Uganda and our Pretend Democracy

There are similarities between the current status quo post 2021 elections and the status quo post 2011 elections. Firstly, the amount of money that Uganda spends on elections, which elections are invariably always contested by those who are declared loser, makes one wonder why we even bother.

Post elections, furthermore, the incumbent and who is also the president elect spends billions flexing muscle in the name of securing the country and quelling perceived insurrection. The losers of the election are branded criminals; while the losers brand themselves victims of a dictatorship.

Images from 2011 walk to work protests@ Aljazeera

And, invariably, there will be platitudes galore from the “the world” condemning this and that human right violation, but without a clear grassroots popular uprising. Pronouncements are made to make it appear as though “the world” have teeth which can bite the incumbent. In reality, though, those pronouncements are simply ‘face-saving’ quivers to explain away how “the world’s” criticism of our elections always leads to zero meaningful sanctions against the incumbent.

2021 election brutality @ Daily Monitor

Nevertheless, the media will go on and on about the pronouncements of “the world” and with maximum exaggeration about how state leaders have been dealt a blow by “the world.” In reality, it is often not true. Worse still, in some instances “the world” may actually be the oppressor, including being in collusion with state leaders.

That is why, case in point, when the media and ‘the world’ equated the 2011 ‘walk-to-work’ protests to freedom movements in Egypt and in South Africa, I listened in disbelief. The leaders of ‘walk-to-work’ are not among the oppressed in Uganda, as was the case, for example, with:

  • Steve Biko and Nelson Mandela – black South Africans leading the fight against the oppression of blacks by the whites.
  • Mahatma Ghandi – Indian leading the fight against oppression of Indians by the British.
  • Martin Luther King – black American leading the fight against oppression of blacks by whites.

In contrast, some activities of ‘walk-to-walk’, in fact, were seemingly staged to specifically disrupt work and were intended to provoke a certain kind of ‘photogenic’ aggression from the state, so that the ‘walk-to-work’ leaders would look like the good ‘big-man’.

And, unlike Ghandi, Biko and Mandela, moreover, the personal wealth of those who championed ‘walk-to-work’ is obscene. They are the oil barons of Uganda, who own fueling stations. They own prime properties, such as land and commercial buildings – hotels and office blocks. They drive very powerful vehicles.

‘Walk-to-work’ is an example of the saddening extent of Uganda’s elite-mass gap. A gap so wide that motivates the elite from their positions of privilege to blatantly perpetuate neocolonialist factoids that pacify the neo-colonized.

In the case of ‘walk-to-work’, for example, even if it had the will to do something about fuel prices, which the ‘walk-to-walk’ protests were said to be about in part, the Government of Uganda does not have the geopolitical and economic clout to do so. And in 2021, history is repeating itself, albeit in slightly different forms. The elite chest thumping the impossible.

President Museveni @Times Live

It is doubtful that the majority of Ugandans believe that the courts of law will overturn the 2021 presidential election results; and “the world” knows it too.  But spend huge sums of money on the petition Uganda must, for “the world” is watching. Given a choice, moreover, it is unlikely that a majority of Ugandans approve the huge amounts of public funds that the state is spending on Hon. Kyagulanyi – “protective house arrest”; quelling an insurrection, and imaginary one moreover, some think; the election petition; and all.

Politics of elections, our pretend democracy, is truly a huge injustice imposed on the majority of Ugandans, those who daily struggle to make a living through farming.

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