By Ofwono Opondo
The National Resistance Movement (NRM) party today, is a victim of mixed signals from its top leadership, where clarity is not only lacking; it is being studiously avoided. NRM is currently inundated with lack of harmonization in cabinet, parliament, and Central Executive Committee (CEC), its college of leaders. For this reason, it is necessary that from time to time, we utilise media space, to engagement each other and the public.
The present malaise emanates from the death of consistent recruitment and ideological training, to that based on monetization, which has in turn engendered careerists into leadership, and making NRM look more like a country club, and not the revolutionary party, it’s supposed to be. NRM must reflect and these address malfeasances, because, many believe, that NRM, is mishandling political processes. Like China’s Mao Ze Dong said in 1937, active ideological struggle is a major weapon for combating liberalism, and ensuring unity within a revolutionary party. It is evident, that today’s liberalism within NRM has caused the rejecting of ideological nourishment, and instead promoting unprincipled peace and decadence.
It has permitted leaders to present every issue, as a major crisis, indulge in irresponsible criticism, gossip, while saying nothing in formal meetings, and abandoning collective leadership. Today, many prefer to play safe and avoid blame by keeping their opinion to themselves. In addition, they demand special considerations, which if not granted, make them wage personal attacks and vengeful spite. As a result, many NRM leaders have become accustomed to letting incorrect and unfair criticisms go against colleagues and party policies unchallenged, but instead lie low as if nothing is happening.
Many work half-heartedly without definite plan or direction, and yet behave as if they have rendered great service that should attract public accolade. They disdain minor assignments, yet, are usually unequal to major tasks when given an opportunity. The atmosphere inside NRM is corrosive, undermines cohesion, causes apathy, creates dissension, robbing it of discipline, undermines service delivery, and alienating it from the population.
MRN should eliminate political altar girls and boys who simply chorus during the communion which has become mainstream in direct violation of revolutionary principles, and open methods are now winked at by leaders in preference for underhand maneuvers. Contrary to the NRM constitution, the Caucuses, NEC and National conference, are more like celebrations of Holy Mass where no serious questions are put to the priest.
We are witnessing a quantum leap in aggressive and hateful politics. Many leaders are afraid to publicly admit that the politics being practiced is endangering democracy because they fear those lying in wait during elections.
Also, many leaders are afraid of going to universities without money to engage students, because halfway their presentation, the hall will be empty when the audience realise there is no tea or allowances to give out. It’s sad that the historical NRM, was built and supported by penniless peasants, yet cannot, now, be maintained by the most affluent in our country’s history.
While the marginal opposition parties are able to sponsor themselves, NRM leaders, find it very hard to conduct party mobilization activities in their respective areas, preferring, to wait for President Museveni to fund them. As a result, regular, open and constructive engagements, even on the most basic issues of immediate concern, have died in NRM across the country. It is now a common practice for NRM leaders to show indifference towards issues that concern the masses.
NRM today, has weak and controllable shepherds, and little weak sheep, that appear discouraged from thinking outside the official box. The vigilant are perceived as a threat to institutional model. Leaders with zeal are frowned upon, and confused with zealots. It seems to be forgotten that Jesus didn’t end up on the Cross because He made people happy.
A Jesus, without the Cross, is a false Jesus. Similarly, cadres without leadership skills are false, flaccid, ineffectual, more, like the sad phenomenon of “sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36). And, it was, St. Paul, who, asked “If the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?”(1. Cor. 14:8). While NRM should attract new members into its leadership, and continue rehabilitating the errant, their appointment without explanation, is breeding discontent, and perhaps rhymes, with the Irish proverb: “The willing horse gets flogged the most.”
These are the weighty matters which have been neglected, and which are most responsible for the gradual loss of cadreship, and leadership in NRM. If attended to, it’s clear, would send signals that NRM is not a country club with a flag on top, but a vanguard party. Leaders need to be encouraged to move into cadreship by conviction, and supported to maturely take up roles in the party, cognizant, that no reform in history, has ever come from the top.
It is always bottom up. When NRM leaders fail in their responsibilities after issues are brought to their attention, the members would be right to vote with their feet. This is not a call to rebellion, but summon for members to take a strong-hard look at the NRM, and reinforce cadreship.