By Stephen Twinoburyo
I have seen a report that the Ugandan opposition has agreed to make change of government their goal. According to Nation Media, Democratic Party President Norbert Mao, speaking on behalf of four of his counterparts – Dr Kizza Besigye (FDC), Mr Olara Otunnu (UPC), Mr Asuman Basalirwa (JEEMA) and Mr Mike Mabikke (SDP) – said “We have concluded collectively that this is a broad struggle – whether it is teachers, boda bodas, taxi drivers, traders, political parties, students and lecturers – we are all together in this struggle,” and that “a change of government is a clear goal that we are pursuing”.
This is a development I highly welcome and I have always argued that it’s pointless to simply protest without a stated goal. When the Tunisians rose up, they clearly stated their goal – that Ben Ali had to go. Similarly, the Egyptians were unambiguous in their demands. I have noticed, however, that in most of Sub-Saharan Africa, while the people know that their presidents are the problem and are not delivering, they largely avoidopenly mentioning that these presidents should go – which is actually their constitutional right to demand such. Earlier this year, I wrote to Democratic Party President Norbert Mao and expressed this opinion to him very strongly and told him that if the Ugandan opposition is to become relevant in the face of what is happening in the country, they have to project clear goals and give direction of where the country needs to go.
Not stating clearly that Museveni needs to be forced out of power is similar to avoiding mentioning the undesirability of Idi Amin as Uganda’s president in 1979. Museveni, despite his initial achievements, has taken to country to unprecedented lows – partly due to the blanket cheque we gave him and too much trust the international community vested in him. He cleverly manipulated this and this should be a lesson to learn from – the international community must insist on clear structures and frames of operation, however impressive a leader appears to be. Uganda is now a terror state and the distinction between the police/ security forces and terror has been completely removed. All structures in the country have broken down and corruption within Museveni’s clique has reached alarming proportions. On top of all this, he treats his people with so much disdain and has become only accountable to himself. In such circumstances, regime change becomes the only viable alternative. That is the natural trend.
Speaking in innuendos was not going to take the country anywhere. I have particularly been scathing in my criticism of the Ugandan opposition over their soft approach to the country’s issues and avoidance of using the term regime change. The reality is that Uganda’s turn-around begins with Museveni’s departure and simply asking him to provide good governance is like sending a criminal to prosecute himself. This is a point I have raised unequivocally in social networks and I make no bones about that – I am for Museveni leaving power and I support any legitimate means that will either make him quit voluntarily or be forced out of power. We can’t just stand by idly and watch the country deteriorate to unimaginable levels simply because regime change ought not to be talked about. Regime change is absolutely necessary in Uganda – voluntary or forced.
It should be noted however that not everybody in Museveni’s regime is bad, but it is difficult to stand out as a clean apple in a rotten bag and the earlier the good people within the regime take a principled stand as we saw some of Museveni’s party parliamentarians do, the better for the country.
Museveni’s exit is the first and necessary step to Uganda’s recovery.