Last Sunday’s speech by President Museveni left me wondering what I would tell the late ASP Muhammad Kirumira’s children about the state of the nation.
With their father’s celebrity, based on his bare-knuckled attacks against dirty cops, the funeral was well attended. In 40 days the final memorial, or Duwa, will be held as required by the dictates of Islam. It will be another well attended occasion.
Thereafter, the cold facts will stare the young family in the face. Those who swore to take care of the children’s education and welfare will become hard to reach.
Their phones will go answered if not off. The visits by their father’s comrades will become fewer and far in between. That is the reality. Out of sight, out of mind.
That was the case with the late Ibrahim Abiriga. Mourners said the gap Abiriga had left would never be filled. Soon dates were announced for a by-election. The Baganda say Amagoma gavugira aliwo (the big drums sound for the one who is around).
In the President’s highly anticipated speech we expected a comprehensive address on the urgent issue of insecurity – a diagnosis followed by prescription. We expected a statement on what he has done to keep the many promises he has made concerning previous murder cases.
Instead, he went off in a tangent. He skirted around the issue of security eventually complaining about excess electricity! But how can that even make sense when we pay close to Shs1,000 per unit? Anyway, that is another story given the corruption that hikes the costs of production which end up being pushed to the consumers.
An address on issues of “national importance” turned out to be about ‘national impotence’, namely the government’s ineptness in dealing with a national crisis of confidence. It was about passing the buck instead of taking responsibility.
So, facing the late Kirumira’s children, I would simply tell them that the man they expected to be a solution has become a problem. I would tell them that the President and the majority of Ugandans now have different ideas about what is important and urgent at this time.
After listening to the escapist speech, I saw a person who arrives at an accident scene and instead of rushing the victims to hospital immediately, first pulls out a make-up kit to tidy up their hair, apply nail polish, make up and lipstick on the ladies and distribute toys to bleeding children!
The signature hydropower dams, the Northern Bypass, highways and the new Entebbe Expressway are not the issues that keep Ugandans awake.
The fear of political unrest is what worries Ugandans. In the face of political uncertainty as to whether peaceful change, which has eluded us, will happen, the infrastructure projects dwindle in significance.
If you have a thorn in your foot you first remove the thorn before wearing new shoes. If you don’t the combination of new shoes and a thorn in the foot can make you limp!
It is urgent to guarantee a Uganda beyond Museveni. The mutilated Constitution, weak institutions and a captive ruling party does not give assurance that we can break the cycle of unconstitutional changes of government. It was a political crisis not electricity shortage and poor infrastructure which drove Museveni and his comrades to the bush.
When it is raining, umbrellas are more important than fancy dress. When there’s famine, food counts more than highways and dams. When there’s violence, a healing voice is more important than a threatening voice.
So I would tell Kirumira’s children to brace themselves.
Uganda is under-served but over-governed. In service delivery and economic matters there’s anarchy because there’s too little government. In democracy and civil liberties, there’s autocracy because there’s too much government.