There has been an ongoing crusade against elites in this nation with the former President of the Forum of Democratic Change being the main crusader. He has on numerous occasions accused the elite of being the most useless and problematic people in the search for a better Uganda.
His outcries have received some level of credence with very many Ugandans sharing in his assessment, including very many apolitical ones on Twitter that use this lamentation every time an opposition politician crosses to the NRM party.
The marriage of the National Resistance Movement with the Democratic Party led by the elitist Nobert Mao does not offer any form of vindication for the elites in this nation whose name was already soiled by the decision of Jimmy Akena to align the aspirations of the Uganda People’s Congress with those of the ruling party. The history of this nation is filled with very many political leaders, economists, lawyers, doctors and the very best top brains either being complicit or actively participating in the mismanagement of this nation.
History remembers Basil Kiiza Bataringaya who crossed to the UPC camp from the DP one at a time when the nation needed to stand against a leader that was turning tyrannical with each passing minute. This nation’s story has Dr. Akena Adoko, Milton Obote’s cousin who acted as a mouthpiece for Obote’s propaganda.
With the long list of individuals that have been adjudged as betrayers of the greater good, there are women and men that have been hallowed for standing against oppression. Benedicto Kiwanuka and Janani Luwum stand in striking contrast to the allegation made against the elite.
Besides, my disagreement with Dr. Besigye on the debate on which is the bigger club between Arsenal and Manchester United, I equally disagree with him on continued criticism of the elite in Uganda. I do not seek to make an apology for the elite and their many misgivings, but I will labour to demonstrate the context within which elites operate that informs their acts.
In a multiparty dispensation, people are organized under political parties and prepared for political contestation under these very parties. Political parties are important for the institutionalization of politics in a nation and for the integration of individuals behind a greater cause, and not an individual.
Our political parties have failed to create an identity that transcends things like religion or tribes. The shortcomings of the parties may be blamed on the interference of the state in the political parties’ formation and operations or on the misgivings of the political heads in this nation.
To argue that elites have failed Uganda is to exonerate the political parties of these failures
To argue that elites have failed Uganda is to exonerate the political parties of these failures. The heads of these political parties in this nation have not worked towards creating a politics that is merit-based and therefore, it becomes very hard to build an environment that works for all Ugandans.
Growing up, the majority of Ugandans with aspirations of birthing change in this nation using their professions and disciplines often never succeed at doing so because the nature of life in our country does not permit you to do so. Uganda’s political narrative, which influences our commerce, is premised on patronage where those in power act as patrons for the masses.
Therefore, appointment to most public offices or access to national resources is premised on political allegiance. Consequently having a stable income or ascending in most fields is usually a result of complying with the precepts of the ruling class or intentionally staying clear of the politics of the land.
In an ideal democracy, one’s political life rarely gets in the way of achieving the bare minimum in their field of practice. The desire to provide for one’s family has driven many away from politics or to the ruling party.
At the end of his time at campus, a close friend lamented that activism does not put food on the table as he moved to get a position in the state. As the peasants in the villages clamour for soap, salt and t-shirts, the elite in towns jostle over jobs and government contracts. At the end of the day, we are slaves to the capitalist enterprise that makes basic needs inaccessible for those without money.
An elite group that has no control over the means of production is always at the mercy of the appropriating class. Throughout the history of Uganda, the ruling class has always controlled the appropriation of all means of production. The continued attacks on trade unions by states throughout the ages have been aimed at disenfranchising the elite of their most accessible tool – labour.
As long as those who offer labour cannot agree then the holders of capital will reign supreme. Hence the elite’s income and economic development are dependent on the government’s attitudes and moods.
An elite group that has no control over the means of production is always at the mercy of the appropriating class
A.B.K. Kasozi contends that the elites in this nation have always used politics as a means to achieve economic gain. He argues that: “to the members of this group, who were for the most part members of the petty bureaucratic bourgeoisie, politics was a means of personal enrichment and eventual entry into the commercial and industrial classes. Without political power, many of them would be paupers.”
In another country, people like the late Oulanyah, Chairman Mao, Ndugu Rugunda, Hon Betty Kamya and Hon Beatrice Anywar do more for their country and its people. Sadly, we are not that nation and we may never witness that nation in our lifetime.
The construction of a democracy is a duty that should be pursued with diligence by every citizen. The onus is on those with political power to educate the citizenry on their civic duties and rights as an ignorant democracy will always be at the mercy of the leader.
The citizenry, elite or peasant, must deliberately seek to acquire knowledge for the benefit of the growth of the state and for its salvation from tyranny. The dilemma of living in this nation is that most of us are accomplices to the wrongs being perpetrated against us and we cannot do anything about it.
Check out my recent article: Makerere and Politics: Maybe We Are Just a Country of Hooligans
Author: Emmanuel Luwaga
Emmanuel Luwaga is a lawyer, passionate writer, debate coach and adjudicator.