20 Years and Counting: Besigye’s endless fight for a peaceful transition!
Museveni after 2001 elections: “”We must interact with people who have genuine positions,” Mr. Museveni said. ‘‘But Besigye’s position was treacherous. He was telling lies.” (Ian Fisher – ‘Final Count Has Uganda President Winning 69% of Vote’ 15.03.2001, New York Times).
Let’s me clear about this, I am not doubting his causes nor his pledges to go against the previous dictatorships before Museveni, but a brief look at his fighting for justice since he left the NRM. He was part of the Bush War in the 1980s and he joined on his own will from Nairobi as a doctor. Therefore, he did his piece there to overcome Obote II. However, this piece is about the time of 1999 to 2019.
Ever since Dr. Kizza Besigye left the National Resistance Movement (NRM) his been in trouble. Been in exile twice, several times served with treason. His been arrested 1023 times by December 2018, incarcerated 217 and indicted for 894 offences. However, never convicted for any of these. That is the man, the main opponent since the fall-out, as he was charged and put to Court Martial for treason.
Clearly, the state as aimed at him ever since he left and for reasons so. He really showed the world, the true NRM in the verbatim in 1999. That note is still viable and relevant today. Because, the assessment there is still colouring the perspective of what the NRM has become. What the power has done to the Movement and how the President acts. That is why the constant reformer, turned opposition shall not only be remembered for that, but also for his continues effort to try to reform and a peaceful transition. Even if he pounded a little bit to use force in the beginning. But that has long gone and disappeared.
From his verbatim:
“The reality of the Movement today is that it is a political organization in much the same way as any political party is. Having no membership cards does not make it less so. In fact, in the letter referred to above, President Museveni further explains: “then some people may ask the question. If NRM could be already to compete for political office with opposing political forces in future, why not do it now? Do not support doing it now because it is not in the best [interest] of governance and fortunately now the people still agree with us. It is only when the majority of the people change that we have to adjust our position. It would be something imposed on us by circumstances.” So the NRM/Movement system is a convenient and, for the time, popular means to political power” (Dr. Kizza Besigye, Verbatim, 1999).
In an Interview in 2001: “I would not characterise it as friendship, but we worked together. I was his personal physician. I worked with him as Minister of State for Internal Affairs, minister in the president’s office, as National Political Commissar; then I returned to the army. It is because of this close association that I realised there were weaknesses, which I pointed out. This is the basis of our disagreement” (The New Humanitarian – ‘Uganda: IRIN Interview with opposition politician Kizza Besigye’ 24.08.2001).
He have continued like this ever since, not like he has looked silently by. This been done by running in further elections. Joining new pressure groups and initiating demonstrations against the regime. That has been done with persistent work and dedication to the cause of a peaceful transition. As Besigye, even with all odds stacked against him.
Besigye have gone from the Reform Agenda, from being in Exile and being a founding member of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), which now have lasted for 15 years. The anniversary was just this week. It was held without any interruptions nor violent behaviour from the state. Which a rare thing in consideration of the party itself. As it usually gets into trouble and gotten harsh treatment from the state. Alas, as I stated above with the evidence of the mass arrests, charges and jail-time given to Besigye, and his one out of plenty of FDC leaders whose gotten into legal jeopardy over the years.
That is why I look up to Besigye. Because his been resilient and been through the fire for his stance, his decisions and his actions. That is why his lost a lot, it has cost. Not only jail-time, court-dates and whatnot. He has lost family members, comrades has fallen because of the battle against the NRM. There are so many whose been hurt because of it. That is what should sombre your mind.
Even as Besigye deserve praise for his 20 years of resilient fight against the dictatorship and has taken the cost of doing so. It is not like it haven’t had a price. Yes, his built up a party and has a following. Besigye has a standing and fought to be there. Hopefully, it will amount to more than momentum at a few elections, but a foundation for a peaceful transition. That the FDC can be a viable party for the future. Since, it has structure and built in the midst of storms and lack of space to actually do it.
Besigye together with his team has done this. Even the ones that has come and left has participated with him. The struggle have been real and the man deserves credit for it. Not only celebrate 15 years of the FDC, but 20 years of Besigye on the warpath with the NRM. If he hadn’t challenged Museveni. Some things wouldn’t been spotted, someone hadn’t been touched and questioned the government.
Still, the relevancy of him is not yet over. I think as long as Museveni stays, Besigye will have a place. Since, Besigye is the nemesis of Museveni and they both know it. The Yin and the Yang. Not that they are that friendly. However, Besigye would have been different if he had gotten power. That is just common sense. Power changes people, if he got in the mechanisms and the structure he believes in. Than, he would be different than Museveni. Who is all into himself and his vision. Museveni is not trying to be the visionary nor the freedom fighter anymore. The President is only living for himself and for his mission to be self-styled ruler for life.
With that in mind, the struggle isn’t over. There will be house-arrests of him, there will be more pinned charges, be more destruction of his car and blocking of the venue where he is supposed to be at.
Just proving his resilient, as he wrote this after the General Election in 2016: “This is why my candidature adopted the strategy of a Defiance Campaign. Our clear understanding was that this was an election organised on the premise of injustice. A political defiance campaign entails informing the population about the injustice and enabling the people to organise and confront the injustice. It’s important to note that a political defiance campaign is completely NON-VIOLENT. It employs well-informed citizens to non-violently challenge the injustices in the electoral process; protect against various forms of rigging on polling day; and ensure that the peoples’ will is respected. This was the purpose of the “POWER 10” system that we organised during the campaign” (…) “This is the critical moment for our political defiance campaign. Let’s all remember that Government power comes from cooperation, submission and obedience of the population. If the population withholds it’s cooperation, submission and obedience, the government loses power. I ask all our people to remain strong and vigilant, especially, members of Power 10. We shall call for non-violent actions that disempower the regime seeking to impose itself on our country. We may have to make some sacrifices and should be prepared to do so. I am confident that our people’s resolve to have non-violent change of leadership for the first time will become a reality in 2016” (Dr. Kizza Besigye – ‘The 2016 Uganda General Elections and the way forward’ (04.03.2016).
As we are seeing, Besigye have had hope for the change and the tideway for his cause. However, they haven’t showed up in the time of need. They have been their on rallies and around the opposition leader. But, when the buck stops and the machinery of the state with violence comes. It shuts down and silence happens, the fear take the public and that’s why the hope of Besigye fades.
Besigye have had hope since 2001 election, he has continued ever since. His had the ability to gain popularity and explain what is needed. Still, that hasn’t materialized and the state has been able to shut it down.
Besigye deserve credit. His is a man to get inspired by, and someone who has chosen the hard-way, where nothing is made for you. The state and its machinery is for the President and not for anyone else. That’s why Besigye have had no shot, he has tried and proved his point; again and again.
That people are downplaying the FDC and Besigye is because they are playing for the team of state. They want the FDC and Besigye to fail. That is just the way it is, because everyone is supposed to bow down to the fountain of honour.
The 20 years and still not over. That is the reality of it all. I have written in the past, about Besigye as the President, the Republic never got. Which is true, he most likely never will be. Because at the point, when Museveni gives way. He will be to old and the next in-line have come. That because Museveni never gave way to natural succession, but overstayed his welcome. Which he has.
Since, Museveni has overstayed, that is why Besigye is still relevant. You cannot have the arch-nemesis, without having the main protagonist that is haunting him. Peace.