Ugandans have for long feasted on the politics of fear with the government drumming up a potential threat to their livelihood and wellbeing with each presidential election cycle. This has become a motivating factor to choose political leadership and condone policies and behaviour contrary to the beliefs and interests of the voters.
A myth has been sowed within our nation that asking questions of our leaders is a call for lawlessness. A false choice ingrained in our body politic rendering stability and an open society mutually exclusive.
To further escalate the politics of fear, our leaders have effectively sowed the seeds of identity politics within the populace. These group identities have cultivated fear of the other and enabled divide and conquer to flourish in Uganda.
Ugandans in the Diaspora and foreign actors have come under relentless pressure and attack. Regime loyalists have branded them agitators and opportunists who can’t relate to the predicament of Ugandans on the ground.
This is a rather misguided characterisation because Ugandans in the Diaspora are impacted by the politics and policies in the country. Many continue to hold both strong economic ties via the umbilical vessel of remittances and social ties through family and ethnicity.
The desire to leave the country in search for greener pastures is a result of a deep thirst for opportunity that has for long gone unquenched by an incompetent government. Ugandans in the Diaspora have a clear understanding of the push factors and have a stake in the future of our country.
The unconditional love for Uganda was on display as Ugandans sent ripples of hope from all corners of the globe demanding freedom, liberty, justice and free and fair elections. Ugandans left foot prints of courage and determination on the streets of Boston, Los Angeles, Washington DC, London, Sweden, Canada, Japan among others.
The voices in the Diaspora have been heard by governments and policy makers across the globe who have deemed the cause worthy. The partnership between the Diaspora and foreign actors poses a threat to the regime whose menu of greed includes an entrée of tax payer’s money with preferably a side dish of foreign aid.
The position of foreign actors challenging the legitimacy of Museveni’s election victory not only angered the regime but met significant backlash from the party loyalists. In spite of indisputable evidence of government rot, shambolic elections and overzealous policing, some have lashed out at US Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac and others who simply continue to articulate the truth.
It has become a tradition across Africa for governments to sing sovereignty, hug the national flag and hum the tune of Pan-Africanism while oppressing their citizens in the back room. Pan-Africanism is a great cause when executed for the right purpose. However, in the case of Uganda it has become a tactic often employed by the government to fend off accountability and answer tough questions that have been asked by Ugandans across the globe.
In order for substantial change and progress to happen in Uganda, we need to have the right diagnosis by embracing constructive criticism. Adopting a fight or flight reaction to criticism has nurtured a political climate without any form of self-reflection or accountability.
How else do you explain a nation where an election is rigged and the public doesn’t get any answers as to what happened?
How can a nation get its financial books in order when tax payer’s money is squandered and misappropriated by the State without any accountability?
How can you have a rotten healthcare system after 30 years in power when Ugandans that need critical healthcare are at the mercy of fundraising drives to seek treatment outside the country?
How do you explain a nation where government officials fly out of the country at the expense of tax payer’s money to receive healthcare?
How can law makers in a country that needs to widen the tax base pass laws that exclude them from paying taxes?
If Ugandans continue to say nothing and do nothing then we shouldn’t be surprised when our government continues to deliver nothing. We are all in this together and to sweep the garbage out of the country, we need a collective effort from all Ugandans on the ground, in the Diaspora and well-wishers who are willing to help us hold the broom.