Who is advising the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and its presidential candidate these days? Whoever it is, he or she doesn’t understand how to win elections.
No wonder they are fronting Uganda police in their political fights. Political power is won in many ways.
The dictators use force to acquire it. The democrats acquire it using the ballot. The ‘in-betweeners’ use rely on any other means including hope and prayer.
Whichever the choice of route, there are some fundamentals to keep in mind. Display of fear and panic is politically disastrous. Most parties and most politicians know this too well, except of course the amateurs.
Now, NRM has been in power long enough to know that showing confidence, no fear, no panic, and appearing unbeatable, has in the past served them well, the usage and misuse of incumbency notwithstanding.
NRM government has been in power for almost 30 years, un-interrupted. This is obviously a long time for any one party or any one president, to learn the Do’s and Don’ts of the political business.
And as experts, they know that the nature of democracy is such that even the best get boring when they overstay their welcome hence the essence of term limits.
That is why, democratic countries and democratic and decent people respect term-limits even when they would have loved to stay longer in office.
Likewise, that’s why smart political strategists, especially during a politically-charged period like now, would never advise a candidate to act in a manner that reflects traits of dictatorship, panic or fear.
In case of Uganda for example, the ruling party and the sitting president using police to disadvantage other competing candidates, not only shows fear, it shows qualities of dictatorship.
It clearly shows the people in power have no intention of relinquishing power democratically. Suffice it to mention that using government functionaries or the national police force to openly and violently mistreat candidates, who don’t subscribe to the thinking of the ruling party, should be a punishable offence.
Yet this is precisely what the ruling NRM party is doing to other political players. This week and the period before now, the country has witnessed the abuse of power by the ruling party.
Ugandans have witnessed the police being used to close highways and roads so that political opponents can’t get to where they want to get to.
We have seen the national police being used to close public roads with water tankers or mounds of soil in order to deny some candidates usage of those roads or public open spaces.
It’s not that this abuse of power is new in our politics, it’s just that after 30 years in power, if this behavior is not peacefully ended, it could lead to using means usually associated with desperation and hopelessness.
As a country we have come a long way and we have done so much good. As a country we have not had a peaceful change of government since independence.
30 years ago our present NRM government promised us peaceful change of government going forward. May the NRM government always remember never to betray our trust.
It will do our government well to remember that the more it terrorizes opposition candidates using extra judicial means, the more free publicity it will be doing for those candidates the voters see as being unfairly treated.