“But I would like a cup of tea when I return”
That was indubitably one of the most telling lines from the 1997 blockbuster, Titanic.
A woman whose claim to status was her daughter’s engagement to a rich but bolshie man acting all so inconvenienced as she straps her life jacket and heads to the rescue boats.
“Will the boats be seated according to class?” she asks with a sneer, completely impassive to the impending tragedy.
That’s how NRM fantasists sound when they talk about wrestling back control of Kampala from the opposition for the next 20 years, among many other whimsies.
Dream to the end!
If you can pretend that it’s not near, you might stave it off. That’s their script.
And this January, they have served us a whole lot of mindless nostalgia. You see, regimes are like relationships; when the future looks grim, we look to the past. A man who has lived off the barrel of his gun now lumbering through bushes with a curiously shaped stick trying to whip up memories that died eons ago, followed by buccaneers who still think there are any brownie points for being associated with him. That group once included notables but has petered down to desperados like Full Figure and her ilk, and there are some interesting images that hit the social media airwaves.
While the selfie-takers around Museveni were enjoying their moment in the (setting) sun, the frail man at the epicenter carried the tormented look of someone wondering just how it came to this. A mighty warrior and freedom fighter (in his delusions) who once, and perhaps still, has the region feeding out of his palms, reduced to keeping the company of low-caste entertainers in a fraught bid to prolong his act.
A year ago he was endorsed as ‘Sole Candidate’ by a meeting of the party’s top guns at Kyobe Lodge, followed by another ‘Sole Candidate’ vote by NRM MPs in Kyankwanzi, and then, with a few envelopes distributed to starving people, every region in the country endorsed his sole candidature during the Wealth Creation tour. Then the party’s National Executive Committee this week completed the cycle.
In Museveni’s mind, this routine will continue all the way into another cheated election, contested in court to no avail, a few skirmishes around town quelled by his militarized police, a period of tension which fades in a few months as the country meekly settles for another five years of misery.
But, fortunately for this country and its longsuffering people, that’s not the script. Like Samson, the Hebrew Judge in the Bible whose might was an enigma to his enemies, the old man will wake up one day to find his hair shaven and his powers gone.
And NRM will die even faster than KANU did after Daniel Arap Moi’s regime. Actually, KANU lasted very long by usual standards for former one-party cabals. It remained on life-support for all of ten years before giving up its ghost because it had some unique advantages.
Firstly, it was the party that won independence for Kenya, an achievement that cannot be paralleled. Secondly, even if Moi had led it for 24 years, he was not its only leader. He only took the mantle from Jomo Kenyatta. But thirdly, and most important, Moi voluntarily surrendered the throne.
With none of the above advantages, NRM would be lucky to survive a year after its founder and visionary is gone. Its only ideology has been keeping Museveni in power. When that is no longer plausible…. Three years from now, may be two, NRM will be a relic in the political museum of Uganda.
That’s exactly what happened with Mobutu’s Popular Movement of the Revolution (MPR), the one party whose ideology and workings bear a significant resemblance to the NRM. The fact that they are all “Movements” is more than just coincidence.
The 1974 Zaire constitution enshrined the MPR’s status as the vanguard of the nation. It stated that “there exists a single institution, the MPR, incarnated by its President,” and that the “President of the MPR is ex officio President of the Republic, and holds the plenitude of power exercise.”
‘Mobutism’ was the constitutional doctrine of the party and all citizens of Zaire became members of the MPR at birth. For all intents and purposes, MPR and the government of Zaire where one.
Even if Museveni hasn’t been that explicit in his language, he has followed the same template in as far as juxtaposing NRM with the state in a way that they cannot be told apart.
That makes it easy to prognosticate NRM’s fate post-Museveni. Like MPR, it will dissipate like a morning fog.
NRM will become the symbol of Uganda’s wasted decades; a byword for corruption, nepotism, land-grabbing, personalization of national resources and every vile thing.
The septuagenarians who sucked off the party’s breasts will quietly retire to their farms and cover their heads in shame. No politician will want to be associated with the word NRM again; some might even consider suing for slander anyone who associates them with the party.
The legislators who gathered in Kyankwanzi last year and declared that: “We need our beloved leader now more than ever…because of his visionary, bold, courageous, steadfast and consistent leadership of our people in their struggles against dictatorship (insert appropriate emoji)…
“We need his firm guidance as we take a qualitative leap from backwardness to modernity, we need his guidance in this dawn of the digital, nuclear and space age (wow!!) and to protect the gains of our revolution…”
Well, the MPs who signed against that horse manure will deny they ever were in Kyankwanzi as they struggle to rebrand themselves.
There was a popular maxim that did its rounds all those years ago in our campus years; fairly simple but naughty words that caused untold distress. They made everyone who walked into the room freeze for a moment and adopt a self-examining demeanor. Yet, sadly, those words hung prominently on the walls of almost all girls’ rooms.
“ALL VISITORS BRING HAPPINESS SOME BY COMING OTHERS BY LEAVING”
And just like, a good outing was ruined as benchers were left wondering which category they belonged to.
Now more than ever before, there are so many young people aspiring to be freshmen Members of Parliament. If they stay away from the fleeting allure of NRM, they will be the kind of visitors that bring happiness by coming.
Happy NRM Day everyone. Hope you celebrated it hard. Might just be the last time.
Kabuleta, a former sports columnist is now a preacher and show host of The End Times radio programme