President Yoweri Museveni has said the decision by the ruling NRM party to galvanize unity against “backward” policies like sectarianism and tribalism is the reason the party continues to floor its opponents in the first round of the elections.
Speaking to a group of youth and NRM mobilizers at State House Entebbe , Museveni attributed NRM’s dominancy to the party’s insistence on the message of unity.
“Previously, Uganda was ungovernable because of sectarianism, and the politics of religions. This kind of politics made Uganda a failed state. In 1962, no party would be able to obtain a victory by even 40 percent because they were all based on religions and tribes, a very short-sighted focus,” Museveni said.
“If you decide to consider parties by religion, there is no religion that makes a required majority. Even when you decide to base your message on tribes, there is no tribe in this country that will give you the majority.”
The President cited an example of the Uganda People’s Congress which he said was able to achieve unity albeit on a short-term convenience when they teamed up with Buganda’s Kabaka Yeka to win a majority vote after independence but noted they would later collapse in the unification since they harbored non-genuine interests hence forfeited the interests of the common people.
“When the NRM started, we emphasized people’s needs rather than their identity. For this reason, we win elections in the first round because of the message of unity, I want everyone to know that despite the very many problems, Ugandans are very united. We have enough united people to win on the first round of every election since 1996.”
The president said it is because of this unity ushered in by the NRM that the country has been able to build its first national army.
“Many African countries don’t have armies or the capacity, they will therefore need the United Nations (UN), unlike them, we can never need the UN. It would be a voice of no confidence in ourselves.”
“You heard people saying that there will be violence in elections but we disappointed them because everyone voted in peace. They then said if NRM wins, then we shall have serious violence, where is it? I want to assure you that no one will disrupt the peace and unity of Ugandans,” Museveni added amidst applause from his audience.
The First Lady, Janet Museveni on her part castigated the different elements that she said are trying to cause confusion amongst citizens by bringing issues of tribalism and religion.
“Why would people decide to sow seeds of disunity? The NRM came for everyone, and that has been our basis for which I am hopeful we shall continue to uphold. I am actually far more hopeful that the party is growing younger each day, thanks to the insistence on unity and peace,” she said.
Speaking on behalf of the youth, Mathew Bagonza pledged to mobilize fellow youth to battle elements that are preaching sectarianism and violence.
“Your excellency, we as youths are here to ensure this country remains peaceful and united. Continue counting on us to dispel any sectarianism talk or any information and activities aimed at causing disunity amongst Ugandans.”
Bagonza implored the president to include youth in service so that they do not feel left out.
“We also feel young people like us can be appointed ambassadors, or to offices of public service so that we can bring government programs closer to our fellow youth,” he said.