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Let us put safety first as we head into campaigns

Faruk Kirunda

Nominations for presidential candidates were successfully conducted and concluded by the Independent Electoral Commission. I wish to congratulate all those who were nominated. I was pleased to see new faces coming up to try their luck including my daughter, Nancy Kalembe.

Special congratulations go to President Yoweri Museveni who got nominated a sixth time well on his way to his sixth consecutive victory. The journey has not been easy but we thank God who makes all things possible. The struggle to deny Ugandans tested and trusted leadership has been going on for long but the hurdles have been progressively cleared.

In 2017, they almost overthrew Parliament to stop it from carrying out its legislative duties. Happily, the established system restored order and saved the sanctity of the Legislature. The 2021 elections are the last phase in that operation.

During elections, there will be heightened interest in undermining systems and weakening NRM but all those involved should differentiate between state apparatus and the political system-NRM. NRM is a standalone entity which plays in the civilian arena alongside other interested parties. The state serves to keep a stable environment for everyone to engage in whatever trade they are interested in advancing.

As civilians, let us strictly keep within the established field of play and avoid confrontations that draw the strong arm of the state in. Spare armed personnel from political exchanges because they already have enough on their plate! They deserve total respect and support to maintain stability as we compete with each other on the basis of ideas and our manifestos.

We are not in a blood exhibition; we are in a democracy exhibition. Ideas over abuse; ideology over biology; co-existence over sectarianism, securing the future over destroying it! Say no to statements and acts of anger!

I thank every participant who is showing a good example of obeying lawful orders and cooperating with enforcers. It does not take away someone’s relevance in Uganda’s politics to be law-abiding and exemplary. In fact, it is a sign of maturity and high-level preparedness to participate more in shaping Uganda of the future.

I know that some are new in politics and are still picking lessons on what Ugandans want and expect, and generally, how to conduct oneself in contending for power.

The altercations we saw on the second day of nomination were a response to the unripe responses of some of the participants and I hope that it won’t get any worse. I am always pained to see pure Bazzukulu caught in distressing circumstances after being planted by politicians who use them as cover for their own misdeeds after which they are left to suffer the repercussions. This is so wrong and I pray that it ends now!

However, three months (of campaigns) is a long time and chances of a reoccurrence of such incidents are very high.

Lives have been lost in uncertain circumstances related to civil disobedience and defiance in recent times. We can’t afford that cost because these are the people whose future is being painstakingly constructed so that they enjoy being Ugandans of the Museveni era.

I know that some of the victims are totally innocent and unwitting, only caught up in a situation they otherwise expect to bring them joy and celebration. We can celebrate and join processions but the number one responsibility for personal safety is one’s self.

As a Muzzukulu, avoid bad company, being in a wrong place at a wrong time! Obey your parents when they warn you against indulging with unstable groups! I know many young people are not at school. They have a lot of freetime on their hands which could tempt them to engage in risky activities, taken up by the euphoria of campaigns. I call for absolute caution; we can support who we want to support and proudly turn out in our party paraphernalia but nobody should demand of us a sacrifice of our lives.

I call upon religious leaders, civil society, media and the elders to deepen the call for peaceful campaigns and moderate language leading to a healthy election with credible outcomes. Government is struggling alone to deliver this election as best as it can but the other stakeholders need to be heard and seen evenhandedly talking up the true spirit of Ugandan brotherhood in this election.

The mischief of working to stoke anger against Government to win public and donor sympathy is a dirty game and should be avoided. Facts speak for themselves.

So, as campaigns kick off, it is clear that President Museveni will win; NRM will dominate Parliament and the Local Councils but we want a clean election that will reinforce pride in our social harmony and togetherness as a country. With NRM, everybody is well represented, so there is no need to flex and elbow each other like many Israelites who missed out on reaching the Promised Land because of impatience and greed.

I call upon all contenders at whatever level to consider working with President Museveni before, during and after the elections. My appeal may appear like wishful thinking but where there is a will, there is a way. Uganda is for us all!

Private Secretary to H.E. the President of the Republic of Uganda incharge of Media Management


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