It is not the beginning that matters, but what follows,” used to say our Chaplain at Budo, the Rev Laban Bombo (may the Lord keep him well.)
When Uganda was trying to come to terms with the advent of the coronavirus era about six months ago, President Museveni made a very fundamental point. That when it came to human existence, everything else could wait, including the growth of the economy. We were to concentrate on staying alive by keeping everything else on hold. The threat of the deadly novel virus that was in our midst was paramount.
The daily updates of deaths from around the world scared even the bravest of the brave. So the lockdown was begrudgingly justified. Social gatherings of more than five people were forbidden. This too was taken in the stride.
Politicians were not to hold rallies or even distribute food to the hungry, because this would pack people together and risk infecting them with coronavirus. Any politician who dared would be charged for ‘attempted murder.’
MP Francis Zaake Butebi of Mityana tried and he was beaten to pulp for feeding the hungry, whom by the way, he contacted virtually, by sending food baskets delivered by boda bodas, to their doorsteps.
Even people who are ordinarily rational or tend to side with the weak, asked cryptically if MP Zaake would not have avoided being tortured if he had not decided to ‘provoke’ the authorities. This was despite the fact that some members of the ruling NRM party were gathering and distributing food under the nose of the enthusiastic security agencies.
Then some political forces like the then pressure group, People Power (now the National Unity Platform-NUP,), saw an opportunity and designed red custom-made facemasks with their logo.
Minister of State for Investment Evelyn Anite warned against ‘politicising’ Covid-19 and ‘banned’ the wearing of masks with party colours and logos.
The government went on and contracted investors to provide masks with ‘neutral colours.’ The one of very poor quality I received is grey with loops made out of yellow panty laces. Like the late George Floyd, you can’t breath when you fix it on your nose. Many people fasten it under the chin like necklaces just for the sake. At least Shs80b was spent on that.
Fast forward to today. It is now no secret that social distancing and wearing of masks as measures to curb the spread of coronavirus is, for all intents and purposes, in the past.
In the just concluded NRM party primaries, voters were packed like sardines as they joined lines that snaked all the way to the poster of the candidate they voted for. Social distancing was impossible when voters were scrambling for money that was distributed in the open by many of the candidates.
Politics being the game of competing loud opinions meant that the mouth had to have its freedom lest it exploded from containing the pressure from the vocal cords. So the mask was a no, no in most areas as people made their views known from things ranging from who was the best choice to who was attempting to cheat.
From just observing the NRM party primaries, one would be forgiven for thinking that coronavirus does not spread through political gatherings.
Speaking of the mask, even minister Anite, the self-proclaimed gateway to Koboko, who recently lost in the NRM party primaries, was bedecked in her own tailor-made mouth piece complete with her party colours and logo.
She also carried out processions of her supporters and addressed non-social distanced gatherings just like the Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng did in Lira and very many other politicians elsewhere.
When it comes to politics, it is normal to preach water and drink wine instead. What don’t serve the goose the same portion as the gander. You don’t carry the burden you load others.
Second, in politics like someone said, there is always someone being used by others to achieve their goals. It is also added that in case you look around and you don’t see anyone being used, most probably you are the one being used.
Apparently, the gullible people being packed together at rallies and in procession by politicians, telling them that all they are doing is about securing their future, don’t know that Mulago Hospital has been reserved for VIPs only. They will probably be on their own when push comes to shove. The politician’s nest is feathered by the people they put at risk of their lives. These people also serve as the door mat on which they clean their shoes.
So the NRM party primaries with all the cries of rigging and violence emanating therefrom, should be considered a blessing. They have showed that it is practically difficult to hold ‘scientific’ elections as is desired by the Independent Electoral Commission on the nudging of the NRM party candidate, Yoweri Museveni.
We should now stop pretending and let the politicians go meet the people where they are because that is what is happening for some politicians anyway. It is now in the hands of the people to assess the risk and answer the call of the politicians or keep away and stay safe. The reality is that enforcing the pipe dream called ‘scientific’ elections has turned into a nightmare. The earlier we put it off the cards the better.
In the beginning the ‘scientific’ election sounded plausible, what has followed makes it impossible.