Opposition Staring Defeat over Article 102(b)

By Ofwono Opondo

Dec. 7, 17
As debate on the proposed constitutional amendments return to parliament, the opposition, so used to adversarial politics, laced with hate and falsehoods seems coming to a sad end of their games that the constitution cannot be changed. Considering it doesn’t have the required numbers, it could politely concede defeat early enough. Their attempts at physical force, intimidation, and blackmail of those supporting age-limit removal is being rolled back, and NRM MPs, and supporters countrywide must be on vigilant guard to ensure that the tiny opposition doesn’t obstruct a democratic process again through machinations. For avoidance of doubt, NRM will accept if the opposition successfully persuaded majority NRM MPs to throw out Raphael Magyezi’s amendment on any grounds, but not through using force and blackmail! In fact, we dare them to take an open vote on the floor.   
Unfortunately, as bad losers, while the legal and parliamentary committee was wrapping its public hearings, a few elements within, led by Masaka Municipality MP, Mathias Mpuuga, addressed media conferences at which they derided their colleagues for meeting President Yoweri Museveni at State House. Muwanga Kivumbi (Butambala) also announced countrywide mobilization for civil disobedience, and may we remind Ugandans that this the Muwanga Kivumbi of the infamous resistance against “third term” rhetoric of 2003, which came to pass.
It is ridiculous that some MPs believe they have superior stakes in the on-going democratic process, while President Museveni who has led Uganda for thirty-one successful years doesn’t have similar claims in its future stability, transformation and prosperity. From their media outburst, one sees condescending attitudes clothed in hollow posture as if they alone hold sway to what Ugandans really desire and rightly deserve.
These shallow antics by the opposition of boycotting critical political engagements where they don’t agree with the ruling party aren’t new phenomenon in Uganda. In October 1995 when the new constitution was being promulgated, a section of delegates in the Constituency Assembly led by Dr Paulo Kawanga Ssemogerere, Aggrey Awori, Mrs. Cecilia Ogwal, and Prof. Dani Nabudere (RIP) led the then ‘multipartyists’ into a walked-out protest, and refused to append their signatures to the constitution. That constitution became effective, non-the-less, and they have become its most loud ‘defenders’. The sun continued to rise from the East and set in the West. Ironically, Mrs. Ogwal is among those who to-date still moves around preaching the ‘Togikwatako’ cliché. What hypocrisy!   
The other shallow arguments Mpuuga and company peddled was as to why the committee went to State House instead of ‘summoning’ President Museveni to parliament.  Firstly, this isn’t the first time committees have gone to State House, although we believe it is being courteous to the president, besides avoiding possible security inconveniences, if Museveni came to parliament
In the US, Congressional leaders across the aisle as a matter of routine often meet a sitting president at the White House, and presidents too actually sometimes pitch camp within Capitol Hill to lobby controversial legislations. Quite often they meet their party caucuses to hammer out consensus in the absence of their rivals. This courtesy isn’t wrong and doesn’t compromise legislative work. The opposition shouldn’t fault NRM for keeping its caucus cohesive and formidable in handling legislative business. Besides, if the likes of Mpuuga were serious political actors as they claim to be, would use such an opportunity to interrogate Museveni’s sincerity over these issues to get concrete answers before the bill returns to parliament for further considerations.      
The opposition’s main, and perhaps only fear in this debate is President Museveni’s popularity based on solid achievements spanning over forty years rather than their much self claimed democratic credentials in which they purport to be protecting and defending the constitution from un-warranted assault. While they say President Museveni is an old dictator passed his political usefulness and who has economically ruined the country, they fully know it is a lie, and once he is on the ballot paper again, they are doomed. Otherwise, if their various descriptions of President Museveni held truths, the best option would be to let him appear on the ballot and gets humiliated by agitated voters living under dire straits of no employment, economic opportunities, social breakdown, and political uncertainties.
These should be legitimate political and policy issues opposition to raise with voters against NRM and its presumed presidential candidate Yoweri Museveni from now on and sustain them into future elections for them to vote out a bad and non-performing leader. But the opposition knows that in 2021 elections, should Museveni appear on the ballot as a presidential candidate, it is, almost a foregone conclusion that they could be washed out in parliament, and left in the fringes of society.
Like President Museveni observed while interfacing with the committee; what Uganda and indeed Africa lacks most are not ceremonies of one leader handing over power to another but rather the full transformation from the current pre-industrial to modern states. Otherwise, Burundi, Zambia, Namibia, Ghana, Tanzania, Malawi and Nigeria where peacefully handovers after elections have been witnessed wouldn’t be struggling with the same socio-economic malaise that afflicts much of Africa.