An ancient saying going back to Sophocles tells us that if the gods wish to destroy you, they first make you mad. December 20, 2017 certainly will be remembered as the day the spirits unleashed craziness in Uganda’s Parliament.
In blind faith to the wishes of President Museveni, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) the party chairman, 317 MPs voted to shred our Constitution by removing Article 102(b), which would have compelled Museveni to hand over the presidency to someone else in 2021.
To rub it in our faces, MPs arbitrarily extended the tenure of the president and their very own term of service from five to seven years. Now the only thing left in our Constitution is the big fat lie that power belongs to the people.
The blindness of our MPs to the future consequences of their patently selfish actions reminds me of the ‘Three Blind Mice’ rhyme we loved to chant as little kids in Kumi Boys Primary School in the 1960s.
Its lyrics are: ‘Three blind mice/See how they run/They always run after the farmer’s wife/Who cuts off their tails with a carving knife/Did you ever see such a thing in your life/As three blind mice?’ Now, instead of ‘three blind mice’ let’s put down ‘three hundred blind MPs’. In the place of ‘farmer’s wife’ we should put ‘party chairman’.
The words ‘cuts off their tails’ should be replaced with ‘blocks their brains’. And instead of ‘a carving knife’ we should have ‘cash handouts’.
There! We’ve a whole new song: ‘Three hundred blind MPs/See how they run/They always run after the party chairman/Who blocks their brains with cash handouts/Did you ever see such a thing in your life/As three hundred blind MPs?’ Events in Parliament on December 20 make for a fascinating, if chilling, story. They confirm that Speaker Rebecca “Order! Order!” Kadaga cannot give orders to a certain category of people.
Some of these people were given responsibility to address the specific matter of whether or not to remove Article 102(b). Instead, Kadaga got recommendations affecting four separate areas: Age limits, presidential term limits, the tenure of president and the term of Parliament.
Kadaga is no Oscar-winning actress.
Her bewilderment was genuine as she asked the chairperson of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, Jacob Oboth Oboth: “The recommendations you made, to who are they addressed and how did they come to be part of the report?” In another country, Kadaga would have resigned.
In this country, however, we understand her acceptance of the fact that the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Execute are no longer checking and balancing themselves as they were constitutionally intended to.
So, all these outbursts of mistrust, disharmony, chaos, anger, strikes and everything else we see going wrong in our country today stem from a blatant disregard of the general systems theory.
This theory says life exists in complex systems. It argues that every system has components of systems, which interact independently and in relation with others to make one whole and well-functioning unit.
Take our bodies. We have the digestive, circulatory, endocrine (hormone-making glands), lymphatic, nervous, muscular, reproductive, respiratory, urinary, immune, reproductive, skeletal, and skin systems. One disturbance in one system disturbs the other systems.
Take society too. The broad political, social, economic and cultural systems are supposed to make the whole society to stand tall, strong and proud as one.
So why is our society sagging at the knees? It is because we have people who think life is as simple as boarding a minibus to State House or meeting surreptitiously in the NRM Parliamentary Caucus.
Then they go to Parliament to rip the guts out of our Constitution just because they have the numbers. Views of religious leaders, Elders Forum, Law Society, CSOs, NGOs, media, voters, etc, don’t matter.
What is perhaps lost to these people is that NRM is fast becoming a closed system that interacts less and less with its environment. This is dangerous for both NRM and the whole society as the party drives itself to a level of decay, which eventually will lead to entropy (state of death).
Ugandans being Ugandans will start and end 2018 with their characteristic docility. But older ones, I suspect, know that one day the arrogant people in NRM will wake up as political orphans with no father, no home and no friends. That’ll be the day someone may remember the moral of the little ditty about ‘Three Blind Mice’.
Dr Akwap is the Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences and Management Studies at Kumi University.