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Ofwono Opondo

OPINION: Uganda's Cavalier Politics, All Dressed up but Going Nowhere

Kyagulanyi previously publicly confessed that in his former music career achieved more than he bargained for, and didn’t expect to become a public political figure thrust into the national limelight.
posted onDecember 5, 2022

By Ofwono Opondo

Looking over the political terrain, one can see Kizza Besigye Kifefe, Greg Mugisha Muntu, Robert Kyagulanyi, and Patrick Amuriat Oboi are all dressed up but with nowhere to go, and probably coming to the end of times although NRM shouldn’t write them off as yet.

Slowly, one by one, they are fading in demeanor, popular appeal, policy alternatives, and the buster of yesteryear although being feathers of a kind still pursuing an ambition. 

Last week, in a desperate effort, they traveled to Nairobi, taking along some accident victims with varying degrees of injuries who they presented to the world as victims of state torture.

Earlier, Kyagulanyi, aka, Bobi Wine, premiered a documentary “Bobi Wine: Ghetto President” in Venice to exaggerate alleged widespread human rights abuse in Uganda.

It’s more of a fictional movie mostly based on creative imaginations, falsified, unsubstantiated, and out-of-proportion accusations they hope to drum till 2026, than a valid and verified factual record of repute.

The posture of defiance over alleged injustice is what Besigye, Amuriat, and Kyagulanyi are reveling in. Even when they are inside the walls of privilege not available to most Ugandans, they still claim to be outsiders. 

Kyagulanyi previously publicly confessed that in his former music career achieved more than he bargained for, and didn’t expect to become a public political figure thrust into the national limelight.

He was only a singer and comedian, the closest he wished for was on stage and in a TV chat-room show.

Then through the fault of a bye-election became an MP. And because of the many mistakes, NRM made he is now a political sensation with celebrity media coverage and followed by gullible crowds to lead the clatter for change.

“When leaders become misleaders, and mentors become tormentors when freedom of expression is a target of suppression, opposition becomes our position,” Bobi Wine said in a staccato to dramatize his entry into politics.

His rise has demoted Besigye to the cheap seats, and you wonder how the mighty can fall, although Besigye continues to seek a little grander place. Kyagulanyi, in his maiden speech in parliament, said he wasn’t a politician, but is now one in half a shake.  

From their rhetoric, Besigye and Kyagulanyi are sniveling anarchists who would be happy if Uganda broke down.

With NUP squealing, Amuriat no longer appears to be the leader of a diminished Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). He is secondary, muted, and only nominally in place. As UPC and DP come to knees, Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga, is walking a delicate balance for which you have to admire him.

He has a Shakespearean style and sounds plausible, even when you like the fishermen and fisherwomen who Speaker Anita Among has lately been admonishing for not adequately attending to issues being raised on the floor. 

The absence of ministers and MPs from plenary is curious because from media reportage many are actually seen arriving, milling around, but then silently again, one by one, heading out of the chambers or invariably corridors, onto the steps outside, and hopping into their chauffeur driven cars to where only the gods know.

The problem could be the huge numbers where many probably think colleagues are in adequate attendance only to discover late that gaps are evident, but also, a weak whipping system where the Government Chief Whip isn’t in position to effectively enforce discipline upon colleagues.

Matters haven’t been helped by the fact that MPs are required mostly to vote for party caucus positions even if they don’t believe in except for dissidents, and so some could be staying away for fear of not being seen by the public as unserious, minions, inept or liars. 

You have to pity some MPs perceived as fawning that even colleagues don’t know in person or have never heard of because they got lost in the crowd of 529.

With Covid19 induced masked faces, social distancing, and scaled-down in-person attendance, many have been muted, so much so that it’s difficult to know if they’re actually present. 

As for the ministers, it’s a bulge, with each having a docket however small or inconsequential but some cannot have the joy if deployed at the instant to handle serious matters on the floor otherwise they get rolled over.

You have to appreciate their predicament especially when Prime Minister Robinah Nabanja gets frequently scolded on the floor, or publicly taken back to school as done this week by Chief Justice Alphonse Chigamoi Owiny-Dollo who rebuked her to expend energy elsewhere. You’ve got to have stamina not to be demoralized.

And of course, you have the unhelpful or indeed hostile NRM MPs who lambast ministers over myriads of issues including alleged wastefulness, ineptness, or selling rubbish to the public.

Ministers then have to deal with piles-on from opposition MPs like Ibrahim Semujju, Muwanga Kivumbi, John Baptist Nambeshe or Mpuuga experienced in trench warfare and take no prisoners. Meeting them at the dispatch box, you may wish you returned to obscurity. But anyway, we’ve made the bed; we gotta lie in it, as Americans would say.

The writer is the executive director of the Uganda Media Centre

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