch a beautiful fabric out of the breaking pieces that have become the norm in the party, and our country.

Our dismay is not that the right is unknown, but that the right is what is intended should be defeated so that in her place a pauperized leadership is enforced and sustained over the party.

Impunity finds no better solace than in this reality. Otherwise, how do we make peace with the electoral commissions’ feigned ignorance of the prevailing illegality—that is Hon. Jimmy Akena’s leadership?

It is worthless to lament on the independence or not of the Electoral Commission. For us, the most eminent question is; who benefits from the illegal status quo?

Unfortunately, what most post 1986 Ugandans do not know is that until 2005, Uganda was in every unsubtle sense a one party dictatorship. The 1995 Constitution embraced the dictatorial reality under Article 269 and later, Sections 18 & 19 of the Political Parties and Other Organizations Act of 2002 concretized the mess wholly.

This ‘beatification’ process of the NRM was initiated by Legal Notice No. 1 of 1986. That legal instrument was a ‘rebel outfit’ constitution outlawing the branch operation and existence of political parties in the country. Uganda would hence forth run under a novel ‘democratic dictatorship’ of individual merit fancied as movementism. This marked the beginning of where we are today; the commercialization and big man syndrome in our politics, corruption, nepotism, absolute break down of institutionalism and its grotesque icing, impunity!

With the electoral commission’s stance to continue to deal with Hon. Jimmy Akena’s illegal leadership, we find ourselves at it again (impunity) despite a Court of Appeal ruling that would in a normal society be binding upon everyone.

My hope is that after the party enforcing the Court of Appeal ruling by holding a Delegates Conference that shall elect a Party President as prescribed by the Party Constitution, the stance by the electoral commission shall probably change. But if you have been keen and following the scheme unfold, you will realize soon that this too may be overtaken by events so that there will be nothing left to correct in the records of the commission.

We should always be slow at preempting our pessimism except that once bitten, twice shy. If it was possible to hold an illegal Party Delegates Conference, an event that was in contempt of court and to elect a party leader under such circumstances with the full watch and endorsement of the national police that was obliged to enforce the same court order, then we have very good reason to be pessimistic.

Court may have given the rightful party leadership a stick while, perhaps, Hon. Jimmy Akena’s faction shall receive the carrot so that internal fighting in the party shall continue unabated past the 2021 electoral season. With the carrot and the Electoral Commission’s recognition, the upper hand lies against the party.

The downside will be that the UPC shall not field a presidential candidate to challenge the NRM. Without this competitive Democratic edge against the NRA, many party members and supporters shall have no alternative than to flow with the status quo, to the benefit of the NRM.

Whereas this is heartbreaking and painful, it works to remind us of the stark reality upon which our democracy is founded, and how much work and perseverance has to be endured for the survival of our party and country.

Legal Notice No. 1 of 1986, as we have witnessed, cannot be undone by the courts of law alone. Impunity bares little shame in the face of rightful opposition. The odds may be against the party, but the UPC has relentlessly demonstrated that violence is out of the question. We have to remain steadfast with our pens, paper, and brainpower.

The writer is a fellow of The Mulungushi Club, and UPC contestant Lira City East MP.


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