By Pamela Ankunda
AFTER the dramatic arrest of Kampala Central MP-Mohammed Nsereko and his eventual release, he took to the streets and airwaves and at one time, walked to the Central Police Station with his supporters to apparently make his innocence loud. The Police had suggested that Nsereko’s arrest was related to money laundering.
NRM supporters quickly opined that he should never have been arrested because it only increases his popularity. I have opined that we should never fear to apply the law because of an individual’s status.
Put it different, the law is not a preserve of the wretched of the earth. And so, I am not worried that the law is being applied-rather that we are debating who should face it – selectively.
My worry today comes from a talk show in which Nsereko and the host, Bassajamivule, were cheering each other on; as they discussed Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile’s tribe.
He, the sometimes seemingly tough Governor Bank of Uganda, was being ridiculed for his tribe, since he is the governor ‘responsible for money and inflation’ they sarcastically insinuated. Had he listened in, I’m sure he would have a good laugh. Maybe I could share a little story.
One day years ago, Mutebile’s niece asked me to walk with her to his office, where she could scheme for a job. We were ushered into an office piled with endless reports.
He asked us without looking at us, of what help we were or sought. Poor girl, she had just “... graduated with a degree in Psycho...!” a word she never completed because Mutebile shouted back ‘psycho-what’! As if to drive the point home, he asked the poor girl to go back to school and study. She is married away somewhere, and works at her day-care nursery. Mutebile had made his point. He had thrown out his ‘own’.
Many years later, last week, on a 10:00-a.m. Kaboozi radio programme, Kalasamayanzi, as I listened to Nsereko, I realised that it’s the leaders not the led that have betrayed this country that the long walk to reconstruct Uganda must start now. And we will need Nsereko and his ilk to be part of the reconstruction process.
It would take a whole lot of soul-searching and sometimes, even an MP needs that.
Let’s look back for a minute, to the start of the year, when inflation was pretty high and goods were unaffordable globally. Back here, Mutebile promised that the system was in place to bring inflation down. The leaders continuously sounded doom, that the situation would get worse – and probably only Mutebile believed.
Today, lending rates have been brought down, and so has inflation that was raging in unusual double digits. But, the Government is still troubled and burdened by the thousands of youths churned out of universities only to face high unemployment rates.
We are dealing with the fact that the number of youths accessing university education has increased because universities have increased from one at Independence, to over 35 today! Soon, new universities – one in Arua and the other in Soroti – will be built, the Government has already set aside funds for that.
In a situation where leaders are supposed to scratch their heads for solutions to unemployment, here is NRM’s Nsereko proposal. All youths across the country gather for a seven-day’s dissent – a dissent that can only surely boost his ego. The only reward for the youth will be shattered energies.
This message is attractive to the young jobless people because it gives them a day’s meaning – less activity. But will it translate to jobs and incomes? What happens when they go back home and meet sanity, logic and reason at the door? Who becomes the victor? At what cost? The question from a young concerned soul is – what message are we giving the young people?
Would a people’s government ‘deliberately’ fail its people? The Government could have backtracked on certain serious issues, like the youth fund which needs urgent re-thinking, but surely leaders must know that opportunities don’t come by taking down to the streets – Hon. Nsereko knows that. He knows that not a single job has been created by taking to the streets. Why again?
If we want to talk about the greatness of the Uganda, we know that it is not built by pulling it apart, or breaking the mends that build it, it can only be spurred into greatness collectively and realistically.
What we need from Nsereko and others is the promise of uncompromised leadership, a spirit that they will work with others to make Uganda better. It is the simplicity of nation-building that transcends way above the popularity of time.
Uganda is a third world country where answers and solutions are being tested so that the right formula is applied – that when we say youth venture capital, it is not just politicking; and that when we say street vendors should leave, we are giving Kampala city a chance to become a city it is destined to be.
We are a third world country competing with the rest of the world for markets, innovation, resource development, etc... The only way to break this chain of progress is to demean ourselves to tribal entities through the political curse and populist tendencies.
What we are saying is that NRM’s Nsereko and our leaders must make the deliberate attempt to help our people transform the slave mentality that blinds us from the new world realities – of work, investment, production, savings, and sacrifice.
We must rise against the tides that are pushing in our direction, and we must pray that sanity, logic and reason prevail in these looming dark clouds.
I have learned that the language of tribe is outdated, archaic, antiquated and those who hide behind it deserve no sympathy from us. The words being misused, the sense with which our people receive them may transcend into what we didn’t want them to mean.
Over to you Hon. Nsereko.
The writer was formerly with Uganda Media Centre