President Yoweri Museveni is a very skilled politician and he doesn’t say or write things without thinking seriously about them. On Sunday evening, while launching Uganda’s Golden Jubilee celebrations at the Kampala Serena Hotel, Museveni gave a spirited defense of the Police Force, which lately has come under fire for human rights abuses with some people describing the force as brutal and roguish.
Museveni said the Uganda Police under General Kale Kayihura is a very professional force and describing them as human rights abusers is a ‘bogus assessment.’
Museveni then said the police are a mirror of the general society. He declared; ‘You cannot have an indisciplined political class and expect the police to be disciplined and if there are human rights groups who do not balance their judgment of the police, then they are bogus and useless.’
Museveni is most definitely right. Politicians in this country set the trends. We have very few other role models that Ugandans want to emulate and one journalist once said that politics is Uganda’s cash crop. If you want to get rich quick, join politics.
Everyone learns from our politicians and our policemen, like the rest of Ugandans learn from the political class. After all it’s the politicians, not the policemen or the teachers, who have a vision for this country.
Therefore if the politicians are misbehaving be rest assured, the rest of the population are learning and imitating.
If the political class is stealing, then everyone else in Uganda will start stealing. We learn from the best, that’s for sure.
If you accept that its okay for senior politicians to pass on bribes to Members of Parliament (fellow politicians) to alter the Constitution of the Republic to remove presidential term limits and therefore stay in power longer, you cannot fault female students at Makerere University who bribe lecturers with sex to get higher marks.
You also cannot fault the traffic policemen for taking ‘kitu kidogo’ from erring motorists instead of having them charged in court, or the prosecutors for receiving payments from suspects and preferring weak charges.
If the politicians are stealing and skimming, the rest of the population will be stealing and skimming, it is very unfair for activists to single out one group like the police for blame, activists need to blame the whole society.
Last week, Museveni addressed MPs of his party the NRM at State House Entebbe and criticized some of the MPs for sabotaging government programs and not being patriotic enough. Using a footballing analogy he accused some of his MPs of running to the referee to report a foul committed by a teammate.
According to Museveni, it is right and fitting and very patriotic for Ugandans to keep quiet whenever they see a fellow Ugandan committing a foul, even if it brings the game into disrepute.
Museveni was telling MPs to be good team players but he is also telling them to conceal fouls and dupe the referee all in the name of winning.
Museveni is telling the country to adopt the culture of winning by playing dirty.
That shielding Ugandan criminals and wrong doers from foreigners is a commendable trait that must be adopted by all Ugandans. Fair play has no place in Museveni’s rulebook.
It is for this reason that Museveni finds fault with journalists like Charles Onyango Obbo who he describes as ‘a quisling traitor’ an ‘enemy of the NRM’ and the country because he uses foreign-owned publications to ‘pour venom on the work of the NRM that it is corrupt, it is led by greedy people who cling to power, etc, etc.’
This is now the thinking in government; the Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi told a thanks-giving service in Kinkizi in Kanungu district that current leaders should groom the youth to prepare them for the mantle of leadership in the future. This prompted a pal on twitter to remark: “…so if the ‘youth’ are groomed by thieves will things get any better?’
While delivering a speech to mark World Press Freedom Day at Hotel Africana last week, the information Minister Mary Karoro Okurut lambasted Journalists for ‘shaming’ Uganda by highlighting the negative things about Uganda in their writings. She wants journalists to be ‘patriotic’ by highlight only the positives and ignoring those stories that shame Uganda.
It’ll be the new thinking in government; if you highlight the evil in our society, you the messenger are the enemy of society not the evildoer.
According to pronouncements by government officials, journalists, not the corrupt government officials, are the real enemies of Uganda because they chose to highlight corruption scandals bringing only shame to the country. The government faults the reporters but won’t punish the thieving officials who set a terrible example for the other citizens.
So next time the nurse at the hospital asks for some ‘tea’ before assigning you a bed, don’t blame the nurse. She probably learnt this from the senior politicians who pay cash even for votes.
Kitgum Woman MP Beatrice Anywar is a principled lady. Her principles were firmed when she rejected and promptly returned money that was deemed a bribe from the government. Government had stealthily deposited Shs20million onto the accounts of MPs as facilitation to enable them supervise government programs. The 20million was part of an emergency supplementary allocation of Shs602billion shillings that had been passed by a hastily convened house of Parliament in the run up to the last general elections.
According to many MPs the 20 million paid to the MPS was a bribe and a token of appreciation to the MPs for passing a supplementary budget.
According to the IMF officials most of the Shs602billion was splashed on the electoral campaigns by the government.
Anywar returning the bribe money made news and many Ugandan’s were delighted and praised the lady politicians.
But many more Ugandans were stunned that she’s that principled to return money from the government. Some said she was crazy, others said she was stupid. Its like everyone believes that its every citizen’s right to steal from the government and many could not believe how Anywar could possibly return the money to government.
The opposition FDC party issued a directive to their MPs to return the dirty money but many defied the directive yet many of the ‘refuseniks‘ were still re-elected meaning that the population wasn’t outraged by the blatant bribery.
Now according to published reports MP Anywar is being looked at by colleagues in the opposition with a lot of suspicion because to her blossoming friendship with president Museveni. The point of their worry is that considering that the President and the NRM have at their disposal lots of money, Anywar’s colleagues are worried that she will be tempted to receive some of the fat envelopes. Its like everyone expects her to fall for the temptation, receive the envelopes and change her political affiliation. In Uganda, we expect money to move everything, including morals.
Which points to the ethics of Ugandans that Museveni leads. Corruption is the order of the day and no one gets shocked by the many scandals that rock government and no one really gets punished. Therefore Museveni was spot on. You cannot have an indisciplined political class (and make no mistake Museveni was not only talking only about the opposition) in Uganda and expect the police or anyone to be disciplined.
When the full story is finally told in the distant future, this, am afraid, will be one the biggest achievements of this presidency, the commercialization of everything, even morals.