In the midst of an election campaign, heightened political activity and social anxiety threatens to come under a wave of violence. This was expected as some participants have openly stated that their interest is to plunge Uganda into chaos for their own ends.
However, a true Ugandan, a patriot, a lover of peace and stability, a believer in democracy, a Pan-Africanist, a friend and partner in progress, a law-abiding citizen, those of moderate character and rational thinking, the voter and exemplary citizen should not engage in or back acts aimed at breaking down Uganda. Security is doing its part but the bigger role is with Ugandans of the above-described caliber.
Below is why:
- Ugandans should understand the background to the current unrest. The arrest of Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu (Bobi Wine) followed numerous warnings and guidance to all participants in the electoral process considering the hazardous Covid-19 circumstances. The guidance and warnings went unheeded by the Kyagulanyi while other candidates, including President Yoweri Museveni, strictly abided by the rules. Kyagulanyi was putting the lives of Ugandans at risk of getting infected and spreading the virus. Should security forces stand aside and look as all Ugandans are placed in harm’s way due to the insensitivity of one or two persons abusing their leadership entitlements? Leaders should lead by example and show that they can take charge of their following. This matter is very clear and specific to the ongoing war against the global killer Covid-19 and not a political or partisan affair.
- We must be alive and healthy if I were to execute our democratic mandate under the Constitution. We must observe Covid-19 guidelines so that we do not get infected and infect our friends and family, and miss out on choosing the leaders we want. Those who expect foreign powers to come in and direct how our elections will be held are in for a rude shock. Everything is within our hands and a people and as leaders. They will not stop the enforcement of Covid-19 restrictions because they have suffered the devastating effects of the disease most.
- Uganda is a fully democratic country that meets international standards of free and fair political practice and elections. Since 1987, Uganda has had periodic elections to elect leaders and people’s representatives, a right that had been denied them since the early days of independence. Over time, the democratic space has expanded greatly that people are talking of over representation. In short, that they have too many legislators, too many Local Councils. It is unpopular figures behind the claim that there is no democracy because their belief is that democracy must be in their favour. Campaigns are ongoing and every true Ugandan should prepare to vote the leaders they want at all levels. If there was no democracy, why would the opposition contest in the elections?
- In East Africa, Uganda ranks as the most progressive nation compared with its neighbours in historical terms. Uganda had a turbulent past full of wars, coups and economic meltdown. Ugandans who witnessed the chaos should not allow a return to the terrible situation.
- Ugandans have worked hard and put up good houses, bought cars, educated their children. Infrastructural development is undergoing rapid transformation. Ugandans don’t want chaos to lose their personal and collective investments. Leaders of the wave to destroy Uganda are ungrateful beneficiaries of the regime who want more for themselves at the expense of Ugandans.
- Sectarian utterances intended to turn Ugandans against each other should be resisted and condemned with all our might. While Uganda is made up of diverse ethnicities, as a country we are one. There is no Muganda, Acholi, Musoga, Mugisu, Munyarwanda, Iteso, etc, except in recognising the gift of diversity. The different backgrounds are our strength, as a wonder of harmony in diversity. People have intermarried across ethnic lines, live together in every part of the country, worked together, progressed together and are committed to securing their future together. This beautiful formation should not be lost to the cravings of a few selfish individuals. Don’t attack a stranger, you may attack your relative; don’t attack your brother or sister, their blood will cry out until the full price is paid; don’t attack your neighbor, you will attack your connection to your life goals!
- The people behind the campaign to violent acts are backed by both Ugandans based in the Diaspora and foreigners. It has been established that many Ugandans operating in the Diaspora entered those countries illegally. They are desperate to regularise their stay or get deported. To find a way around their fate, they craft false tales of Uganda being in turmoil and that they are on a hit list at home for their activism and push for change in order to earn asylum. The foreigners fall for their false tales while others are targeting Uganda’s natural resources like they have done in other oil-rich countries that they have destroyed. Do not fall for their schemes!
- The situation in Libya, a once prosperous beacon of progress and transformation in North Africa is a wake up signal to what emotional and unguided activism can do. Uncountable lives have been lost, the country bombed back to Stone Age, the people enslaved and sold for their organ to be harvested for rich clients in Western countries. Libyans live in perpetual fear and regret. Uganda should not be driven that route
- Where are the families of political leaders pushing for violent flouting of established order? They are either abroad or safely tucked away in their homes while they incite children of other Ugandans to go and throw stones at armed security, burn buildings, cars, rob business people and kill. They send in drugs to intoxicate them and feed their social media accounts with fake news to incite them to their early graves or a life of physical deformity. Say no to this kind of manipulation!
- In the current violent wave, we have seen so called advocates of change brutalising NRM supporters or anybody who doesn’t agree with their views. They killed people in Kampala and attacked homes in the city and surrounding areas. They were robbing shops. People leaving the city to return home were forced to pay money to be let through on the various roads. Many were accosted and injured and their vehicles vandalised. Are these the agents of change we want to hand our country to? The decision is up to Ugandans but that should be done through an open democratic process.
- Nobody is going to stop elections from taking place. A lot has been invested into the process which everybody agreed to go into while complying with the rules regulating the exercise. Ugandans should not be intimidated or misled to get involved in highly risky yet futile activities from which they may never recover. Continue accessing information on candidates and their programmes from the safety of your homes and come out in great numbers to make your voice had. It is known that groups that engage in non-civil actions have little to lose after failing to regularise their participation in elections and other democratic processes. They will be answered in the language they understand best.
- Reliable intelligence has revealed a systematic plan with a codename “Plan B” intending to mobilise groups towards the objective of achieving violent regime change. Some of the politicians are happy with this and supporting it, without minding the cost that comes with it. It is up to the ordinary Ugandan trust the NRM Government to defeat such schemes. There may be inconveniences here and there but these enemies must be neutralized and co-opted to see the bigger picture of the Uganda we are, the Uganda we need.
- Why is are religious leaders, civil society, media, elders and other influencers silent on the lawlessness and blatant disregard of the law and lawful orders of non-Government actors? Why do they target security forces and NRM but never ask the opposition questions? Are they complicit in these schemes? The task remains in the hands of the silent majority to silence and guide the lost and introduce them to NRM’s politics of peaceful co-existence and positive interaction.
Uganda is for us all! It is said that some of the actors do not care for organised reasoning but our role of spreading positive and considerate messages of hope, unity and working together have to go on record. Those with ears, listen!
By Faruk Kirunda
Private Secretary to H.E. the President in Charge of Media Management