Uganda has seen a boom in political writing over the past few months. Unsurprisingly, the majority of the new books coming out are criticisms of the country’s long-serving leader, Yoweri Museveni and his regime.
First came Olive Kobusingye’s The Correct Line? Uganda under Museveni then followed Aili Mari Tripp’s Museveni’s Uganda; Paradoxes of Power in a Hybrid Regime.
Published by Roka Publishers (EA) Limited, Odonga Otto’s Theories and the Practice of Democracy, A Parliamentarians Perspective is the latest of these critical writings. And as one would expect from an opposing member of parliament, the book is accusatory and deeply critical of the policies of the Museveni regime.
Although it has a lot to say about the author’s personal life, the book is not an autobiography. Rather, it is both a personal peek into the author’s own experience of being in public office and a mild reflection on the future of the country. Otto sets out to examine key the issues that have come to inform and define politics in Uganda, especially after 1986. He starts with chronicling the atrocities and manipulations that the current government has meted onto its citizens and some members of the August House.
The author contends that Ugandans have been treated to profuse amounts of deceit under the Museveni-led regime. What follows is a litany of broken promises. From the return to multi-party politics that almost never came to the promise by President Museveni to retire after serving the 2001-2005 term, Ugandans have been buying hot air. On the other side, the country’s legislators – be they from the ruling party or the opposition – have been victims at some point, too. For example, torture has been meted on the opposition parliamentarians on so many occasions.
Otto recalls how he and one other legislator Erias Lukwago were assaulted in front of the Central Police Station when they dared to organize a political rally at the Kampala City Square. His assaulter, ASP Emmanuel Muhairwe was neither investigated and nor prosecuted.
At 141 pages, the book covers more than what its volume may presuppose. It touches on almost all issues that have been contentious in the country ranging from the war in Northern Uganda to the issue of a federal state. It attacks the abuse of the independence of several arms of government, such as the Judiciary and Parliament. Even the army and the police are portrayed as serving a single individual, the president, and not the people.
Readers will come to appreciate this book at two major fronts; first as a narrative of the depth that corruption has eaten through the public and private office, and secondly, as a soft appraisal of the men and women who often stand up in order to keep the promise of sanity alive, despite the troubles and tribulations that this choice brings.