They are in trouble financially, they are in bad shape organizationally, but most worryingly, they are shamelessly disunited.
Ardent observers will have noticed the amount of internal bickering that is threatening to tear them up before the next elections in 2016. They are not known for organizing and mobilizing for greater supporter.
If the party leaders are not fighting for management or leadership positions, often times they are simply busy attending to their personal businesses leaving nobody to attend to the affairs of their parties. As a result, a number of our parties can no longer attract new supporters or even keep the old ones.
And this may explain why the ruling NRM has dominated our politics for so long because the other parties seem to have lost the will to compete for power. The parties in opposition seem to be comfortable being and keeping in Opposition.
Come 2016, Ugandans will be voting to choose the next president. Surprisingly, only the ruling NRM, has declared their candidate of choice even though the choice isn’t conclusive. But at least they have a candidate in mind. Yet when it comes to the other parties, no single one is even mentioning names for consideration. Instead, individual members are running around to ring fence or to grab constituencies.
Apparently, in Uganda, Opposition politicians don’t have to have alternative policies to offer to voters in pursuit of their votes. Voters don’t vote for ideas, they mainly vote for you if they know you or they have been paid to vote for you. So much so that when opposition parties decide to take their campaigns around the country, all you hear is not why they should be voted into government but why the other party must be removed because ‘it has been in power for far too long’.
Problem with our parties is they are more divided than they are united. This disunity is manifested in the way the leaders and spokespersons of the parties never express common positions of their parties. For example, just last week, the main Opposition political party, the FDC, held a national conference at Namboole. But when it came to addressing their party faithful, the current president of the FDC Major General Mugisha Muntu and the former president Dr Kiiza Besigye, openly differed in their positions on some important issues of their party.
Now, the ruling NRM is going to hold its own conference next week at the same venue. And this party has about a million spokespersons. And they like publicity so they are always going around media houses fielding questions about their forthcoming conference. What is clearly visible in all their appearances however, is how each one of them spells out a different agenda.
Our question to the party leaders is why they expose their disunity of purpose to the public. Why can’t parties have one spokesperson who has been well briefed by the leader on the party position wherever and whenever. Only this week, while appearing on ‘capital gang’ programme on capital radio, President Museveni told the ‘gangsters’ that he and his party’s Secretary General Amama Mbabazi didn’t have serious disagreements and that soon their ‘small’ issues would be sorted out.
The following morning, while appearing on a morning show on one of our television stations, one party supporter took time to tell his host how Mbabazi wasn’t politically too important and how ‘even where he comes from in Kanungu, he only survived one Garuga because of Museveni’s support. While this may be true, does the NRM have to wash its dirty linen in public?
Why are Ugandan politicians behaving in a manner that seems to be intended to scare us about the future?