It is the season of ignorance and intolerance in the land. Yet again. And politics has much to do with it. To be exact, President Museveni’s continued staying put has left those who oppose him even more frustrated. They failed to stop the age limit changes last year, and the anger of defeat, of living with a life presidency, is beginning to boil over.
Obviously, President Museveni and his supporters don’t see things that way. Why get rid of a man who is delivering? He was crowing the other week that within days he had opened two tea factories, a cement factory, and an electronics assembly plant.
He could as well have added that the first phase of the Sukulu phosphate project is slated for launch on Independence Day; that the new bridge over the Nile at Jinja is near ready; that motorists are already speeding down the almost complete Kampala-Entebbe Expressway; and that Isimba and Karuma hydropower stations are just around the corner. All this will soon cut down on poverty numbers as the youth snap up jobs unleashed by these developments in the economy.
Actually, all these welcome advances are beside the point. Probably another leader could have delivered even more over the same period.
Hypotheticals aside, the hardening stances are leading people to refuse to listen to each other especially in instances of heightened anxiety.
If you are opposed to Mr Museveni and you are ready and willing to make that known in some muscular and boisterous way, a ton of bricks, not of shilling bills, will land on you and could harm your skull or spine or both plus more.
Active opposition will not be tolerated. MPs Bobi Wine and Francis Zaake are the latest in a line of Opposition leaders who are acting on their opposition to the government beyond shouting from a safe social media distance. For that the system is confronting them without mercy.
The balance of forces, of course, is still tilted in favour of the NRM government. So, what do the small people opposed to the government do? They take out their frustrations on anyone supporting Mr Museveni or his government.
Hence the violence directed at musician Bebe Cool last weekend. For his expressed views, Bebe Cool set himself apart from his contemporary and music rival Bobi Wine — who recently morphed from being a politically committed artiste to becoming a hot-blooded politician representing the people of Kyadondo East in Parliament.
Bobi Wine’s supporters will not stomach public and pronounced opposition to their man, behaviour not terribly different from that exhibited by the people on the NRM side.
They threw bottles and other dangerous items at Bebe Cool and chased him off the stage at the Swangz Avenue 10th anniversary concert last week.
Bebe Cool and Bobi Wine share pretty much the same music fans. Those fans, it is now clear, don’t agree politically. Music unites, politics divides.
As many commentators have noted, the mature thing to do would have been for those who dislike Bebe Cool’s politics to walk away the moment he stepped on the stage. Or boo him for a while, or to the extent of forcing him off the stage. The violence directed at Bebe Cool, a non-politician but one with a side he supports, was reprehensible.
Bebe Cool has as much a right as Bobi Wine to take whatever political stance he pleases.
If most of the young people at that Swangz Avenue concert are tired of Mr Museveni, they should chart a political course that is not as hard-charging as Mr Museveni’s. It should certainly be devoid of mindless physical violence.
As the new week unfolded, we saw more ignorance and intolerance emerge from our government. A certain minister named Simon Lokodo decided that a semi-bohemian musical extravaganza, Nyege Nyege, should not go ahead this weekend because it is a cover for promotion of gay relationships.
Assuming it were actually true, shouldn’t the priest (or is it former priest) start by telling us about his thoughts on homosexuality and paedophilia in the Catholic Church? No matter, the festival took place anyway after the minister’s government colleagues leaned on him to see sense for once.
The priest-politician should be promoting tolerance and understanding. But, again, he is a politician. And we are in the season of politicians and their supporters going bonkers when confronted by anything that doesn’t agree with their worldview, or maybe country view.
Many will feel the pain sooner rather later as things stand.
Bernard Tabaire is a media trainer and commentator on public affairs based in Kampala.