Possibly, never in his reign of 31 years, has the President of Uganda, Gen. Yoweri Museveni, been busier as he is in this so-called ‘Kisanja Hakuna Mchezo’ (a term of office characterised by only seriousness.)
The big man is everywhere doing almost everything single handedly. Last year when a sheikh, Maj. Mohammed Kiggundu, was gunned down, his widow did not like his body being on the road as they collected forensic evidence.
She called the President to complain. He asked her to hand over the phone to the officer in charge and he had a chat.
We have seen the President playing the agricultural extension worker, many of whom are employed by the government but are idle because of poor facilitation. He is pictured ferrying grass and water on a bicycle to teach mulching and drip irrigation.
Lately, there has been a directive that the President himself will first have to ‘edit’ and pass government communication before it is disseminated by government spokespersons and other communication experts.
This is a measure to avoid sending out ‘wrong and alarmist’ information that may scare away investors and tourists.
The people who are complaining about government official soliciting for bribes go not to the IGG or the police.
The destination is State House to seek the intervention of the President who puts in place strategies to nab the culprits.
He is now reportedly in charge of the investigation to find out the killers of the slain AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi.
His name appears prominently resolution of land disputes, boda boda and taxi transport leadership wrangles, job appointments and award of some contracts.
He has been on record delivering sacks of money to youth and other savings groups because his officials purportedly steal the money when they are given the responsibility.
On the face of it, Museveni appears as a man of the people; everywhere with his people all the time. But this style also says something about how low we have sunk as a country. The institutional breakdown of government and State structures is real and facing exposure. The President is now the State and the government. What is the purpose of all those paid public servants if they end up sitting pretty and being overshadowed by the busy body of the President?
The person of the President looks larger than life when he is all over the place commissioning roads and boreholes and that gives him patronage, but that is not sustainable. He makes others look unserious and unpatriotic. But most times they are that way because they are not well facilitated or motivated.
What you will end up with is confusion and paralysis as people wait for funds, ‘orders from above’ and second guess the President in case the orders are not forthcoming.
Take the case of the Joint Christian Council, whose members went to pray for the Omusinga wa Rrenzururu Wesley Mumbere.
They were cleared by the Director of Operations of the Uganda Police but were stopped by the District Police Commander who claims he knew nothing. The information would have been concrete if it was a ‘directive’ from the President, the man with the final say.
Then there is the one from the government spokesman who dismissed with disdain the talk that Museveni was in talks with Besigye, only for evidence to point out that he was not really informed.
You could tell that he was simply playing safe by going along with the narrative that there is animosity between the two so they cannot talk.
If this continues you can only envisage a serious dilemma for this country. Should the President ever get out of the picture, there will not be any recognisable and efficient structures to carry on government work because such structures grow and evolve with time, tests and the dynamic demands of society. We shall have to start from scratch. That is not easy.
Happy Birthday Kabaka Ronald Edward Fredrick Kimera Muwenda Mutebi II
To all those who, two days ago took part in this year’s annual Kabaka Birthday run, we owe a lot of gratitude for your time, energy and financial contribution.
When the 36th Kabaka of Buganda, His Majesty Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II, who turns 62 on April 13, celebrates his birthday, this run and several other sports activities are organised to collect funds for health challenges that afflict society.
It also provides awareness and health education to the public about these health concerns. Last year it was Fistula. This year the proceeds will go towards the fight against the sickle cell condition that affects and sends many to an early grave.
The management of healthcare is one of the largest holes in our social safety net. It is in order to applaud such a big and timely intervention.
Happy Birthday to the King. We wish you many, many more and may God Bless you and your family.
Awangale, Ayi Ssabasajja!
Nicholas Sengoba is a commentator on political and social issues.