There has been talking of a weird marriage in Uganda. Therefore I have to address it. First by the history between these parties, the parties I talk about are the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC). There has been rifts between the and that for several reasons. It started decades ago. Decades ago between people who is gone and the still sole-candidate of the NRM then NRA. NRM got help to reach power by collaborating with UPC and their then leader Milton Obote. That is history that has vanished from the surface. If it wasn’t from the okay from Julius Nyerere the leaders wouldn’t have toppled the then dictator Idi Amin. But this story here isn’t about that marriage between them. It’s about the recent events happening in the last two days. Firstly I will address certain history and also pointers from the President Musveni himself. Then secondly see more narrow history and events that shows how strange it is to see UPC goes in talks with NRM. That NRM and President Museveni actually thinking of it, is countering everything for why they went against in 1980s and defiance against them in 1990s.
History – UPC and NRM:
“Museveni’s decision to fight the newly elected government followed that of former Amin soldiers who had already regrouped in the then Zaïre and southern Sudan and were executing a low-intensity insurgency involving sporadic incursions into the West Nile region” (…)”Following his decision, other fighting groups emerged, also seeking to topple the new government. Lack of organisational capacity for some, and for others failure to articulate a broad political agenda beyond simply toppling Obote, prevented them from developing into effective military threats to the government. However, owing in large part to experience gained from its predecessor FRONASA, Museveni’s National Resistance” (…)”Movement evolved into a broad-based movement able to galvanise a wide cross-section of society behind it. Several attempts at forming a broad united front failed (Bwengye 1985)” (Golooba-Mutebi, 2008).
“The 1980 controversial elections, organized on the multiparty basis, failed to produce a clear winner, sparking off another wave of instability and civil strife. Between 1981 and 1986, the country suffered a guerilla war fought by a National Resistance Army (NRA), spearheaded by Yoweri Museveni. The guerilla war partly failed Obote’s second Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) government efforts to return the country to normalcy”(…)” In the 1980’s parties existed but their members were constantly harassed, in many cases accused to be alleged collaborators with the National Resistance Movement (NRA) that fought in the UPC government. Despite these extraordinary constraints, parties remained resilient in Uganda’s politics. This disapproves the claim by Museveni that parties are only good for industrial societies (Museveni 1992)” (Makara, 2010).
“Consequently, the December 1980 elections were held under a tense atmosphere of considerable controversy, mistrust, political violence and threats of civil war. The UPC government which came to power after the elections was therefore faced with a crisis of legitimacy. In February 1981, Yoweri Museveni who had threatened to ‘go to the bush’ and wage war if the elections were rigged, launched a guerrilla war against the UPC government” (Omach).
“The National Resistance Movement (NRM) is a movement to resist UPC or what UPC stands for, i.e. national-democratic liberation. The earliest incidence of this resistance is given to us by none other than the founder of the NRM, Yoweri Museveni” (Adhola)
“We were staunchly anti-Obote. On 22 February 1966, the day he arrested five members of his cabinet, three of us, Martin Mwesigwa, Eriya Kategaya and myself went to see James Kahigiriza, who was the Chief Minister of Ankole, to inquire about the possibility of going into exile to launch an armed struggle. Kahigiriza discouraged us, saying that we should give Obote enough time to fall by his own mistakes. We saw him again a few weeks later and he gave us the example of Nkrumah, who had been overthrown in Ghana by a military coup two days after Obote’s abrogation of the Uganda constitution. Kahigiriza advised us that Nkrumah’s example showed that all dictators were bound to fall in due course. Inwardly we were not convinced. We knew that dictators had to be actively opposed and that they would not just fall off by themselves like ripe mangoes. Later I went to Gayaza High School with Mwesigwa to contact Grace Ibingira’s sister in order to find out whether she knew of any plans afoot to resist Obote’s dictatorship. She, however, did not know of any such plan. We came to the conclusion that the old guard had no conception of defending people’s rights and we resolved to strike on our own (Museveni, Y. 1997:19)” (Adhola).
Some more NRM – UPC:
“The national-democratic forces made great gains in the struggles of the mid-60s. The war the NRM waged has simply served the reactionary forces. Upon coming to power, Museveni immediately moved against his most serious enemy, the Uganda Peoples’ Congress. His aim was to completely obliterate UPC. To this effect, immediately upon coming to power, the NRM decreed, through Legal Notice Number 1/1986, a ban on political parties. This ban was rationalised through a series of assertions that amounted to irrational reasoning” (Adhola).
“The NRA/M used scaremonger tactics to sow seeds of discord and undermine support for Paul Ssemogerere in the southern part of Uganda. Paul Ssemogerere’s alliance with the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) and his statement that he would not oppose return to Uganda of former President Milton Obote, were used by the NRM to scare people from voting for him. Thus instead of using democratic elections to resolve conflicts, the NRM leadership used the elections to entrench the north-south divide and to maintain the southern consensus on which it relies to remain in power. The results of the presidential elections reflected the regional north-south divide. Thus, although Yoweri Museveni won the presidential elections with about 75 per cent, he lost by a wide margin in war ravaged northern Uganda. The same voting pattern was repeated during the 2001 and 2006 elections, which indicated a deepening of the north-south rift” (Omach).
Milton Obote statement in 1990:
“My 1987 Paper is now a “prohibited document” in Uganda and Kagenda Atwoki, the Administrative Secretary of the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) is now on trial for being in possession of it. Atwoki had been reported by the BBC as having said that Museveni’s well known wars were wars by the regime against the people. He was arrested and detained but was later charged with “being in possession of a prohibited document” despite the fact that the Paper had never, to date, been gazetted as “prohibited” in accordance with the Uganda law of sedition. Atwoki remains charged illegally but the real reason for his suffering is because he dared to expose Museveni’s massacres” (…)”he ban on political activities applies only to the UPC. The definitive political target of Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) and its armed core the NRA is the “Removal of UPC/Obote’s dictatorship by force of arms”. The document was issued in 1987. Having observed the DP leaders at close quarters throughout 1986 as members of his Cabinet, I have confirmed that the NRM/NRA and the DP had one common target: the destruction of the UPC, not by the ballot but by force. Having found that the DP was, so to speak, a toothless bulldog, Museveni ordered the production of Appendix One in 1987. The destruction of the DP is in Paragraph 3.3 of that document but even that fact has not diminished the attachment of the DP leaders to Museveni’s regime” (…)”After he had overthrown the Okello Junta, Museveni wasted no time in ordering an onslaught onto members of the UPC throughout Uganda especially in the Eastern Region. As an excuse to kill, arrest and beat, terrorize and brutalize UPC members in Busoga, Bukedi, Bugisu, and Sebei, Museveni’s functionaries invented what they called “Force Obote Back Again” (FOBA) Movement. No such movement ever existed but thousands of UPC members were killed, arrested and detained, terrorized and brutalized for allegedly belonging to it. It is a sad commentary that the DP leaders and members not only gleefully welcomed but also assisted the NRA in the persecution of UPC members. Today, the ordeal covers and affects all in the East and North irrespective of Party affiliations; and as their members groan and die together, of course with UPC members, Ssemogerere and other leaders of the DP see nothing untoward with Museveni’s regime. Being a Minister in Museveni’s regime would appear to them to be of greater importance than the groans and deaths of thousands upon thousands of fellow citizens” (Obote, 1990).
Press release from 2001:
“The rampant and wanton intimidation, abduction, killing and deliberate and ferocious, installation of a sense of fear in the minds of the citizens perpetuated by the armed supporters of Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Museveni’s record of killings is recorded in the districts of Luwero triangle where he supervised the murder of most UPC leaders, chiefs and supporters and hid them in mass graves. He later commissioned Capt. Zizinga to exhume their skulls and parade them as victims of the UNLA. He has recently stated his intention to continue displaying the skulls in Luwero perhaps to permanently remind Ugandans and the world of his exploits” (…)”Instead of sorting out the political mess that he has created in Uganda, he has resorted to misinformation. He has again tried to drag UPC and its leader Milton Obote in his problems. On the occasion of opening the Workers House Museveni was at it again. He claimed that UPC took workers money to build Uganda House” (…)”UPC is not a body corporate and does not own Uganda House. In the Consent Judgment signed by Museveni’s government and MOF, the owner of the house is clearly stated to be MOF” (…)”All lawful and peaceful avenues to challenge the illegitimate actions of the monolithic regime as UPC has always advocated have now been closed and all indications are that as a last resort survival strategy the people of Uganda may resort to violent and illegal actions to restore Uganda to constitutional order and to stop further political disintegration. Since UPC is debarred from organising at the grassroot level, it is not in a position to dissuade or deter any persons who may be driven to take the violent or illegal path” (UPC, 2001).
This here has been the historical part between them. I will now bring recent events in the UPC to show the frictions and weakness of it. To prove how volatile it is and wonder what argument the leadership of UPC has to support and make a coalition with NRM, instead of the other opposition parties in the The Democratic Alliance with the likes of JEEMA, UFA; DP, PPP and FDC.
So let’s see something in narrow history that gives the fractions growing in the UPC:
“Yesterday the UPC party president Mr. Olara Otunnu made changes in the National Party Officials and dropped two people namely; the Party Secretary General Mr. John Odit and the Secretary for Policy and National Mobilization, Mr. David Pulkol” (…)”What is more astonishing is that the party president has chosen to sack Odit and Pulkol at a time when they are just returning from a field trip together with other party officials where regional meetings aimed at strengthening our party structures have been successfully held in Busoga, Bugisu, Bukedi, Sebei, Teso, Karamoja, Lango, Acholi and Westnile. Bunyoro, Toro, Ankole and Kigezi meetings cannot be stopped and must take place by 22nd December 2011 as scheduled. Likewise, the Buganda grassroots elections, which Otunnu has severally tried to block in vain, will continue undisturbed till we are sure the job is fully done.” (…)”Aware that Otunnu has since his election as party president been a man of mixed signals, secrecy and clandestine movements we would also like to use this occasion to disassociate ourselves from his activities for the sake of building, a reliable, dependable, transparent and law abiding party. As people who have worked with Mr. Otunnu we would like to painfully state, especially for the benefit of all party members, that Mr. Otunnu has never liked and does not love UPC. This could possibly explain why he forgot to vote for himself moreover after using 100% of all the available party funds then for his presidential campaigns alone” (UPC, 2011).
“Following the ruling of Hon. Justice Yasin Nyanzi of the High Court of Uganda (civil Division) on an application for Interim order filed by Olara Otunnu and Five others Misc.application No 412/2015 arising out of Civil Suit No 238 of 2015 made on 30th October 2015, in which Amb. Olara Otunnu (Ex-UPC Party President) had sought an injunction against the UPC Leadership of Hon Jimmy Akena from performing his duties and functions, the decision of UPC members across Uganda as affirmed in the UPC District Conferences presidential Elections and the UPC Delegates Conference of 30th May 2015 and 1st July 2015 respectively was reaffirmed by the High Court of Uganda. This therefore clears the confusion created by the Ex-President of UPC Amb Olara Otunnu about the legitimacy of the Leadership Hon Jimmy Akena. The Leadership of Party President Jimmy Akena extends an olive branch to all Party members who had been caught up in this confusion to rally behind the party” (UPC, 2015).
There is as you seen been steady frictions between the parties for several reasons because of the leadership of both parties. This is natural especially when at one set of time the one party was ruling and it actually the party that was ruling in 1960s and later in 1980s before the bush-war put the other party to be the ruling party. The rhetoric from them both is natural, because those both want to power and now the NRM-Regime is clinging to power. There have even been more movement from the NRM towards the UPC then you might expect.
So that Olara Otunnu said this in November last year:
“It is not about a little piece here, a little leg there, you fix this, and you bridge this gap, no. The system as it is now; the status quo is completely without any legitimacy. It is a system which is integrated, married into State House machinery and controlled by Yoweri Museveni at State House. We want to dismantle that and put in its place a new system which can guarantee free and fair elections” (…)”But there are Museveni elements within UPC and have been using UPC colours; using UPC shelter to cause problems within the party and to push Museveni’s agenda within the party” (NewVision, 2014).
On Olara Otunnu leadership and Museveni:
“The UPC members in the northern Kole District have abandoned their party leader, Dr Olara Otunnu, claiming he lacked the capacity and vision to carry the mantle for the people of Uganda” (…)”“We are not going to base our support on partisan politics, we want leaders who can lead the people of Uganda and this time around, we don’t see any one, apart from Mr Museveni. He should rule until he dies,” said Aboke Sub-county official Boniface Odyek” (Oketch, 2014).
So with the fall of Olara Otunnu of the UPC has been a steppingstone for the Jimmy Akena.” Son of the late Dr. Milton Obote and Lira Munipality MP Jimmy Akena has been voted as the new Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) President. Delegates from 62 districts in Uganda chose to entrust the party leadership with the son of the party founder “ (…)”Akena’s victory implies that the Obote family once again takes charge of Uganda’s oldest political party. Akena replaces Olara Otunnu who failed to unseat President Museveni in the 2011 elections” (Ortega, 2015).
So that the son of Milton Obote is now in talks with Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his NRM to have a merger/union or marriage between them during this 2016 is a special one. Especially with the history between the parties; NRM has since day one tried to dissolve the UPC. UPC has never had the same interest of NRM, for the simple reason Museveni never wanted the Uganda UPC wanted to have. Because the Uganda UPC wanted to have was a certainty that NRM and Museveni was not the Mzee and the commander in chief.
The rhetoric and history between should alone tell the tale. It’s so significant if the son of UPC founder Milton Obote – Mr. Jimmy Akena takes his father’s party into an agreement with his arch-enemy Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. That is significant!
Milton Obote was even years after defending his party and ways. All of choices in his two short terms wasn’t also that wise; for instance with taking powers away from the kingdoms and their kings. That gave the public and power reach the levels that made the country react to it. That gave an edge to NRA/M. They could promise securities and reinstate the kingdoms.
If we go further into the recent; the way the fall of Olara Otunnu seems like Jimmy Akena has taken it with force and had to get it verified by court. That doesn’t seem like a healthy party structure. Museveni has taken and seen these fractions inside the party.
If that wasn’t enough; Olara Otunnu was working together with the TDA and other oppositions. Even if his maiden party hasn’t had that coming and their Head Chief sees it differently… Jimmy Akena has said this in September: “TDA wants UPC to use its colour orange, instead of our colours. There is no way UPC can do without the red colour” (…)“If we cannot agree on what we are struggling for, it’s going to be hard to unite” (Apunyo, 2015).
Jimmy Akena said this later in September: “I have come to protest UPC’s alleged endorsement of any candidate in the TDA race” (…)”Our party withdrew from TDA long time ago. We didn’t want our name dragged into something we didn’t know” (Kazibwe, 2015).
So that the party went out of the alliance they also lost a lot of goodwill from the other opposition parties. Also they still don’t have a clear mandate for presidency because Jimmy Akena didn’t even put the effort in become a President or filling in the Nomination. So that their have to have an agreement with somebody else to gain traction in 2016. This is all ironic coming how the UPC organization and members has blamed Olara Otunnu for the way the results was after 2011.
Jimmy Akena is not looking solid either if he sells his father’s heritage to becoming the NRM bedfellow. NRM has not the interest of the UPC. UPC is supposed to be a genuine party with its own interest. The same is it with NRM. Also the same with the parties that is a part of the Democratic Alliance which also supposed to have their own agenda and goals in the coming general election that we all know about.
UPC is allowed to go into alliance for their benefit. But they should also think of what their gaining because the NRM is just a vessel of loyalist of Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. The man who has since the beginning of the 1980s has been totally against the UPC, because himself want sole power and sole-candidacy. Therefore it took years after 1986 before the Movement system was strong enough and the legitimacy was there, then he “released” the parties again. One of them apparently happens to be UPC, which he has had a passion trying to destroy. That was because this party was in his way to power.
So Jimmy Akena must have been greased especially with the moles that Olara Otunnu was talking about November 2014. Akena might be one of them. Still strange from an outsider knowing the history between Mzee and UPC; which the UPC wants to collaborate with NRM. Seems for a ten-years ago something fitting in a sci-fi novel or John Grisham spy-novel.
But now we are here. And if they sign an agreement with NRM; then the UPC has sold it soul to the NRM. NRM has only to get more legitimacy from somebody especially with nearly all the rest of the parties joined hands toward the Presidential candidate of Amama Mbabazi. That must be a torn and also with FDC’s strongman who is getting a vivid following of Dr. Kizza Besigye. That he is talking and negotiating after the Kofi Annan Foundation in London.
NRM must have felt weaken by the TDA. UPC must have felt left alone when they did leave the TDA. NRM had not an invitation to join the TDA. That was because the TDA has one function to get the NRM-Regime away from Power. UPC doesn’t have the same power as the ruling parties and have suction in most areas of the country. That is what UPC is buying. UPC can’t be that weak, except they are being greased or offered something they can’t refuse.
UPC and Akena will never be forgiven if they agree with NRM. Not because all the people’s in NRM is greedy. But many of them are and many are there just to earn the coins. They had proven since 1986 that at one-point they lost the Taxation with Representation. UPC will be like a branch to the Movement System and LDCs instead of their own. Museveni is ruling with Iron Fists. Akena will only gain money and might even position in the coming rigging elections. But the pride of being a strong opposition he is not. That we can also see with the way of handling the TDA and the new coming deal in the NRM. Peace.
Adhola, Yoga – ‘UGANDA PEOPLE’S CONGRESS AND NATIONAL RESISTANCE MOVEMENT’ link: http://www.upcparty.net/memboard/UPC%20and%20NRM.pdf
Apunyo, Hudson – ‘Akena explains why UPC is not in TDA’ (14.09.2015) link: http://www.elections.co.ug/new-vision/election/1000620/akena-explains-upc-tda
Golooba-Mutebi, Frederick – ‘COLLAPSE, WAR AND RECONSTRUCTION IN UGANDA
AN ANALYTICAL NARRATIVE ON STATE-MAKING’ – Working Paper No. 27 – Development as State-making (January 2008) – Crisis States Working Papers Series No 2, LSE Destin Development Studies Institute
Kazibwe, Kenneth – ‘Akena Storms TDA; Denounces Mbabazi Endorsement’ (25.09.2015) link: http://www.chimpreports.com/akena-storms-tda-denounces-mbabazi-endorsement/
Makara, Sabiti – ‘Deepening Democracy Through Multipartyism:The Bumpy road to Uganda’s 2011 elections’ (11.04.2010)
NewVision – ‘‘Museveni has moles in UPC’ – Otunnu’ (30.11.2015) link: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/662364–museveni-has-moles-in-upc-otunnu.html
Obote, Milton – ‘NOTES ON CONCEALMENT OF GENOCIDE IN UGANDA’ (April, 1990) link: http://www.upcparty.net/obote/genocide.htm
Oketch, Bill – ‘Uganda party endorses Museveni for life presidency’ (06.11.2014) link: http://www.africareview.com/News/Uganda-party-endorses-Museveni-for-life-presidency/-/979180/2513500/-/ehxho6/-/index.html
Omach, Paul – ‘Democratization and Conflict Resolution in Uganda’ link: http://ifra-nairobi.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/1Omach.pdf
Ortega, Ian – ‘Late Obote’s Son, Akena Declared UPC President’ (02.06.2015) link: http://www.independent.co.ug/news/136-the-news-today/10303-late-obotes-son-akena-declared-upc-president
UPC- ‘Press Statement: MUSEVENI’S RECORD AND LEGACY: DRIVING UGANDA TO CATASTROPHY’ (09.05.2001) link: http://www.upcparty.net/press/museveni_record.htm
UPC – Press Statement – (4th November 2015) link: http://www.upcparty.net/press/Press4Nov2015.pdf
UPC – ‘Press Release: Defying Olara Otunnu in defence of UPC’ (13.12.2011) link: http://www.upcparty.net/press/13dec11.htm