What you need to know:
- Cosase compiled a 33-page report, which was to be acted upon by Parliament. The report did not get anywhere; the Speaker ignored it. Now Ugandans have shoved the mess in Uganda Airlines to the back of their minds.
If you have not heard of Dorah on social media, you must be wondering: “Who is Dorah?” Well, Dorah, as the name suggests, is a woman who has been the subject of (embarrassing) conversations by some people working in Parliament.
They do not talk about her in their official capacity, but because Parliament is failing to address important issues, such as the missing supporters of the National Unity Platform (NUP) and is generally thought to have gone to the dogs, some Ugandans crack jokes and say: “Parliament went to Dorah, not to the dogs.”
The August House — I hope it still deserves this name — is now high up on a very long list of things that do not seem to work. For weeks now, it has been in the news over the way it is handling the boycott of plenary sessions by Opposition MPs, who are justifiably protesting the missing persons, believed to have been abducted by security forces.
The MPs are not acting on rumours. They have irrefutable/incontrovertible evidence that people are missing. Last year, for example, the minister of Internal Affairs, Kahinda Otafiire, said: “I have heard many complaints of people being arrested without proper investigations. I am tired of unlawful arrests and false imprisonment.”
It is hard to believe Parliament, given the way it is managed, exists to serve Ugandans. When the Auditor General revealed that Uganda Airlines had made a loss of Shs164.5 billion in the 2020/2021 financial year, the committee on Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (Cosase) went to work and unearthed some really startling facts.
For example, MPs heard that CEO Jennifer Bamuturaki did not have the requisite qualifications listed in the Uganda Airlines HR manual, had not even applied for the job (which had been advertised) and — would you believe it — went on to hire a commercial director named Regina Tebasiima who only had an A-Level certificate.
Cosase compiled a 33-page report, which was to be acted upon by Parliament. The report did not get anywhere; the Speaker ignored it. Now Ugandans have shoved the mess in Uganda Airlines to the back of their minds.
Some Ugandans say that in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Parliament was better. I disagree. People who hold this view lose sight of the fact that, then, the governing NRM was not the stinking mess it has become over the past 20 years or so.
Today the NRM government needs a Parliament that cannot act independently because the rot that has set in and over which it presides is of almost inconceivably devastating magnitude, leading some to ask: Is Uganda sinking?
Ignore things such as runaway corruption to which we are now accustomed and think of public goods such as electricity. Electricity in Uganda fails like prayer. On November 20, this newspaper reported that power outages were crippling businesses in eastern Uganda.
Power outages were a major problem in 1986 when the NRM shot its way to power; they are still a major problem in 2023.
And this in a country that tries to market itself as a good investment destination. Who is going to invest in Uganda? Why are we even surprised that the United States issued a business advisory warning its companies to steer clear of Uganda?
Greed for power has given us a government and Parliament that seem to exist only in name. We can rely on politicians to change things for the better, but we should always remember that politicians have put us where we are — and Dorah in the limelight.
Mr Musaazi Namiti is a journalist and former
Al Jazeera digital editor in charge of the Africa desk
[email protected] @kazbuk