Not a very long time ago, it was revealed that only 50 Members of Parliament could sustain themselves financially. It was very disturbing; but not surprising.
Even more instructive was the fact that MPs had been begging President Museveni to help them sort out their personal financial problems.
And you ask yourself: how can MPs demonstrate such a level of powerlessness in front of someone or an institution they are supposed to superintend over?
Wouldn’t we rather do away with a beggar Legislature and remain with the Executive? Is it any wonder then that President Museveni always makes fun of the title ‘honourable’? Yet we are reluctant to blame the MPs because we are aware that the problem lies elsewhere: The organisation of power in the body politic of Uganda.
All power in Uganda is political power. At the centre of this power structure are two major elements: the national Treasury and the instruments of coercion. In fact, politics (or actually power brokerage) is the only profitable industry in Uganda today.
President Museveni holds control of these two elements that can be used to subdue any political actor: if you are a hardcore opposition member who can’t take the money, then kiboko (coercion) will be unleashed unto you. Reference: Dr Kizza Besigye and Erias Lukwago.
However, this vulnerability of national political actors is a threat to the Executive as President Museveni has rightly observed elsewhere: it (the vulnerability) could attract foreign vultures. Which is why MPs must be kept on the leash: when they beg for money, give them.
And in comes the Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura, the man who lost the audio tapes. The latest tape leaks revealed that Mr Sulayman Kidandala, embattled Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago’s choice for deputy Lord Mayor, was recorded speaking uncharitably about Lukwago.
With this revelation, elements in the national political opposition were mad (justifiably) at Kidandala’s actions and cried betrayal. Whereas Kidandala was caught in a situation of ill judgment, it is not difficult to see where he was coming from.
As we said, the challenge is the organisation of power in the country. It would take the most lion-hearted to survive the State’s assault on the opposition leaders by taking advantage of the dire material needs.
For instance, it is rumoured that Kawempe mayor Mubaraka Munyagwa may have spent more than Shs5 billion on his election campaign. A man willing to spend such huge amounts of money on an election campaign would easily be susceptible to the preying nature of the State.
Most local politicians in Kampala are merely interested in the financial returns from their political office than the fight for governance. And we have heard stories of opposition politicians doing baiser de Judas (the kiss of Judas).
The only problem is that Kidandala has been caught red-handed at this particular time. And did we say that the only power in Uganda is political power? Oh yes. For the cultural leaders, the president is the Ssabagabe (King of Kings) in Uganda.
The captains of industry and trade sponge off the state; while the most successful of the professionals get their mega checks from the State either by bargaining under the table in out-of-court settlements or contract offers.
The State is an ugly and brutal creature; and poor Kidandala is just a victim!!
In Zimbabwe, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangrai and a friend met him in Canada. Thinking Canada was far, Tsvangrai lowered his guards: he ‘disinterestedly’ warmed up to the friend who suggested President Robert Mugabe’s assassination.
Unknown to Tsvangrai, the friend was recording their conversation. The State was later to use this recording to charge Tsvangrai with high treason.
Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of East Africa Flagpost.