Who will be Speaker in dishonest Uganda?

Sunday May 02 2021
comm02pix

Alan Tacca

By Alan Tacca

Last Sunday, I noted that after all those years in power, the NRM was bound to leave us with a dishonest society.

Some of our people live in the fantasy that Mr Museveni’s government can change its character and start reconstructing Uganda into a more honest society. That will not happen.

After repetitive action, human behaviour tends to become instinctive. And it is contagious.

I referred to religious operators to illustrate the broader dishonest society because our people have been conditioned to regard them as fountains of truthfulness. Our religious operators are actually perhaps the only people allowed to propagate lies without being challenged by the law, or without suffering social disgrace.

A religious operator can spread the double-lie that we are in the last century, or the last millennium before Jesus comes back. The first lie is about end times, and the second lie is about a dead person coming back.

A Christian religious operator who smears people with oil and promises them miraculous economic success retains his respect, while a Christian warrior like Lakwena or Kony who smears their fighters with oil for miraculous battlefield effects is ridiculed.

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On the political level, of course, dishonesty manifests itself everywhere. Things like those infamous constitutional shenanigans are only the high points crafted by a political gang pretending that a military dictatorship is a democracy.

In this grand project, which overgrew the Fronasa, UPM and NRA/M ideological pretences to the proportions of a monster, the position of the Speaker has been important.

To the top NRM leaders, there must have always been the question: How can the Speaker deliver on their crucial interests – especially the interest to retain power – and at the same time appear to be ‘balanced’, or ‘fair’, or humane and democratic?

In other words, which person is cool and erudite enough, is not a thug but can work with thugs, and can do what it takes to enable those who have power retain power?
If you are interested, you can take a roll call – of the dead and the living – until you get to Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga.

She is cool, although she could benefit from slowing her speech a little. However, unlike her predecessors, she occasionally explodes, and hot pellets fly and sink into the flesh of the thugs before she does their bidding. Some of them do not like this trait at all.

It shows that, ultimately, she despises them.
But many other people like Kadaga for just that trait, including some Opposition politicians. A quarter-ally is better than a full-sized enemy.

So, in both NRM and Opposition camps, there are pro and anti-Kadaga factions.
Now, her deputy, Jacob Oulanyah, is reportedly unhappy that Kadaga will not amicably let him replace her in the next Parliament. When he is not sulking, he is said to be actively seeking support.

Some NRM extremists are said to back Oulanyah, because they believe he will do what they want while licking their boots.
Without enough votes to put an Opposition candidate into the Speaker’s chair, the Opposition will probably gravitate towards Kadaga.

But is the choice as easy as it looks?
If Kadaga wins, the Opposition will have some space. This is good.
If Oulanyah wins, his style and his rulings might alienate more citizens, including moderate NRM members, and trigger an implosion.

In a country where governments are generally brought down by internal friction, his victory might bring the NRM regime nearer to the graveyard where past governments lie. This is also good.

Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.
altaccaone@gmail.com

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