Elements of the opposition in Uganda are looking at the idea of fronting a single candidate to provide a formidable challenge against the incumbent president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM)’s dominance in the Ugandan political arena with an eye on the 2021 General elections. To provide an analysis on the feasibility of the idea of the single opposition candidate, we shall consider two schools of thought that is Utopianism vs. Realism.
Utopianism is the pursuit of a state in which everything is perfect, typically regarded as unrealistic or idealistic.
Framers of the single opposition card lay their foundation on a political utopia in which members of the various opposition parties will put aside their differences, form a sort of coalition and rally behind a single candidate with hopes of finding a panacea to Mr.Museveni and the NRM’s dominance of national politics at all levels.
The Single opposition candidate is viewed as the only way of combating a politically indomitable Museveni by combining Hon. Kyagulanyi’s appeal to the youth with Dr.Besigye’s defiance and ability to stand up to authority, Mr. Mao’s intellect and Gen. Muntu’s organizational management ,all wrapped into a single card and sold to the Ugandan electorate.
The belief is that a coalition of the opposition will be able to rally both human and financial capital required to match the mighty NRM. A United opposition would combine the hitherto divided opposition vote, be in position to canvass votes from all corners of the country and provide the necessary human capital at both grassroots and national level required to protect that vote.
Realism is the attitude or practice of accepting the world as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly.
The fact remains that with the resumption of multi-party politics in Uganda after the 2005 referendum, opposition parties have suffered stunted growth, been victim of internal bickering and consequently been held hostage to the pervasiveness of coalition cum political movements that parade themselves as parties, but lack the organizational coherence and ideologies that would qualify them as genuine parties for instance the fights that split the Forum for Democratic Change and led to the emergence of the New Formation.
Historically political alliances in Uganda have suffered from the evil of transcendence, individualistic and idiosyncratic politics since the post-colonial era and been characterized by convenient political marriages that only serve the egos of the day for instance the Uganda People’s Congress – Kabaka Yekka alliance in the mid 1960’s which managed to win state power, but failed to consolidate it leading the country into rollercoaster instability.
The suggestion of another convenience marriage based on exploiting desperate masses by rallying behind populist leaders such as Hon. Kyagulanyi is not a reality. Populist leaders often lack ideology and policy alternatives. Coupled with individualists such as Dr. Besigye who views himself a political messiah would hinder the selection of this sole candidate.
Questions such as who will be this single candidate? How will he be selected? The succession structure etc., will remain unanswered until 2021.The general mistrust amongst opposition political leaders who have already formed a coalition against one of their own is another point not to be under-looked. These and other hindrances leaves the idea of a single opposition card as utopian idea rather than embracing reality.
Where does that leave the Ugandan electorate? To trust the system that has guaranteed peace, security and economic transformation to keep moving with full steam ahead, towards achievement of middle class status.