The press has been awash with coup stories, claims and counter claims. This talk, however, is diversionary and masks the real fundamental issues facing us as a country.
Indeed, the coup talk is potentially disruptive and counterproductive.
Suffice to state that the long and odious struggle of NRM has been to move Uganda from dictatorship to democracy, however imperfect it may be, democracy it is all the same.
What would be the implications of this gigantic reversal of the political course? By the way, people should not confuse a people’s popular uprising with a coup. A popular uprising is a legitimate people’s struggle whereas a coup is an illegitimate anti people activity.
This is, however, a discussion for another day where I have covered the nature of the current clash between Parliament and Executive and showing the inevitability of it in ideological terms.
The central issue, however, that is facing us and indeed staring us in our faces, which I think is causing all these frictions is how to manage the different political forces that are taking central stage in the country. When a government has been in power for 27 uninterrupted years, it becomes inevitable that people will start asking questions about service delivery, about accountability, about crime etc, and ultimately will start demanding for change of some sort. It’s only natural.
The central role of leaders therefore, is to confront, head on, the complex issue of how to manage these changes. Many failures often, result from the tendency of the people who are in charge, keeping their heads down in denial about this fact.
Often times, precious time and opportunity is lost in this procrastination and dilly dallying. So all this turmoil we see today, especially among the political actors and between the different state institutions in an inevitable consequence of maturity (coming of age) of a system which requires a clearly set out ideological and political frame work.
This is the ideological issue and the core question of our time. And how we handle this central issue will determine how Uganda as a country and the Eastern African region will be, not in the next 20 or 30 years, but may be three years or less. This is what faces us and must guide us in the choices we make today.
The other issue that must be confronted and resolved is what I may term generational gridlock; this basically refers to generational roles and positioning of the different generational political/military actors in the political dispensation now and in the future.
There are four generations which can be said to be active in the current political life of the country. The first is that of independence struggle era. These are people who participated in the independence struggle or were part of the political process immediately after independence. This group is represented by elders like our wazei Kintu Musoke, Kirunda Kivejinja, Bidandi Ssali, Miria Obote, Rhoda Kalema, and Joyce Mpanga, Honorable Henry Kajura, Moses Ali and others.
The second category is that which cut its political teeth, so to speak, during the turbulent post independence years. This group is led by His Excellency the President, with elders Honorable Eriya Kategaya, Tarsis Kabwegyere, Sam Kutesa, Kahinda Otafiire, Amama Mbabazi, Edward Sekandi, Fredrick Ssempebwa, John Katende, Richard Kaijuka, Amanya Mushega, Tumusiime Mutebire, Ruhakana Rugunda and others.
The third category is the generation of those who were still in school until the overthrow of Idi Amin. This group comprises majority of the current corporate class like Dr. Simon Kagugube, Onyango Obbo etc, Generals, Elly Tumwine, David Sejusa, Nyakairima Aronda etc, people like Miria Matembe, Prof. Ntambirweki, Mugisha Muntu, Dr. Kizza Besigye, Richard Butera and many of the middle aged professors, MPs and military generals you hear of today.
The fourth category is the category of post NRM/NRA bush war. These I can safely term as the children of the revolution. Though this has two segments, they can be joined, for their political and social outlook has been determined or influenced by the same circumstances.
These are the young people like late Noble Mayombo, Andrew Mwenda, Robert Kabushenga, Norbert Mao etc. To this group we can add up many young professionals in many fields today. People like a young Kampala lawyer, Erias Lukwago, Theodore Ssekikubo, Abdu Katuntu, Frank Tumwebaze, Richard Todwong etc.
The reason I am raising this, rather unfamiliar subject is the centrality of the generational positioning which may have a profound impact on the whole equation of any change management. The leaders must start focusing on this question if they have to avoid friction and discontent by failure to appreciate the generational gridlock. This is however, a different subject all together which should highlight the crucial importance of the matter on the orderly functioning of society in the process of the management of change.
The third component that we must confront is the role of the military in the management of the State. Will it remain an embodiment of the aspirations of the people from which it derives its legitimacy and power or will it try to subvert the power of the people and by so doing loose its historic pro people position which would of course result in its collapse and inevitable defeat, for the people always win no matter how long it may take. This is in fact why this coup talk is dangerous.
The last point concerns our opposition politicians. Have they discussed or do they even know what part to play or even how to position themselves in this inevitable national process? Do they have the ideological depth to manage constructively the rather complex dynamics of moving a system from democratic centralism to liberal democracy without disrupting the social and political cohesion of the state? For instance, what is the ideological foundation of “Walk to Work” campaign? What is its end state as we say in the military? It is revolutionary in intent or evolutionary? That is, does it aim at sweeping away the current government or reform it? I hope they even fully understand the mechanisms of political warfare vice visa strategy and tactics.
The last component and perhaps the most crucial of all is the role of civil society and the population at large. With the political and quasi-military (Mchaka mchaka/cadre training etc) empowerment they have attained in the last 31 years of NRM rule (1981-2013), how will they behave if their power is challenged by the political class, be they politicians or the military?
All the above will influence the behavior of the international community and determine the economic situation in the country and the long term stability of the state and the region. These are the issues facing us as a country not this coups or counter coups. For in the long run they are not sustainable politically, socially, ideologically not even plausible in the geopolitical setting.
Gen. David Sejusa (a.k.a Tinyefuza)