Leaders should be responsible and stop politicking for politics sake
Posted Saturday, January 5 2013 at 02:00
If they fail to get their act together, the apathy and cynicism that made Mathias Walukaga’s song “Abantu Bakoowu” a hit in 2012 will quickly morph into antipathy
As we bid 2012 farewell, some of the users of, the micro-blogging website, Twitter created a trending topic to share the things that they wanted to leave in the outgoing year. Some raised serious issues whilst others saw it as an opportunity to crack jokes and have some fun. Although an avid and regular user of and contributor to Twitter I did not post anything that I would like to see left in 2012 until it was too late. So I am going to use this opportunity to talk about two things, one lighthearted and the other dead serious, that I hope we shall see the back of in 2013.
To start with the lighthearted issue, I will be very happy if all writers left “years in review” in 2012. Articles about what happened in the year gone by are too fresh to be consumed as history and too stale to be consumed as news. Unless afflicted with some form of brain atrophy which causes dementia, all of us should have a good enough memory to take in what happened in the last 12 months and make an assessment of how those events impacted our lives, as and when they happened, as well as to determine whether the effects are still lingering into the New Year. It would be infinitely more useful if instead of reviewing the last 12 months at the turn of each year, we reviewed the last 10 years. Such an analysis would give us a panoramic view of things, which would enable us to discern trends, the drivers of those trends and the intervening events that have significantly altered the ordinary course of events.
On a more serious note, I wish politicians of all shades had left cheap grandstanding and politicking for politics sake in 2012. However, current displays, hardly a week into the New Year, confirm that the politicians are determined to give us more of the politics for politics’ sake in 2013. If Shakespeare were around today and was asked to describe the kind of politics we have in Uganda, I have no doubt that he would cite Macbeth Act V Scene 5 and say “it is [like] a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
Our politicians need reminding, that this whole thing that seems to have become some kind of game to them is actually about the lives of all of us Ugandans, our children (born and unborn) and our children’s children. What’s more, we pay for it! So their responsibility lies not just to their narrow and sometimes manipulated electorates at the next election cycle but to posterity. On a given day, which may come much sooner than many think, the question will be asked of each politician “what have you done to improve the day-to-day lives of the ordinary Ugandan?” Score cards will vary, no doubt, and some individuals, whom I need not name here, will fare better than others. But as a class, it must be said that our politicians, both Government and Opposition, are not faring very well and must do a lot to pull up their socks in 2013.
If they fail to get their act together, the apathy and cynicism that made Mathias Walukaga’s song “Abantu Bakoowu” a hit in 2012 will quickly morph into antipathy. That antipathy and the skewed youth and urban demographics could become the fuel for a rage-filled explosion of a kind that we have never witnessed before.
Nobody who has witnessed what mob rule and state failure can do would want to see that happen here. Therefore it is imperative that the politicians and members of civil society start working actively on getting the people of Uganda lasting solutions to the basic problems that affect them in their daily lives. In doing so, they should be guided by (and modify) John F. Kennedy’s articulate call for bi-partisan action, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
Some will say that what I am doing is hoping that 2013 will give us our first sighting of a pig in full flight, circling around Kampala with the more familiar marabou storks, kites and crows. They will argue that our situation is best described by the words of the Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci, who said, “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” Our politicians belong to the old, they will argue, and therefore cannot be expected to better themselves or change their ways. They would further argue that the weaknesses I point out above are but one morbid symptom that is arising owing to the fact that the “new cannot be born”.
But I still firmly believe that if we are to have a genuine quest for a happy, prosperous, peaceful and sustainable future for Uganda, our government, opposition, incumbent and aspiring politicians must strive to become more responsible, respected and credible and they must start right now.
Mr Mpanga is an advocate