People & Power

Will Ugandans inherit the earth in millions at the end of time?

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By Harold Acemah

Posted  Sunday, December 15  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

Well, ladies and gentlemen of the Parliament of Uganda, the ball is now in your court; wananchi are watching, with keen interest, from the gallery.

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In the Sermon on the Mount recorded in the Gospel according to Matthew, Jesus Christ pronounced in verses 5 and 10: “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” and “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (RSV). Unlike my fellow columnist Alan Tacca, I am fortunate and indeed blessed to believe in eternal life after death as promised by the Son of God.

How else could one explain and fully appreciate many contemporary events unfolding in Uganda and Africa, such as the contents of a story published in the Saturday Monitor of November 23, 2013 titled, Ministers aid foreign investors to get loans!

According to the story, senior officials of the Government of Uganda, including the current Minister of Labour, Mr Mwesigwa Rukutana, wilfully wreaked the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) by helping foreign investors and “politically connected” persons access unsecured loans from the bank in gross violation of government financial regulations which they are supposed to uphold and enforce. As a result, Ugandan taxpayers have lost more than Shs20 billion to inter alia, GBK, Apparels Tri-Star, JITCO, Phenix Logistics, Rutas Ltd and Mr Hassan Basajjabalaba! Yes, that Basajjabalaba whose name is now more or less synonymous with endemic and systemic corruption!

Mr Rukutana is accused of using his office to assist JITCO, a Chinese company, obtain Shs6.4 billion from UDB in2002 and of “stopping the bank from recovering more than Shs5.3 billion from Hassan Basajjabalaba’s Hides & Skins Co.”! Parliament wants the minister to be held personally liable for causing loss of Ugandan taxpayers’ hard-earned money.
I thought foreign investors are supposed to bring money to invest in Uganda! The proprietors of Kampala Parents School, Sembule Steel Mills and many desperate local companies are denied financial support which foreigners easily and readily get!

Mr Rukutana scoffed at the MPs whom he accused of interfering with the operations of the bank and called them stupid and silly; he dismissed the accusations as nonsense and charged angrily: “What I did, I was not doing as Rukutana, but as minister of Finance and I did nothing wrong. They can go and hang”! One hopes that the honourable MPs whom the minister advised to go and hang will not take his outrageous talk meekly on bended knees!

Among the MPs Rukutana ridiculed are Gen Moses Ali, Mr Nandala Mafabi, Mr Richard Todwong, Ms Alice Alaso, Mr David Bahati and Ms Cecilia Ogwal, a former chairperson of the UDB Board of Directors.
Well, ladies and gentlemen of the Parliament of Uganda, the ball is now in your court; wananchi are watching, with keen interest, from the gallery.

Mr Rukutana’s offensive reply is typical of the way the NRM’s ruling elite react when caught with their pants down; they abuse, intimidate and treat fellow citizens like some undesirable and inconvenient refugees! The things which Africa’s arrogant men of power do and say are unbelievable!

My Nigerian friends who follow events unfolding in Uganda often cynically compliment Ugandans for being so cool, sober and tolerant in the face of such unwarranted provocation by the selfish and callous ruling elite of our country.

On May 27, 1985, a few weeks before he was overthrown in a reactionary and self-destructive military coup, former president Obote warned Ugandans about an impending catastrophe and accused Ugandans of being docile when man-made and unnecessary disasters struck. He made those remarks at a rally in Bushenyi to mark ‘Heroes day’ at which the UPC members gathered to celebrate his return in 1980 from exile in Tanzania. How prophetic the warning was against untold suffering which Ugandans have experienced for almost three decades. Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga of Rubaga lamented about the national agony in a sermon delivered at Rubaga Cathedral on December 1, 2013.
Ugandans have been subjected to constant verbal and physical abuse and ridicule since 1986, starting with northerners who were, for a decade or more, branded primitive, backward and as if to crown it all, one of the leading ideologues of the movement alleged that “northerners were biological substances fit for extermination” which sounds like a leaf borrowed from Nazi or apartheid ideology! All this is well documented and on public record.

One of the nouveau riche from the region had the audacity to call the largest ethnic group in Uganda, the Baganda, “political condoms” and he has never apologized. I wonder what adjectives they use to describe the smaller and powerless ethnic groups! Why this rabid animosity towards fellow Africans?

No human being created by God in His own image deserves to be insulted with such crude and abusive words. These insults are the moral equivalent of blasphemy and totally unacceptable in a civilised and decent society. Ugandans must urgently cultivate mutual respect for each other if we desire to build a united, happy, peaceful and prosperous country. Our prospects of inheriting heaven and earth would moreover improve significantly if we did so.
In this regard, Ugandans have a lot to learn from the example and legacy of former president Nelson Mandela who will be buried today in Qunu, South Africa. May his soul rest in eternal peace!
May the LORD have mercy!

Mr Acemah is a political scientist, consultant and a retired career diplomat. hacemah@gmail.com