Our leaders learn nothing. Why should boda bodas learn?

Author: Alan Tacca. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

‘‘Museveni’s government is being tested both at the centre and the extreme periphery”

It is reasonable to think that President Museveni turned to ‘fishermen’ for Cabinet posts because he had been disappointed by his nomads.
However, the things that prevented the disbanded ministers from working to the President’s satisfaction have not gone away. And judging from people’s voices, the President will struggle to convince the public that his new Cabinet is an improvement on the old ones. 

As long as top-down poor governance still reigns, where the nomads’ worry was Opposition snake bites, the fishermen’s nightmare will be drowning.
Museveni’s government is being tested both at the centre and the extreme periphery of the land; chaos, violence and joblessness in Kampala Capital City, and chaos, violence and starvation in remote Karamoja.
Powerful politicians in cahoots with broker-cum-investors are reportedly exploiting Karamoja’s rich stone and other mineral resources with total cynicism. 

Meanwhile, mothers and little children are migrating or being ‘trafficked’ from Karamoja to Kampala to beg under the noses of the 1986 ‘fundamental change’ freedom fighters.
As if there has been a turf war in which the street children from other parts of the country have been eliminated or dispersed, appearances suggest that most of the children working Kampala’s streets hail from Karamoja.
This exhibition of the most wretched of the land has been added to the profusion of boda bodas, hawkers and vendors, defining Kampala as Uganda’s Capital eyesore.
Like in many big cities, people living and working in Kampala were ahead in engendering criticism and forming opposition to President Museveni’s rule. 

Intolerant of opposition, especially in the heart of the republic, Museveni’s approach has been to defy the political ‘general will’ of the city. Constantly poised to confront defiance with counter-defiance, an unloved national Executive appoints two ministers, an executive director and several resident city commissioners (apparently) to try as much as possible to run Kampala without co-operating with the city’s elected leaders.
It is hard to think of another part of the country where NRM plays so much hostile politics and at the same time denounces the Opposition so vehemently for playing politics.
But Kampala cannot become a (sustainable) ‘smart city’ on a rotten under-city mostly engineered for less than a quarter of today’s city population.

Kampala cannot become a smart city when more than half of city dwellers and hustlers are not fully employed.
Kampala cannot be developed into a smart city when most of the country’s resources are directed towards weaving militarist schemes just to keep NRM in power, which squanders the rest in high-office extravagance, naked theft, laughable anti-poverty interventions and costly knee-jack responses to crises like the hunger now ravaging Karamoja.
There is something whimsical about Uganda. This must be one of the very few countries where a minister of Finance has secured his tenure virtually by being accepted as a figure of fun.
Because our political leaders learn nothing, some of our more pretentious religious leaders think they can fill the gaps.

They, too, learn nothing. A few days ago, I heard one of them broadcast that Ugandans could not adjust to a scientific/technical mindset unless religious leaders champion the shift.
Please, spare us! When backward states fail to advance in our times, they are not redeemed by sermons from the pulpit. It is improved statecraft and governance, not reciting biblical myths and paying tithes that will repair Uganda.
But if our political and religious leaders are our pain because they don’t learn, why are our vendors and boda boda cyclists expected to be exemplary citizens?
Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.
[email protected]

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