By Godwin Agaba
A group of National Unity Platform,(NUP)/Bobi Wine supporters staged a protest at The United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York City hoping to catch the attention of authorities and dignitaries attending this year’s UN General Assembly (UNGA).
This was not the first protest of the kind. They have been held a number of times under the NUP banner and in different countries. Previously, it was the Rt. Col.Dr. Kiiza Besigye group in action but they have since retreated, fatigued for shouting themselves hoarse with no results.
Are International protests an effective way to achieve change? Are protests effective in any way? Are they best way to make changes in society? I know protests are part of democratic culture, and the foregoing questions can be answered in the affirmative.
Are the foreign protests more successful than domestic ones? I don’t think so. They may complement those on the ground, if any, but on their own they are just stunts of Ugandans excited about being in America and who just want to catch the attention of friends and relatives at home.
Effective protests must communicate something to a sizeable audience which is credible and exceptional, and I don’t see this ingredient here.
The problem is that they overdo these stunts which have consequently become diluted and deprived of their affective power. I can’t count how many times NUP supporters have been at UN headquarters, embassies, foreign missions globally demonstrating, but what are the results?
If they had the kind of effect projected and if they represented the views of majority Ugandans, Museveni would be history.
If these international protests are effective, Dr. Kiiza Besigye would be President now because there is nothing being done now that his group didn’t do. If I am not mistaken, these stunt protests take away the wind from the sails of the boat of change.
They mislead change campaigners to think that their work is done and that the world will come down and crash on Museveni, and the illusion fail to do what they would on the ground.
We’ve all heard Albert Einstein’s famous line: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Uganda’s opposition has learned nothing over time.
Protests are a common sight in some of these modern countries but they also beginning to crack down on them because the same are being misused by self-seekers and can easily harbor terrorists.
America is grappling with its own citizens questioning everything from the Afghanistan debacle of withdraw, vaccination mandates; Trump supporters are still protesting against his loss; refugees from Haiti are a “menace” at the Southern border and America is fighting keep it image up as a free nation, but all this is no way threatening Biden’s Presidency.
Even in Australia protests have been going on against vaccine measures but police has been very hard on them.
True, sometime the parameters by which African and other small nations’ leaders are judged are unequal to those of the West but the truth is that nobody is going to fight or ignore Museveni basing on three or ten or twenty stunts masters at the UN.
While they were prancing about on the sidewalk outside the building, Museveni was addressing delegates about the all-important subject of Vaccines and other matters of global importance. What they did was like winking at a girl in the dark!
Their protest post cards carried mundane messages like “Masaka lives matter”, “Stop funding Museveni”, “I can’t breathe”, and more such, all themed on nothing new. On Masaka, the whole world knows that two NUP MPs, Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West) and Muhammad Ssegirinya (Kawempe North) are in court, among other suspects.
Are they pinning their own MPs or are they accusing someone else without evidence?
There were also “Free Lumbuye” cards yet those holding the postcards they know very well that Lumbuye was arrested for being in Turkey illegally and it’s confirmed by Nkunyingi Muwada, a NUP MP representing Kyaddondo East constituency.
They know very well that nobody can stay in any country (a UN member state illegally). Their solidarity is baseless and suspicious since some of those protesting have been in migration courts before while some are still there battling same cases.
For many of them, their protesting is staged to give them a larger profile as political activists hunted for their activism back home, another overbeaten path which the Americans have come to know very well. The demonstrations also target funding.
The organizers want to be seen; they stage demonstrations in in these places on the advice of their handlers so that they can be seen and mobilize funds from donors. Sometimes the demonstrators are paid for their services without an agenda and promised to be helped with their cases or clearing the way for their relatives and friends to come to America under the banner of being persecuted because of their personal connects to them. It’s a big con these guys are involved in!
One should wonder why Hon. Francis Zaake travels to lead these demonstrations in New York. Is this what he meant when he said his legislative agenda is to make Museveni cry?
Is Museveni crying or laughing? Does he even hear them while attending to the big agenda? Zaake was not even around to help his colleague Ssegirinya, for whom he stood surety, get out of prison on bail. Is there something he knows that we don’t?
I believe that the stunt protests are communicating little if not nothing to the wider Ugandan public and serious influencers in the West. They are echo chambering-that is communicating (and deluding) themselves that they are “removing a dictator.”
Early this month, a strong Museveni supporter and NRM candidate, Henrietta Wamala, trounced the NUP/People Power candidate, to win the presidency of UNAA, an influential body that unites Ugandans in the American diaspora. Can they cause change in Uganda when they can’t take over a small body like UNAA?
The writer is a Ugandan living in the U.S.