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Opinion: Placing individuals ahead of nation is choking our political environment

Some followers of “political idols” listen and follow what they are told.Hence, when you sow seeds of violence and hate, you ripe the same or even worse. The reverse is to seeds of love and respect for each other’s rights.

COMMENTARY | JULIUS BYARUHANGA

When President Museveni decided to seek solutions to Uganda’s political problems “with a gun”, his movement was embraced largely because Ugandans are peace-loving people. Since then, his strength has been largely the ability to maintain a significant level of political stability. As common knowledge holds, if I want to weaken and make irrelevant my political enemy, I attack their position of strength.

That in mind, in any democratic society, peaceful political protests, assemblies and/or processions are some of the ways citizens express their support of dissatisfaction with the governance system.

As of today, many Ugandans find it difficult to draw a line between violent political protest, assemblies and processions and peaceful ones. With the law enforcement agencies, it hasn’t been a different case whether intentionally or not.

Are Ugandans Peace-loving people?

Some followers of “political idols” listen and follow what they are told.Hence, when you sow seeds of violence and hate, you ripe the same or even worse. The reverse is to seeds of love and respect for each other’s rights.

Julius Byaruhanga Ugandan

Many would agree with me that it is a yes. When met with violence, either from some arms of the state and/or government, the Opposition or the ruling party, they react with disgust. Violence is justified by some political actors and law enforcement agencies based on which actor(s) was participating.

Consequently, actors apportion blames other than zeroing on facts.This makes it hard to judge who is right and who is wrong. However, the fact remains, Ugandans do not deserve violence either from the Opposition or government. Why? Because most Ugandans have seen, experienced and been part of violence, hence they know how ugly a violent political system can be.

More so, there is a need to protect own economic interests with some economic challenges in mind. No wonder, Museveni always “bores” people with history of “having fought to bring peace”. But this is the most politically-catching phrase to a common Ugandan who knows and understands how detrimental political violence can be to their economic standing.

So, unless the Opposition guarantees Ugandans the post-Museveni peace, defeating him in the ballot remains a dream. After all, who would want to jump from fire to a flying pan?

However, that will not and should not stop a civil political debate on how best Uganda should be governed. After all, we are under a multiparty governance system. A simple fact is that the best policies can either be from the governing party or the Opposition.

What should the law enforcement agencies do in this political discourse?

Being the chief law enforcement agency in Uganda, the Uganda Police Force has a bigger role to play. First, to do that, the Police has to desist from being partisan. Second, a clear framework on how political activities are supposed to be conducted needs to be laid out by the police and other bodies responsible for political activities in Uganda.

Third, it’s implementation should strictly be applied to all political actors irrespective of their political parties, power, or authority. Fourth, the police should desist from working based political pressure while handling matters to do with law enforcement.

In that regard, one wouldn’t be surprised to learn that most of the police-provoked political violence results from the influence of certain political actor(s) (“order from above”). Maybe, when we get to know who “Mr Above” is, this mystery will be solved.

Fifth, the Police should devise a professional way of dealing with political violence crimes. One that can instill confidence in the people that the institution of police is not politically biased.

Lastly, the Police should always act lawfully while dealing with political violence suspects.
What should the political actors do?

Some followers of “political idols” listen and follow what they are told.Hence, when you sow seeds of violence and hate, you ripe the same or even worse. The reverse is to seeds of love and respect for each other’s rights.

Secondly, we should resist the illusion that the law should be unevenly applied. Respect of the law is every actor(s)’ responsibility irrespective of their power and authority. Love and respect are the bedrock for peace. Respect for a different political opinion and engaging in a healthy political debate is the bedrock of a democratic society.

I would say, no political views or opinions are right or wrong, it is about what one believes in. In my humble opinion, what has (is) killing political debate in Uganda is basing the whole subject on individuals other than the country and the needs of her people.

This has slowly but surely created an a political environment of “it’s them against us” which has bred hate instead of debate. That in mind, such actors should understand that Ugandans need solutions to their social, political and economic problems not more problems.

The author is a Ugandan and Ph.D. Researcher of Oil and Gas Governance at KU Leuven, Belgium

byaruhangajulius2@gmail.com

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