What you need to know:
- Uganda’s politics is not only a dirty but also truly bloody sport. The madness has persisted so long that we risk losing our sense of outrage, of right and wrong, which amounts to losing our humanity.
My expectations of the New Year are basic, coming off the body blows of 2020 that were so unsparing.
Number one, I would like to see peaceful voting on election day, January 14. I would also like to see a peaceful aftermath.
This sounds like daydreaming given how blood-soaked the campaign period has been thus far. And it may get worse these remaining days before we cast our ballots. Uganda’s politics is not only a dirty but also truly bloody sport. The madness has persisted so long that we risk losing our sense of outrage, of right and wrong, which amounts to losing our humanity.
By the way, who should have blood on his or her hands for what is going on? The security services? The President? The government as a whole? Some presidential candidates?
The masses who try to march in public processions in support of their candidates against the Covid-19 SOPs, hence spreading the virus ever farther on? The answer looks straightforward. But it may not be. As you think about it, throw in another thought: what kind of Uganda do we want?
Number two, I would like to see the back of Covid-19 as soon as, well… as soon as yesterday. This disease has inflicted death and destruction. Even more insidious is its capacity to evoke fear and uncertainty. You are never sure where you stand with this thing. It gets weirder when your government locks you down, slaps a curfew on everyone, and advises you to not touch your eyes, nose, and mouth.
This last bit of not touching your upper body “soft parts” still has me in a bind. How does one “really, honestly, sincerely” avoid touching his eyes, nose, and mouth? We do this instinctively and we have all our lives. To deliberately avoid doing so is kinda like ceasing to be a human being with blood and nerves and the ability to react to stimuli. I bet a gazillion of us have failed this “eye-nose-mouth” test.
If the security services enforced the “don’t touch your ENM SOP”, we would all be in jail or in quarantine some place. Incidentally, when does a widely available vaccine get here to save us from our misery? It had better be within 2021. The rumour that says 2023 had better remain just that - a rumour.
Number three, the economy had better recover faster. Kwegamba! The decimation already caused by Covid-19 is colossal. Which is all the more reason why we should not compound things with a messy election process, or maybe we want a political revolution. (Now this would be a matter on another level altogether).
In its economic performance report for November, the ministry of Finance says: “Save for agriculture and other services, sentiments about doing business were pessimistic for all other sectors that are part of this index. This was probably on account of perceived tensions in the run up to the general election.”
And the World Bank issued a report a month ago. The accompanying commentary says: “The Covid-19 crisis has considerably slowed down Uganda’s growth to 3.1 per cent in FY20, down from 6.8 per cent in the previous fiscal years... Household incomes have fallen as a result of widespread closures of firms, job losses within industry and services, particularly the urban informal sector, and a movement of labour back to farming.”
A movement of labour back to farming.
And up to three million more Ugandans could slip into poverty, ballooning the current number of 8.7 million living in poverty.
With unpromising prospects like these, it is tricky to wish for more than what is basic.
Happy New Year to us all.
Mr Tabaire is a media trainer and commentator on public affairs based in Kampala. [email protected]