NRM will not deliver democracy to Uganda

is the art of how to get power, keep and use it – to dominate others or bring
about changes. Power is also concerned with which groups or persons dominate
and how they get their way in pursuit of their own interests in societies.

is often classified into five forms – force, persuasion, authority, coercion, and
manipulation. In many situations the purpose of power or the changes to be
brought about are never clear or even revealed.

National Resistance Movement (NRM) sought and obtained power through force. It
waged a five-year costly guerilla war which brought it to power in 1986. While
still in the bush, the NRM pinned blame for the suffering of Ugandans on the
bad politics of the governing party which divided the country along sectarian
lines, continued colonial policies which kept Uganda an agrarian economy
producing raw commodities for export and thwarted the flourishing of democracy
through rigged elections.

drew up a ten-point program as a basis for a nationwide coalition of political
and social forces that could bring about a better future for the long-suffering
people of Uganda – including ending poverty, inequality, dependence,
corruption, sectarianism, promoting national unity and democracy. These were
fundamental changes which were applauded.

international community welcomed the NRM government as representing a new breed
of African leaders – together with those in Eritrea, Ethiopia and Rwanda –
backed by highly disciplined and trained armies.

were replacing post-colonial despots who had no economic, political or social
agenda except to enrich and maintain themselves and their ethnic groups in
power. The new leaders were described as pragmatic, free-market oriented and
anti-corruption. Yoweri Museveni was dubbed as the ‘godfather’ of the new

World Bank, IMF and other donors – state and non-state – were optimistic and
provided generous financial and technical support.

of space limitations, we shall examine the extent to which democracy has
occurred under the NRM government which vowed to usher in a government of the
people, by the people and for the people through parliamentary and popular
democracy and a decent level of living for every Ugandan.

drafters of the chapter on democracy in the ten-point program were familiar
with theories and studies that had demonstrated the significance of equality of
conditions among citizens as a pre-requisite for democracy. Studies by Aristotle
and Machiavelli, among others, had demonstrated that a state could not be
well-governed where there was a wide divide between the rich and the poor.

drafters were also aware that democracy is possible only if both winners and
losers – voters and their representatives – comply with the rules of the game
free of corruption. The initial formation of national unity government and
participation in elections based on individual merit were designed to smoothen
the path to full blown democracy.

the way – by design or default – the process went off course. Political parties
were outlawed on the pretext that they encourage sectarianism and breed
instability. Under pressure, the parties resurfaced but were not allowed to
endorse candidates formally or hold rallies. Ultimately the parties were freed
to participate in the multi-party process but formidable obstacles still

of opposition members and access to state resources and facilities and
electoral malpractices have disadvantaged the opposition.

the widening income gaps by classes and regions have upset one of the pre-requisites
for democracy – equality of conditions.

Uganda income has become excessively unequal that the majority who are getting
impoverished in relative and absolute terms are resenting their new social
status. They therefore view elections as an opportunity to change conditions in
their favor because political power would give them access to economic
resources to improve the quality of their lives.

the other hand the minority in government that has become rich as a result of
unequal conditions is not prepared to allow free elections and majority rule. In
this way democracy is pausing a threat to those in power that have relentlessly
opposed the introduction of free and fair elections. They have resorted to
authoritarian rule to protect their economic and social advantages thereby
undermining the promotion of democracy one of the principal reasons they waged
a costly guerilla war.