In investigating the recent past of the National Unity Party (NUP), one might become perplexed by the dirt surrounding its leader, Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine, that has helped propel the party and its leader to political fame.
For instance, the Norbert Mao documents released a few days ago, could potentially become a touchstone for broader conversations about the manipulation of the multiparty system by those in power to create their own opposition.
According to official accounts, NUP, formerly called National Unity, Reconciliation and Development Party (NURP), was registered in 2004, a month before FDC was registered as a party. But according to the document released by Mao, it shows that NUP was registered on 28th August 2019. So, which NUP was exactly registered? Did the Electoral Commission (EC) register two political parties by the same names, and is that legally feasible?
On 14 July 2020, Kyagulanyi assumed leadership of the party, according to EC records. Officially, the name of the party was changed to NUP on 22 July 2020. So, which party did the EC register in 2019? Who are the state operatives, as Mao called them, that are behind that certificate of 2019 signed by the Secretary of the EC? What constitution was exactly forwarded to the EC, and was due process and diligence followed?
The master official narrative by the EC and NUP repressed unsettling questions that have been hanging over Kyagulanyi and his party. Around 2020, some people went to court to settle this, but Judge Musa Sekana ruled in favour of Kyagulanyi basing on technicalities, not the evidence presented.
The troubling admission by former NUP leaders that there was no quorum when Kyagulanyi was sworn in as the new party president at Kakiiri in 2020, should have taken precedence over technicalities, I think. The petitioners wanted court to order EC to de-gazette the change of the NURP party name that appears in the General Notice No. 838 of 2019, de-register NUP and reinstate NURP as the legally recognised party name.
The defence of open lies by NUP lawyers/ politicians in courts of law confirms that human beings are inherently unreliable agents of revolutionary change. You can only trust yourself to change Uganda, but not anybody to change Uganda for you.
Lawyer Male Mabilizi, now in prison, has been one of those that have tried to challenge several illegalities associated with Bobi Wine, but every time he got close, the state prosecutor (Director of Public Prosecutions, and State Attorney) took over the cases, and the end is all but predictable, i,e. not guilty. All of Mabilizi’s cases against Kyagulanyi end up being taken over by the DPP with the exception of the one accusing him of having acquired a driving permit unlawfully.
Basically, court cases against Kyagulanyi not only demonstrate that there is a rule of law versus the rule of man in Uganda, but there is manipulation of the law by the powerful to save whoever they want. It seems the law and man are mortal enemies in the struggle for survival of a politician, history and the fate of the nation.
Resolving questions of law necessarily implies resolving even more fundamental questions about human subjectivity and the proper role of opposition leaders in an authoritarian rule: namely, what is the function of individual legal accountability in an ostensibly whole and ordered society? Or, to put a sharper point on it, what is the relationship between individual human beings and that collective subjectivity.
For instance, Bobi clearly obtained registration by false pretence at a university, and he’s clearly being protected by the state, but where do you draw a line as a supporter when it comes to such a leader? Do you continue supporting him because you desperately want change, or you drop him for the sake of strengthening our moral values?