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Monday,October 26,2020 05:26 AM

Awake for the Referendum!

By Vision Reporter

Added 23rd July 2005 03:00 AM

Only another five days to the Referendum. Many people you talk to find it hard not to start snoring before your eyes on this subject.

Only another five days to the Referendum. Many people you talk to find it hard not to start snoring before your eyes on this subject.

BY John Nagenda
--UGANDA’S No1 COLUMNIST.. INFORMED, CONTROVERSIAL AND PROVACTIVE
Only another five days to the Referendum. Many people you talk to find it hard not to start snoring before your eyes on this subject.

Many, many years ago when I was still a churchgoer in my childhood and often sat next to my parents, a particularly boring sermon (let us face it, most were) would start to topple me towards the Land of Nod! I would try everything not to succumb, including pinching myself ferociously, but sometimes I failed. Fancy waking yourself with your own snore! Only another five days to the Referendum. Many people you talk to find it hard not to start snoring before your eyes on this subject.

Many, many years ago when I was still a churchgoer in my childhood and often sat next to my parents, a particularly boring sermon (let us face it, most were) would start to topple me towards the Land of Nod! I would try everything not to succumb, including pinching myself ferociously, but sometimes I failed. Fancy waking yourself with your own snore!

It is the same type of extreme lethargy and boredom which face you as you try to inject a little excitement into this important Constitutional requirement. For in Article 74, one of the provisions is that in every fourth year of any Parliament, the citizens of Uganda may hold a referendum for the purpose of changing the political system. However it is a fact that referenda have never caught on in Uganda; the last one achieving a mere 52%, whereas presidential elections leap into the 80 percents.

In addition, we did not hit the ground running in this particular one. But you would at least expect the multi-partyists to be in a state of fever about it, the more so since Government is strongly advising a Yes vote, meaning, Let the parties return. You couldn’t be more wrong. “What you needed an axe for [to fell a tree] the wind has accomplished”, to translate from the Luganda. Why are the parties now spurning the tree (pun intended)? I understand when you don’t use your legs for a long time, when with much difficulty you get up you merely fall over. Is this the lameness that afflicts those whose political legs have not been used in donkeys’ years, although their mouths have always stayed vociferously open?

Are they secretly quaking with fright that with this referendum they might now have to run their own political destinies? That would not be surprising, because for most of them the cupboard is barer than a bald man’s pate. Theirs is a mighty frustration, for if they vote Yes, the overwhelming majority achieved will be credited to Government leadership. To what can this be equated? What about a small child, very hungry but at the same time in a fury with its mother, so that when lovely food is set before it, the child grabs the plate and smashes it to the floor? Or, as the saying goes: cutting off your nose to spite your face. Poor old multi-partyists! They seem hardly capable of putting one foot after another, except in the mouth department (feet in mouth). At the same time, truth being superior to un-truth, the Movement itself has not come through unscathed in this matter.

There is considerable confusion, especially within its rural troops, its mainstay, about which way to turn in this referendum; brought about by the weird combination of the President and his cabinet asking for a Yes vote, and the rebellious Major Kakooza Mutale saying the opposite, loudly. How rum! Is it too late to undo the damage already done?

One thing is for sure. Nothing less than a public statement from the Major, ordered by the President, will do, saying that he (Kakooza) has now seen the light and the vote must be Yes. This news should be saturated over the radio. Even those who admire Kakooza Mutale, and they are many, will fail to be amused if he does not express a full renunciation.

Meanwhile the Movement suffered a further setback, this time at the hands of the Vision group. A million leaflets were ordered, 200,000 copies each in five languages, to get the main, unadulterated, message across. Too late we discovered that the delivery time given by the printers was wildly overoptimistic; the majority of leaflets would not get distributed until after the Referendum! The order was cancelled, saving us around sh40m. Was this an Act of God, since the Yes vote will win the day anyway?
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Yesterday Prime Minister Apolo Nsibambi representing President Yoweri Museveni, commissioned the new Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) headquarters, next to the Uganda Museum in Kamwokya. On our other side is the new British High Commission: they know a good location when they see one! You would need to have a heart of reinforced concrete not to rejoice with us, speaking under my hat of UWA Chairman of Board of Trustees.

The building has cost around sh4b, and, if I may blow our own trumpet, is one of very few such built in the last decade. As I said in my speech yesterday, the Board, through systems it put in place, did not knowingly lose a shilling of the money, although when we first came to the project it had extremely porous points which we immediately closed. Our job of standing between humans and wildlife (and the other way about) is crucial to the development of this nation. Emotions often run high. At least the human ones can be heard. It is our more delicate duty to articulate those of the wildlife, and this we do willingly, aided and abetted by our Management and workers, amounting to more than 1,200 men and women. It is a pleasurable duty.

But I must end on a sombre note. News is arriving from Zimbabwe that those whose habitations were razed to the ground, took refuge in places of worship. They are now being drummed from even those. Where to? If wildlife has an Authority to look after it, what about humankind? For God’s sake!
Ends

Awake for the Referendum!

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