The maids had been chatting for hours but something seemed to be amiss. Several times I passed them and wondered what was wrong. Then suddenly I put my finger on it. They were not taking their spiced tea which they usually drink non-stop as they gossip.
“Hey what’s wrong with the tea today?” I asked. Something missing in the kitchen?”
“Not only today but all the way till mid-April,” my maid answered. “You should also stop taking coffee.”
“Ssebo we are fasting,” clarified the minister’s maid. “Don’t say you are not aware of the Lent!”
“Oh yeah yeah,” I said, as if I was remembering. “But whatever you forgo is supposed to be quietly between you and God.”
“Well you asked why we were not taking tea and we are supposed to tell the truth,” she said.
“That is good news for my budget,” I hit back. “A month plus of not buying sugar and all those spices you have been putting in your bodies should leave me a rich man.”
“Make it a year and you will be a rich man times 12,” she said cheerfully. “In fact the idea should be promoted in all churches every Sunday, that Lent should last a whole year. Our people will be healthier as they eat less and the money saved should be used for investment.”
“But if they spend less on eating then our farmers will lose income,” I protested.
“We can avoid the imported stuff and consume only our local foods which are even healthier,” she argued. “That will make our farmers even richer.”
“So you write to the bishops and their priests can propagate your idea in churches on Sunday,” I challenged.
“The bishops don’t know me,” she said, but after some visible mental searching effort added. “Maybe I should sell the idea to honourable.”
“So he can sell it in his constituency?” I asked.
“No way,” she answered vehemently. “Telling villagers to eat less is a sure way to lose votes. But he can float the idea among his colleagues since these days the only thing they seem to be doing is sit in meetings at Kyankwanzi and Entebbe. He could table an AOB in the NRM caucus on promoting health and saving through less eating.”
“But what they are discussing all these days that does not seem to end?”
“I am not a member of the NRM Parliamentary caucus but I can say that whatever it is, it must be for the good of the country,” she said.
“We should wait for the outcome and it had better be worth it,” I retorted.
“Of course it will be,” she responded. “more than 200 people discussing for nearly three weeks in Kyankwanzi and after, that is at least 100 hours per person, translating to some 303, 000 hours of brainwork by the people’s elected representatives, the very cream of our country.”
“I also think that nearly three weeks of brainstorming by the cream of the country’s leadership – a quarter of a million brain hours - should yield something useful for our future,” I agreed. “But the topic of discussion also matters!”
“Whatever the topic that is pre-occupying the country’s cream for more than a fortnight must be important and having a bearing on the development of Uganda,” argued the minister’s maid.
“What if it is just a power struggle within the party?” I queried.
“Don’t say ‘just’ because even that, I mean whatever you are calling a power struggle, is very important as it means removing obstacles and ironing out differences that could be hindering our delivery on Mzee’s manifesto,” she opined. “And you can be sure that when internal differences and any emerging contradictions are ironed out, the NRM will be a robust, well – oiled machine that will move forward and deliver 100 per cent on Mzee’s manifesto. Then come 2016, the people will reward Mzee with another well-deserved term.”
“But will the manifesto promises be implemented with so much theft of the public funds that are meant to be used to deliver?”
“Even corruption will soon be dealt a deadly blow once the party is united,” she said without hesitation.
I sighed. She seemed so convinced. I hope she is right.