For a new comer, it might look like life eternal is at stake here. The NRM primaries—what should have been an amiable contest of ideologically bound competitors—have turned into a raw battlefield. From Kanungu to Kapchorwa, from Tororo to Abim, the same thread runs through the tale—guns, sticks, bayonets are unsheathed as candidates seek the NRM endorsement.
In Tororo, Minister Otaala had to be disarmed by his own bodyguard as he sprayed bullets into a crowd of his rival’s supporters, in Sembabule; Mr Theodore Ssekikubo literally manhandled a district police chief as he protested NRM district elections at the expense of his Lwemiyaga County. In Kapchorwa, former minister Chebrot has been holding a punching contest with the police and district party officials.
The tale has not been any different in Kashaari, Busoga or even Abim and Arua.
If these were elections of people who subscribe to the same political entity, one would wonder; so why the bad blood and bland knives? One thing is obvious. In an era where the ruling party has become so fused with the state and its institutions—to win the endorsement of the ruling party is more like winning the final prize.
It explains why people are willing to draw guns at one another just to become the NRM candidates. Because once you are, you can be sure Electoral Commission officials, the security apparatus (GISO, DISO etc), the state resources, will all be deployed to ensure your victory against an opposition opponent. That principle explains how hitherto “tough” politicians like Jack Sabiiti, John Kazoora, Salaam Musumba and Augustine Ruzindana got felled by political “nobodies” (Yes, Janet belonged here).
It is for this reason that even politicians we obviously know have no single grain of love for the NRM are actually jostling for NRM endorsement. The examples are wide and varied. It is a simple rule, “you won’t beat them from without, so beat them from within”.
Because, assuming one genuinely feels cheated in a party primary, why not exercise you right to contest as an Independent? In 2006, the NRM let this happen and many official candidates were humiliated. This time round, it is clear independents will be met with similar force as opposition candidates. It is for this reason that everyone is trying to avoid the independent tag!
Competition naturally should be a healthy thing. But when sons of the same household draw guns at each other, you then know the centre of that house holds no more. Things could be falling apart. In my next post (hopefully soon), I will explain how the NRM, gradually is becoming its own biggest threat. A modern day Frankenstein. A grouping of people driven by selfish interests rather than ideological bonding…