Uganda is a nation built on Godly values, with a national anthem that praises the goodness of God and his blessings for us all and a national motto that puts God first in “For God and my Country.” With such immense declaration you would expect Uganda to be the godliest country of the world but instead, Uganda is overwhelmed by egos of her rulers since independence.
After 52 years, we cannot stand up and say as a nation that this is the way we want to go. The years around 50 are a critical time. That is the time when one has amassed a knowledge and experience on different aspects of life. Similarly, Uganda has garnered a whole lot of experience, all of which is subject of debate but for now I will single out electoral democracy through the years.
It is sad to note that while Uganda is now 52 years, majority of Ugandans cannot raise up to the occasion when it comes to governance issues. A nation can only be better governed on basis of the dreams and aspirations of the entire citizenry. However, the danger of having a citizenry that is full of fear and without the courage to call their leaders to order is the first blank cheque to self-rule, tyranny and absolute dictatorship.
During the 52 years of self rule, little has been done to boost citizens’ confidence in the electoral process and system in Uganda. For instance if you have citizens that have engaged in general elections on three occasions, they come to the realization that their votes do not count, but do nothing to account for the excesses of those manning the electoral process then such a citizenry by omission perpetuates regime survival. If the electoral processes and systems have been put to test thrice and they failed the test on all those occasions, without reformative measures being put in place now what makes us think that the system and process under question will give us clean results in the next general elections? It is needless to say that the continuous participation in a flawed process only legitimizes it. This ritual participation makes our elections seem like sports games where you lose due to bad officials but you still walk home with your head up.
The quality of life of the citizens also contributes infinitely to the growth of a nation. Our people have been reduced to beggars in their own motherland, but this happens because they allow it to go on. The stinking poverty in most parts of the country has contributed to the tearing apart of our people’s pride and dignity. Some Ugandans have been reduced to begging for soap and sugar, a dangerous trend that some people have taken advantage of during general elections. People without dignity cannot stand up with their heads high to demand for good governance for they believe they are at some one’s mercy. The growing apathy amongst our people is a sign that there is no faith in the regime and they see no light at the end of the tunnel.
Whereas I agree that governance issues and policy formulation should be dominated by the elite, that is not the case in Uganda where many have resorted to singing praises to the ruler so that they can earn the easy way where there is neither sweating nor accountability.
Our country cannot save itself from us; we need to save ourselves from our egos that are bigger than our aspirations. Our egos have eaten away our individual values’ bank that at the moment there is no shame in us. Weeks ago, I was privileged to talk to both the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee in the Parliament of Uganda and that is Hon. Alice Alaso and Paul Mwiru respectively both of whom went to the August House on the Forum for Democratic Change ticket. They told me that while they burn midnight candles to write reports, their colleagues in the ruling party National Resistance Movement burn their midnight candles in finding ways of throwing out the reports and exonerating the thieves that have plundered this nation bare naked. I am not surprised that they profess to be on an agenda that wants zero-tolerance to corruption which is in their manifesto but do not lay fertile ground for zero tolerance to corruption.
If it is true that the young people are the majority population in this country, why have they left governance issues to the Senior citizens? Achieving quality education services, medical care and a competitive environment for both public and private sector jobs will take more lamentation; it will need a total change of mindset and attitude towards governance issues. If we can get out of our comfort zones of Sports betting and barhopping from Monday to Monday at least that will preserve the right degree of soberness to question poor policy, demand quality services and in a way spur development.
If it true that 83% of our young people have no jobs, then why don’t we determine our destiny by alienating a system that has kept almost our future dark and with no hope? If it is true that as young people we are the future why don’t we chart a way forward to the future that we deserve? If it is true that 19 women die every day while giving birth to our citizens why don’t we have the audacity to reject a health care system that has kept all of us in the graveyard for almost our entire lives? Why have we entertained the growth of our egos rather than the growth of our aspirations?
Our egos have eaten away our aspirations and rendered us a survival generation. We live in a country where you cannot dream because there is one man with all our dreams and visions. In any other society, this is unacceptable but in Uganda it is normal. We live in a peculiar country where laws are legislated to entrench one man in power and the majority is okay with it. Our egos have eaten away our ability to be angry.
The need for free and fair elections in our country cannot be overemphasized. Even as we gear towards the next general elections we should not lose sight of the reforms that are proposed to overhaul the electoral process and system. Perhaps if the playing field is leveled, then confidence in the electoral process, system and results will be invoked. Only then will we pride in being a mature country and only then will the aspirations and dreams of the citizenry be brought to life.