NRM’S SOCIAL MEDIA DWARFS (Joseph Kabuleta’s LOCKDOWN DIARY)
VS Naipaul’s ‘Miguel Street’ was the sort of book that would never have come within my radar if it hadn’t been part of my O’ Level literature bundle. So I started reading it as a textbook and went through the rigor of comprehending the seemingly disjointed characters, but somewhere along the way it ceased to be a textbook and became a novel. I fell in love not just with it but with all of VS Naipaul’s literary works.
In my Senior Four vacation I habitually spent a good part of my days at the Hoima District Library (Millennials will never know the things we enjoyed in them years before the NRM revolution started destroying all public order). Within a month I had consumed all the novels on those shelves and even re-read others, especially VS Naipaul’s ‘The Mystic Masseur’ which I could almost re-write from memory.
The curious thing about Miguel Street characters is that they all lived in a peculiar bubble in which illusion was presented — and for the most part accepted — as reality. They had a mechanic who couldn’t fix anything (actually, he killed every machine that came under his greasy hands), a poet who had never written any poem, a strongman who was habitually beaten by his wife and an introvert who always bought newspapers but whose life mantra was “never believe anything you read in the papers”.
Then there was Morgan ‘The Pyrotechnicist’, who, in theme with other characters, was not funny at all. The narrator describes him as “the sort of man who, having once created a laugh by sticking the match in his mouth and trying to light it with his cigarette . . . does it over and over again”.
Museveni has always considered rural peasants to be the demographic that sustains him in power. In his eyes social media was a platform for urbanist juveniles whose disapproval amounted to nothing, and so he treated it with contempt. The fact that the people who first sold him the idea of a social media presence, in typical Musevenist style, grossly overpriced the venture and did rubbish work didn’t help matters.
But when, in Season Four of Okwetsyamura Series, the president inquired about the vibes on Facebook and Twitter, the High Priests of social media were bulging with a novel sense of importance. Finally, they had a voice, or so they thought. They should have known that Museveni’s interest in anything is a poisoned chalice.
The Coronavirus situation has given the president a new lease of relevance. He has the entirety of the mainstream media platforms at a whim. The only place that has hitherto been free of his overbearing hand is social media. Not any longer.
Now these airwaves have been invaded by a swarm of locusts, a quaint group of duplicitous characters who have been paid quite a sum (remember the billion-shilling budget for social media?) to take over these platforms and sway opinion in favour of the man at the top and (especially) his anointed/appointed/begotten successor.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against such an approach. It’s much preferable to the cowardly act of kidnapping and torturing someone over a tweet you find distasteful. The problem with these social media cadres, however, is that they were picked straight out of the pages of Miguel Street. They are influencers without influence, dwarfs trying to stand tall.
Like Morgan the Pyrotechnicist, they think that a joke becomes funnier every time its told (to the same audience) and a slur never loses its venom. Even a bee stings once and retires and a caged parrot acquires new lines every once in a while, but these guys are so bland they could re-use a condom.
If NRM had deliberately set out to select the daftest people to deploy in their social media army, they couldn’t have come up with a finer crew. Just when you thought nothing could be worse than their rotten beans, along came their social media dullards.
I know championing anything NRM is not the easiest undertaking in the world, but with a billion quid of borrowed money to burn, couldn’t they hire a few broke intellectuals desperate enough to cage their consciences and defend the indefensible; people who can at least foment an argument worthy of a response. Instead they got a bunch of dunces to set up fake accounts, for which they don’t even have the brains to change the profile pictures. These are the sort of students who would copy everything from their neighbor’s answer sheet in an exam, including the neighbor’s name and index number. All they ever do is attack every rational anti-Museveni argument on social media with the same crammed and over-used lines. I think we should set up a captcha to be sure that we aren’t dealing with robots.
But anyway, here are some of their typical lines.
- THIS IS NOT TIME FOR POLITICS, LET’S FIGHT COVID-19
Indeed, it’s not time for politics, that’s why Ministry of Health rejected Dr Kiiza Besigye’s ambulances, because they are not politicking. By the way, this punitive lockdown is going to follow the same pattern as Museveni’s 35-year presidency. First we were promised elections after five years. Then another five to make the constitution. Then two terms… then nyongeza, then pakalast. That’s how this lockdown is going to be. Small manageable doses. By the time it ends, Ugandans will beg to cross over to Tanzania just to get a taste of normal life. It’s all about politics and money.
- HOW MUCH HAVE YOU CONTRIBUTED TO THE COVID TASKFORCE?
Millions. No, billions. Actually, trillions. All the LOAN money that the ruling class is devouring like hyenas will eventually be re-paid by we and our children (even if we haven’t tasted of it). So all 40-something million Ugandans have contributed handsomely.
- CONCENTRATE ON KISSING PROPHET MBONYE’S SHOES
Unfortunately, I only got one opportunity to do that. I have waited three long years for another. Rest assured that the next time I get that chance, I might just run away with the shoe and kiss it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All I have for now is a picture of that day which is my Twitter cover photo.
- AS A PASTOR WHY DON’T YOU PRAY FOR COVID TO DISAPPEAR?
I haven’t come in contact with anyone who has it. If I did, I would pray for that person. But as a pastor, I am praying for God to save us from the NRM tyranny. I am convinced that I am about to see an answer to that prayer. Don’t you think that this COVID stuff has made us forget how much we detest this dictatorship.
Enjoy your evening. Pray for Uganda.
OPINION: What Is Good For FDC-NUP Is Good For NRM-DP…
“My life has been consecrated to the Ugandan people who I seek to serve guided by God’s will. Despite the slings and arrows of detractors and many personal setbacks my devotion to the tasks I set myself remain unwavering! I strive regardless. The more I fail, the more I strive!”
This was a tweet I came across posted by the newly appointed Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Hon. Nobert Mao-an appeal for divine grace in a bid to serve his nation.
Almost immediately, I saw another tweet from Hon. Betty Nambooze, the Mukono Municipality MP:
“The Pumpkin was harvested, cooked and eaten and it will now face all what cooked and eaten Pumpkins face… Mao is now fully an Absolute-Zero Politician”.
“Pumpkin” is a nickname that Nambooze gave to Mao a while back during one of the heated moments in their “inhouse” rivalry for supremacy.
Nambooze’s tweet is a representation of all voices that have heaped scorn on Mao, the reigning President General of the Democratic Party (DP) for reaching a working cooperation agreement with the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, an agreement which he signed with the NRM supremo, President Yoweri Museveni, at State House, Entebbe.
If there is anything Uganda does not need at this time it is politics of hate and violence. Our country is ripe for politics based on finding common ground to work together to resolve challenges we face in the transformation of our country.
For those complaining and attacking Mao for inking the agreement, what principles are they working with? On a number of occasions, and most recently in the Soroti City East Constituency elections, we saw FDC and NUP coalescing around one candidate, Moses Attan, instead of each fielding its own contestant. They believed that this would give them an advantage over the NRM candidate. It didn’t turn out well for Attan but the principle of working together for common interest was not lost.
Obviously, if both parties had fielded candidates, they would have split votes and performed even worse. So, the idea of coming together is never a bad idea and the opposition has benefitted from it on a number of occasions much to the disadvantage of NRM whenever losers in its primaries have opted to go independent against the official party candidate.
And such unity has always been lauded as mature and progressive. But why is it that when NRM and DP agree to work together the same people have no kind words? Is it too much fear of NRM, too much hatred of Mao or just hypocrisy?
In next door Kenya, there is a culture of coalitions that is quite difficult to predict. At their most recent elections, they have always had formations pitting friends in a previous election stiffly against each other and foes from the same election standing together. For example, in the tensest elections of 2007, now Deputy President, William Ruto, was on the side of Raila Odinga while Uhuru Kenyatta, his current boss, was on the side of late Mwai Kibaki. However, by 2013, Ruto and Uhuru were on the same side against Odinga who teamed up with Moses Wetangula, Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi. The formation remained the same in 2017, even when a re-election was ordered by Court after annulment of that year’s Uhuruto win.
In a turn of events, in this year’s elections set for August 9, Uhuru is backing Odinga in the Azimio La Umoja coalition while Ruto is with Mudavadi in Kenya Kwanza Alliance. Kenya makes true the saying that there are no permanent enemies or friends in politics.
The very same Ugandans who always praise the Kenyan model as maturity politics at play are the same ones attacking Museveni and Mao-they accuse the President of “buying off” the opposition while accusing Mao of selling his soul as if he had a contract with them on how to build his leadership career.
Mao is a born leader who has always aspired at many levels and among the qualities that identify him uniquely is politics of ideas and nonviolence unlike the radical brigade of pushers who believe that they must cause regime change forcefully. While they have been at loggerheads with Mao already, cooperating with NRM is particularly annoying because deep down they know that Ugandans will more likely shift base to politics that gives them hope and which is based on unity and looking beyond elections or regime change.
Even if the regime changed but leaders on both sides of the divide cannot come together to work on things that benefit their people regardless of their different political convictions, then those leaders become misleaders.
There is a lot to cooperate on; all Ugandans, regardless of what politicians tell them, want development and involvement in Government empowerment programmes such as Parish Development Model (PDM); all Ugandans want security, they want better healthcare, food and a working formula for effective service delivery.
It should be remembered that President Museveni has always operated some kind of “coalition Government” because of his philosophy of inclusivity. Right from 1986, he had “opponents” like Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, Ssebaana Kizito, Abu Mayanja, Mayanja Nkangi, Maria Mutagamba. Even now, he has UPC’s Betty Amongi as Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development and Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo of FDC as Minister of State for ICT.
Moreover, Parliament, an arm of Government, and some local councils have membership and leadership from the opposition. What is different when Mao joins them to serve? They should let him be!
Faruk Kirunda is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary
Amend Local Gov’t Act To Squeeze The Corrupt In Districts…
Fighting corruption and finally weeding it out is the biggest war in Uganda today. Everything must be done until all the corrupt lose appetite for it.
Much of the corruption manifests in the districts and thrives with the collusion of “permanent and pensionable” Local Government staff. Technocrats, assured of job security and privileged to spend limitless tenures in districts of posting are able to form a complicated corrupt web which they use to swindle Government money.
Technocrats have proven to be detached from the ground; they sit in offices all day waiting for deals and anybody seeking services from whom they can extort bribes. Despite the best intentions of the leadership to steer Uganda to greatness, such technocrats are a burden on collective national progress. They have this impression that being non-partisan and not being politicians means being actively defiant in service against Government policy objectives.
It is much worse in regard to President Museveni; his well-articulated policies for transformation and effective service delivery mean little or nothing to technocrats assured of a stable source of income, with fixed terms no matter the state of the economy and the plight of the masses. All they stand for is how to earn more from Government coffers and this is the bedrock of corruption.
How they work is that they starve members of the public of services and information about services until the people tire and become desperate, then they squeeze them for bribes. They make Government services look like a privilege that people must pay for even if they already pay taxes to fund those services.
That is how patients come to be charged at Government hospitals, for example. Nothing makes me sick like a Government worker being so bent on being corrupt that they throw all caution and professionalism to the wind, while acting so confident like they own Uganda. Where the good ones exercise restraint in their duties to avoid making mistakes, the corrupt are so confident and diligent that they make everybody look bad.
The bad apples create “impunity rings” in which they use the decentralisation cover to set their own rules and run Government service aground. You find them doing their own things, as if they operate in a different country not managed by the Central Government. It is why when the State Minister for Economic Monitoring, Hon. Peter Ogwang, went around the country, he unearthed a regime of flagrant abuse of Government resources and systems. You wouldn’t believe that the errant were our own. You find someone doing unbelievable things on the assumption that they have so much power and cannot be questioned.
Heads of Department like District Education Officers (DEOs), Chief Finance Officers (CFOs), District Engineers, District Health Officers (DHOs), District Planners, enjoy broad powers to an extent that working together, they can frustrate operations of the units. They control budgets. They are supervised by LC 5 chairpersons who tend to have personal political interests. Then there are weak Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) who cannot make decisions and who get “commissions” from these HODs and fail to hold them accountable.
It’s RDCs saving the situation, since they are managed by the center and with very strict guidelines of service. It would be much worse if CAOs were appointed at the districts. District Service Commissions (DSCs) are not helping matters. There is reason to believe that jobs are given under wrong influence and after, the Commission has no role in following up their recruits to ascertain how they fare in service.
It’s my preferred opinion that the Central Government recalls powers to appoint, transfer and fire district Local Government staff. Those are HODS. Districts should only recruit Sub-County staff, and lower. These powers can always be granted back when the public regains trust in the Local Governments.
The other safeguard is to put workers on contracts, which are only renewed, let us say, every three years, subject to performance.
Here, “performance audit”, which is President Museveni’s preferred method for checking every Government worker’s efficiency and contribution to service delivery, would apply. In today’s standing, “permanent and pensionable” workers benefit from absence of standardised performance reviews; they are not given work targets or expected deliverables by which they can be examined. The less work they do as they await their regular pay cheque until they clock retirement age, the better for them.
Uganda Government is the most generous Government in the world, I must say. There are people earning for doing less work, because of absence of an apparent system of rewarding mediocrity, thus making a few committed patriots in service do the donkey work. People are qualified, some very highly, but they lack the spirit of Ubuntu and patriotism but hold positions in civil service where they are remunerated for just sitting and swinging in their chairs.
All the responsibility for implementing policy ideas is pushed back to the center which is heavy with management of national affairs. This kills the essence of decentralisation, devolution of powers and “popular” creation of lower administrative units which were meant to ease decision-making and facilitate faster implementation of policy and service delivery.
Faruk Kirunda is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary
OPINION: Is There A Big Motive To Fail EAC Integration? Why DRC Is Becoming A Theatre Of Foreign Interference…
Who is responsible for the flare up of violence at the Congo border(s) with Uganda and Rwanda? How come that the Congolese are angry with Uganda and Rwanda at a time the two countries are engaged in battling armed groups operating in the vast country that recently joined the East African Community (EAC)?
As Africans, we are to blame for much of the instability going on our continent due to artificial divisions and unprincipled nature of our people and weakness of some leaders. However, if one looks closely, he or she can see the hand of foreign elements in action.
How come that the flare up of violence arises just as the EAC solidifies, thereby opening up the region for mutual trade and socialisation while strengthening strategic security? The answer is that there is no coincidence in this; the same forces that have always fought African unity and progress are at play to fail the regional integration dream.
Last year, Uganda deployed its army, Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) in the DRC provinces of North Kivu and Ituri to flash out the ADF rebels who had been making daring incursions in Uganda, shooting big personalities in their cars and planting bombs that killed scores in Kampala. ADF has been more of a menace in DRC where they would carry out systematic butcherings of the population in the East part of the country. They had a plan to spread their reign of terror regionally, and then team up with other groups to make the region uninhabitable and ungovernable. UPDF’s intervention was a total necessity that has saved our people from bloodshed.
Codenamed “Operation Shujaa”, the operation is still on and has so far made the killer groups sneeze; they have scattered and lost appetite for their crimes, as President Yoweri Museveni, the man behind the move to totally pacify the Great Lakes region and make Africa a powerhouse that can defend itself at all times, would say.
Teaming up with the Congolese army (FARDC) ensured better coordination and pooling of logistics to give the rebels a bloody nose. It also gave the operation legitimacy since the Congo Government had given it a green light. The Congolese people were relieved and welcomed the operation, treating the Uganda soldiers as heroes and according them due support.
The deployment had been long in coming and was done out of the greatest necessity given how much trouble had been brewing in that part of the region. The deployment was done transparently.
President Museveni, in his capacity as Commander-In-Chief (C-I-C) of the UPDF authorised the operations within his Constitutional powers, obligations and responsibilities as per the Oath he took while assuming office in swearing to protect Ugandans and their property.
Since assuming power in 1986, President Museveni has emphasised security of person and property as the bedrock of democracy and transformation. He has made security his key constituency in the defence of which he has battled numerous threats and neutralised them, locally and internationally.
ADF has been among the few latent groups attempting a resurge and he was not about to stand by and look. The Congolese were crying, Ugandans were hurting and there was no one to help. It was time to send it where all other groups that attempted to destabilise Uganda ended up and make them pay for their crimes. And paying they have been!
Then, suddenly, we hear that the Congolese population is up in arms against Uganda and Rwanda, blaming them for the resurgence of activities by a different rebel group, M23, which is fighting the Congolese Government. I am not well-versed with the formations and motives of some of these groups but what I know is that ADF was started to fight President Museveni’s Government. When defeated, they fled and set up their bases in DRC and began to work as guns for hire and promoters of fundamentalist ideology in the region. They also went into plundering natural resources and the farms of the Congolese, on top of killing them.
The war against ADF must not be fought in halves; it should be fought until ADF is totally no more, then, if need be, the firepower is directed to other enemies operating in the same theatre of action. I have reason to believe that there is such a plan in the pipeline and that is what is causing hostile elements backing and benefitting from the activities of the terror groups to panic and seek to redeem their schemes by stirring mass discontent among the Congolese so that Pan-Africanist forces like UPDF are turned away from completing the task at hand.
It also has to do with the rekindling of relations between Uganda and Rwanda of recent. With the historical bonds restored between the two countries, prospects of regional stability and Integration are brighter and Africa’s enemies hate to see this. They are now behind-the-scenes engineering schemes to turn the DRC against Uganda and Rwanda so that they remain in charge of the vast resource-rich Eastern DRC territory.
But the bigger motive is to fail EAC Integration. Africans, let us avoid being manipulated to fight each other so that we miss the bigger picture of where we could be if we agreed to integrate!
Faruk Kirunda is the Deputy Presidential Press Secretary
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