Days after announcing he had crossed back to the ruling NRM and pledging to support President Museveni in 2016 general elections, former Vice President Prof. Gilbert Bukenya has come under a enormous criticism for betraying the opposition and the cause for reform in Uganda’s democratisation process.
But other observers and analysts say they are little surprised at Bukenya’s decision noting that politicians in Uganda are selfish individuals.
Prof. Bukenya’s announcement came on Independence day Friday 09, 2015 at his home in Kakiri, Wakiso district, when he said he had crossed back to the Movement and would back president Museveni in the 2016 elections.
Bukenya said he views President Museveni as being the best candidate in the coming 2016 elections.
Bukenya’s comments are a sharp contrast to some of his most recent criticism of Museveni and the NRM, in which he has labelled his former boss as a dictator.
Bukenya was only three weeks ago, one of the four ‘opposition’ politicians who contested for the opposition presidential flag under The Democratic Alliance (TDA).
While in TDA Bukenya said: “[Amama] Mbabazi and I have been closer to Museveni than many of those who are now blindly supporting his ‘life presidency’. I advise NRM MPs to reject that proposal because it would be constitutionalizing dictatorship. When a person reaches 75 years he begins to experience mental retardation (dementia).” Bukenya said in February, 2015.
But on Friday, he ate his words when he said: “TDA was poisoned and people who are there are very greedy. President Museveni has the right qualifications to lead this country.”
Media reports however suggest that Bukenya’s U-Turn was not least another selfish, greedy plot aimed at securing him a ministerial position in the next government, besides ensuring that he returns to Parliament.
TDA spokesperson and Leader of Opposition in Parliament Wafula Oguttu said he was disappointed
but not surprised by Bukenya’s reversal.
“It’s disappointing but not surprising. I suspected something like that would happen. It’s disappointing especially to those who were engaged in the democratic struggle in the country,” Wafula said.
Other Ugandans who supported the TDA project as a platform for uniting the opposition to uproot Museveni, have come off very bitter against Bukenya shooting several verbal blows including calling him a ‘traitor’, a ‘clown’, ‘consistently inconsistent’ person among others.
Lynn Najjemba, the Coordinator of the Panos Eastern Africa media institute posted on her Facebook page saying: “There are things that happen and make me love Dr. Warren Kizza Besigye even more. The only consistent opposition politician I have known and grown to respect so much. I have also told many of my friends and colleagues that even if Prof. Bukenya was the only man on the ballot paper, I wouldn’t vote him. I have my reasons but I guess what he has done today is just more of a reason for me to despise him even the more.
The pessimistic voices about Uganda’s politicians are eager to say they almost saw this coming.
Ramathan Ggoobi, a lecturer at MUBS quipped thus: “Now this Bukenya man! I really pity you my younger friends who take politicians seriously!”
Another commentator writing under a pseudo name Ssebuliba Luyirika posted: “The vitriol being hurled at Gilbert Bukenya doesn’t make sense. He is a politician, and he is doing what many Ugandan politicians often do. I just do not understand why Ugandans think politicians are in politics to fix Uganda’s pressing problems. And I pity voters who think politicians will create jobs for them, build infrastructure such as roads, hospitals, clinics. The principal reason anyone in Uganda becomes a politician is to secure a job that pays well, gives them power and respect. If you stripped politics of all these things, no one would be wasting time to join politics.”
Bukenya’s U-Turn has dealt a blow to former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi’s bid to secure trust and support in the coming elections as many fear he may emulate Bukenya, especially since he is a card-carrying member of the NRM.