Gen David Tinyefuza (Sejusa)’s recent public utterances in the media, were not only an attempt to scandalise the whole establishment of government but also to enable him, as an individual harbouring political ambitions, to create a scenario that puts him at the centre of political dissension and thus create a false wave on whose crest he intends to ride, as the saviour of the polity.
This is, however, not new in our political environment. It only needs to be understood as a new style of political “schemers”.
With clear ambitions to become president(s) of Uganda, these “schemers” try to create scenarios that they will use as scapegoats to ride on when time to make open their presidential bids is ripe. After creating such scenarios, these self-styled dissenters then take refuge in the assumption that any administrative sanction against them will be viewed as an act of government’s intolerance and cracking on political dissent.
Sooner than later, one announces his/her presidential candidature: the ultimate succor from ‘political persecution’. With the international community standing on the side of political dissent, who would dare touch a presidential candidate? This is a trend so ugly that comrades of our political generation must shun and despise. It only gets one cheap popularity and cannot be sustained.
To oppose Museveni or the NRM, one need not first allege how he/she is being targeted for murder when it is a known fact that the NRM does not eliminate opponents. To the contrary, it works with them both in its military and political ranks.
You need not attack Muhoozi so as to be seen as a dissenting voice against the NRM and fabricate stories of how there is a “project” to make him president, on account of mere fear and suspicion that maybe one day Muhoozi may run for president and thus threaten your own ambition. That becomes sheer cowardice.
Dissent means holding a different opinion from the status quo and it’s in order – the definitive principle of political pluralism. Instead of trading in red herrings, hateful speech and sentiments aimed at demonising those one disagrees with, the dissenting party should concentrate on propagating his or her alternative opinions without sounding disgruntled or hateful to one he or she opposes. Seeking a leadership position as a platform for exacting revenge is a recipe for anarchy.
Dr Kizza Besigye, for example, had planned long before and knew that he would launch his presidential ambitions in 2001. Instead of dressing his bid with superior ideas that were more relevant and connected to the people’s livelihoods, he came out a complaining man and only hoped to use that platform of championing personal grievances to achieve sympathy and national visibility and thus bolster his political fortunes.
Fortunately, such “schemers” rarely get the power they so disparately desire to get from the positions of leadership. Somehow, they are discerned by the citizenry and end up getting resounding rejections.
No wonder since 2001, Besigye has not been known for any other cause apart from seeking aggressively and angrily to be president. His then famous document of 1999, had no clear substantive policy points of departure from the NRM, apart from expressing his anger over issues of Katebe, disappointment with his former boss in the army and government, complaining about feeding habits in the bush, how chicken was served selectively, etc.
Months after his document, and after generating excitement in the media, Besigye launched his presidential bid. But this was not the problem. It was his failure to dress his bid with a genuine and well-articulated cause. He resorted to outbursts of anger that bordered on settling personal scores.
To date, Besigye and his team believe in rallying people only on sentiments. All their political initiatives have been those that only seek to give them visibility and centres of media focus (eby’okubafuula ensonga, as they say in Luganda). Ugan dans honestly deserve better political menus.
It is, therefore, pertinent that before Tinyefuza’s new political posture causes some excitement of sorts, we should assess his political record and the principles he represents. People who aspire to be leaders should have consistent principles they stand for and espouse. What, clearly, is Tinyefuza›s point of departure from the government he continues to serve?
It should be well remembered that Tinyefuza’s moment of disorientation started after his altercations with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) over a house he was selfishly and unlawfully clinging to. In the not-so-distant past, he condemned arrogance and harshness of some government actors in a veiled attack against KCCA’s lawful eviction of illegal developers at Centenary park.
While his general remarks on arrogance and impunity against some government officials seemed to be good points of counsel from a perceived freedom fighter, he did not live beyond suspicion of not having been speaking at the motivation of a personal grudge that he was harbouring against KCCA officials, for legally evicting him from their property at Mabua. So surely, should political dissent, therefore, be reduced to individuals pursuing their personal grievances and interests?
Why should Tinyefuza and his proxies (Brig Kasirye Gwanga), unfairly target Brig Muhoozi, taking advantage of his limitation as a serving soldier unable to respond to them decisively? Is Muhoozi a threat to their “Political projects”, since they believe in crafting “projects”?
For all intents and purposes, why should Muhoozi bother Tinyefuza? Wouldn›t Tinyefuza be proud of the Muhoozi military generation, that has emerged in a more professional and technically-competent way able to propel forward the UPDF he pride in having built?
It’s high time all political actors and especially my young political comrades raised the bar of political contestation so that political contests stop degenerating into personal fights. Attacking Muhoozi is unfair and selfish – an arrogant act and an affront to our generation that we must resist.
We should only allow issues and not sentiments to define our political culture and behaviour. It should be competence and merit as opposed to scheming, fanning and mastering of intrigue that should form the yardstick of assessing leaders both sitting and aspiring.
Our comrades in the media should also be vigilant on “schemers” dressed as political activists. The media industry managers have a major role to play because they provide and regulate the platform for these political contestations. Largely, the media should subject activists to the rigours of moral inquiry and probity to avoid pampering them on wrong opportunistic schemes. They should be challenged to prove their worth based on excellence and superiority of ideas.
Contestation of ideas in a civil manner was and has been the bedrock of the movement/NRM politics. The individual merit principle gave us the foundation.
A number of us are proud to have been supported by this principle of free competition. One’s merit defined his/her political fortunes. Nobody fanned or sponsored intrigue or hateful schemes as a way of challenging the other. I remember the vibrant ideological debates we had in our universities in the mid and late 90s, inspired by the late Brig Noble Mayombo and Hon Mao.
The latter pushed a view that was highly critical of the Movement and castigated it for being a monolithic system running a single party while the former articulated the revolutionary doctrines of state building. As young emerging student leaders then, we drew a lot of inspiration from these two contesting opinions and we got aligned differently to each of them. We never formed cliques of any sectarian nature (tribal, religious, etc) to fight each other, but rather engaged in intellectual contests.
For example, the Mayombo line drew followers from myself, Richard Todwong, Sarah Kagingo, Odrek Rwabwogo, Charles Rwomushana, Patrick Ezaga, Obedmonth ofungi, Okwiri Rabwoni, Rose Namayanja (initially was with UYD), and Peter Ojul, among others. The Mao line, on the other hand, was followed by friends Mukasa Mbidde, Asuman Basalirwa, Jude Mbabaali, the late James Opoka (who was misled into the Kony rebellion by some leaders), Taligola Isabantalibu, and Galogiso, among many others.
The political culture then, which majority of us continue to espouse, was that of tolerance and respect for each other’s views even when one formed opposition to the other. And these were the founding principles of the NRM that majority of us student leaders then understood, appreciated and followed. Nobody came to recruit us in universities with money inducements or job offers. It was persuasion based on ideological clarity.
In fact, I continue to salute with much respect comrades like Norbert Mao who despite their consistent opposition to the NRM, continue to stand up for reason and civilized politics of engagement. He has shunned gallery politics of fanning violence (walk to work, etc), and vehemently opposed coalitions that had no clear national objectives.
He was rebuffed and labelled a Museveni mole by the reactionary forces even when he has been more consistent with opposition politics compared to those calling him names.
Gen Tinyefuza and his “schemers”, therefore, should stop fooling the public. They should come out boldly by their own true political images and not by any disguised shadows. They should not seek to demonize Muhoozi because of the perceived fears they hold against him.
They should wait to face him, if indeed they think he is a force to reckon with at some point in future. Their story of the “Muhoozi project“ is indeed no other person’s project but their own, so they should tell us why Muhoozi bothers them that much.