Theorists and academics often try to distinguish between short term manoeuvres I want to call tactics in this case and medium to long term objectives I want to refer to as strategy for this piece.
The National Unity Platform seemed to have mastered the former (tactics) at one point as they were forcing the regime into error after error and embarrassment but that momentum died out fast. Why it died out seems not to be distinctly clear but lack of clear long term goals driven by forward looking leadership is the mostly likely reason things fell apart quite fast. Most leaders in NUP’s ranks seemed to have no agenda besides or beyond getting into political office themselves thus the near death of momentum we see in the party now.
On the campaign trail when all the media attention was on the election, NUP Principal Hon Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu and the election fever, they easily got the much needed media mileage. Things actually crossed borders and the whole world was watching but right now all that is done. The average man or woman on Kampala streets is less concerned, the day to day hustle has become their focus and it will take smart strategy if not near genius to win back their attention and energy.
Having comfortably felled NRM out of the Central region and also put the last nail into DP’s political coffin during the last election, NUP’s adversaries are not sitting down. New moves and steps are being taken every day to decimate this young political party, the old guard see as an existential threat.
Intervention like looking for every possible loophole MPs elected on NUP ticket may have in their credentials and the wrongs that transpired in the course of the election as a basis to throw them out parliament through the courts is one of the steps.
Given the precedent set by the case of Hon. Kibirige Ssebunya against Hon. Wakaima Musoke after the 2016 elections, the regime is said to be pushing to have NRM candidates replace fallen NUP MPs direct through court orders even without by elections’ a strategy NUP must work hard to counter if they are to stay relevant going forward. A lesson should also be picked from these mushrooming court cases in that NUP should ensure whoever they give the party card next time has clean credentials and is neither a petty thief or suspected criminal as all this kills the party’s credibility and appeal. They should also have the finest legal team possible assembled already as they gear up for more of these petty and real court cases their MPs are likely to grapple with over this 5 year term!
Enter the Principal
With Hon. Muhammad Ssegirinya behind bars and very likely to stay out of ‘circulation’ for a long time, plans are being touted to have Hon. Kyagulanyi represent his constituency Kawempe North as a replacement and consequently have him as Leader of opposition too in Parliament.
While this school of thought seems quite smart, it also exposes a glaring possible weakness with in NUP which is the fact that the party’s Principal can hardly have impact outside the ‘cover’ of Parliament. To quash this damning projection, the Principal needs to find a way of building serious political relevance outside the precinct of Parliament and also keep the momentum going till 2026. This will ensure his core support in the ghettos and among the urban dwellers remains intact and growing while he tries to break into the far flung rural areas.
Internal Cohesion a missing link
The quiet jostling for the position of Leader of Opposition between various ‘big wigs’ in the party including Hon. Mathias Mpuga, Hon. Betty Nambooze, Hon. Abed Bwanika to mention but a few has also left the party more divided. The way a LOP is finally chosen if the Kyagulanyi return to parliament never materialises will make or break the already shaky young party further.
Seen as the biggest threat to the ‘NRM/A’ over the next 5 years, the President elect of Uganda also the sitting President vowed to spare nothing while taking on this young vibrant party. Something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Legally, illegally, brutally, through coercion, buy offs, the President’s statement is still a subject of various interpretations for which you can derive your own as well.
As for NUP and it’s Principal Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, the strategy they will roll out that is if they have any over the next 5 years will either keep the party agile enough to mount a challenge in the next elections or sink them further into total oblivion by the time the next election is here.
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