This week the National Resistance Movement (NRM) parliamentary caucus opened their now annual, retreat at Kyankwanzi.
It is an event that is impossible to ignore if only because the NRM makes two-thirds of members in the house. If you add the 43 independents – most of whom are allied to the movement, the ability to muscle through any legislation by the group is undeniable, even frightening.
During the retreat they harmonised their positions on various pieces of legislation but denied the issue of presidential age limits came up.
The constitution has it that Uganda’s presidents shall not be 75 years old and beyond. What is subject to interpretation is whether this means no one shall run when they are above that age or whether one will be obliged to leave office when he attains the number.
If hypothetically the NRM decided to cause the amendment, they on paper could very well do it as they need a two thirds majority to amend the constitution. They have shown themselves more than capable of doing this, as they did with lifting of the presidential two-term limit a decade ago.
"From a purely political point of view the NRM is in the best place to be as a ruling party...
By design or accident all these meetings – the several caucuses and the national conference, enforce the perception that the party, despite its internal squabbling, is unified in its purpose and resolute in its determination to stay in power.
The same cannot be said for its friends across the road.
Concerns that this kind of power is not good for the political future of Uganda are valid. It does not bode well for a country when one vision dominates the political space. But then again does it matter, seeing as our economic stratification is non-existent with the overwhelming majority being peasants? Durable parties are built on the basis of economic interest.
Governments are not tolerant out of the goodness of their hearts but are compelled to be so if there is a real threat to their hold on power, in the way of alternative views of how the country should be governed which are widespread and popular.
Seeing as the NRM has occupied most of the middle ground the opposition needs to position itself with a message that is counter to the NRM’s and then rally likeminded people and convince those seating on the fence to their way of thinking.
You don’t get the impression the opposition is doing this enough. It’s not good manners to kick a man when he is down but it’s a hard argument to counter.
The NRM on its part, having been in power for the better part of three decades needs to guard against complacency.
"Buoyed by a winning personality and unlimited resources they should guard against going the way of the Kenya’s KANU which was in power for almost 40 years but folded like a pack of cards once its leading lights Jomo Kenyatta and Daniel arap Moi were out of power....
It’s kind of sad though that the opposition may have to rely on the patience of Job rather than a contest of near equals to unseat the NRM, because a stronger more vibrant opposition would force NRM to up its game in order to remain relevant.
As it is now the opposition are looking the more jaded of the two making another NRM victory in 2016 an almost mathematical certainty.