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NRM Cadres Should Learn to be Honest

Ofwono Opondo

March, 7, 17
For the last three weeks, Odrek Rwabwogo, has been taking censure in sections of the tabloid media for daring to question, and also propose the political, and policy paradigm the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and indeed Uganda is taking. Not surprisingly the most vigorous and virulent, although misplaced attacks have come mainly from some NRM cadres who believe he used the wrong forum, the public media to seek an open discourse on issues he believes are of national importance.
As someone who knows Odrek relatively well since 1992, but also works with the NRM political hierarchy, I would like to believe that Odrek’s critique isn’t born out of sulking, seeking attention and cheap popularity. And while it may be fashionable for those who want to catapult themselves to the political limelight to launch attacks on the establishment, l also believe that Odrek is not scheming for a political office in disregard to the established norms within the NRM.
I would prefer that those like David K. Mafabi who disagree with Odrek, should do so on the merits of the facts or lack thereof, on the issues he has raised, and not fall prey to the cavalier media and political schemers that seek to drive a wedge. Otherwise, to seek solace on the cliché of ‘right forum’ is a political deluge. Citing Odrek’s social relationship with President Yoweri Museveni is, nothing more than a futile attempt to judge him on his ‘blood’ rather than the content of his words, works and character, to paraphrase, Martin Luther King Jr.
It was, MLK, who said "Don’t judge me by the colour of my skin but by the content of my character," and Odrek too has cried out not to be judged by his marriage to President Museveni’s daughter. As a Ugandan, Odrek has a legitimate constitutional stake, right and obligation on how NRM affairs are run, and to pretend that all is well is really an absurdity.
David K. Mafabi, in particular, writing bombastically, nay, condescending ideological rhetoric, took a strange turn, even questioning Odrek’s loyalty to both the NRM party policy positions, as well to Museveni as the national chairperson of the NRM. Perhaps because former NRM political honcho Kizza Besigye, began his opposition career this way by attacking Museveni and the establishment, many like Mafabi are of the mind that this is given whenever someone publicly voices criticisms.
It is, necessary to re-state from the outset, that the NRM in its current state is bedeviled or rather infatuated with political, ideological, organisational and leadership lethargy. In fact, one would be right to suggest that there appears to be an end to creativity, open, frank and constructive criticism within the major organs of the NRM. What appears to be prevalent is lethargy, un-principled behaviours, dishonesty, intrigue, excessive love for soft life, and quick gains. Those who want to appear to be more committed to the NRM must remember Museveni’s most recent description and characterisation of leadership in the NRM, as “ideologically disoriented, careerist, opportunists and job-seekers.”
President Museveni has been at the forefront castigating the political and government bureaucratic lethargy, ineptitude, incompetence, lack of self-drive, mercenary psyche, complicity in fraud and corruption, rather than the lack of resources as being the main reasons for the big failures in implementation of public service delivery. Basing on this, Museveni has loudly wondered why and how an ‘empty’ political opposition groups could garner the millions of votes they have had in the last circles of elections, when, the performance of the NRM is supposedly self-evident. There is rising and understandable public discontent against NRM, which we must honestly deal with.
But there are people within NRM who think that we must always defend at all costs under whatever circumstances, and many of them think we should offer criticisms while looking over our shoulders, because in their warped worldview, to publicly critique NRM performance lends credence to some of the opposition accusations that the NRM hasn’t performed and it is time to get rid of it.
If we wholly take this line of disguised blackmail, we run the risk of conceding a major ground to the opposition groups that they are the only ones capable of seeing mistakes which NRM cadres are either unable to see, or afraid of admitting publicly, and the public will take us as dishonest especially where they are directly affected by poor performance. Secondly, we run the risk of letting those who have crept in with ill intent, bad manners and the corrupt to hide, well-knowing there won’t be any public exposure from within.
The discussion opened by Odrek offers additional opportunity particularly for those outside the NRM and government organs to engage in candid discourse on matters of major public concern on public debt, un-employment, production and productivity, boosting export, and procurement, specification, and valuation for public works. And if Odrek is ruffling some feathers within the NRM over bad management practices, and the economy is not doing well commensurate to resources being pumped in, we cannot just dismiss his views.