What you need to know:
- Anarchy means an absence of law or government. Can any government, which is supposed to be the embodiment of the rule of law in society be ‘anarchic’, represent an absence of itself? Is such a political paradox possible? In Uganda, it is not just possible but in fact has been in practice for many years since 1986.
Can functioning anarchy/populist anarchy be a substitute for good governance? This question is in reference to the constitutional propriety or impropriety of our Prime Minister in effect against her own administration. This hinges on Robinah Nabbanja’s style of functioning, which an increasing number of commentators, including national elders, are describing as being ‘anarchic’.
Anarchy means an absence of law or government. Can any government, which is supposed to be the embodiment of the rule of law in society be ‘anarchic’, represent an absence of itself? Is such a political paradox possible? In Uganda, it is not just possible but in fact has been in practice for many years since 1986.
For all the increasing clamour of the urgent need of good governance, Uganda has always been what is often described as a functioning anarchy, a society in which rules exist only in order to be broken, or openly flouted. This is where the Prime Minister and others have taken this a notch higher.
Ms Nabbanja’s storming of the Mengo Magistrate’s Court to rescue a widow, Ms Gertrude Nalule, from jail over a civil debt of Shs2.8 million is another example (among many) of a functioning anarchy. Despite court records showing that Nalule was summoned two times to defend herself and she refused to turn up, Nabbanja couldn’t buy any of that explanation. She could not explain any of the many “loopholes” in the case she claimed it had. She instead decided that there was only one “Nalule” in Uganda’s jails.
There has been an increase by the government’s intervention in the different spheres of people’s lives (like “lucky” Gertrude) in a variety of ways but this has failed to bring any substantial change in their lives and existing situations; be it economy or social life. The last time I checked, the Prime Minister had a lot to put in order in her backyard going by the two forensic audits by the Office of the Auditor General and Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority.
As it is in a functioning arnachy, all the officials in the Office of the Prime Minister that were fired had their interdictions lifted. The Prime Minister should have instead raised the widow’s case with the Chief Justice.
Uganda has an innate genius for a functioning anarchy, for operating without any rules at all. We call this lack of rules. Whether it is negotiating everyday traffic on the road, getting health services or foreign affairs services, Uganda improvises: it improvises through extemporisation, ad hocism, call it what you will.
There is only one cardinal rule in Uganda; that there are no hard and fast rules for doing anything, from driving a car or a boda boda to conducting government business, or achieving one’s goals by whatever means at hand.
This open flouting of rules is also often reflected through the self appointed ‘moral police’ who will allow some political gatherings and ban others from holding political/birthday rallies.
Self-appointed ‘moral police’ (including other rag tag intelligence services) — a euphenism for political patronage (in Uganda’s case)— assert their ‘right’ to kidnap, beat and torture anyone whose political affiliation is different from the ruling party’s ideology! All this is functioning anarchism.
Prime Minister Nabbanja is a practicing functioning anarchist. She’s everywhere and anywhere, be it trivial or in a comedy show. She (like the others) believe that to get anywhere in Uganda’s public life, one needs to flout every rule there is. Her infatuation with this style of functioning can work for now but it has never survived the test of time on this planet.
Phillip Kimumwe, [email protected]