Of conmen everywhere and Vampire State above

Alan Tacca

What you need to know:

The Vampire State exploits this condition, incorporates the President, dangles before you a crude machine and promises a futuristic electric car that will not be there.

Recently, in Arua, more than 80 people gave millions of shillings to Sky Motors, a newly registered company. The payments were in instalments for new boda boda motorcycles. Reportedly, on the appointed day for the last instalment and collection of bikes, Sky Motors vanished.

In another story, several Born-Again/Pentecostal pastors have earned millions of shillings from a crusade in Busoga. Among other miracles, the crusade adverts promised that cripples and blind people would have their mobility and sight restored.

If police have the will and competence to investigate, they will probably find that Sky Motors was yet another Ugandan racket.

In the crusade story, if eccentric Christian spiritualists and witchdoctors did not have a ‘historical’ right to tell lies about faith healing, and police who were certainly roaming around wanted to investigate, they would find evidence that not a single authentically crippled or blind person got genuinely healed.

These stories are forgettable because they are happening almost everywhere, albeit in varying detail and on different scales. Gullible people are lured to transfer their money to ordinary quacks and smart fraudsters.
Shift focus. Uganda is a Vampire State because those who have political power, their propagandists, their administrative functionaries and business associates have dyed their souls in deep and insatiable greed. And they have engineered the hierarchies and mechanisms of government to service that greed. The rot is both systemic and systematic. No government institution or initiative can escape from the fabric of the Vampire State and sustain its integrity, or even survive.

Take science, technology and all the government hype. With due respect, President Museveni (I think) is neither a scientist nor a ‘technical’ man. The people around him would quickly detect that he does not (instinctively) internalise the distance between a scientific idea and an engineering (or a practical) concept, or the distance between a concept and mass products.

The Vampire State exploits this condition, incorporates the President, dangles before you a crude machine and promises a futuristic electric car that will not be there.
It dangles before you a paper-concept vaccine and promises a high-bio-tech vaccine that will not be there. And so on.

I believe that Museveni, his scientists and his money functionaries rotate around each other and are not absolutely sure who is fooling who. Result: they must protect each other.

Dr Musenero, all informed persons know and agree with you that there are genetically engineered rats with price tags far above our Shs8 million acquisitions. But you spoil your case when you (now) say that the rats you really wanted were even more expensive.

State-of-the-art science cannot be exactly a bread-or-cassava budgetary compromise. 
If $2,200 rats are not what you really needed, then they might be as useless as $100 misonso.

Far more central than these rats, why didn’t Museveni’s scientists cite all the developed nations that have avoided the vaccine race and squarely tell him that given our limited expertise, money, tools and credibility, Ugandans may be at least 20 years away from developing and manufacturing vaccines as complex as the Covid-19 challenge?

Mr President, since you are not content to leave anything you start mature under different leaders, forget things like electric cars and Covid-19 vaccines. Buy gloves, drugs and ambulances; pay the nurses and doctors well. Make wheelbarrows, and maybe vaccines for chicken diseases.

Overstretching itself, the State will remain disreputable, only giving encouragement to the likes of Sky Motors and Bible-toting conmen claiming to reverse permanent disabilities.

Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.
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