OPINION: Bobi Wine, Muhoozi represent Uganda's nightmare

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By Christopher Okidi

This week the first Son Muhoozi Kainerugaba landed in Kitgum with swag in a chopper only to end up reading from his iPhone an assembly of incomprehensible words am still personally struggling to make sense of, including the translated Acoli version. It was beautiful though to see Muhoozi represent both the dream and nightmare of Uganda’s democracy, better put both the possibilities and limitations of African politics: the dream of an era of politics every Ugandan yearns for, where a presidential aspirant can fly his chopper consult voters and fly back safe to his family without arrest. 

The limitations Muhoozi represents is the dystopian reality of Uganda’s politics: personal rule, political degeneration where “dunces” averse to ideology, policies, programmes confederate and articulate narrow instead of national objectives. The minority intelligentsia who insist in these spaces, have their contributions stereotyped and labeled as ‘English’, which has succeeded in excluding the country’s intelligentsia from politics. From the opposition spectrum also, we have seen Bobi Wine like Muhoozi favour his inner retainer non-policy adept persons, begging the question whether the pair of hands of these two leading post-Museveni contenders are safe to midwife for Uganda a Third Republic or whether they even understand that that is the monumental task ahead for our generation.

It is also possible that we are being harsh in our judgement of these two, yet this could actually be a microcosm of a national/state degeneration. Come to think of it, how did we get to this point of bloggers, music promoters, event MCs becoming our leading public intellectuals addressing us on both mainstream and new media on matters of politics and state building? The lumpen strategy as opposed to broad consensus that duo are using is adopted from Ssebagala’s playbook of class dichotomy: mobilising one group against the other which only leads to a factional and discontented citizenry and state defeating collective purpose projects like state building.

All said, the task of rebuilding Uganda after Museveni is one that shouldn’t be underestimated. It requires skillful craftsmanship, because the task is building a third republic that is democratic, as opposed to narrow constitutional, institutional and electoral reforms that have become the claptrap of Uganda’s politics and rallying cry for civil society and opposition. 

Our history as articulated in the constitution shows a tumultuous state and optimum democracy was envisioned as a durable solution. 

After successfully leading Uganda to independence in 1962, Apollo Milton Obote embarked on the pioneering role of building for Uganda a first republic. Although he tried to create a semblance of a republic, it was soon interrupted by military coups: the reality of most post-colonial states. When the first republic officially crumbled in 1971, the military reigned, quislings supported by local warlords and regional powers ascended to the throne, but couldn’t build a state, until Museveni came and could only build for Uganda a second republic in 1995.

However, without a clear transition roadmap, it is now apparent that Museveni is going with his second republic, and the immediate task for Uganda after Museveni will be to build a third republic: A constitutional democracy to replace the constitutional liberalism of the second republic, and the former as opposed to the latter will grease present laws to function well without even reforming them. 

Another urgent task will be dealing with political questions around state-society relations: Buganda Question, Karamoja Question, Northern Question etc. In short renegotiating and reforming the Ugandan state. 

Economically there is more urgent need for liberative development: having economic decision being made from Kampala, also implementing an integrated economic and fiscal system that facilitates good governance, economic growth and equity in production, consumption and distribution of goods and services, while integrating modern economic thinking around creating sustainable futures: Digital, Circular and Green Economy. 

On the social front, it is worth unemotionally discussing the country’s soul and values honestly seeking counsel from sciences and other specialists. 

The third republic need be more tolerant to political and social differences, killing people who are politically and socially different from us should remain in Museveni’s second republic.

The author Christopher Okidi is a Lawyer and political economist based in Kampala

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