By Absolom Lubwama
I once overheard a man jokingly say, “Having one wife is like having a government with no opposition. It doesn’t perform at its best.” His friend retorted that the comparison only holds true in politics, not in marriage.
A robust opposition benefits the electorate as it compels the government to perform better. In 1996, the late DP’s Kawanga Ssemwogere discussed introducing UPE in his campaign manifesto, leading to its implementation. Similarly, Dr. Kiiza Besigye promised to abolish the despised graduated tax in 2001. Opposition, even as seen in religious context, serves to test and qualify individuals for future roles.
Before the NRA/NRM takeover in 1986, cooperative societies, sports clubs, political parties, and religions garnered followers who believed in ideologies rather than leaders’ charisma. Despite corruption, loyalty to these ideologies remained intact.
The emergence of broad-based political ideology coincided with the decline of cooperative societies, giving rise to individualism. This shift was mirrored in politics, where individual merit became paramount. Charismatic leaders gained prominence as political parties were stifled, and people turned to individuals for solutions.
Opposition Parties’ Resurgence
After years of suppression, political parties regained operation rights, though many found it hard to leave the broad-based movement. The cult of individualism brought with it mudslinging, character assassination, and popularity-focused campaigns, overshadowing ideology.
Recent accusations of bribery and party sell-offs should not make NRM supporters jubilant. Absent President Museveni, NRM might struggle in elections, mirroring FDC without Besigye or NUP without Kyagulanyi. Leader-centric politics led to supporter idolatry, even sharing private lives like paparazzi.
Over time, young leaders in old parties adopted cult leadership, stifling accountability and promoting intolerance. Even in sports and religious groups, uncontrolled social media fueled attacks.
Idolization of Political Leaders
Today, praise singing the leader is the only option. Contradicting the leader leads to isolation or expulsion. The cult of individualism divides members, leaving no alternative beyond changing leadership. Leaders silence critics through attack dogs, while unchecked anger breeds insults and family attacks .
Money displays replace substantial debates. Primary school prefects’ campaigns include billboards, empty promises, and sweets for voters. To restore sanity, we must encourage debate and accept differing ideologies, just as God dialogued with the devil regarding Job.
About the Author
Absolom Lubwama, a retired accountant and teacher, now earns through event organizing, printing, and publications. He indulges in imaginative pursuits and runs an environmental conservation “keep the world green campaign.”
For communication, reach Absolom Lubwama via email at [email protected].