June 24, 2022

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Does the Uganda opposition have differences or is it disunited – Omar Kalinge-Nnyago (rtd)

3 min read

The song of “opposition disunity” has been played long enough, it is becoming a ‘fact’. It is the most favorite song of the ruling NRA. Why? It presents the opposition as a group that stands no chance to defeat the Museveni disguised dictatorship. It is an NRA psychological warfare theme. It has been played on the Muslim community as well. Thankfully, the Muslims saw through it. They are focused/united on their development, using their differences as a strength.

I refuse to dance to that song. The opposition is not disunited. It is simply different. It has different shades. For example, there are 5 different political parties in Parliament: NRM, UPC, DP, JEEMA and FDC. If they were not different there would be only 2 parties namely NRM and “The opposition”. That these other four parties have never considered a merger, means that they have defining differences in ideology, methods of work and even history. Enter People Power. Not a political party, but forceful and easy to identify.

That is the essence of freedom of association, of multiparty democracy. It is nourished by respect for “the other/different view”.

Indeed I would be surprised if these parties or groups did not have differences to show. What we have not been able to do is to differentiate two words: “difference” and “disunity”. We have been led to believe that they are the same. We have also erroneously understood unity to mean “agreeing on everything”.

We need to define unity in our own terms. And to deny the regime the easy way to deal with an opposition that thinks and acts predictably alike.

The different opposition groups are united on the need for political change. The need to defeat Museveni and his hybrid (military yet pseudo civilian) regime and to establish a new order. On the need to use non-violent means (none of the above mentioned groups has expressed a different view, although some elements within those groups may have violent tendencies). And therefore of the need to have a free and fair (meaningful election). Every party despite their other political utterances about elections, are mobilizing their supports to register as voters and to update their notability status. All.

They are united on the need to have the national cake shared equitably, to reverse the disproportionate dominance of a region and to restore the sanctity of institutions to reverse the individualization of power. They are united on the need to overcome the monster of corruption that has resulted in appalling service delivery and poverty.

They are different in the “HOW”. Now, to me this is not any issue at all. Let each political party or formation sell its “HOW” (method), without blackmailing whoever disagrees with their method into supporting it, in the name of unity.

Uganda is a plural society. Let us enjoy our pluralism. Let us grow the culture of fierce contest of ideas, especially for the sake of the next generation.

The different groups will agree a framework to harmonize their differences, on a case by case basis. Using a project approach.

For those who know (or may wish to know), despite the acrimony in the 2016 elections between FDC and TDA, I can confirm to you that by election day, we had worked out some a working arrangement (to protect the vote) between FDC (Kizza Besigye), TDA (Amama Mbabazi) and The Independent Coalition (TIC) led by new comer Elton Joseph Mabirizi.

Political groups with fundamental differences will always find a project to work on together. That is unity. Not to fuse into one another. That would be a merger.

By the way, I am enjoying the debate on elections between the Peoples Government and People Power. Who will laugh last?

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