Saturday February 15 2014

Museveni’s life presidency and why I missed the RDCs list

By Asuman Bisiika

In July 1984, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) held presidential elections. It was a referendum seeking a yes-or-no vote for President Sese Seko Mobutu’s continued stay in power. The yes-vote won by 99.16 per cent and Mobutu continued to reign supreme.

With Congolese music the only functioning sociality then, musicians overdid themselves singing praises for President Mobutu and electoral sloganeering.

Dindo Yogo, then with Le Orchestre Zaiko Langa Langa outed “Mokili e Change (things have changed)”. One of the lines in that song I always like to recite goes like this: MPR parti yalokumu, ezongisa la paix na Zaire. Alor, parti moko, papa moko, mama moko, ekolo mpe mokonzi moko (MPR is the best party, it returned peace to the country. So, one party, one father, one mother and one leader).

Coming from West Nile, it is a safe bet that Youth MP Evelyn Anite likes Congolese music and is likely to have a rough knowledge of Lingala language. I will send her some useful Congolese music collections (and their English translations, just in case).

MPR (Mouvement Populaire de la Revolution or Popular Revolutionary Movement) was Mobutu’s political vehicle or party. I know it is annoying to compare our dear leader (and our dear Movement) with Marshal Mobutu (his movement), but…? Anyway, we shall come to that later.

I have been wondering why President Museveni did not appoint me as one of the Resident District Commissioners. At least I should have been appointed as the Vice Assistant Deputy RDC for the Shangri-La Kiburara District.

But when I was taken through the job description of an RDC, I realised I would after all not have managed the job. An RDC being on the first line of engagement in rallying the population, one has to be an articulate and eloquent speaker and (as expected, an NRM Cadre). I am neither a good speaker nor an NRM Cadre.

Another characterisation running through the list of RDCs is age. The average age on the list is about 35 years. At over 50, I could perhaps only be fit for presidential advisor on retainer in charge of Kiburara issues.

I have been around long enough to know how things work. So, I have a general knowledge of the dynamics of these appointments (at least by osmosis). My insider contacts told me that the RDC list was almost exclusively compiled by Frank Tumwebaze, Minister for the Presidency and KCCA.

And this, according to analysts, demonstrates the confidence President Museveni has in Tumwebaze. With electoral politicking in 2015, Tumwebaze will be co-ordinating the activities of about 200 RDCs and Deputy RDCs who are in constant and direct contact with the population.

Let us go back to our Marshal Mobutu story and Congolese Music. The NRM Parliamentary Caucus, on a retreat in Kyankwanzi District, made a resolution to endorse President Museveni as the sole party candidate for the 2016 presidential elections.

I don’t see any problem with the NRM’s choice of candidate; neither do I have any problem with the idea and the brazenness to put it into the public domain. My only problem was the confessional nature of reaching the resolution. In Uganda, we don’t have a tradition of confessional allegiance or oath taking to support ideas. We pay allegiance to our traditional leaders and other ‘gravitational centres of power’ based on rational appreciation of our interests. We do not expect our leaders to earn our fealty by subterfuge.

President Museveni is a very important asset of the NRM. But I take it further: President Museveni is actually an important asset for the whole country; which is why I suggest that we hold a referendum to declare President Museveni a life president. This would save the country the tragic spectacle that was Kyankwazi.

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of the East Africa Flagpost.