In Luwero recently, the people voted an opposition candidate, in-spite of the president camping in the district and expending tax shillings to propel his favoured candidate to win the vote. This was a by-election, the people had voted the same opposition candidate in the first place, but the sitting government, perhaps out of embarrassment for being defeated in its own supposed backyard (Luwero triangle served as home to the NRM rebellion 1980-86 that brought this government to power) felt that they could unleash government machinery and payroll legal services to marshal out the opposition candidate and overturn the will of the people of Luwero, and they did, hence the by-election which returned the same results.
Luwero, which is by all measures one of the poorest districts in the country, both the peasants and the large number of veterans live hand-to-mouth, is not the only polity to reject and defeat presidential-ism. We can also turn to Makerere University, o
ne of the leading universities in Africa. Makerere can be considered as the main source of Uganda’s fledging intellectualism. This institution has religiously rejected and defeated government efforts to pocket the freedom of the people, especially the student body. When it comes to voting its student leadership, the students of Makerere consistently vote opposition candidates. Rather than providing sound leadership to the aspirations of the people – they have chosen to live in presidentialism – keeping a corrupt leader in one position so as to keep profiteering from the unfettered corruption and a dead ideology.
The Banyankore people have a saying “Ensi kwegyenda, ebishaka bitsigarahi?” Loosely translated, it means “When earth moves, where do the trees stay?” It is clear that the people – peasants and the intellectuals alike have moved in their political psyche.
This is by no means a rejection of individuals, but a rejection of the system on its own inadequacy. The people want freedom, expansion and protection liberties. They expect sound economic policies to reflect their real situations. They anticipate justice from government systems, and protection of the poor from the excesses of the rich.
Instead, they get the plague of presidential-ism – the condition where a corrupt president attempts to override the will of the masses, by converting state institutions into personal tools – electoral system, legal system, parliament; expropriating the entire tax base and economic system to serve as a personal account.
This circumstance removes the conditions for social peace, and fuels ethnic tension. The findings of (Wimmer, 2009) support this analysis. I do not know anything that could lead to war faster than blocking ethnic elites from accessing power.
The African continent has suffered from this plague of presidential-ism for the entire post-independence era. Seemingly progressive leaders, riding on the back of popular sentiment from a volatile era, on assumption of power, they slowly accumulate state resources through corruption, use them to subvert the institutions of the state, and turn against the people.
As unrelated as these two territories seem – Luwero, the home of peasants and veterans; Makerere, the home of intellectuals – they know the same thing – the NRM is no-longer worthy of governing Ugandans. Those with foresight should assume their power, form new parallels guided by sound political thought.
Young Revolution Organisation
Liberty & Freedom for the masses