By Jim Mugunga
As you read this, the self-styled ghetto president, Bobi Wine, is the new Member of Parliament for Kyaddondo East constituency. He is now “Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu”, maximum respect!
How I wish the label “Bobi” were acceptable under parliamentary decorum, it would spice things up in the august House, surely. Kyagulanyi secured a landslide victory by ticking all the right boxes in as far as his electorate are concerned. During the campaigns, he ate, dressed and cried with the down trodden of the ghetto community just as he opted to sing, dance and give them hope as well as he agitated for their rights.
The simplicity of his message made him the darling of the majority. It was not about his dress code, his hair style or speech but about the issues he addressed and related to.
We are now able to see how Bobi Wine did this:
He stayed true to his beliefs. He is a grounded champion whose rise to popularity and celebrity lifestyle never changed him. He associated with his ghetto constituents and fully adopted their lingua. He rarely drunk or dined away from them. He did not embrace political correctness, in other words, he did not sugar coat his message but called a spade a spade. He opted for simplicity, fact and truthfulness. When his people tasked him to reach out to KCCA over excesses in evictions, he delivered a hit song, Tugambire ku Jennifer, a direct appeal to the KCCA executive director.
While the seasoned politicians opted for the politically acceptable lingua and persona as they rallied for votes, he did the reverse. They were rudely awakened to the reality that the electorate is tired of the existing party structures and the not-so-believable campaign stories. Their desperate attempts to stick to the same old lies and maintain the status quo left a sour taste in the mouths of voters.
So, Bobi Wine, realist and mercilessly truthful, emerged the winner. He defied the status quo and realised that it is now time for the straight talkers, the non-conformists and non-pretenders to move mountains. Individuals frowned upon in yester years, are now attracting the protest vote, from Trump in the US to Macron in France!
The conformists are of course rattled by the straight talkers. They are stuck in the old ways of believing that niceties, political correctness and talk of respect are the measure or epitome of civility. It is this standard by which they choose to operate and demand that all other politicians and public servants do the same. This is living in denial of the giant wave of change that the public is clamouring for.
Another victim of this outdated belief is Keith Muhakanizi, a no-nonsense straight talking rapid speaker whose forthright nature many mistake for arrogance.
Muhakanizi has diligently worked his way up from a junior job in the Ministry of Finance to now Permanent Secretary and Secretary to the Treasury. Since being mentored by the likes of Tumusiime Mutebile, Mayanja-Nkangi, and Gerald Sendaula, among others, Muhakanizi has been a key player in the Ugandan economy for over 30 years. It is during this period that the country has recorded phenomenal economic recovery, tilting real GDP growth towards the 10% mark at one time.
He is part of the core team responsible for ensuring a functional banking sector, restructuring state enterprises, to taming leakages and stopping subsidies. In the same period, they set up the modern securities exchange, reformed and resuscitated production, manufacturing, hospitality and corporate governance. He engineered and promoted re-tooling of old school public service with major reforms that emphasised re-skilling and training for a thriving workforce for the public and private sector in the region and beyond. He recently took the bull by the horns and reformed civil servants’ salary pay structures; as well pushed for adherence to the government’s single account project.
Yes, he is evidently not your so courteous fellow as he goes about his business, especially as he delivers a message that the majority do not want to hear. The same style is reminiscent of a younger Kahinda Otafiire and the former Ministry of Works Permanent Secretary, Muganzi.
They all have one thing in common: brutal truth delivered in conviction. They study issues and with conviction attempt to outgun their opponents through interface. They do not use superiority to force them into submission but instead their opponents fail to engage intellectually and baptise the truth bearers as arrogant; a sign of the characteristic bad loser.
If one cannot find a suitable response to a position as advanced and instead becomes diversionary; that merely endorses the superiority credentials of the other party.
It is time we stopped wasting time by seeking niceties and we demand for performance. There is political correctness fatigue among the people. The population is yearning for issues to be addressed and services delivered. That Muhakanizi can face MPs and tell them about lack of funds for their next fleet of motor vehicles may not endear him to them, but it is the truth. That he can dictate terms to help pensioners gain their rights against a system that had stripped them of the same makes him a hero to the pensioners. They see performance and not arrogance.
The country is now ready for a Parliament full of truth tellers, ready to fight for others’ rights and not just seeking political correctness.
The writer is the spokesperson and Senior Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Finance