Uganda will not Collapse

By Ofwono Opondo

April, 6, 15                             

There have been continuous commentaries and especially calculated misrepresentations about the Clergy, politics, and the government position which should not go unchallenged, the most recent being that I told the clergy demanding electoral reforms to go hang. Some sections of the Uganda would want to continue portraying Church of Uganda former Nakasero Assistant Bishop Zac Niringiye and Fr Gaitano Batanyenda as part of mainstream clergy in an effort to give them a veneer of general acceptability and credibility. They too have found confort to dorn church collars whenever they are going for political errands.  Yet, in fact they should appropriately be referred to as former clergy because they neither lead known parishes nor even officially speak for their denominations.
Secondly there are futile efforts to portray government and especially President Yoweri Museveni as hostile to religious getting involved in national particularly the on-going democratisation debate which is false. Ours is a caution about religious institutions and institutions getting involved in divisive and partisan politics. There exists mutual acceptability and respectability between the government on the one hand, and the main, majority and myriad of religious institutions in Uganda on the other that this should be the way, and there are platforms enhanced by government for constructive engagement.
These former clergymen have now become loose field guns and active partisan opposition politicians, jumping on any public issue that they think will give them some media publicity, which we in government would have no problems with because as citizens and leaders it is their fundamental right to challenge the government, and any other public authority on matters of governance, democracy, economy and nation building. In fact it would even be better to directly form or join position political parties and challenge government as such so that they public can seen them for what they really are.
And so in attempt, to give them (Niringiye and Batanyenda) that credibility, a New Vision reporter last week quoted me so much out of context that I had told the “clergy,” demanding for electoral reforms to “go hang.” Clearly, the purpose of The New Vision was to try and set the religious community against and their leadership against me and perhaps the whole NRM and government political establishment for which I supposedly spoke.
It would appear that main objective for the misquotation was to portray government as dishonest, arrogant, insensitive and boisterous to popular and even legitimate demands of the citizens for whom the religious leaders supposedly often speak. I must state that the much hyped ‘electoral reforms’ is just a small although critical part of our national efforts to consolidate constitutionalism, democracy, rule of law, responsive leadership and good governance for the long term socio-economic transformation of Uganda for which the NRM is known by the majority of Ugandans.     
And so no amount blackmail or calculated misrepresentation will not distract NRM and make it abandon these goals, or lead the majority of the Ugandan citizens to believe that NRM and its leadership has lost direction. To those who have become the champions, even vanguards of democracy, and now hype on ‘electoral reforms’ it is critical to always remember that Uganda has come a long way from the political abyss, and reached this far because of the ability of NRM leaders supported by the popular will to properly prioritise and balance various competing national needs of the day.
To paraphrase UK Prime Minister David Cameron said in 2008 “Democracy should is the work of patient craftsmanship and not of a uniform mass production line if the final product is to be of quality that endures.”
What I told the media last week was that the government through the Attorney General Fred Ruhindi and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda had given assurances to parliament-the legitimate institution representing our collective legislative will that appropriate amendments will be table in May and concluded in time for the 2016 general elections. While there might have been obvious delays, government has been and still is occupied with other equally important issues which became the priorities of government!
I told the journalist that although it may be desirable, government cannot move faster on multiple fronts than its legs (institutions and resources) available can carry, and therefore all Ugandans have to be patient, and people like” Zac Niringiye and Fr Batanyenda,” who cannot exercise patience like the rest of us can go hang because they won’t move government from its priorities. In any case, Uganda as a country is here for a long time to come, and the present generation can not purport to seek to resolve each and every challenge including political ones like the electoral reforms. Uganda has had many election circles under the current laws, and while there might have been problems, the laws are not entirely to blame and the country hasn’t imploded.