How To Deal With Disgruntled People And Champion Good Governance

Nancy B. Alston

This term “disgruntled” members became popular in the period leading to the 2001 general elections. It was used to refer to members of the National Resistance Movement, who complained and opposed the party, especially in reference to the broken promises, changing national constitution to suit plans of the ruling political party, infighting among political party members to win favour of top political party leadership and influence their own interests, as well as the struggle for power and positions in government‎.

The members of political parties, who missed out on enjoying national cake, or contested the weak internal democracy, stepped out and ran for political offices without political party endorsement and continued to operate outside political party structures. Some of the members moved on, joined other political parties, or found new ones.

Disgruntlement is widely understood as angry and dissatisfied person. This is applicable too in the context of political parties, where as expected, conflicts occur resulting from different ideas and course of actions that require sacrificing others to consider what best fits the future of the organisation. When the political parties fell short of internal part‎y democracy and governance principles, some members were agitated since restoration of democracy was same cause they stood for. Therefore, disgruntlement happens more than can be imagined, and can trigger direct violence, injury, and deaths from violent enforcement of unpopular view.

It should be remembered that half a million people died as a consequence of the war that brought the government of National Resistance Movement to power, following the disputed national elections held in 1980, though it was also clear that the leader of this movement wanted power longer before the elections. Many lost property in the name of restoring democracy in Uganda. Hundreds of people have also died trying to oppose the current government.

The country has since 1986 qualified extreme violence as both communication and negotiation tool to deal with increasing discontent about how country is run. In recent years, we witnessed heightened violence, high crime rates, and further disorientation of the leaders, who preferred top-bottom to bottom-up approach of leadership. This alienated them from the people they claimed represent or lead, and ended up performing poorly in leadership. For a long time now, the bottom-up approach has proved most sustainable for leaders and people served, though lobbying and advocating for better service delivery remained an up-down strategic approach to trickle services down to people who needed them the most.

The growing disgruntlement has overwhelmed government to the extent of forcing it to rely on violence to calm protesters. Unfortunately, the measure is short-term, unless actions are done to address discontent, which tends to occur simultaneously in key sectors of the economy, such as education, health, commerce, transport, and so on. Otherwise,the endless disgruntlement is not what anyone would like to see, or wait for until full blown violence occurs.

It is regrettable for the elders in this beautiful country, now above 65 years, who feel embarrassed and humiliated that people of their age can act dishonesty to undermine aspirations of Ugandans. The elderly cannot rely anymore on remits from their working sons and daughters in cities, because of the high levels of unemployment and failing businesses. The youth are held in confusion, because they lack support, trust, and mentoring from elders living in poverty and failed to fulfill their parental responsibility. They have limited national pride and respect, do not trust others easily, and act on their own peril, regardless of the consequences. Of course, traditions are no more.

Definitely, disgruntled members in political parties, strategic development associations, and grassroot movements, who also stretch deep into communities, will only grow in number to reflect the same situation among citizens. It is this scenarios that will eventually consume, destroy and lead to the demise of political parties, including the one in power. The achievements once gained will be forgotten so that political parties carry negative experiences only. In fact, political parties will drain out of citizens’ memories.

In a bigger perspective, Ugandans today feel unentitled to the development and resources of the country. They feel sidelined and neglected, whose destiny is only in their hands and fate. They choose to travel abroad in risky environments to work and meet their growth and development goals. They think of wealth as exogenously obtainable, beyond the boarders of their country. Those who stay back in the country choose to join the armed forces or gangs, while the rest rely on simply passing away time, absorption in drugs and alcohol. These are the people political parties and leaders want to transform to be better, productive, and responsible citizens in vain. Transformation has proven effective with them at the top of political businesses, or as leaders. P

People in all sectors experience disgruntlement. Imagine a disgruntled member of the armed forces, who pursued military career to improve on the quality of life, but his or her situations worsened, as relatives die without means to support them. How much violence can a person trained to be violent exhibit on himself and others, when equipped with advanced weaponry, or if impulsed by a mere sense of danger? They can be worse than the ordinary citizens, whose violence is shown if the extreme need to survive violence, of both direct and indirect form. Being active participants in the ruling political brings the danger even closer to political opponents and dissenting citizens. They can be messy since reasoning most often comes second to gunshots.

The same members of the armed force are dangerous to the violent commanders, because of the woeful circumstances, under which they joined the army. More so, as the hopes fade away, of ever making meaningful career in the army to redeem his or her people from poverty. They are a time bomb and a revolution-trigger, awaiting a triggering moment to cause mayhem, or use force to acquire wealth.

Unfortunately, being disgruntled is something to laugh at and belittle by a class of people who are happy and comfortable with the status quo. The happy ones are the top associates of those in power.

Anything is possible to achieve with strategic government partnership, but sustainability is always the challenge. They must do all that is within their means to defend their status, mainly through deadly violence. In return, this attracts revenge at some point and destruction or redistribution of wealth that was unfairly acquired. Therefore, this disgruntlement should not be taken for granted. It is a potent root for mass violence.

Solving Disgruntlement
It is simple but painful decision, action, and process. We have to bring the leadership of political parties, strategic development associations, civil society movements, and country back on the right path of progress; the path of constitutionalism, free and fair elections, rule of law, introduction of internal political party democracy or good corporate governance, even distribution of national resources and opportunities for development, strong and dependable institutions of government, change and replacement of corrupt crop of leaders within political parties and government, and return to the popular democratic governance.

Unfortunately, solving disgruntlement among members in political parties or civilian population is more a dream than a reality, because of the normalised culture of corruption and violence we have today. The reality is far from real for government to avert more than it can be imagined.

So, more likely than not, decay, disintegration of political parties, government, and subsequent collapse is most real, easy to see, and most expected. This happens more than not. But it is never late to change the course towards collapse of political parties, government, or its institutions.

We can act optimistically, though, and continue to walk the change we want to see until the envisioned change takes shape and show results of political and socioeconomic justice, enriched by principles of good governance.

Ugandans only need to prepare for it by taking positions geared towards national development, where they all benefit from them, which enhances livelihoods and good governance impacts on a mass scale for every decade of the regime in power. However, while this happens, citizens need to guard against historical mistakes, and structure our society in ways that puts the nation above selfish interests, nurtures leaders ‎to truly service their country, develops a mechanism of making decisions by consensus, ensures accountability and leaders are accountable to people served, guarantees responsiveness of leaders with equity in actions to meet the wishes of country’s citizens, whose collective decisions reign supreme and protected by the constitution.

Otherwise, it is ridiculous to say that constitution was changed to promote disgruntlement because the majority of people accepted and voted that way in favour of it (disgruntlement). How can anyone vote against own future, in favour of selfishness of another person or one-person’s own good, and still call it a constitution of the people of Uganda? The constitution ceases to be one of the people of Uganda. Instead, it becomes one person’s guide to control Ugandans for personal ends. When the army follows suit by defending such a constitution, it ceases to be a people’s force. In such a country, the people never have power to influence decisions and future in their favour or for national good.

Therefore, we continuously note that disgruntlement in political parties or among leaders reflects the discontent in the civilian population, characterised by injustices, unresolved and long-term grievances, poor service delivery, poverty, and unfelt leadership. Correcting this situation too comes with resistance. Moreover, deadly. In other words, either way, it is lethal to run the country through corruption, bad leadership, or to return it back on the path of good governance. However, it is best to be remembered for just and good causes than as a rogue person, a rogue leader, Inna parasitic relationship with the people led, or as one who encourages injustices and misrule.

Ugandans need to embra‎ce and work towards good governance, involving consensus, participatory democracy, rule of law, accountable leadership, transparency, responsiveness, equity, and effective leadership. Firstly, they must source for natural leaders, who can be relied on for the new course of direction. Otherwise, no one should be disappointed or be disgruntled when our actions serve us we’ll in terms of national good in short-term, mid-term, and long-term., or in such a Uganda. That way, Ugandans shall be able to create conditions that turn leaders into servants of the people led so that together they work to survive socioeconomic hards, improved quality of life, enjoy prosperity, and ensure sustainable wellbeing and development.

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