Monday February 26 2018

Now let’s also borrow a president


By Jacobs Odongo Seaman

Dr Kizza Besigye is always saying that the NRM government is living on borrowed [time]. To many of those converged at the exclusive yellow tie dining table whose serviettes are emblazoned with fine decors that read like our-time-to-eat, Besigye just makes irrelevant noise like quelea quelea (rice birds). These people can’t understand Besigye’s problem. Me too.

How can you say this government is living on borrowed time unless you dressed up ‘time’ in square brackets so one can instead insert another word of their choice? Yes, if Besigye addressed this page with that borrowed [time] nonsense of his, we will change it to ‘borrowed joy.’
Like a joyride.

In 1986 when this government came to power, there was this old man who frequented the flea market in Kakira, Jinja. He was nicknamed ‘Hodhi’. Mr Hodhi sold safety pins and razor blades and, like Museveni who came with a promise to end the habit of importing safety pins and razors from Singapore, this vendor had his marketing gimmick that won him more fame than most men enjoy in their bedrooms.

“Hodhi! Jirani nisaidie! Usiyenga yenga. Asubuhi baridhi, unasema jirani nisaidie wemba na sindani ndogo.” He would shout these words all over the market. Loosely, the trader was castigating people for knocking at their neighbours’ doors early mornings to borrow razors and safety pins.

“Buy your own,” Mr Hodhi would say. Just like Museveni convinced us that we would manufacture our own. Mr Hodhi lit up the flea market, just like Mr Museveni gave Uganda hope. Mothers returned home with a lot of merchandise from Mr Hodhi, just like fathers told a lot of stories about Museveni.
Had Museveni been a regular at that flea market during the legendary Mr Hodhi’s days, would he have learnt that we don’t have to bother our neighbours’ morning glories with knock-knock in the name of asking for sindani ndogo na wembe?

You see, the government is going to borrow money to pay salaries. Think about it, doesn’t the Bible talk about strange things happening when it is about end of the NRM…sorry, I mean, NRM times. No, just times. Plain times? How would Mr Hodhi have advised Museveni and his NRM government to handle this civil servants salaries issues without borrowing?

This page doesn’t think advising Museveni and NRM to lay off hundreds at their secretariat would have been the words coming from Mr Hodhi’s tongue. However, this page feels all is well. It is a joyride this country is now into.

The country is already transformed so much that anyone driving a UG plate who wants to get home faster just so they can worry about which of their yellow ties or briefs they can wear to office the following day has police escort and squad car to clear traffic for them. Mr Hodhi didn’t dole out free wembe na sindani ndogo, he sold them. But this government now has the capacity to give free t-shirts and food in exchange for being ferried to distant political rallies to make up the numbers for some drone cameras. If that is not transformation, what is? We even use drones, in the year of the swine, they used still cameras.
Haters call this our dear government dictatorship, but they cannot explain how a dictator can lay off his own workers just to save expenditure on idlers. This government should be celebrated.

In 1986, there was nothing like borrowing some billions to pay salaries for civil servants. There wasn’t even billions to begin with. The likes of Muhaka Muyizi and Mat the Man had nothing steal and they would have died without appearing on the front pages of the dailies if they lived in the year of the swine.
Now there is so much to steal in public coffers that only a few hecklers in Parliament pretend they care. Those who steal are cheered on. This is called achievement. Otherwise, would you prefer the dark swine days when people were executed for helping themselves with idle monies since all hospitals in this government are overflowing with medical supplies?

Outside the government, even private individuals are allowed to steal as long as they can name the godfathers that a share of their loot. Idi Amin didn’t tolerate this. He lived in the year of the swine and we are in the year of the dogs. It’s a dog life.

However, if Mr Hodhi is alive today, this page is convinced he would cease that ‘usi yenga yenga.’ How would you tell the leader of the year of the dog not to wander around borrowing? Just spur him on instead, ask him to even borrow his successor. Why is the government only borrowing money to pay salaries when it can borrow the head of presidency itself? Is our ambition so low that we can’t dream the unfeasible vagaries and work to achieve them?

Well, if we are going to keep borrowing, then let’s also borrow a president.