Did Museveni’s Shs1.4m corona gift bring Shs50m to ‘parasites’?

Sunday June 28 2020


By Alan Tacca

With masks everywhere, we all now look like proper monkeys. The evolutionary biology of the primate, man, may see some subtle changes. Legs will be in ascendancy, the finer ones being selected.

The face will be relegated. After two million years, the smile may disappear completely. In many work places, jobs will migrate from faces to legs. Advertising will lower its camera lenses leg-ward. Pedicurists will thrive.

These changes may distract us, when in fact we must get more alert. Alertness is another feature over which natural selection will cut or preserve your type.

So, how alert are you? If you sleep, there are people who will be very happy to see your brain downgraded along with the face. They will rob you. They will control you. They will kill you, if it suits them. They will let you die, if killing you is too controversial. They will preserve you in a degraded form, if they need you as a slave.

How alert are you? Take the case of a very famous Shs1.4m. The money is probably not even enough to buy a month’s apples for a retired Chief Justice. At best, it will meet the salary of one of his two domestic slaves for five months. But it is the money President Museveni gave to the Covid-19 taskforce. Some people clapped; bootlickers flattering the chief.

However, I, for one, would prefer that the President (personally) donated nothing, if he (as CEO) ensured that financial management in this crisis was up to scratch.


Here I am diametrically opposed to the otherwise admirable Nakaseke South legislator, Paulson Luttamaguzi Semakula, who spent many hours of radio time taunting the President for not donating to the taskforce.

A weak state governed by dishonest people cannot be strengthened by arbitrary charity, but by insisting on defining areas of responsibility, and demanding accountability.

A Luttamaguzi, or anyone else of goodwill, cannot compete with a ruling clique that enjoys billions of shillings allocated for ‘gifts’ and ‘classified expenditure’ in the National Budget; plus a herd of cynical ruling party MPs who, collectively, can put down far more money than the Opposition to buy voters. The race only strengthens the culture of patronage, bribery and broader corruption.

Above all, the State, the ultimate tax collector, commands far more money than all these people lumped together. This is the money that should be properly allocated, properly used, and properly audited.

Otherwise, whether you are clapping or sneering, Mr Museveni’s personal Shs1.4m may distract you while Shs50m is being officially squandered in the name of collecting the President’s gift.

Well, Luttamaguzi, the chief has now made good. But I recently checked my steps to eavesdrop on a street conversation between two youngish men discussing the President’s donation. This is mere allegation, or hearsay; a small rumour. But it is such an intriguing story that both Luttamaguzi and the President could reap some wisdom from investigating its truth or falsehood.

The elaborate exercise allegedly involved a number of vehicles that went to the big man’s office and/or residence, fuel, office functionaries, cameramen, reporters, drivers, security personnel, per diem for all, and what have you. The bill: A cool figure between Shs40m and Shs50m for collecting the President’s Shs1.4m.

If it is true that even the President’s personal token charity automatically obeys the rules of red tape ‘parasites’, then the rest of us may never be alert enough.

Our brains will be increasingly seen to match our masked unsmiling monkey faces.

Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.