GEORGE MUHIMBISE: Understanding how opposition leaders end up dining with NRM!

George Muhimbise

George Muhimbise is a member of the Alliance for National Transformation

This week a major blow hit the Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago when Gen Saleh circulated chits threatening to withdraw his political support from him hence creating tension within opposition ranks. Whether Gen Saleh’s allegations are true or false is a matter of time.

Over time, we have seen opposition leaders joining a government they once criticized which frustrates their supporters. Among the list are Hon Beti Kamya, Ministers Beti Anywar, Beti Among, Nobert Mao, Kafuzi Jackson & Joyce Sebugwawo among others.

According to psychologists, there is no body who does any action without a driving factor. From thieves to business people, religious to politicians, civil servants to beggars, prostitutes to criminals etc, everybody has an internal drive that motivates him to act in a particular way.

Whereas most politicians front public good as a motivating factor, there are as well personal interests that push people into politics. One of the major theories of Motivation is Maslow’s theory of the heirachy of needs. This theory explains people’s behavior & thus motivation to do certain things.

According to this theory ; human needs have five stages & they influence behavior accordingly. The five stages are categorized in a pyramid way & they are achieved in a given order that when one level of needs is achieved, one is motivated to achieve a higher level of needs. This explains why people seek promotions & salary increament on jobs. The more a need is achieved, the less motivating it becomes but the more desire to achieve a higher level need.

According to Moslow, the lowest level of needs that motivates man are phisiological needs, these include; food, shelter, clothing, sex & health care. People are motivated to achieve these needs & that’s why people wake up to work every day.

The second level of needs are safety needs. Once a person achieves the first level of needs, he is motivated by a need for safety. One who has no food can’t be bothered of being eaten by mosquitoes or sleeping in a risky place, it’s until he achieves the first layer of biological needs that he shifts his focus to safety & security.

The third layer is belonging needs. This is having friends, attending functions, joining associations etc. One who has no security can not think of being in a social group.

The fourth layer is self esteem needs; here a person needs to be respected, recognized, appreciated etc! That’s why people publicly announce the money they donate to churches.

The last layer is self actualization needs, here a person is motivated by being on top, emerging successful in a career & feeling that he has done it all. Hon Muyingo who started as a teacher, to a head teacher, a director of a school & now a Minister of Education or Rt Hon Robinah Nabbanja who started as teacher, district councilor, RDC, Minister & now Prime Minister are examples of people who have reached self actualization! People some times act because they want to achieve that!

Iam using this theory to explain why opposition leaders end up joining the government they once criticized.

Some leaders like Dr Besigye, Hon Bobi Wine, Gen Muntu, etc joined opposition when they have attained all the levels of needs, except self actualization. They have basic needs, security, social capital, they are respected (self esteem) but they feel they should make a contribution to the country. They get satisfaction in serving at the top! These ones can sustain the struggle for very long.

The other category are people who join opposition when they have businesses that can make them achieve their needs. Once they are skilled they can stay afloat & sustain the struggle longer.

The third category are those who after joining opposition get opportunities to become MPs, Mayor’s, LCV chairs, etc or get jobs in legal firms, civil society organisations etc. These ones can sustain the struggle for very long.

A last category, are those who join the struggle when they have finished school, dropped out of school, denied jobs etc. They join the struggle with a hope & motivation that they will get opportunities when change comes.

Unfortunately in situations like Uganda where the regime has overstayed, some people take too long in the struggle & the hope of getting change vanishes, yet their needs are not yet met. One who joined the struggle as a fresh graduate gets children, needs fees, food, housing, socialisation, etc. The needs keep changing as he grows. Take note of the risks one faces being in opposition!

When the regime approaches these people with job offers, they get motivated to join government to meet their needs. Most times it’s not lack of patriotism, but personal pressures.

From Maslow’s theory, you must have seen that Hon Anywar started changing her tone when Gen Museveni sent a chopper to airlift her from Kitgum for hospitalisation after getting an accident (health needs). You must have heard a rumor that Hon Nobert Mao was treated in Kenya on state resources (health needs). You must have heard that former Minister Kibanzanga was highly indebted before he joined NRM & offered a ministry!.

I had chat with Hon Sebugwawo after being appointed a of Minister & she was honest with me. She told me “my son I have been in this struggle for 20 years, I have invested a lot of money, the struggle is not coming through, now the people of Rubaga have dumped me, I wasn’t prepared for retirement, and I received a call from the President offering me an opportunity to serve, what would I have done?”

So what’s the way forward to; Opposition parties should mentor young leaders, and once a generation gets tired, it can leave the struggle to the other generations. Some people maybe career opposition activists, but not everybody will have the vigor to sustain a struggle for more than a decade!. Personal needs will always influence people’s decisions, few people can genuinely sacrifice their personal survival needs for the common good.

Muhimbise George, 0787836515/ muhimbiseg@gmail.com the author is a political analyst.

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