It is not new for our politicians to have disagreements in public. That, however, does not make it right, especially if it keeps escalating.
For months now, Ms Evelyn Anite, the State Minister for Privatisation and Investment, has been in the news, calling for an audit of Uganda Telecom (UTL). The audit itself has become so contentious that we, earlier this month, suggested an open inquiry into the affairs of the telecom.
However, the debate on whether the audit should happen or not is escalating into politicians throwing insults at each other. This week, Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana was quoted making disparaging remarks about Ms Anite. The entire business has not been pretty.
Politicians are supposed to be the picture of diplomacy; ‘supposed’ being the key word in this case. They should be able to handle their business without letting it drag out in public. As it is, any talk of UTL might not be given the seriousness it would warrant because it has been reduced into a game of tennis where we wait for one person to serve and the other to give their shot.
Unlike tennis where the back and forth serves a purpose, however, it is unproductive in our case when politicians quibble in public. Beyond the seriousness of the matter, any issues raised while the back and forth happens are likely to be reduced to a joke.
While our politicians have done a lot for us to lose hope in their better qualities, we have not reached the point of settling. We continue to expect that our leaders can sort out their issues in a diplomatic manner, and with respect.
As it is, several of our leaders say something in the heat of the moment, only to come back and deny or contradict it later. Such scenarios would not happen if our leaders had the courtesy to talk to each other civilly.
The other factor is that these leaders are, whether they acknowledge it or not, an example to future leaders. What these future leaders are learning is that it is okay to fight in public, verbally or physically – going by the 2017 Parliament debacle.
What they will not learn is that this kind of behaviour creates fatigue towards the actual issue. When this fatigue happens, it is hard to get people to hear you out, even when what you have to say is important. This last straw means the people you are leading have lost any respect they have for you, which is unfortunate for any leader.
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