Macho’s candle burns out as MPs run to Finance over pay

Sunday October 20 2013

By Isaac Iamaka

In Shakespeare’s classic Julius Caesar, Marcus Junius Brutus, who conspired with rogues to kill Caesar, spoke ill about him before the mourners, saying he was an ambitious chap who was spoiling things for them. But being a friend of Caesar, Anthony, another character in the play, stood by the dead Caesar and told of how good he was.

“I come here to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; the good is often buried with their bones. So let it be with Caesar,” he said. “I thrice presented him a kingly crown, which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition? Yet Brutus says he was ambitious. O judgement, thou art fled to brutish beasts. And men have lost their reason. My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, and I must pause till it comes back to me.”

Marxist gone
Enough of the literal fairy tale; today I speak of Chango Macho w’Obanda. I call him the last Marxist who was standing. The grey-moustache and the Kaunda suit was his trademark appearance. He served as an MP once.
When he passed on, Chango was being taken to hospital. He was an ostensible believer in communism and a true follower of Karl Marx.

A UPC youth-winger, Chango Macho was one of those who former president Milton Obote dismissed from the party in 1965. He teamed up with the late Prof Dani Wadada Nabudere, with whom they shared similar views, and others to try and push for communism.

“We believe in Marxism,” Prof Kajabago Karusoke, Macho’s close friend and NRM party ideologue, said. He is one of the people who played a strong part on shaping the politics of this country and he was close to the “Gang of Four”- that group of the four critical political thinkers of the early post-independence Uganda, which was led by Nabudere and had members such as Prof Edward Rugumayo, Yash Tandon and the Prof Omwony Ojok.

Learning of Macho’s death, one question came into mind: How does Uganda keep its history? Its true Macho was a pamphleteer but will his work and contribution to the politics of this country be remembered 30 years after his death or it will only remain a sitting room talk among his close family?

This country needs a museum to keep our history, to keep portraits or even sculptures of all those who have played an important role in sharing the political, social and economic path of this country.
And people like Macho should have a placard next to their sculptures declaring that: “Here is the man who believed in Marxism. Who believed in a situation where there is no state and no standing army; where there is zero exploitation of man by man.”

His body would be brought to Parliament to lie in state yesterday. An insider told me it could not happen because there are some renovations taking place in the chambers. But as Macho gets laid to rest today, Parliament and the politics of the country he struggled to shape continues to be a source of sometimes hope, but most times laughter.

Shrine claims
It is now a joke at Parliament. That as MPs went on recess a fortnight ago, the NRM Caucus spokesperson, the youthful Evelyn Anite, headed to a shrine in Koboko allegedly to get godly blessings for the coming 2016 elections.

Anite’s pictures that ran in a local tabloid brought back memories of former vice president, Gilbert Bukenya, who while executing his boss’ assignments, was pictured in a shrine throwing money and beads in a basket as the traditional healer belched out incantations. There have also been stories of some subscribing to the traditional spiritual world seeking for political survival.

So Anite should be castigated. After all, wizardry and shrines is a thing for politicians. “That story was reported out of context. I was never in a shrine,” she told me at the House Lobby. “I don’t know why those journalists chose to claim that I was in a shrine yet I was in Koboko donating a maize mill to help over 2,500 women.”

The maize mill, now the only one in the locality where it was donated, will be charging Shs100 per kilo. If that is what took the youth leader to Koboko, then that is an example of an MP utilising the recess well because there are some that are spending their time worrying whether they will get this month’s salary.

Panic over pay
A group has already petitioned President Museveni, asking him to rein in Ministry of Finance to ensure that the ongoing upgrade of the finance release systems doesn’t delay their salaries. Ministry of Finance ordered all accounting officers to upgrade the Integrated Financial Management system from the Oracle Release 11 to Oracle release 12 to ensure speed in making releases.

Mr Keith Muhakanizi, the Secretary to the Treasury, says budget-monitoring reports have revealed increasing cases of unauthorized reallocations, diversion of funds and mischarge or wrong budget items. All these have resulted in failure to implement critical government programs/projects and ultimately affected the quality of service delivery across various sectors and the hope is that the upgraded system will put an end to the practice of pocketing travel per diems by MPs and Parliament staff yet they don’t actually travel.