Is Political Participation in a Military Regime like Uganda Safe?

We recently concluded the International Youth Day Celebration under the theme, “Safe Spaces for Youth!” The Ugandan Government has prided in bring & maintaining peace. But is it really? I know many of us have not tried to participate in our political discourse and had a glimpse of power. Well, I have. And seen the people in those top positions are not willing to leave or tolerate any form of threat that jeopardizes that and that includes formations such as youth movements or people centered assertions.

The current government is historically celebrated for using its military might to stabilize Uganda from dictator of the past and ushering in an economy that isn’t gun dictated. But at what cost has this come? Every time we seek change, we are reminded of how they went into the bush… talking of participation in democratic spaces, the government seems to think it’s all about creating political positions and not really giving people real power to make decisions. Sovereignty is the order of the day, to keep the peace, money and corruption (miss use of public funds for individual agendas) have fueled their ability to keep power.

For a young person to become a leader, one has to align themselves to a patronage system placed to keep ambitious fellows in check. To maintain a grip on things, threats and unlawful (made-lawful) arrests are done. We as Ugandans today have peace from war but no true freedom to participate in political processes without being confronted with the dangers of contradicting those in power. The economy is our new war zone in exchange for a gun war-less poor and voiceless society setting.

The Internatinal community seems to be confused on what Uganda’s state truly is. Politicians seem to really know the game they play, they have put up a show for the entire world… experimenting models of adopting positions for majority representation in political positions but not in true leadership that makes key decisions. But let’s call a spade a spade today! We are in a dictatorship disguised as a democracy. It has the chance to thrive that way because of our own disorganization right from the opposition which uses the same old tested and failed strategies and the people (not entirely to blame due to the poverty state) who accept to be bought time to time not forgetting those who have resorted to honestly only working for their families.

We need to wake up as Ugandans!! No freedom has come to those in a slumber, with collective efforts and long term strategies we can do this. My message to the opposition, “Quit seeking short-term gains and unite Ugandans regardless of party affliction for the greater good. Criticism and violent confrontation have not yielded into correction or change, can we change strategy?” As young people, stop wasting time on luxury activities and let’s take back our economy (even if it means shaping it), amplify our voice and present a united front against such regimes. They have done their part, it’s time we start doing our own in smarter ways.

-Emmanuel

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