Mr Joseph Kabuleta has stepped forward to challenge for Uganda’s highest office. He should be warmly welcomed to the struggle for a better Uganda. I would like to digress just a little bit.
For those who may not know anything about the man of the moment, at least going by social media chattering and media interviews he has recently given, for long Mr Kabuleta was one of the most prolific sports journalists in Uganda with a bold and no-holds-barred style in his reporting and commentary, especially on national football issues. But then he went off into the world of evangelism and is currently a pastor in Kampala.
On paper, to be a pastor means taking on a calling to serve God by preaching the Word, giving hope and courage to those facing adversity, cultivating peace, helping the needy, among others. In Uganda and across the African continent, however, spiritual entrepreneurship has become more of an avenue for self-enrichment than service to flock.
In Mr Kabuleta’s case, his close association with a certain celebrity ‘profit-prophet’ is something that many find morally reprehensive and spiritually questionable.
In a recent TV interview, he provided what ordinarily would be a perfect short answer to this criticism: Spirituality is a matter very personal between someone and his or her God. Yet, to be sure, once someone steps forward to seek public office, almost everything about his or her life, including how you worship God or which god you worship, becomes fair game.
Also, there have been and will continue to be questions about Kabuleta’s tight and cosy association with Mr Mike Ezra Mulyoowa, more than a decade ago, a man who once purported to display millions of dollars in cash and wore a garb of sports philanthropy, but had serious credibility questions marks.
As someone in the political fray, Mr Kabuleta should expect all sorts of legitimate questions thrown at him, including unfair and offensive ones. But he has it within him to explain convincingly and compellingly when pressed about his past dealings and current engagements.
To be put to task about one’s past and current standing is part of the process of leadership.
It is accountability. There is scarcely anyone out there whose past cannot be questioned, so conceding to past failings and indiscretions is not a sign of weakness, it is a mark of credible leadership and statesmanship.
In the struggle to bring to an end the current system of decadent, corrupt and nepotistic rule, superintended by our ruler-for-life, Uganda needs more Kabuletas to step forward.
Kabuleta has a fine mind and speaks it, is articulate and means well. He should have been on board yesterday and in the trenches working with the forces seeking change. He represents millions of Ugandans who for long, have construed politics as the business of politicians and being apolitical as a prudent strategic choice.
Opposition leader Kizza Besigye has riled against the ‘elites,’ in a rather big-brush and vague manner, but the point is that the struggle for a better Uganda belongs to all Ugandans and especially people with financial and intellectual resources like Kabuleta should not be sitting on the fence or standing on the sidelines. The Uganda we want will only come from the collective efforts and activities of Ugandans.
The folly though, for many who run for president, is treating this as an event or a job application, which they will forget the moment the results are announced. For some, it appears that the goal is to earn the ‘title’ of ‘former presidential candidate,’ disappear into obscurity the day after polls and reappear during the next election cycle to get crowned presidential candidate again.
I hope that an intelligent person like Kabuleta is not deluded into thinking he will win an election in Uganda organised on behalf of the incumbent. Also, whether or not the entirety of the forces in Opposition to Mr Museveni’s long rule front one candidate or multiple contenders go after the race is really not the issue.
The goal of participating in the elections is to mobilise the populace and pile pressure on the ruler, to expose the regime’s excesses and rally Ugandans to see the regime for what it is: Decayed and dysfunctional.
In the course of the electioneering processes, anything is possible, including citizens stopping the election aware that its outcome is, a priori, compromised. What is improbable in the current circumstances is that the Electoral Commission will work independently to organise a free, fair and credible election after which the commission announces a validly elected president-elect.
Mr Khisa is assistant professor at North Carolina State University (USA).