Today is the 62nd Birthday of the founder of Forum for Democratic Change and the predecessor Reform Agenda. Before he became the biggest voice against the National Resistance Movement (NRM), he had joined the Bush War in 1982 and became Minister of Interior at the age of 29 years old in 1986. He has since his fallout with the regime, been a strong and hardworking voice in the midst of trouble since 1999. Because he hasn’t feared the regime, but been a voice of reason in the midst of trouble. Never giving in or giving way, but tried within reasonable doubt to make changes.
When he wrote the piece ‘ An Insider’s View of How the NRM Lost the Broad Base’ in 1999, which he wrote this: “All in all, when I reflect on the Movement philosophy and governance, I can conclude that the Movement has been manipulated by those seeking to gain or retain political power, in the same way that political parties in Uganda were manipulated. Evidently, the results of this manipulation are also the same, to wit: Factionalism, loss of faith in the system, corruption, insecurity and abuse of human rights, economic distortions and eventually decline. So, whether it’s political parties or Movement, the real problem is dishonest, opportunistic and undemocratic leadership operating in a weak institutional framework and a weak civil society which cannot control them. I have shown that over the years the “Movement System” has been defined in the law in a certain way, but the leaders have chosen to act in a difficult way. This is dishonest and opportunistic leadership. I have also shown how changes have been made to the Movement agenda, and other important decisions have been made outside the Movement structures” (Besigye, 1999).
Why do I post this part today, because it seems important to remember, that he has been on the barricades for decades, that he has stood in the good fight for the rights and rule of law. He has been charged with treason steadily since 2001. It isn’t without a reason, that Besigye is the biggest enemy of Museveni. The reason why he has a record-breaking amount of time spent behind bars, house arrested and abducted by the government. The Police Force knows his home and his gate to Kasangati, Wakiso, better than they know the Police Force Headquarters at Naguru in Kampala. Because, that is partly true. This is not how it supposed to be as a politician, not supposed to be jailbird, but a man of policy and possible programs leading to better tomorrow.
You know that Besigye is powerful politician, who you should respect for his vision and his stamina. When the dictatorship makes the Public Order Manage Act, which is nicknamed the Anti-Besigye-Act. That one was made to give the Police possibility to monitor all political activity and have reasons for arbitrary arrests of the man. This was made to make sure the FDC and other opposition parties didn’t act with disobedience or unlawful assembly. That is something that have been made because of the activities of the FDC and Besigye. NRM wouldn’t have enacted this sort of law, if they didn’t fear Besigye at one point. If they didn’t fear his rallies of demonstrations, the Walk to Work and others. That they had to stop him and house arrest him, as he rallied behind the Defiance Campaign of 2015 and 2016. Even if it didn’t change it all, he still have to show up in Court for what he did. That means, the regime fears his activity and his message.
That is why he should be celebrated. Besigye deserves to be celebrated, a President that Uganda never had. He is not alone in this fashion, for me Paul Ssemogerere and Olara Otunnu could also been people who deserves to be in that bracket of people, who never got reign. Musveni destroyed their chances, but today I am praising Besigye. For his resilience, his fighting spirit and his voice in darkness. Many would have bow down and give-up after being detained, cars destroyed, house raided, house-arrested and charged with treason. Others would have given-up and left for exile forever. He went into exile, but came back. He has run as a challenger in 2001, 2006, 2011 and 2016. His fight is not over, his campaigns are still on.
Besigye deserves credit for the message of hope and change, the message of values and governance of the government. That has been eaten by the Movement and the Presidency of Museveni.
I will finish with Besigye’s own words written in October 2017: “We live in a country that is controlled by guns since independence no leader has ever handed over power to another peacefully. So we are hostages of those who have guns. Mr. Museveni came to power 32 years old using guns, he has kept power largely using those guns. Now he is in the process of changing our 1995 Constitution, to remove the last check which is the age limit, having removed term limits in 2005. If the age limit is removed then he becomes a life president and this process continues” (Dr. Kizza Besigye, 03.10.2017).
BTW: Happy Birthday, Alutia Continua!