The re-election of Uganda’s aging President in a contest in which opponents were tamed with brutal force is another clear manifestation of how African leaders insult democracy.
Yoweri Museveni’s win with over 60 percent of the votes was a foregone conclusion. His government was hellbent on winning, no matter what and had therefore crushed the leadership and supporters of the main opposition Forum for Democratic Change. The party leader Dr. Kizza Besigye had multiple times been victimised. Three days become Ugandans went to the polls, Dr. Besigye was twice arrested without acceptable reasons. The government’s blanket excuse was that the opposition leader wanted to pass through a busy business district. Besigye was not spared even on the day of elections. Police barricaded his party headquarters, forced their way inside and started unleashing teargas on party officials and supporters. Bullets were fired before Dr. Besigye was taken away. He was accused of planning to declare himself the winner of Thursday’s elections.
Despite voices of cries, Besigye remained in police detention until yesterday when he was released. As results tick in, FDC leader remains under house arrest, with police shielding his Kampala home. If this is what democracy is all about, then Africans should think of a different system of governance.
Museveni, a former guerrilla leader, first ascended to power in 1986 after his rebel group seized power. He came with a promise to hand over power as soon as possible. He is like our very own Yahya Jammeh who made a similar promise only to swallow his words when he became power drunk. Both leaders and their counterparts are talking about everything under the sun except relinquishing power. The problem with Africa is her leaders’ refusal to leave power until death strikes them. Even those leaders who are physically and psychologically worn out think they are created to rule forever, and in the process meddle their fingers into everything.
All these nincompoop leaders, including President Museveni bastardise their constitutions to cling on power, despite fierce opposition. The question becomes: who bells the cat in a system that is controlled by one man?
President Museveni, 71, (even though he said in his biography he is the son of illiterate cattle farmers who does not know his real age) is prepared to step on dead bodies to remain in power. He made his intention clear last month when he said “Those who say, ‘let him go, let him go’, they need to know that this is not the right time. This old man who has saved the country, how do you want him to go? How can I go out of a banana plantation I have planted that has started bearing fruits?”
What is the point of holding elections when opposing contestants will be elbowed before they get into the ring? This is Mr. Museveni’s fifth term in office. He would have been in office for 35 years when Ugandans go to the polls in 2021.
Africa needs to legislate laws which will allow citizens to bear arms for Self defense to prevent political oppression and tyrannical government. If the government are fully armed and citizens are not, those governments will never fear its citizens as it is happening across Africa.
I don’t think legislation to bear arms is the solution to dictatorship and the rule of impunity, because governments will always be more powerful than individually armed citizens, by virtue of their control of the Armed Forces and all security agencies within a country…
And where a government has dictatorial and brutal tendencies, citizens carrying weapons could actually work in their (government’s) favour, in the way of “justified” killings of citizens….for where a disgruntled citizen carries a weapon against the state, the government will be justified and duty bound to confront such a citizen with weapons..
Personally, I think the solution lies in Democratic Constitutions built on strong intitutions that are inter-related but independent, and an enlightened, politically mature and active citizenry, nurtured within national cultures that shun all practices that are the antithesis of democracy or the rule of common sense.. (for those who don’t like the word “democracy”..)
As well as, strong and diverse economies with employment opportunities provided by employers other than the central governments, because the fear of joblessness and the pressures of finding jobs outside of governments, in economies where governments are the main employers, is a factor that reduces many to becoming unwitting/unwilling helpers of dictators and dictatorships..
Mr Ebou Gaye, in his write-up on the failings of African Independence, or Independent Africa, identified some very pertinent internal factors that could be cited for our failings since attaining independence…
Citizens assisting corrupt and criminal leaders, in the destruction of their own countries, through varied and various activities, is a factor that Mr Gaye has identified…and I believe that the absence of political enlightenment, though not the only one, is a key factor in citizens’ relationships with governments, public officials and institutions of state…
It is my view that a politically enlightened and mature individual will not partake in any activities for any leader, that harms individuals and the state, and if in government, would rather resign than be used as a tool…
Our constitutions, on the other hand, are meant for democratic, republican states but actually lay the seeds for monarchical and dictatorial governments because they are inherited from a system built on absolute monarchy : Colonial Administration…This is not to be seen as blaming colonialism but we need to look back to understand why we are struggling to establish working democracies…but that is a topic for another day..
Bax, if you look at basic ingredients of democracy which includes freedom of speech, free and fair election of members of parliament, right to petition head of state, taxation and so on were all in the Bill of Rights (English common law) declared in 1689. In the same bill of rights, you have an idea of citizens (Protestants) may bear arms for their self defense to prevent political oppression. It is the same bill of rights which called for establishment of standing army which every nation has today.
Bill of rights of UK was extended to British colonies such as USA which led to USA second amendment right in its constitution. (which is right to bear arms).
From this historical perspective, it makes a lot of sense for African political leadership to formate laws which encourage citizens to bear Arms for natural rights of self defense against political oppression and tyrannical government across Africa. Right to bear arms is necessary ingredient to safeguard democracy and rights of citizens. The problem we have is that we adopted election, advocate for free speech, equal representation and taxation but we refuse to recognize the fact that right to bear arms is sense of empowerment for citizens to protect their natural rights of self-preservation and resistance to tyrannical or oppressive government.
If In The Gambia, we have well regulated militia or citizens who are legally allow to bear arms to resist this tyrannical government we currently have, do you think this government will behave the way it is misbehaving today? The answer is no.
I think we need to go back to history and study how great democracies started. In almost all great democracies, those in Europe, U.K. And USA all has this idea of right of citizens to bear arms along side with basic ingredients of democracy or rights stipulated in bill of rights. When African gained their independence, the political leaderships have not adopted the right of citizens to bear arms because they knew that such an empowerment of citizens will ensure that oppressive and tyrannical government do not exist. Even those countries which gained their independence through armed struggle, have ensure that their citizens do not bears arms and today most of those countries and their leadership are dictatorship and tyrannical government. Good example is Uganda president and his government.
For citizens to bear arms has to go with building of democratic institutions which are free press, free and fair judiciary system, fair taxation and economic policy, independent army, well functioning parliament etc as indicated in UK’s bill of rights of 1689.
As I said, what is missing in Africans rights to self determination and governance, Is the right of citizens to bear arms for natural rights of resistance against political oppression.
When we establish such a natural right of self defense then future generations can determine if we could either continue to have citizens to bear arms as in USA or formulate laws to prevent citizens to bear arms as currently in England.
Looking at Gambia as an example, only the bad guys are with the guns but if we have good guys with guns, they will stop Jammeh and his gang of criminals.
Bax, I know you seem to have negative image of bearing arms because it is not in our culture but I can tell you it feel empower to have one if you know how to use it right. It is only tyrant who use weapon to oppress his own people.
The question are: how you do prevent the government when they are the only one fully armed but the citizens are not and do not have any means of self defense? Or how do you prevent political oppression despite the fact that citizens have voted against tyrannical governments but those governments are still in place against the will of people because they are fully armed? Do you think unarmed citizens can fight tyrannical regime which is fully armed?
Stories like this make you cringe. This election is everything but free and fair. Surprisingly, other club leaders will soon be pouring congratulations on him. Already some are preparing to fly to Kampala for swearing in ceremony. They all know where the truth lies but what happens when you have thieves at the helm.
Shame on all those who insult democracy! I admire Dr. Besigye’s courage and determination to pull the plug in such a volatile environment. With him around Museveni will have sleepless nights.
If Africans want to get their despotic presidents out, just go after those that aid them steal elections and eliminate them one after the other, the rest of them will be scared to death and will refrain from their shameful criminal and immorale acts.
There will be a lot african countries that cannot escape violence for change.
It’s a very sad story, but one that is the reality of much of the continent…We in The Gambia should learn from the stories of African countries, who faced similar situations like ours, supported so called “liberators”, only to be stuck with wannabe life presidents, as bad as the ones they ousted, or even worse…
Having launched an armed struggle against leaders who were dictatorial and showed no desire to leave power democratically, Museveni has become as bad as his predecessors..
In his story is a vital lesson for The Gambia : Those who seize power by force of arms, are often reluctant to leave power by peaceful means…So we should aspire for change, but not just any change…And we should always be wary of those who advocate change by force of arms because there aren’t many Capt. Tumani Toure’s around…
What’s that freaky outfit on an African head of state suppose to mean to you regadless of what Shakespeare would have answered to this question?