For 2021, we have Dr Chameleon, Dr Besigye & Dr Benon Asiimwe

Saturday April 20 2019


By Asuman Bisiika

On Monday, April 1, Dr Kizza Besigye had a lunch (meeting) in a hotel where a friend and I were having a late lunch. After his meeting, Dr Kizza Besigye passed by our table to say hello. After recognising me (as the famous Witch of Kiburara), he had the good sense to mention my name and made a mock greeting in Lhukonzo.
My companion made a mountain of the fact that the famous doctor could recognise me, mention my name and even say hello (in my native language Lhukonzo). If you know me bulunji (and my name-dropping affliction), you would know how I responded to my companion: “We run things here; we ruin things”.
Dr Kizza Besigye is a medical doctor by profession (with military service as a bonus); but now more known as a career politician. He comes from a background of political activism which can be traced way back to his youthful days in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s.
According to FDC (party) rules, if elections were to be held today (or before the 2021 schedule), Dr Besigye would be the FDC’s presidential candidate. And the way things stand now, he is likely to be FDC’s candidate for the 2021 scheduled presidential elections.
I have never met Dr Chameleon, but I know he is is un chanteur (a singer). He tagged himself as a doctor (just for just, as Kampalans would say). He comes from a background I would describe as ‘impressionable populism’ (which is now the space for the non- conscientious aspirants for political office).

This space (of impressionable populism) has been enhanced by the vignette act of Robert Kyagulanyi’s electoral victory as Kyadondo East MP and his new-found dream as a presidential aspirant. Dr Chameleon (real name: Joseph Mayanja) is an aspiring candidate for the Mayor of Kampala City in the 2021 elections.
For the last 15 years, Prof Benon Assimwe Byamugisha has been teaching at the Department of Medical Microbiology at Makerere University’s College of Health Science.

Prof Byamugisha earned his ‘doctor’ tag in 2008 when he got a PhD in Infectious Disease Control from Karolinska Medical University in Sweden. He is now one of the leading researchers in his department and has supervised more than 20 post-graduate (including those pursuing PhDs).

His current research mainly focuses on antibiotic resistance and disease transmission dynamics between humans and animals, a field in which he is leading scientific research groups at the East Africa level (in collaboration with UK scientists). But with all that going for him, Dr Byamugisha wants to be a Member of Parliament for Bugangaizi East in Kakumiro District.
We need to interrogate the case or cause that brings the three doctors (Besigye, Chameleon and Byamugisha) together and get bagged (or bugged) up in pursuit of a career in politics. Is it self-actualisation? Are they interested in influencing policies so as to positively impact a socio-economic cause?

The case of an academic and researcher like Byamugisha seeking self-actualisation may be understood. But what informs the career pursuits of Dr Chameleon? As Lord mayor, what cause would Dr Chameleon champion? Has he been associated with any social cause before? Is he seeking self-actualisation like Prof Byamugisha?

The political environment that gave birth to the excitement surrounding Nasser Ssebaggala (former Kampala City Mayor) is now birthing Dr Chameleon and many others.


Some scholars have called this situation the ‘demystification of politics’. Lacking the sophistications associated with scholarship, I call it ‘politics bereft of purpose, cause and the spirit of service to the public’. Welcome to 2021.

Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of East African Flagpost.