In south Africa, although are not to be held until 2016, it has already become bloody as voters fight for stipends being dished out in brown envelopes.
Why are we comparing the above two elections? In the two countries, politics has been dominated by two ‘liberation’ parties. In South Africa, African National Congress (ANC) of the anti-apartheid struggle has dominated their politics since April 27, 1994, when South Africa held its first democratic elections after decades under apartheid rule.
In Uganda, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) has been in leadership since 1986 after many years of political violence. Both the ANC and the NRM have been mass movement parties which were embraced because of their liberation credentials. So much so that even where the leaders have been proven to have betrayed the trust of the people, the electorate have continued to close one eye and still give them another chance. Until NOW.
One month to the general elections, some fathers and heavyweights of the party of Nelson Mandela, have been calling on the voters not to vote for their beloved ANC, and they have given bad leadership as their reasons for turning against the party they shed blood for. First it was Archbishop Desmond Tutu who fiercely criticised his party for making corruption a style of governance and for betraying the trust of the South African people.
Just this week, as he briefed the media on the 20 years of democracy celebrations at St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, he said, ‘Don’t be voting cattle. Think before you make that cross’. Tutu was followed by another very senior ANC member, a former Minister for Security, a man who was jailed for many years at Robben Island with Nelson Mandela. His name is Ronnie Kasrils.
Kasrils recently called on voters ‘to either not vote for the ANC or spoil their ballots’. The political analysts say his anger is actually not aimed at the party which he has sacrificed for all his life, but against the current leaders he accuses for losing all the credibility to rule. Kasrils, the man who authored the famous ‘Armed and Dangerous’ in which he revealed his dangerous errands during the anti-apartheid struggle, wants change of leadership failing which he wouldn’t mind his party getting a rude awakening.
In Uganda on the other hand, while the elections are still distant, the NRM government faces a lot of criticism for failing to deliver on service delivery, on stinking corruption which they blame on all ills in the land, and on total failure to reduce poverty among the majority of Ugandans. Just like in the ANC, the biggest opposition to the ruling NRM is from within the party and not from opposition parties.
Just like in the ANC, we are beginning to see founding members and some senior members of the party calling on the president to step down in order to give a chance to others to make a contribution to the development of Uganda.
As we said earlier, the two mentioned parties are big parties, they are in power, and they will most likely win the next elections in their two countries. The opposition from within however, and especially from members who offered their lives for those parties, should send a clear message to all and sundry, especially to the leaders whose time to pass on the baton has inevitably come, that it is not always wise not to heed the call when the clarion sounds.