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GAMBIA-L  January 2004

GAMBIA-L January 2004

Subject:

***Fw: Third term agitation dishonest

From:

uga479 <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

The Gambia and related-issues mailing list <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 15 Jan 2004 10:43:24 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (88 lines)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: gook makanga 
To: [log in to unmask] 
Sent: Wednesday, January 14, 2004 11:18 PM
Subject: Third term agitation dishonest 


Third term agitation dishonest 
By Abbey B. Mushega 
Jan 15, 2004

      The third term debate has reached a new crescendo with President Yoweri Museveni "disgusted" over Mr Augustine Ruzindana's remarks about his role in the struggle against dictatorship in Uganda. 

      As such, Ugandans need to determine where on the 'disgust' barometer, those who are bent on repeating costly past political mistakes for their short-sighted, self-serving interests fit. 

      How do they justify the planned review of a constitutional provision that is a key anti-dictatorship safety valve (presidential term limits) and has not been tested?

      Who do they think they are fooling when they deceitfully claim that power belongs to the people, yet they disrespect the people's decision to set presidential terms in the Constitution? What has happened between 1995, when the Constitution came into effect, and now? 

      Has it just dawned on the disciples of the "vision", many of them strong proponents of term limits during the Constituent Assembly deliberations, that other jurisdictions have no term-limits? 

      The truth is that Museveni's last term is coming to an end and he does not wish to relinquish power, supposedly because none of Uganda's 24 million souls has the brains to lead the country. Strangely, these include his Vice-President and the entire Cabinet, all of whom have accepted this ultimate insult! 

      How do leaders of a country whose post-colonial history is written in blood willfuly refuse to learn from its past? Suppose we had term-limits and Obote was certain to relinquish power in 1972 or earlier? Could Amin's disastrous coup have been avoided, as those opposed to his autocratic and manipulative politics knew the end of his rule was coming to and end? 

      While our East African neighbours consolidate their democratic growth; Tanzania heading for its third peaceful transfer of power, and Kenya enjoying its second, our 'visionary' leadership is bent on planting the very seeds that will take this country back to its ignoble and violent political history. 

      The case for term limits in Uganda is so clear that opposition to it can only be a manifestation of megalomania, a betrayal of the millions of Ugandans who supported and embraced the earlier progressive leadership of the Movement. 

      Those who have clothed themselves in dishonesty and cannot say their campaign to lift the critically needed term limits is aimed at benefitting Museveni should think harder. What if we had a truly ruthless leader who will 'win' every election? 

      It is either sheer lack of ingenuity or utter wilful blindness for third term proponents to compare the current political landscape in Uganda with political systems in countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada or Germany, which have no similar term limits. 

      These countries have well-developed democratic cultures and institutions that do not tolerate the kind of untouchability that African rulers enjoy. Leaders in these countries cannot privatise state power, throw their opponents in jail, misuse state security agents to intimidate, harass or even kill opposition supporters, or threaten to hang on to power if they are "pushed". 

      These leaders do not need a brigade of a personal army to protect them from the very people who vote them into power, and they have the wisdom, humility and real vision to know that they do not have a monopoly of these qualities.

      On the other hand, how many African presidents have ever lost an election? Of the hundreds of heads of state that have largely run the continent into ruin, I can count only four - Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, bed-ridden Kamuzu Banda of Malawi, Abdul Diouf of Senegal and Matthew Karekou of Benin. 

      The majority have either been shot out of power or are hanging on for eternity. The latter include presidents Omar Bongo of Gabon and Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo, both of whom have been in power since 1967. Others include Col. Mummar Gadhafi who has been Libya's 'beloved' ruler since 1969, and of course Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, who despite reducing his once prosperous nation to ruins, continues to see himself as its saviour.

      These are pre-eminent members of an ignoble club that Uganda's visionary leader is fighting tooth and nail to join!

      Another fallacious and dishonest argument by the third term crusaders is that since term limits do not apply to other elected political positions, it should not apply to the presidency. This argument is patently flawed because no other elected official wields so much power, especially in a country with weak checks and balances. Presidents in Africa can make or break you. It is as simple as that. And since power corrupts, unlimited power corrupts 'unlimitedly'. 

      The horrors of the de facto limitless and grossly abused presidential powers in Africa punctuate much of its sad post-colonial history. That none of Uganda's several dozens of ministers resigned in protest against the scheme to change the constitutional term limit whose operation has not been tested, is testament to the rabid fear that every presidential wish instills in people. Reports that many ministers are privately anti 'third term' are now commonplace, but they fear to go public. 

      Those who dared oppose the ill-advised scheming were unceremoniously dismissed and are being roundly demonised for refusing to see the 'vision', which has been equated with that of Jesus Christ! This makes third term opponents the equivalent of the anti-Christ, who, therefore, must be vanquished by the third term 'crusaders'. 

      It is irresponsible and treacherous that a leadership that promised a fundamental change is now bent on subjecting the Constitution to the whims of an individual with an apparent insatiable power appetite. 

      Ugandans must not be hoodwinked by duplicitous and hypocritical niceties of "power belongs to the people" being peddled by the third term crusaders. Uganda is at a critical crossroad and everybody, particularly political, civic and religious leaders have a duty to counteract and expose the scheming manipulation of the third term proponents and their dishonest and hypocritical arguments. 

      For example, while the crusaders riled religious leaders for airing legitimate and well-founded fears of lifting the presidential term limit, I am yet to hear them condemn retired Bishop Amos Betungura, who has openly endorsed the proposal! And an array of MP crusaders saw no hypocrisy in their third term campaign at a church fundraising function presided over by Museveni just a week or so ago! 

      The crusaders must never be allowed to dictate the "correct" forum in which to discuss a most important national issue, the outcome of which could be a recipe for yet another spiral of political mayhem. History will judge us harshly if we allow this disastrous machination to succeed. 

      If political leaders and the rest of Ugandans had stood up against Obote's anti-democratic political scheming or against Amin's initial atrocities, Uganda would not be in this mess. 

      Zambians and Malawians have successfully stood up against 'third term' manoeuvring. Ugandans must do it for the sake of the country's future. Stand up and be counted. The time for fence-sitting is over. Dictators and autocrats are not born; they are nurtured and thrive on acquiescence - the 'pact of silence', intimidation and fear. 

      The author is a Ugandan who lives in Toronto, Canada
     





Gook 

"You can't separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom."- Malcom X 




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