Saturday March 22 2014

Prof Bukenya and Mbabazi; one pot, one kettle, both black

By Alan Tacca

In the wake of the storm driving Premier Amama Mbabazi to his damnation, an exceedingly happy former Vice President Gilbert Bukenya has been scooping lumps of mud and hurling them at his old foe. The taunting and jeering are schoolboy grade, like little “Gibbie” celebrating that big “Bully” Patrick has been whipped and humiliated by the headmaster when all the girls are looking.

Last Sunday, I wondered why Amama Mbabazi’s people seemed to completely ignore the old adage, that what was good for the goose was also good for the gander. They could see NRM fascism when President Museveni’s people were crucifying Mbabazi, but they remembered nothing of the days when (under his watch as State Defence and – later – Security minister) goons of different shades were beating up opposition politicians and activists.
By coincidence, Prof Bukenya’s press release, “You Reap what you Sow”, appeared in the same paper.

Apart from the gloating and self-vindication, the rift between President Museveni and Mr Mbabazi seems to have given Mr Bukenya an opportunity to lead public attention away from the platform where his own integrity is under serious question.

Yes, Mbabazi may have used his intelligence/security networks to distort, doctor or fabricate reports that undermined Bukenya, but Bukenya has never convinced any level-headed citizen that he had not taken part in the grand corruption associated with the NRM government.

Especially in the matter of the 2007 Chogm arrangements, where he enjoyed a central role, Bukenya has not helped to explain how billions of shillings disappeared. His response to queries has ranged from denying that costs were exaggerated, to insinuating that a higher official (assumed to be the President) was responsible for some of the abuse.

A different day heard a different explanation. Fortunately for Bukenya, although President Museveni’s contribution to the Chogm 2007 corruption investigations sometimes appeared to incriminate his Vice President, at other times it was exonerating, and there were times when the President seemed to speak in “tongues”. The attitude adopted appeared to depend on the political weather of the day.

Bukenya writes that he was sent to prison, not because he had stolen any money, but because someone, a schemer, wanted to “subdue” him. That could be true. If, under NRM rule generally, every big shot is stealing and not going to prison, the decision of who to send to prison over Chogm 2007 funds was probably “political”.

But this does not mean that no money was stolen. Ugandans should never stop examining Mbabazi’s role in the establishment of the fascist (and corrupt) state; but, equally, they must never tire of examining Bukenya’s part in the growth of the vampire (and fascist) state.

Bukenya is as much of a hypocritical self-seeker as Mbabazi. They both put on appearances of worshipping the President to keep their jobs, each hoping the big man would eventually bless him for his successor.

At various times, each man betrayed his ambition; and as promptly as humanly possible, each hastened to cover that “mistake”. The openness Bukenya boasts about is a very recent (Post-VP) phenomenon.
Yet, even now, Bukenya hints that he would embrace his rehabilitation. What is more hypocritical than saying: “I must confess that my disagreement with President Museveni and the entire NRM party of late has never been on the leadership style of the leader, Museveni, but rather on his and the party’s failure to resist selfish schemers, who want to feel good victors all the time as others get trodden down.”

Leadership style? What about leadership “content”? If the President and his party cannot resist selfish schemers, what good are they for the country?
And what good is Prof Bukenya for his party or the country?
He writes that NRM Secretary-General Mbabazi and his daughter, Nina, organised and rigged the 2010 party elections. As loser (for the SG job), Bukenya kept “quiet” in the name of party cohesion!

Ah, that phrase again! Sorry, even the bleating of a dead sheep would be more inspiring than listening to Bukenya’s implied argument that fundamental wrongdoing should be ignored in the name of party cohesion.

Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator