It is not true that Leader of Opposition comrade brother Hon. Mathias Mpuuga underestimated the meaning of the protest he started.
The fact that once into it, simply walking away from it is political suicide (especially from his base at Kamwokya-Kavule). I think he understood this really well. But more importantly, there are real victims, ruined lives, broken bones, and possibly missing and dead people behind these long-awaited protests.
It seems to me comrade Mpuuga finally understood that justice is never given on a silver platter. In fact, the idea of protests itself — as a political method — signifies the entire existence of NUP and perhaps Bobi Wine himself.
I know, it comes a little too late, but it is not true either that comrade Mpuuga decided to finally enter Delta Force mode as a stunt to ensure his re-appointment as leader of opposition as the first season nears its end in December.
I know, his life changed a lot, thanks to the Shs 8 billion budget that comes with the office he occupies — and wouldn’t want to lose it. But it is my position that finally, brother Mpuuga understood the absolute foolhardiness of his so-called “alternative agenda,” and thus decided to embark on the real politics of his electoral victory and appointment. (As Counsel Isaac Ssemakadde explained recently, I really wish they protested or summoned Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo on the inactivity of the Supreme court).
Thus, I am convinced, this is Mpuuga’s moment to write his name in the annals of history as a man who used his position, risked dismissal from parliament, risked losing lucrative perks, to stand up for the justice of the victims of government violence. (It is possible that we might actually write this story as “the man who actually lost these things).
But whichever way this goes, ‘Mpuuga in Protest’ will emerge victorious, and Mpuuga in compromise will emerge a loser. In protest, he will win not only with his core base in Kamwokya-Kavule, but with the entire NUP voting mass. This is Mpuuga’s moment to resurrect his almost faded political lustre as a resolute politician who made his mark both as brave Buganda official and Suubi activist. This is Mpuuga’s season of dancing with the stars.
It is not about the law in this case. Speaker Anita Among has no qualms actually dismissing these protesting legislators. I am confident by the time she went public issuing threats, she had asked them privately to return to the house.
Being that these opposition MPs have been partners in arms (on the low-low), she considers this betrayal that now they have become hard-line activists.
“What games are they playing?” she must be asking. “Is it about money? Can they not ask without these stunts!” she must be fuming as she continues to call — simultaneously persuading and threatening — them privately.
After her deadline to them expires — and not ready to embarrass herself in return— she will order that they receive no salaries, and all related benefits be terminated forthwith. If they all stick to their guns and get “fired”, these legislators will have to run to court for arbitration.
Now, this is Owiny Dollo’s court: it is less renowned for being biased, but more renowned for its often- deliberate slowness with concluding cases. It might take the entire remainder of the term!
I am not sure for a second that these free-money-addicted folks can stand a life without the perks in parliament, while having court battles at the same time. Consider also that all moneylenders, and loan-sharks will be after them and the little assets they have. Against this, I find Mpuuga dancing alone.
The over 100 opposition leaning chaps with him now will definitely find some excuses — there is always one nice excuse, however stupid — to return to the house before Among’s deadline. (I cannot say much about some other exceptions, but I bet, Hon. Francis Zaake will be there with him).
A MUTUAL DILEMMA?
This is where the plot becomes even more complex – but in a good way for us wananchi. Ofcourse, Museveni’s government can resolve this standoff in a second if they wanted to.
They could respond to Hon. Mpuuga’s key demands specifically (a) the 18 people whose whereabouts are unknown: they could come out and apologise and say they died or present them to the public.
If they actually died, we are so powerless to do anything, instead we will thank them for their candour. (b) Stopping of trials of civilians in military courts is also easy, they could just stop the appeal against the High Court ruling against this practice.
(c) The persecutions of Muslims: they could release all those in detention, apologise and promise to do better moving forward. This would be half the issues and could promise working on the others in due course. Ugandans will definitely forgive their old president.
But the problem here is that government fears opening the window of protests. Because this would become the modus operandi, especially that it also wants to retain its autocratic hue after a less competent politician is poised for next presidency.
On the other hand, gentlemanly Mpuuga would put himself under pressure from his bases especially that he seemed to have closed Delta Force politics for the last two and half years. But this is would be a small issue for Mpuuga, but bigger for Museveni and team.
As for me, I’m counting on Hon. Mpuuga. Here is a window for him to join that small list of decorated Ugandans who never lost themselves at that critical hour. I can only imagine the phone calls and threats. Good luck, my friend.
The author is a political theorist based at Makerere University