By Kalungi Kabuye
Jamaican artist Shaggy’s 2000 runaway hit has been a favourite for many people caught in very uncompromising situations with no defence whatsoever.
In the song, Shaggy’s friend was caught by his girlfriend having sex with another girl, even filmed them on camera. What should he do? “Say ‘it wasn’t me’” advised Shaggy.
Really silly answer, right? But very many people, in the face of irrevocable evidence have since denied doing what they are accused of doing. R&B singer R Kelly’s defence against charges of child pornography was basically what has become known as the ‘Shaggy defence’ by lawyers.
That guy in the video who is seen doing all kind of nasty things to an underage girl? “It wasn’t me” insisted R Kelly. And since the trial took years to get underway, and by that time the underage girl had grown up into a real street girl, and refused to testify against him; the court decided it was impossible to determine if the man in the video was really R Kelly, and acquitted him of all charges
I have no idea if Engineer Abraham Byandala, Uganda’s Minister for Works, has ever heard of R Kelly, or that song by Shaggy.
But he is the latest in a long line of Ugandan politicians to use the Shaggy Defence, even if they did not know what it is called.
During an inquiry into some dubious dealing in road construction, Byandala’s name came up.
Apparently he had written a letter authorising and directing the immediate signing of a contract worth sh165bn with a company that turned out to be non-existent. But the company did get an advance payment of sh24.7bn, which was subsequently withdrawn from the bank.
Byandala, just like Shaggy advised, immediately said it was not him. He denied having anything to do with either the fake company, or the money it got. The media then went ahead and published details of a letter he had written, with his signature, directing the said contract to be signed even when he was warned the company might be fake.
Just like R Kelly, he stridently denied it was him; and then went one further and said it was a mafia that did it. He also mentioned a few names of who might belong to that mafia that is out to get him.
There seems to be a mafia behind every mishap that befalls a politician in Uganda. In the olden days when journalists only had notebooks to record what politicians were saying it was common, after the tory had run and raised quote a bit of dust, for the politicians to call another conference and angrily deny they had said what they had said.
But these days with all the advanced technology we have, one would think it would be difficult for politicians to deny anything they said. But, even with a clip that everyone saw on the evening news, and now is available on YouTube, politicians still stand and effectively say, “it wasn’t me.”
And somehow they get away with it. Hell, R Kelly got off, didn’t he? Only he didn’t blame any mafia out to spoil his very clean record. You just leave that to Uganda’s politicians.
Here’s a suggestion: with the 2016 elections not every far away, politicians should all have a recording of Shaggy’s It wasn’t me and make it their theme song. So when they go campaigning and some fellow accuses them of just sleeping in parliament or playing solitaire on their iPads, they would just sing along ‘it wasn’t me”.
The very smart ones could even make it their ring tone, so that pesky guy from the village calling about school fees for his 20 children would get the message instantly. They could even do a re-mix and add the refrain “it wasn’t me, but the mafia that did it.”
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