Ugandans with support of friends and well wishers should craft a strategy for defeating NRM that suits local conditions. We should not emulate Egyptians, Tunisians, Philippinos, Ethiopians and Iranians etc if circumstances in Uganda are different. However, we should draw lessons from their struggles. One lesson is very clear: they all overcame fear and sectarianism. Egyptian Muslims joined hands with Christians, for example. Similarly, Ugandans must overcome fear, selfishness and parochialism. We should be guided by modesty and truth, not lies and deception. We should put Uganda and the future of our children first so that they can live happier and fuller lives than we have because that is what development or modernization is supposed to be. We should use our comparative advantages because every Ugandan has something to offer in this post-2011 elections liberation struggle that has just begun. Furthermore, we should be pragmatic and not idealistic.
The first thing to eliminate from our minds right away as we embark on the ‘war of the flea’ is planning for 2016 elections. Under present circumstances there is no way NRM under Museveni can lose an election – presidential, parliamentary and local. NRM has perfected the art of stealing elections throughout the entire electoral process – from voter registration to announcing final results even in the presence of international election observers. We must therefore recognize that NRM has absolute monopoly on the electoral process and outcome. NRM rigging has become more sophisticated with each election since 1996, now including foreign voters and a different method of using military muscles and unmatched approach of mobilizing campaign money including invading the treasury with impunity. We shall return to multi-party politics once NRM is out of the way.
The second thing to forget is to launch the first military attack against the NRM government. Why? First, this is an area where NRM has an advantage. You do not attack opponents where they are strongest. You attack where they are weakest with subsequent adverse impact on areas where they are strongest such as cracking the military. Second, NRM government if attacked first will have an excuse to apply disproportionate force and call on African Union and United Nations forces to help in repelling the attackers who would conveniently be labeled terrorists that should be hunted down and destroyed.
The third thing to bear in mind firmly is that the primary responsibility of liberating Uganda resides in Ugandans. However, this does not mean that we shall do it alone. Ugandans in opposition are not isolated from other members of the international community. What we need to do is to make them feel our pain and suffering under NRM government. Images of children and pregnant women being shot by NRM forces, forests being destroyed for profit making ventures that will change the climate, reduce rainfall and agricultural productivity, women delivering babies on hospital floors without midwives, jiggers decimating entire communities, human trafficking of voiceless fellow citizens and children dying of under-nutrition because of poverty will change the mind of the international community and join our cause. We need to use the media effectively, professionally, emotionlessly and factually. We also need to prepare a credible development model and identify a cadre of capable Ugandans to articulate our foreign, regional and domestic policies in readiness to take over when NRM exits.
The fourth point to remember is that NRM is no longer as attractive to the donor community and is posing as a scarecrow in Uganda. The failure and abandonment of structural adjustment experiment as a development model has caused many donors to scale back their contributions so that NRM has less money for patronage including in the armed forces and political heavyweights. The allegations that Uganda troops participated in Hutu genocide in DRC have diminished Uganda’s leadership role in the great lakes region and Museveni has lost his deanship of the new breed of African leaders. And most damaging of all is the fact that Uganda has quickly dropped from success story and darling of the west status to a failed state under a military dictatorship. Development partners cannot feel comfortable working with such a government.
Thus, the environment in Uganda is ripe for change. And change could come sooner than later – six months of struggle in Libya and Gaddafi is gone. It was even quicker in Tunisia and Egypt! The opposition should come together quickly and take full advantage of regime vulnerability especially in the midst of the current economic and social crisis by designing and implementing a ‘war of the flea’ plan that will attack NRM like fleas attack dogs. This method has the advantage of being nonviolent and cost effective and should attract attention and support of Ugandans who are tired of fighting and donors who would not be asked to contribute too much money and materials. Donors would further help by denying NRM funds for patronage, imposing targeted sanctions and withdrawing diplomatic support.
The ongoing various demands on the government by various groups such as teachers, students, traders and environmentalists constitute part of the ‘war of the flea’ strategy.