As the new year rolls in, our readers draw the curtain on what have been the highlights of 2006 in The New Visionâ€™s Best and Worst polls. Far from the previous surveys, which seemed more or less like case studies in the anatomy of tradition, the Best and Worst 2006 comes with its fair share of surprises, Timothy Makokha writes...
* Man of the year
He might have had a few unexplained issues to do with bouncing cheques, but this did not stop Michael Ezra from upstaging President Yoweri Museveni from the Number One slot, a position he had kept for the last nine years.
Few people know the person of Ezra, but a whole horde of Ugandans think he is the richest man in Uganda. The self-styled sports philanthropist was voted man of the year for his generosity, especially to Ugandaâ€™s sportsmen and sportswomen.
In October, Ezra bailed out a cash-strapped Uganda Cranes, whose trip to Niger for the Africa Cup of Nation qualifiers was uncertain. According to the readers, Ezraâ€™s promotion of sports has gone a long way in putting Uganda on the world map.
Ezra as a man, is not new to the classic preppy look that always tends to suggest more prosperity. He once made a bid to buy Leeds United. His recent stunt in Dubai in which he bought the one-time only watch at an estimated $250,000 cleared any doubts â€“ if there were any â€“ about his bottomless pockets. He polled 721 votes out of the total 1356.
With 501 votes, President Yoweri Museveni comes second.
To claim the position, the readers lauded Museveni on his move to hold talk peaces with LRA rebel chief Joseph Kony and his promotion of the Bonna Bagagawale scheme.
He also scored highly on freedom of speech, able leadership, attracting foreign investors and promoting security in the country.
The voters noted that by vanquishing the FDC chief in the February presidential elections, Museveni demonstrated that his alternative development plan was still popular with the masses. The introduction of Universal Primary Education and the proposal to introduce Universal Secondary Education, next year capped what are Museveniâ€™s achievements.
Dr Kizza Besigyeâ€™s tough talk has won him third best man displacing the Kabaka, Ronald Mwenda Mutebi. Besigye who polled 44 votes was hailed for his courage, patriotism and ambition. The respondents said Besigye stood to be counted when corrupt Ugandans fled in the face of truth.
Augustus Nuwagaba, a regular on this list emerged fourth with 28 votes for his research on poverty and fighting for the rights of lecturers. The Kabaka who polled 25 votes, dropped to fifth position.
* Woman of the year
First Lady and Ruhama MP Janet Museveni garnered 376 out of the 1114 votes cast, to retain best woman of the year. This is her third year in the same position. The most prominent of her attributes, according to our readers, include being prayerful, her support for orphans and widows, spearheading the anti-HIV/AIDS campaign and organising the national AIDS Youth Camp.
Janet was hailed for her bold decision to step out of the shadow of President Museveni and join active politics. According to the respondents, Janet has successfully parceled her different roles as a First Lady, MP, a prayer warrior and a mother in her immaculate sense of dressing and impeccable behaviour.
The Nnabagereka, Sylvia Nagginda, made huge strides to second best woman of the year, up from sixth last year. With 367 votes, Nagginda was celebrated for her love for charity, spearheading the immunisation campaign and helping the orphans.
She was also voted for her resilient fight for the education of girls. According to our readers, Nagginda, as a mother who carries herself with dignity is a role model in a society starved of the virtue of love.
Peace negotiator Betty Bigombe made a comeback from fifth position last year to clinch third with 102 votes for her relentless peace crusade.
Former Mbarara Municipality MP and wife to Dr Besigye Winnie Byanyima staved off stiff competition to win the fourth position with 62 votes. She was hailed for her eloquence, standing by her husband and fighting for womenâ€™s rights.
Rebecca Kadaga, the deputy Speaker of Parliament dropped one position to fifth best woman with 25 votes. Her attributes: Iron lady who has demonstrated her might over a House that has occasionally got unruly.
* Worst woman of the year
Environment state minister and MP Jessica Eriyo polled 252 votes out of the total 661 to displace Lubaga North MP and FDC envoy Beti Kamya as the worst woman of the year. Reason: How she got her husband.
Winnie Byanyima comes second with 109 votes. Readers blamed her for undermining the President.
The late comer in Parliament Cecilia Ogwal polled 50 votes for what readers said was her arrogance.
Former Minister of Gender and Social Development Bakoko Bakoru takes the third worst woman of the year, a position previously held by Miria Matembe whose political guns have fallen silent.
Bakoruâ€™s wrongdoing: Not forestalling the scandal that rocked NSSF in 2005. The respondents said that at the time NSSF coffers were bled dry through dubious transactions; she was the principal supervisor of the Fund.
According to our readers, Bakoru demonstrated her lack of serious political thoughts by her lukewarm action to rein in the culprits. She polled 37 votes.
Contesting in the February 23 presidential elections certainly offered Miria Kalule Obote her five minutes of fame but it also got her on the wrong side of some of our readers. On this account, she eclipsed former MP of Bugabula South Salaamu Musumba to claim the fourth worst with 33 votes. She was also blamed for the woes in Uganda Peopleâ€™s Congress, which intensified after some of its party stalwarts were rigged out of nominations.
Janet Museveni seems to rouse love and anger in equal measure. Granted, she is the yearâ€™s best woman. But she is also fifth worst woman of the year. The First Lady is accused of her support for the Third Term, greed for power politics and pride.
Syda Bumba is the minister for Gender but few Ugandans know that. Long after she was transferred from the Ministry of Energy, her name is still synonymous with power cuts. She is the yearâ€™s sixth with 15 votes.
Sharing in the dubious distinction is Hadijah Nasejje, Pastor Kigandaâ€™s estranged wife. The voters accused her of adultery. Like Bumba, she polled 15 votes.
* Worst man of the year
His talk of peace has done little to change peopleâ€™s view of Joseph Kony. This is his fourth year as worst man of the year. Kony was nominated with 415 out of the 950 votes for killing innocent people in the north, delaying peace talks and refusing to come out of the bush.
As the year ends, the effects of Global Fund saga continued to reverberate as seen in the nomination of Jim Muhwezi as the second worst man of the year. Muhwezi, who was the Minister for Health when the saga hit the fund, garnered 164 votes to dislodge Besigye from the infamous list.
Councillor Godfrey Nyakaana, shoved aside the erstwhile spokesperson of the NRM Secretariat Ofwono Opondo to come third with 132 votes for disorganising Kampala Central.
For selling the Muslim land, Sheikh Mubajje has booked himself fourth position on the ominous list with 55 votes.
To compensate for his drop from the best man of the year, Museveni bettered his ranking on the worst man of the year. With 48 votes in his favour, Museveni scooped fifth position.
Museveni is blamed for going for Third Term, failing to punish corrupt ministers, contributing to the conflict in Sudan and closing Makerere University. The respondents also said that Museveni thrives on politics of divisionism and has failed to keep the economy on a steady growth path.