Scientific elections? Let a robot be president

Sunday July 5 2020


By Alan Tacca

Ever since President Museveni bought the fiction that a crude electric car constructed by Makerere University ‘hobbyists’ would soon be mass-produced, my head periodically shakes.

And when I see a glossy picture of the crude car on the cover of a book that presumably promotes things (not fantasies) that are “Made in Uganda”, a country that makes ‘rolex’ chapattis rather than car components, I marvel at the stuff Ugandans (as a country) are made of.

For Uganda is a concoction not ashamed of looking ridiculous. Reeling in lockdown-related economic difficulties, the country is creating several stupid new legislative constituencies; on top of more than 450 seats!

The other day, I read that the widows and children of the late Paul Kafeero (a rustic-style musician) had not resolved their disputes over paternity and inheritance, and the family was seeking the intervention of the President!

Have DNA tests, the courts and all other institutions failed? In the heads of ordinary Ugandans, has the President become an oversized village fixer?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the country talking of staging a ‘scientific’ general election next year.


From our radio talk-show voices, the word ‘scientific’ implies something that has been seriously tampered with, or ‘mix-mixed’, or that changes like a chameleon, or something wondrously fake. It is rather like our electric vehicles.

When the Covid-19 task was easy, Mr Museveni was flying high and didn’t want anybody else to fly at all. He had his LDUs to enforce the lockdown.

With the task of opening up getting tougher, he is cleverly shifting responsibility to the medical scientists. The issues involved have tied him in a dilemma of multiple catches. The scientists seem to be arranged to take the flak for the discontent ahead.

If he opens schools, churches, clubs, and so on, he loses his ‘scientific’ argument for stopping political rallies. If he leaves these places closed, private schools and those new churches that were set up primarily to make money are the most affected.

Without students and congregations, the easiest way to make money for the proprietors is blocked.

But many of these proprietors were his supporters, grateful that he had given them the freedom to operate. On the other hand, thousands of worshippers are discovering that they are probably better off not trekking to special places of worship, paying tithes to enrich other people in these hard times. Yet, unfed, these same people bitterly resent the lockdown for stopping them from earning their living.

Boda boda riders, hairdressers, various business operators; they see their fate as half about their health, and half about NRM/Museveni’s political cynicism.

But if circumstances dictate a scientific election, why not go the whole hog? Computer wizards in Silicon Valley can make a super-robot capable of governing Uganda and conducting a more credible scientific election than Museveni’s parasite-infested government.

The machine would have no emotions. It would have no party bias. Its algorithms would permit or reject any proposed action by analysing the facts on the machine’s files. For instance, NRM proposes more MPs. Robot: Sorry, funds insufficient; and/or: Demographic figures do not warrant.

The machine may even dictate a cut; from, say, 450- something MPs to 225; or even to 112½ MPs, perhaps leaving room for an idiot to sit in the House as the half. And when the votes are finally cast electronically and counted, the machine would perform the task with impeccable honesty and have the power to sound a screaming alarm if someone was trying to tamper with the process.

Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.