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The Democratic Alliance is Convergence of Convenience

Ofwono Opondo

June, 24                              

On the 10th June 2015 The opposition Democratic Alliance (TDA) announced  a coalition  and a protocol signed with grand fanfare. This is a loose coalition of Uganda’s political parties which seeks to win the position of presidency come 2016.  Its structural political platform  is comprising seven political parties, some expired religious leaders, and elements from the NGO world, but devoid of a policy alternative except to say they want to see the back of the NRM and President Yoweri Museveni.
As for the alliance itself, it is not a new outfit because many of the leaders save for Kizza Besigye are well known not have any significant and countrywide or even regional grassroots following, or active dynamism to drive up voter enthusiasm, and therefore will be easy to handle and neutralize. The same people who have been accusing President Museveni of not leaving the stage are themselves not leaving either, and so in a sense this debate will be interesting. In addition, the TDA is still struggling to articulate and demonstrate what its centerpiece entails, and it remains who among them will emerge as the victor in this game of chicken.
The TDA is really a convergence of convenience because it is not based on any ideology, principles or common belief, but founded on the ambition to replace NRM seen as privileged, yet NRM has survived and grown as a result of hard sustained work. Due to large egos it is almost certain that if Besigye, Norbert Mao or indeed Amama Mbabazi doesn’t get its leadership, they will disrupt it at both the national and constituency levels. Already UPC, DP, and Mbabazi have sidestepped it, and clearly the UPC and DP who at war within themselves will find it hard to join.
Backed mainly by the often gullible western donor community that has grown despondent of the traditional political opposition, it appears the main motive of most to the alliance leaders is to tap into the money coming from the bark tree. Already, the alliance members have been vacillating from extreme to extreme, and their pendulum is swinging so fast that they leave their supporters and admirers confused. Hardly a month after Mugisha Muntu re-launched his policy agenda it appears that has been consigned to the dung heaps as no one in FDC refers to it anyway.
Initially, they said they would boycott the general elections if the current Electoral Commission headed by Eng. Badru Kiggundu is not disbanded, and in its place a new one comprising representatives of “all political parties,” is established.  Currently, Uganda has twenty-nine registered political parties, the logic of this argument is that there should be that number of Commissioners each to safeguard their interests!
Having failed to get the EC disbanded, they broadened their demands to include “electoral reforms,” in an effort to appear a little more logical, from which they have climbed down, and will take home humble pies of what parliament will give them. Among the reforms they had hyped was the restoration of the presidential term limit which by itself doesn’t translate to anything much because the NRM could still be the dominant party in Uganda as Chama Cha Mapenduzi (CCM) in Tanzania or ANC is in South Africa.
The opposition has also backtracked on its demand that special interest groups like Women, Youths, Workers, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), and the Army be removed from parliament because they realized it was a no seller and could instead cost them support among those the segments. The other thorny electoral reform the opposition has abandoned is the reduction in the size of parliament because again they realized none of them was willing to table it, and each of them would like to keep their seats. In fact some opposition MPs under political threats from rivals are lobbying government to have their constituencies spilt in the hope they could be safe.
Meanwhile, the respective entities in the alliance are not doing much by way of active political mobilization on the ground to gain electoral strength which is critical for victory however modest. Some opposition elements are gaining from information given in closed-door meetings with the NRM, and so won’t be of much  use to their side.
The consequence of this is that individual parliamentary and local council aspirants ascribing to the TDA will be left on their own to face the NRM machinery and the result is almost certain, a decisive victory for the later especially considering its countrywide achievement on policy implementation that is beginning to transform the lives of the majority of Ugandans in significant ways. The NRM under President Museveni practices a non-zero-sum politics, where cooperation is crucial and consensus is critical, and compassion and empathy are considered civic virtues.
And so to borrow from Prof. George William Kanyeihamba recent tirade, the TDA is like more “elephants, giraffes, buffalos, zebras, water hogs, hyenas, lions, crocodiles, snakes, monkeys and frogs emerging from bushes and converging on a muddy drying stream in search of water”. Therefore, the momentum is already on and president Museveni will as a matter of fact sail to victory with a convincing majority across the country come 2016. This is the right time to hand a decisive defeat to this bunch of quislings.