Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Be Afraid; the Movement is on its way down!!

Ladies and gentlemen, first let me make it clear. I have never been an advocate for chaos. I don’t entirely agree with the Cavarian principle that revolutions only succeed after being watered by the blood of their patriots. I do not believe in anarchy.
But behold, for this is what Uganda may be headed to. The squabbles going on among the government top brass can not be treated lightly. We have a potential explosive situation in our midst and if not resolved well (and I fear it won’t), tough times await us.
So, what is this fear gnawing at me? Look, the entire ruling NRM party is now fractured. And it is not a mere ideological contest or civilized disagreement. It is a native clash and in African terms, such clashes usually turn bloody.
The party secretary general is accused of breaking procurement rules as he sells his land to a national workers savings fund. Before we know it, his political foes (ironically from his party) have launched a full-scale war against him. “Bring him down!” they shout their voices hoarse.
The ridiculous thing here is that even those baying for his blood have their own dirty pasts. Some are in courts facing charges of aggravated lootocracy. Talk of the pot calling the kettle black.
But that is not the tragedy of the farce playing out before us. The potential bomb lies in how petty, personal and dangerous the differences have become. Now, one of those who was pushing for Amama Mbabazi’s censure is now implicated in a botched bank ‘robbery’. Maj. Gen. Muhwezi says he’s targeted because he wants Mr Mbabazi down.
If surely these politicians, who apparently belong to the same party, are setting up each other and doing whatever it takes to decimate each other, then we can expect the worst! LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE WORST.
A friend, who is well-connected intimated to me that a senior spy chief is gonna be arrested too. This will follow the arrest of the former health minister. Thereafter, what should we expect?
All these guys have connections with the military and intelligence. They will not go down alone. Unlike in the past where the government officials fought opposition party members, this is a unique war. It is an internal war. And trust me, the causalities will be many.
It is obvious now that the only thread holding the NRM together is the President. God forbid should he die now—trust me we shall see the end of the NRM. But even if he lives on forever, the cracks in the NRM are so glaring that it will need more than the usual amount of cement to fix. Question is; do we have the materials?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mbeki's exit; South Africa sets the pace

I know a lot has been said about the Mbeki demise and I will not get into the nitty-gritty of his fall and the impact on South Africa and the wider region. I just want to focus on the divide this event has exposed about Africa.
In fact, the exit of Mbeki makes me admire South Africa and weep for the rest of Africa, especially my own Uganda.
Mbeki has been pushed out of office after a judge concluded that the corruption charges that were being placed on Jacob Zuma were actually politically-engineered. Remember it is this same Zuma, who had earlier survived rape charges, in a ruling that courts again concluded were fabricated.
So, with the latest ruling on graft, the ANC executive found it prudent that Mbeki steps down, considering that he is implicated for trying to witch-hunt a man many already see as his successor.
Similar events have happened in Uganda—but with different resolutions. When Dr Kizza Besigye returned from self-imposed exile in November 2005, a few months to the presidential election in 2006, he was arrested and charged with rape. Alongside, charges of terrorism were slapped on him.
Of course, like in Mbeki’s case, President Museveni was trying to bar his once liberation colleague from assuming the presidency.
In the rape trial against Besigye, the judge ruled that the State had made “an amateurish attempt” in trying to frame Besigye and dismissed the charges with costs.
But that is where the difference between South Africa and Uganda comes into play. In South Africa, the ruling ANC party quickly moved in to order a Mbeki exit since through normal lenses, he had done wrong. He had to take responsibility and resign.
In Uganda, no one even thought about asking the president to take responsibility since the ruling absolving Besigye was in effect a condemnation of the government, and consequently the president.
But that should surprise nobody. In a country where taking political responsibility is unheard of, it would be asking too much to expect a president to resign for framing a political opponent.
That is where South Africans, despite the cloud of uncertainty caused by Mbeki’s exit, should pat themselves on the back. They are ahead of the rest of us.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Politicians manipulating tribe

Just before the genocide broke out in Rwanda in 1994, a silent campaign had been carried out to pollute the minds of a certain tribe against the other. Through covert propaganda and at times outright broadcasts on radios like Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), the Hutu, especially youth, were made to believe that Tutsis were the biggest threat to their “prosperity” (read political power). Therefore, to ensure this continued “success and dominance”, it was important to send all these “cockroaches” to their creator. That is how up to 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus came to be slaughtered in this genocide.
The real contest here, however, was about political dominance. The Hutu Habyarimana regime having realized that it was becoming increasingly unpopular and the RPF rebels led by Fred Rwigyema were gaining ground, decided to whip up tribal sentiments, with disastrous results of course.
Many of those youth who were armed with machetes to hack people, probably did not even know what governance meant. The neighbours, who rose up against neighbours just because they belonged to the “wrong” tribe, probably were not even living on more than a dollar a day. They were condemned to the same fate but somehow, someone had convinced them that the “other” was the problem.
But that is how our politicians whip up tribal sentiments to pursue selfish interests.
The same scenario replayed itself in Kenya after the disputed 2007 December presidential polls. With cries of cheating from both sides (PNU and ODM), Kenya became paralysed and divided on tribal grounds. Central Kenya, for example became a no-go area for Luos, while the greater part of Rift Valley province was turned into a blood field for the Kikuyu. They were massacred without mercy.
And again, it was the politicians behind the machinations.
Wondering why I am going about this topic? I was really infuriated this week when I heard Uganda Security Minister Amama Mbabazi claim the investigation into his questionable land sale to the National Social Security Fund is driven by tribal hate.
Through a minion, MP Barnabas Tinkasiimire, the minister claims people asking simple questions like why procurement rules were broached, are actually aiming at bringing down Bakiga politicians---what BULL SHIT!!
Like the Tutsi and Kenyan politicians, Mbabazi and co. are jumping to the oldest tricks in the trade. Whip up tribal sentiments, make the whole tribe feel persecuted and divert attention from the core issues.
Unfortunately (or is it fortunately?), such tricks have worked. In 1999, President Museveni accused his now political rival Kizza Besigye of using the wrong forum, when he pointed out weaknesses in the NRM. He ordered a court martial for him, considering that Besigye was a soldier. But a tribal delegation from his native Rukungiri made an exodus to Kampala and the court martial was called off.
The same happened when former health minister, then primary education minister Jim Muhwezi was accused of abuse of office. A group of elders from Rukungiri came to Kampala to make a case for their son. Much as Parliament censured him, he still bounced back to Parliament and later Cabinet.
I will therefore not be surprised if a group of elders from Kanungu trek to Kampala to save their son. Irrespective of what the parliamentary probe might discover and recommend, the elders will prevail upon the President and their son shall remain in public office.
That is why I shed off tribe long ago. I am an African. Period.

Monday, September 08, 2008

NSSF; workers should not swallow the bait

After about a fortnight of media blitz on the famous or is it infamous NSSF scandal, I have decided to add my voice. It may not be to alter policy or create a head to roll at the mighty NSSF House, but well, let it not be said that I kept silent when everyone tried to salvage the pennies left in the coffers after the ‘revolutionaries’ had had their share.
Look, a public institution buys land in the excess of 400 acres, does not advertise in the media that it is in search of this land, buys it from a senior minister, who also does not advertise anywhere that he has that land; and his backers want us to believe that this is a deal cleaner than Desdemona’s purity.
Never mind also that this institution being public should subscribe to basic rules of procurement, which it did not. I have heard NSSF apologists like Andrew Mwenda and Simon Kasyate argue that the project of building cheap housing facilities for workers is noble and other than kill the entire project, let’s sort out the players but let the project proceed.
I find this fallacious but I will come to it later. Now, let’s begin with Minister Mbabazi. Obviously he has a right to sell his land at the highest price possible as an individual, but surely, when the buyer is a public institution and the price under contest, we surely can’t just look the other side and quote forces of demand and supply at play. We are right in thinking the deal could have been cut backdoor.
And as for NSSF, I sympathise with the guys there. Look at the MD, he might have all the Accounting diplomas and degrees one can have but poor Chandi is just 36 years. This is a boy. He might have been a senior partner at Price Waterhouse but for crying out loud, he is a boy—yet to cut his teeth.
Ok, picture Chandi sitting in his chair in his office, then guess who walks in? Minister Amama Mbabazi. Chandi springs from his chair, offers his hand, which Mbabazi shakes patronizingly. The minister then breaks the ice—tells the young man about the Temangalo land and how NSSF can carry out a profitable venture there.
All the young man has to do is call a board meeting and market the deal. Of course the above scenario is a creation of mind, but look, you can’t downplay the influence of politics here.
In 2001, Tezira Jamwa, mother to Chandi Jamwa lost her Tororo Parliamentary Seat which she had occupied since the CA days. The victor against her was Dorothy Hyuha, currently Minister without Portfolio. With her political future dwindling, the NRM resuscitated it by making her RDC. Look, why won’t a son of this lady, whose basic political survival has depended on the system, feel compelled to reward the godfathers?
Ok, back to those who think the bathwater should not be spilled with the baby. People like Mwenda think that the project, albeit dogged by procedural problems, should go ahead, considering how badly workers need houses. It is for this reason that he has used unflattering terms to describe the IGG, who has come out to block the venture.
In the late 1990s, the National Housing and Construction Company constructed low-cost houses in Mpumudde Estates in Jinja. But besides it, was another cheaper estate of middle-class citizens. These citizens saw in this new estate the opportunity to upgrade their status. They formed an association and began lobbying the Corporation over rates of purchase.
As the negotiations hit high gear, a certain senior lady politician from Busoga stormed the scene. She went on and offered a higher price for the estates, locking out the mass of workers. She then went on to even ask for much higher rates than what the Housing Corporation was asking for.
That is the kind of lie NSSF apologists want us to swallow. A housing estate will be built and do not get surprised to see Mbabazi buying it off, only to become an even tenacious landlord.
Workers, let’s not land for the bait. If NSSF feels like building us houses from our deposits, let us enter an agreement with them. Let us negotiate before the project is undertaken using the strength of our deposits. Let us own the houses before they are built. Short of that, the circles will continue. The wolves shall continue devouring us, and like Boxer in Animal Farm, we shall work harder!!!

Remember, in opposing this daylight robbery, we stand to lose nothing but our chains!!