Meal Card Politics Defacing Uganda’s Multi-Party Democracy


As we head for the general election, one would have hoped that after close to 24 years of multi-party politics in Uganda. we would be having strong political parties

We would have political parties offering alternative policy platforms in line with essential elements of democracy that we envisaged when the country decided to embrace multi-party democracy.

However, we have continued to witness spineless political players, whose only interest is to retain their parliamentary positions and not to cause serious regime change, so they keep shifting bases and alliances every other election period and as a result, confusing their followers along the way.

Democratic Party President General Nobert Mao rightly refers to these politicians in Uganda as ‘meal card politicians’.

And from what we are witnessing today, he is right, these are indeed meal card politicians, simply scavenging for a political carcass for personal survival.

Unfortunately, many of these are from the region, that one would have expected to provide for much needed political solutions, from a pre-independent political party that would have been trusted with a country’s leadership given its historical factors and an elite group that came from Makerere University about 20 years ago when they joined national politics.

Chairman Mao, as he is commonly referred to also calls this crop of politicians creeping plants or creepers (ebibowabowa), one that cannot survive on their own but requires a tree to creep on for sunshine and survival. We can also call them parasites, which must attach themselves to a host for them to survive.

DP President Norbert Mao

This group was seen by many as a new breed of opposition class that would cause a political storm, given their articulation of issues on bimeza ( radio talk shows) in the early 2000s. Little did we know that theirs was personal survival and not a national agenda. These can be traced back to the time of referendum and Buganda agitation for the federal (feudal) system of leadership.

A number of them were even Buganda kingdom officials or staff in their establishments. They started by clinging on the Buganda question of Federo (federal) system, land, etc pitting the central government against Mengo establishment, and blackmailing anyone who was not on their side as a regime sell out.

Many made it to parliament at the back of this blackmail of opponents who were considered anti-Buganda, we all remember slogans like ‘milo akenda, Kampala edde mu Buganda and ebyaffe.’

They promised to fight and deliver Buganda Kingdom’s demands in parliament, and people myopically trusted them with their votes in vain and it’s now 20 plus years and still counting and no federal, no milo akenda, no Kampala in Buganda agenda again, these were just means to justify the end.

Next enters Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye and the same politicians jumped ship and joined him, this enabled them to win seats in parliament, local and city councils because of clinging on to him like creeping plants on to a pole before the elections.

Because their interest is to win parliamentary and other elective seats, after the election they easily forget their host and many times didn’t join Besigye in his post-election struggles, after all, they had secured what they wanted, they would remember to creep on him again during another election with a different slogan/name (subi, TJ, Solida etc).

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This group of politicians would comfort themselves in the positions of power and leave Besigye to protest alone or with a few committed strugglers on the streets.

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