Refference: “Politics is the Art of the possible” Professor Apollo Nsibambi.
About three decades back, at the only university in Uganda then, in the faculty of Arts and social sciences, Department of political science, we had several courses and several papers some of which were: comparative politics, taught by late professor Mujaju, government and politics in middle East, Governments and politics in uganda, Maxism in the third world by professor Mahmood Mamdan who is now at war with others for whether to teach or not to teach at Makerere institute of social Research.
But the Mamdan internecine wars are for another discussion on another day. For today, let me discuss the issue of democracy in Uganda, the United States of America and Europe. But to remain focused let me say that the reasons why we were never being taught about politics in different parts of the world was because naturally politics with its subordinate democracy, are not indifferent of, and unaffected by, the different local challenges to ideal governance and governments of the people by the people and for the people as Lincoln Abrahams philosophized. And it is in cognizance of such political contingences and peculiarities of every society that made comparative politics a useful University subject of study.
Unfortunately, not every political actor or activist has had an opportunity to benefit from this intellectual width and elasticity. But human beings are indeed human, such that even those who know that democracy has same principles but different applications according to the subjective conditions on the ground still conducts business as if democracy and all its mechanisms were an already made TEMPLATE for all societies, under developed,developing,developed,first,second and third world all without exception. It is at this point that Her Excellency Ambassador Deborah Malac, the United States Ambassador to Uganda misses a point when she chooses to harangue and lambast the Uganda governments while addressing press conferences and workshops on some election irregularities from the 18 February 2016 Uganda Presidential and Parliamentary elections without even looking at the other local government elections that went on till 9th March 2016.
Perhaps she didn’t have to, but then ,why not look back home at her own domestic politics, do a comparative political analysis and tell both Uganda and her home government and advise both on how to improve on democratic practice and good governance. Since God or fate has put the USA and Uganda’s elections close by, and the Ambassador may have been too busy to follow the electoral goings-on in her home country, Allow me to share some with her so that Uganda and the USA can share in the her lectures on democratic practice International electoral standards, human rights and liberties. Read on:-
On Monday 11 April 2016, In Washington, hundreds of demonstrators flocked Capitol Hill to demonstrate against what has been termed as “Commercialization of politics” in Uganda. The demonstrators named themselves “Democracy spring”, and behold, 400 protestors were arrested by the capital police.why?, because they were demanding for “one person, one vote “and “money out of politics” as their placards read.
Circumstances? Some billionaires two of whom were mentioned as David and Charles Koch had staked $900 million dollars to lead a campaign in support of favored candidates in the ongoing elections. On top of this they were protesting what they called “Super delegates”, These are party figures like members of congress who are given votes at the Democratic National convention but are not elected by primary elections or at party caucuses.People,tell us, protestors in Uganda have a right to protest but those in the Washington don’t have? On 19th April 2016, the Daily Mail told us that in New York, Brooklyn chaos broke out as 54000 voters went” missing “while residents were locked out of polling centers and ballot machines broke down. According to the New York Post,917508 residents of Brooklyn were registered as “active” voters in November 2015,By April this year,853687 were on the register as active, 63000 having been recategorised as “In-active”, later, the number of” inactive” voters grew by 9000 voters, leaving 54000 voters unaccounted for .As of 4pm,Tuesday,the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had fielded more than 700 complaints on his hotline from New York State vote yet in 2012 the hotline registered only 150 calls.
Allies and friends, let me ask again these 54000 missing voters, were they “ghost voters” of Africa or disenfranchised voters of the mother of democracy? And is this a reflection of an upward or downward trend of democratic practice in the US? Lest my reader thinks these are isolated incidences, hear this; at the University of Illinois in Chicago, inside and outside the Auditorium, fighting broke out between supporters of Donald Trump and protestors. Police could not handle, so they agreed with candidate Trump of the Republican (Opposition Party) to postpone the election rally. I ask again, had someone sneaked into the USA the Ntungamo scuffles of JPAM Vs NRM supporters into Chicago without a Visa or Green card?
Then on 22nd March 2016, Maricopa County, in Arizona, an election official called Helen Purcell, unilaterally reduced the number of polling centers from 200 to 60.When pushed to explain, she said the voters were at fault for going to the polling centers instead of voting by mail. This was after long hours and long lines of voters waiting to vote, making a replica of the 18th Feb Kampala voting scenarios, In Arizona this time; and she went on to say that she even lacked funding from the State Legislature, so that is why she cut down polling centers! Really?
Incase my reader, you don’t know whether to weep or laugh, hear this last one of the litany of electoral malpractices and malfunction of machines and systems behind the backyard of our respectable and respected US ambassador Malac, Ivanka and Eric Trump, candidate Trump’s children will not vote for their Dad! Why? They had not been able to update themselves on the register in time enough. They missed the deadline! Donald Trump told the Fox News Agency on 11th April 2016 at 1:39pm,just like our own Norbert Mao, the presidents General of the Democratic party in Uganda. If I had enough time and space here, at the risk of making you yawn, I would report to you many incidents like these above of rigging, and switching votes from Trump to Cruz as Donald Trump himself castigated the American electoral system as being “wrong and rigged ‘as he stated last week.
So, to this effect, if the European Union Observer Mission had gone to their former colony to observe these elections, what reports and recommendations, would the world be having to contend with from the home and exporter of democracy, good governance, civil rights and liberties?
To our good lady, one may say and ask for permission, to let us Ugandans build our own democracy with support from our allies and friends, but not from their condemnation and condescending lectures and threats because “Politics is the Art of the possible”, in accordance with the exigencies, challenges and peculiarities of each and every society as long as we all abide by the principles of democratic practice.