There was a time I suggested that the Ugandan motto be changed to ‘anything can happen’, at the time, as time has indeed told, that brilliant idea was wrong-timed as I had a bunch of friends that believed the rule of law is existent in Uganda and that there were limits to which Museveni and his other colleagues could go in maligning the nation.
Evidently, I am having the last laugh from our weeping corner. Recently, the parliament of Uganda, waltzed by the demands of the president swung the last axe to the neck of freedom of association. From the time Museveni signs it forthwith, it will be illegal, in Uganda, to convene a meeting of more than four people to discuss political matters.
At a time when dissent to the regime is growing, army appointments and retention are being questioned, music is being coined to the effect of poor governance, the public order management bill comes as a relief pill for a drowning government. It will now be at the discretion of the police officer in a police force that has been corrupted by the regime too, to grant anybody the right to demonstrate, protest and/or hold a meeting.
What however is viewed by the world as a clampdown on the freedoms of association, to Ugandan political watchdogs and analysts is a veiled plan for the 2016 elections. Museveni is a known master-planner, he almost, in his 27 year regime, never meets a battle without planning. With the 2016 polls in sight, a growing dissent to his regime, a possible loss for the NRM and a potential replacement of him at the NRM top job by his son as rumored, it is only discerning to think Museveni is twiddling his thumbs in the statehouse watching his downfall.
What better way to start this campaign than toning down the level of protest pitted against his regime every week? The numbers in parliament are not his worry, public opinion either. His ability to manipulate the NRM legislators is at an all time high with three major debates on Oil, Public Finance and Public order management arguably chaired and passed in his bedroom before the official parliamentary announcement. This is a rough sketch of what 2016 will look like for Museveni.
What however is at stake is the ability of this country to recover from the 2016 polls. If all goes according to plan, Mugisha Muntu, a former chief of defence forces in Museveni’s treasured army will be the biggest contender for presidency against him. In what promises to be an interesting but rather disturbing election, Muntu has already commenced party mobilization, setting up structures and brandishing the party manifesto albeit shelves of dissent.
The 2016 polls will prove a tough election for Museveni as the opposition looks ready to pull a close run which will undoubtedly not go without allegations of rigging, famously associated with Museveni. The huge unemployed mass (youth) are not ready to concede another term of Museveni’s regime. The idea of a rebel force operating at the border doesn’t better the situation. The other of the threats is Museveni’s notion of trying to force a military solution to this as he always does. Win or lose, for Museveni, a fight will be put up. The ability of the opposition to campaign in the elections will now be at the discretion of police with this new law.
With my motto of ‘anything can happen’ election violence, breakdown of government structures or even a full-blown civil war, or, surprisingly though, a smooth transition 2016 promises to be the year to tell whether Uganda has learnt or forgotten anything from the ‘purpoted’ 1986 revolution.
Till then “Anything can indeed happen”