This should have been the last One Man's Week column during the current Museveni presidency; the next one would have been the first in his next and last leadership as President of the country he has done so much to mould.
One Man's Week By John Nagenda
Whatever you might call Museveni, you would not call him mukopi but Besigye is. Funnily enough, his Winnie is not
This should have been the last One Man's Week column during the current Museveni presidency; the next one would have been the first in his next and last leadership as President of the country he has done so much to mould. Polling day being put back to March 12, is only a pleasure deferred. After that all the hullabaloo of the last few weeks of the presidential campaign will have been stilled. The business of Museveni and the Movement running our country will be proceeding naturally; courtesy of the people of Uganda. Lest there remain those who harbour satanic plans to disrupt the peaceful process, let them recall the statement, last time round, of Al Haji Moses Kigongo, then as now, the Chairman of Museveni's Task Force. He warned those who were threatening to kill the winners to say long farewells before leaving home because they would not be returning there. Is it true they are yet again stocking up with murderous weapons? They should ponder Kigongo's advice. They should also recall that President Museveni has recently warned those misguided elements trying to disturb the peace earned at such high price by Uganda and Ugandans. Incidentally my scouts tell me of the resumption of the Chicken Run. This is when some people, usually foreigners, take to their heels (wheels?) at election time, in fear of any associated harm coming to them. This is unsavoury behaviour, for surely if Uganda is good enough to profit them, it is good enough for them to stay around when democratic processes are being exercised. I complained in the same vein in 1996; it did not stop the flood! But now, as then, they will creep back in shame, because nothing untoward will have happened in their cowardly absence. What is especially gratifying is that, as it turns out, many have already fled; will their pockets stretch to the extra five days! Good riddance, however temporary.
* * *
The percentage at which Museveni will be returned to his deserved seat has occasioned some mirth amongst the cognoscenti. Figures of under 60% for his winning percentage are ridiculously off-beam. Interestingly enough the Besigye-commissioned polls gave Museveni 57%, equal to the latest Vision figure. To the surprise of nobody Besigye's camp decided to suppress the information, but were unable to influence Vision, which went ahead and published it. By all accounts, the most annoyed person was none other than the paper's own Corporation Secretary, Conrad Nkutu, whose company, K2, had carried out the poll. He moved heaven and earth to stop Vision, to no avail. Some of the words he employed were said to be chilling. Does his Board know? It does seem odd that one so close to the bosom of the government publications could behave in such fashion. What makes these percentage figures so silly is that they have failed to go deep into the rural areas; at least Vision's Pike accepted this. But his reason that this was because Vision could not afford to send them there was not worthy. It was left to the Movement Secretariat to correct the omission, and sure enough they came up with a more realistic 70.6% for Museveni, 24.2% for Besigye, 2.7% for Awori (chopper or not), 1.9% for Mayanja, 0.5% for Chapaa, and a particularly derisory 0.1% for Bwengye. Funnily enough, the figure I have been giving international reporters for Besigye is 24%. We have done our homework! But in my nicer moments I feel glad, especially for Bwengye and Awori, that their children are grown up. It would be very dispiriting to explain to young teenagers why their daddies were so universally un-fancied.
* * *
Next week, Insha Allah, I would like to give my deeply personal reasons why Museveni is the only candidate worth serious consideration. But it is not unimportant to cast a quick glance now at those ranged against him, however short are the shadows they cast. Luganda has a word which is notoriously difficult to translate: Mukopi. It can refer to a peasant. But the highest chief can also be a mukopi. In that sense, it means uncouth, badly spoken, mean of heart; and much more in that line. Whatever you might call Museveni you would not call him mukopi. But Besigye is.
(Funnily enough, his Winnie is not.) You can, for example, see it clearly in the way he addresses his ex Commander-in-Chief. Whether he disagrees with him or not is not the point. It is the words and expressions employed that mark him out. Something has so corroded his soul that he cannot bother to behave like an officer (or even an ex officer) and gentleman. Does he think this in any way adds to his stature? If so, he mistakes Ugandans. In the end even those who might go along with some of his messages will be repelled by his attitude. They will also think, If he behaves like this now, what would he be like as Number One? Were you to find spiritual water and immerse him in it for a fortnight, you would not rid him of his bukopi. With Awori, the problem is different. After weeks of research, I have still to meet a single person who believes anything he says. Very few will vote for somebody they don't trust. And yet to many, myself included, he is capable of being fun company. I have run out of space for the others; just as well perhaps.
Revisit Kigongo's Warning Of 1996