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Happy free elections!

By Vision Reporter

Added 17th February 2006 03:00 AM

ASTORY, possibly apocryphal, but revealing all the same, is told of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the days of her pomp. Could you ever imagine her being addressed by all and sundry as Maggie, as Premier Blair is called Tony, apparently in concordance with his wishes? While on that, cou

ASTORY, possibly apocryphal, but revealing all the same, is told of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the days of her pomp. Could you ever imagine her being addressed by all and sundry as Maggie, as Premier Blair is called Tony, apparently in concordance with his wishes? While on that, cou

UGANDA’S No1 COLUMNIST.. INFORMED, CONTROVERSIAL AND PROVOCATIVE

John Nagenda

ASTORY, possibly apocryphal, but revealing all the same, is told of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the days of her pomp. Could you ever imagine her being addressed by all and sundry as Maggie, as Premier Blair is called Tony, apparently in concordance with his wishes? While on that, could you, in your funniest dream, imagine approaching our leader and calling him Yowie, or even Yoweri? The mind boggles!
Personally I am completely against this “Tony” business. At any rate Mrs Thatcher had invited her most senior cabinet ministers to supper at a restaurant not far from the Houses of Parliament. She was, as was her wont, the only woman at the table, a dress among the suits – she never in her long rein elevated another woman to full cabinet status. When her party was brought the menus she chose a well-done fillet steak. The waiter hovered. “And what about the vegetables Ma’am?” he intoned. “The vegetables,” she responded firmly, “will have the same!” And they did. It is a terrific story, if true and even if not. For it illustrates in full colour her total domination of her cabinet (It is also essentially British, with the men under her perhaps too embarrassed to “talk back” to a woman, their boss moreover). In this, Baroness Thatcher – as she became – was a throwback to the queenly Victoria – although perhaps even more so.
Our President is as far from being a woman as you could imagine. But he shares with these Amazons an unfailing belief in himself above others. As for example, off the top of my head, did de Gaulle, Kenyatta, Adennhauer, Nehru and Lee Kwan Yu. None was the type to linger overlong agonising with their cabinets. Nor were their egos slender. But was that sufficient excuse for their cabinet ministers to be so suppliant, even subservient? Why on the whole did they, as also our own, not stand their ground and speak their minds openly, where it was called for?
Thinking Ugandans will pray that the cabinet Museveni appoints following next week’s elections will have collective fire in its belly, along with some steel in its spine. Why not? It won’t be the first time a united and passionate cabinet sees the President yield graciously after a protracted struggle on an important governance issue. A proud moment for all concerned: Cabinet, the President and, not least, Uganda. Like Oliver Twist, we want more!
When on Monday morning I awoke to the news that the Museveni convoy had been fired at I went numb. It was not that he is irreplaceable – no person on earth is that. Also remember it was long said of the husband whose widow is today giving us so much innocent merriment in the current elections. And look what happened to him! My utter horror on Monday arose out of thinking of the bare cupboard left were Museveni to be missing from it. Didn’t you? Where, factually, was the person to adequately replace Museveni?
Hopefully, leading from the current elections, more, and more effective, candidates, will take part next time. We can only pray. I sometimes receive despairing cries from some who feel that the Movement Dream died along the way. I disagree, without being blind to mistakes made, for humanity is not perfect. Also, because running this frustrating, still deeply divided country of ours, which we love and take pride in, is far from a picnic, even with the best of intentions.

But it is threadbare logic to say that change for change’s sake is better than nothing, even if the change should be for the worse. More, it seems to equate running a country to a child’s game of Snakes and Ladders (kama mbaya, mbaya, if bad comes, bad!), for with that chancy approach we would inexorably be led back to forgotten hells.
Let even those who support change now, reflect in soberness what it would have meant if Museveni had been nailed at the weekend. You might ask, Should change therefore never come? Of course it must. But not just anyhow. Not by random selection! To that end, let the coming elections, only five days off, be a rehearsal for March 2011. Let everyone of us start to work on unearthing a more impressive Opposition then than we see today. We deserve it.
***
Sunday I went to my Buloba farm: I share pig raising with Dr Besigye. The sun smote from a pitiless sky and the cows, including the smallest ones on their first uncertain steps to the paddocks, seemed encased in gloom. Would it ever rain again? And then! That night, hunched over my computer, I heard a startling sound. The frogs were croaking. In a cacophony of song, a dreadful din! Baganda, perhaps just Budonians of King’s College Budo, say of a bad singer, “Ekikere kyamusamba emimiro!” (The frog kicked his tonsils!) I thought: these frogs have heard the glory of the coming of the rain! Sending their flat-tyre voices to their Maker.
Let us also sing with these God’s creatures – after voting correctly on 23 February. On a comical note: Tuesday’s Monitor, with the bantam Mwenda, spun a fancy tale of the Movement’s over 100% victory in a past election. Last week Monitor carried out a Kampala mayoral poll. In four cases the totals were: 100.3%, and three 100%. No “not yet decided” or “will not say”! To end on a wholly tragic event. People were killed at a Mengo Lukiiko political rally. Let those responsible be swiftly charged. Happy Free Elections!

Happy free elections!

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