You may not know; you are the ugly citizen

Author: Alan Tacca. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • The masters of the Vampire State are ugly citizens. 

Hip, hip, hurrah! 
Hip, hip, hurrah! 

Uganda’s MPs have reportedly been thanked with Shs40 million each for approving supplementary budget expenditure at State House, in Defence and other places; expenditure that only geniuses can understand.

The Speaker and the Deputy Speaker should give the MPs another Shs40 million each for voting as they did in the post-Oulanyah Speaker race.

A few years back, in a kind of cartoon art form, but featuring living animals instead of newspaper or animated drawings, piglets were released in places like the precincts of Parliament. 

The appearance of these animals in posh surroundings associated with high political power was so incongruous, you could not avoid linking the unflattering reputation of the pig to our politics.
Were the big politicians as dirty and greedy as the pig?

In vampire states, human greed is normalised. The players who are stationed at all the junctions where public money is siphoned into private pockets must rapidly grow a very thick skin. They must abolish or at least indefinitely suspend their conscience. And they must learn to disregard criticism from any quarter.

New players who resist the corruption contagion are quickly disempowered or removed by the masters of the State.

This does not mean that the future of such a state is completely hopeless. As the players become privately richer and publicly more ostentatious, the State can gradually become so impoverished and so incompetent that a system collapse is triggered.

Also, machinations in the Vampire State breed internal rivalries that are no less deadly than external threats. So, the Vampire State can sometimes be overthrown, the pain involved notwithstanding.

Whether they have good looks, smile broadly and cruise to their destinations in some of the most elegant limousines on earth, the masters of the Vampire State are ugly citizens.
However, the ugly citizen appears in different forms.

Jammed in traffic, you suspect the police officer ahead might get interested to learn why the jalopy in front of you has one of its side mirrors hanging loose.

Well, the officer is not interested. He waves the car to move on. When your car pulls up, he slowly walks round it, carefully inspecting every external detail. Then he ambles to your window and announces that he is very thirsty.

You press Shs2,000 in his palm. He does not blink. He closes his palm, thanks you and waves you to move on. He is the ugly citizen.

At home, you find the plumber waiting for his money. You had forgotten about him when you withdrew money from the ATM for dining out with Madame. The outing cannot be put off. The plumber should come back for his money the following week.
You may not know; you are the ugly citizen.

On your way to dinner, Madame narrates how Junior is contesting his primary school dormitory prefecture. To enhance his chances of being elected, he wants 120 choc-sticks to splash out in the dormitory on his birthday.

Well, Junior is already constructing the ugly citizen in his bones.

Fortunately, although Covid-19 lockdowns forced Madame’s employer, a government ministry, to cancel a September 2021 five-day trip, her per diem claim had been paid in arrears. She is the ugly citizen. But now it is easy to buy the choc-sticks.

Junior’s dormitory-mates know that he is a bit of a bully and a braggart, but they can overlook that for now. Nobody is perfect. 

Little pigs. Yes, they are young ugly citizens. Tomorrow they will vote for the masters of the Vampire State.

Mr Tacca is a novelist, socio-political commentator.
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