Tuesday, August 24, 2010

‘Mr. Kigali’ gets 93% over-kill as Rwanda awaits King Kigeli

By Asuman Bisiika

On September 6, Paul Rutagambwa Kagame will be sworn-in for a second and last term of office as President of Rwanda. As was expected, he easily won the August 9 presidential poll; the talking point though has been the 93% victory.

At one of the radio talk shows on which I am a regular, the show host said it was not a landslide but a tsunami. Does the 93% over-kill represent Kagame’s level popularity in Rwanda? No, please no.

In the first place, the question of Kagame’s popularity should not arise because an electoral process, whether won by 100% or slightly less like it was in the August 9 poll, would not do justice to his larger-than-life national profile.

As I have said elsewhere, President Kagame’s participation in the political leadership of Rwanda (don’t mind winning elections) is out of legitimacy, not tangible electoral popularity. His people’s attempt to portray the 93% as a measure of popularity is actually misplaced.

Rwanda’s political dynamics
After the genocide, the victorious RPF made what they called the RPF Declaration of 1994. This declaration overwrote (was supreme over) the Constitution and the 1993 Arusha Peace Accords, the two documents on which Rwanda was to be ruled in a power sharing deal.

The essence of the RPF Declaration of 1994 was that all political players in Rwanda are sort of co-opted to the RPF (ok, at least to their viewpoint).

So, for one to participate (well, and winning) in elections in Rwanda, it is has to be on the terms of the RPF. And since Paul Kagame, the ultimate ‘Mr. Kigali’ is still in the electoral mix, he deserves all the votes. Don’t mind that the 93% figure has parallels with elections in Mobutu’ Zaire (now Dr Congo) and Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

Kagame’s 93% score should be viewed in this light: President Museveni holding elections in 1990 at a time all the political elite had been co-opted into the National Resistance Movement. Would any one be surprised if Museveni won with 95% in 1990?

As I have said elsewhere, the national civics in Rwanda must fit in the thinking of Gutahuka (return of Rwandan refugee), Gubohoza (the RPF liberation or the hegemony it created) and Itsemba Bwoko (Genocide). Needles to say, the custodian of these ideals is the RPF led by Kagame.

He led the 1959 Tutsi refugees back home in 1994, he organised the return of (the 1994) Hutu refugees in 1997 and he led the forces that stopped the genocide.

When I was in Prison, I learnt that the return of the Hutu refugees in 1997 meant a lot to them; in the same way the Tutsi’s return back home in 1994. Incidentally I learnt a lot about Rwanda when I was in prison than all the time I was wining and dining at the exclusive Jali Club with Hutu and Tutsi leaders.

To understand Gutahuka, one would have to appreciate its character. It was a mass wave of whole communities fleeing their homes; an event that has been indelibly written in the collective history of both Hutus and Tutsi. This character contrasts the new wave former state functionaries fleeing the country (some through the airport) after falling out with the establishment.

The most important aspect of Gutahuka also comes with feeling of defeat that led to Guhunga (exile or refuge) in the first place. And since the Gutahuka was on the terms of the leadership, there is always a sense of submission (both passive and active) to the forces that organised or led the Great Trek back home.

Regular visitors to Rwanda like Andrew Mwenda (editor of The Independent news magazine) who think Kagame’s popularity derives the state’s delivery of social services may need to know that Rwanda had a very strong social welfare regime during Habyarimana’s time.

So, whereas there may not have been electoral thefts, the environment under which the elections were held was not sanitised enough for a liberal and informed civic participation.

Super hero Kagame
Kagame is actually like Rome’s Julius Caesar and the so-called first triumvirate. But like Caesar, the challenge is how he uses his super hero status. Which brings us to the question: is Kagame stifling the opposition or the country lacks a credible opposition?

In a recent interview, Kagame said, and rightly so, that it is not his job to create the so-called credible opposition. It was a good quote yes, but he was merely politicking. A credible opposition can only exist where there is open debate on national issues. In Rwanda, one such issue is the call for the restructuring of state power and authority by returning the former king as a titular head of state.

It sounds crazy, but I lived in Rwanda long enough to know better. I had my own verbal brawls with President Kagame over Omwami Ndahindurwa Kigeli, Rwanda’s last king. In my personal assessment, if Kagame is ‘Mr. Kigali’, Omwami Kigeli is the only counter-hero to Kagame’s super hero status.

The other option for the political opposition is to wait Kagame out till 2017 when his last constitutional term of office expires. The assumption is that if he stays in power, he will have to come up with some ‘political bargain’ that will result into ceding of some political space.

If he leaves power, his absence would involuntarily create some political space as the new leader would lack Kagame’s national and international profile and appeal.

So, those threatening war like the exiled former Security Chief Patrick Karegeya, may end up playing into Kagame’s hands. Bwana Karegeya, revolutions are no longer sexy.

RPF weaknesses
The RPF government changed the name of the genocide from the Rwanda Genocide to the Genocide of the Tutsi. This represented a clear RPF failure to project itself as a mass party on the platform of Gutahuka, Gubohoza and Intsemba Bwoko.

Their failure to promote the 1997 return of Hutu refugees as part of the national homecoming narrative and the self-destructive promotion of the RPF as a partisan interest group complete with a business empire completes the picture.

Since political activism can only take place in (or under) the RPF, any exclusivity in the party narrows space for national debate. That’s why there are these fall outs within the government (forget the party). And because of this exclusivity, former RPF luminaries like Gen. Kayumba Kanyamwasa, Col. Patrick Karegeya, Ambassador Theogene Rudasingwa and many others find it hard to mainstream their grievances into a horizontal national debating platform. The only way out is to flee out.

It is now wrong to portray the power structure in Rwanda in the light of Hutu-Tutsi formations. It is about “those in power and those out”. Those in power may be Tutsi but they don’t represent the Tutsi as an ethnic entity. And as a government, they would even feel uncomfortable with the Tutsi label.

Thing is: whoever challenges (or fundamentally disagrees with) those in power, whether Hutu or Tutsi, would face the same fate: prison or exile. I think that explains the wave of Tutsi fleeing the country. ENDS
The author is a socio-political analyst with very keen interest on the Great Lakes region. He was the founding editor of The Rwanda Herald.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Twenty four years later…, the NRM struggle continues
Published in The New Vision of January 26, 2010

By Asuman Bisiika

I was once an active political cadre; a political instructor of sorts. One of my favourite topics was “the management of state power vis-à-vis the armed struggle”.

I used to explain to my students: Revolutionary outlook guides the management of state power. To avoid revolutionary regression, counter-revolutionary and neo-revolutionary tendencies, the sustainability of the struggle is critical; which is the basis of the line: the struggle continues.

Otherwise without ideological clarity to guide the armed struggle and the management of state power, the revolution would be reduced to merely assumption of state power; the quick-fix attitude commonplace with military coup plotters. Reference is the 1966 coup (January) and counter-coup (July) in Nigeria that was later to lead to the Biafran civil war.

Sustainability of the struggle is not about the rhetoric oratory of cadres sugared with wordy bombast and quick-tongued diction. Revolutionary sustainability is about tangible and intangible achievements that constitute a legacy.

Now, as the NRM leadership celebrates 24 years in power, what is its enduring legacy?

The most enduring achievement of the NRM struggle has been the demolition of the colonial state superstructure. The central plank of the colonial state was the chief; variously addressed as King, Paramount Chief or merely Chief.

The Chief levied taxes, collected taxes, arrested you for defaulting on payment and released you as he willed. The chief’s responsibility was to the colonial state not the people he ruled. And as long as he did not annoy his colonial masters, he could do with the population as he wished.

He could be a native traditional leader or appointed by the colonial state like the case of Semei Kakungulu, but brief remained the same: namely to rule on behalf (or wish) of the colonial state which was far removed from the people.

The immediate post-colonial administrations, either for lack of ideological clarity or confidence, inherited the entire colonial superstructure and thinking. With the benefit of retrospection however, we can now say that the colonial state was so much entrenched that its destruction needed more than just being independent from colonial masters.

By contrast, the new chief created by NRM (the Sub County Chief or the District’s Chief Administrative Officer) is supervised by the people. This re-organisation of the state superstructure is irreversible.

The phrases “it was a political decision” and “orders from above” are now in vogue as response to queries over bad buys by the government. Weary administrative functionaries (led by Permanent Secretaries) just look on or take advantage of the politicians’ greed and shenanigans. The Chogm scandals are a testimony to this scenario.

Yet this can be explained. The challenges the NRM leadership face today can be blamed to the span of the armed struggle. The armed struggle was so short that it didn’t give the ‘strugglers’ enough time for a comprehensive ideological discipline, cadre development and grounding to run a state professionally.

The NRM didn’t have the opportunity to run a state-like administration like the UNITA of Angola, RENAMO of Mozambique or SPLA of Sudan. This would have given the NRM Political Corps the experience to transit from survival mode (self-preservations and territorial holding) to sustenance and consolidation mode needed to run state apparatus.

Imagine a ten-year stalemate with NRM holding the Political West (from Kafu to Kagera and from Katonga to the Rwenzoris). They would run the ‘liberated areas’ as a state and use their experience to run the administrative functions of the government.

Perhaps corruption (manifested in messed up procurement processes, delivery of shoddy public works and services) would not be at such destructive levels as it is now. ENDS

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Music and politics? Not a bad bet, but who promotes who

By Asuman Bisiika

The rumour is that the National Resistance Movement will adopt Joe Chameleon’s Basima Ogenze as their signature promotional song. And of course, Dr. Hilderman’s Amelia is a praise song for Amelia Kyambadde, the powerful Principal Private Secretary to the president, who is expected to try her hand in active politics in 2011 Oh by the way, it was reported that FDC will hire Bobi Wine to out a song in their favour. One of the books that capture the dilemma of artists playing an active role in the socio-political affairs of a society is Ali Mazrui's The Trial of Christopher Okigbo. The late Nigerian writer Christopher Okigbo, who is itemised in Encyclopaedia Britannica as a poet, is said to have died in active combat fighting for the secession of Biafra from Federal Nigeria. Earlier, Okigbo had declined an award for African Art reasoning that “art is art and there cannot be African Art and European Art”; very good arguments. The ethereal setting of the book and the arguments are a testimony of Mazrui’s brain power and creativity. The main argument in Mazrui’s book is: if Okigbo could decline a continental or Negro award portraying it as racial and parochial, how could he bring himself to die in (or for) a parochial secessionist cause for the Biafra State? But there is nowhere the art of music played such a big role in political activism like in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In DR Congo, when all avenues of expressing discontent were shut by the state, music offered the only escape. But unlike in Uganda, the music industry in DR Congo was big and had been accepted as part of the Congolese socio-political culture. *********************** In 1986, Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) held Presidential Elections in which President Marshal Mobutu Ssese Seko sought re-election. To spur President Mobutu’s campaign, Franco Luambo Makiadi released Candidat Mobutu calling the population to rally behind the candidature of Mobutu. Marshal Mobutu won the poll by 99.99 per cent; as was expected. Of course, the politically passive Tabu Ley Rochereau (Afrisa Internationale) was ‘requested’ to do something. He outed Mobutu, bato bako vote yo massivement (Mobutu, people will vote for you massively). The twenty-minute long Candidat Mobutu was a hit in Zaire and most African countries including Uganda where Congolese music was popular. In search of theme songs after the overthrow of President Mobutu in 1996, (and of course not knowing that the lyrics of the song were praises for Mobutu), radio stations in Uganda ironically played Candidat Mobutu. I will let you in on the lyrics. The Intro Chorus goes like: Zairoise mpe Zairois (Zaireans, ladies and gentlemen). Bima na balabala (take to the streets). Banzana nabasolo (think and be true). Tala lokola nkake (shine like lightning). Pona candidature ya Marshale (for the Marshal's candidature). Mobutu Ssese Seko. Tozala Sese, tozala frank (we are frank, Ssese). Hypcrise to boyi (we hate hypocrisy). Ingratitude to boyi (we hate ingratitude). Nani akoki kosumba ekolo (who will lead the nation). Soki Mobutu te nani mosusu (if not Mobutu, who else). Mobutu Ssese Seko. Some of Franco Luambo’s (the lead singer) lines went thus: Mobutu azongisa unite nationale (Mobutu returned national unity). Mobutu azongisa la paix na Zaire (Mobutu has returned peace to Zaire). Tambola nakati ya Zaire mobimba (Go all over Zaire). Loba monoko nyoso oyo olingi (Speak whatever you want). Moto akotunayo azali te (no one will ask you). Est que kala ezalaka bongo (was it like this before?) Listen to this: Tozuiye naano mabe te (We don't have any problem with him) Abebisa ata moke te (he has not made any mistake) Alembi naano te (he is not yet tired) Nzoto naye ezali naano makasi (His body is in good health) Pona nini toluka candidat mosusu (why should we look for another candidate)? Anecdote: Franco released Candidat Mobutu when he was in exile in Belgium where he had fled from Mobutu’s brutality. In appreciation of the song, President Mobutu 'forgave' him and allowed him to return from exile. Franco turned down the offer; the song was after all a clever satire; for how can an enemy sing your praises. My estimation of Uganda's musicians is that they can do better than just throwing tired lyrical lines at us. And I hope the praise songs for politicians are not the usual hollow entreaties on the campaign rallies of all the candidates. ENDS

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bazarrabusa: the forgotten hero
Timothy (left) and Jane Bazarrabusa (right) with Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdown

TIMOTHY Bazarrabusa, Uganda’s first High Commissioner to the UK, died mysteriously after attending a government meeting. Some say his death was politically motivated, while others say the diplomat, a Mukonzo, who was about to be named vice-president, was a victim of rivalry between his tribesmen and the Toro Kingdom.

In Bugolobi, a Kampala suburb, is Bazarrabusa Drive. The half-kilometre stretch lined with posh houses behind concrete fences connects Luthuli Avenue to Bugolobi Close. The rather affluent residents maintain a leafy neighbourhood that compensates for the broken down road. The affluence of the neighbourhood compares very well with that of Nakasero and Kololo. According to Kampala City Council’s citation, the road was named Bazarrabusa in recognition of Timothy B. Bazarrabusa’s contribution to the struggle for independence and national development. Bazarrabusa was probably the most influential national leader from what we now call Rwenzori Region immediately before and after Independence. However, like most influential national leaders of the 1950s and 1960s, he fell into obscurity. Unlike the others though, he died in 1966 under mysterious circumstances. Bazarrabusa was independent Uganda’s first High Commissioner to the UK, which made him the country’s most influential diplomat. It was, therefore, not surprising that he was recalled in April 1966 to attend a select committee meeting of the cabinet that was to discuss ‘important matters of government’ in Entebbe. During the meeting, Prime Minister Milton Obote is said to have tabled a proposal to abolish native kingdoms. Bazarrabusa advised against it, reasoning that such an action would cause civil strife and consequently cast Uganda in poor light among its friends in the world. The diplomat died on his way back to Kampala from Entebbe. However, with very high filial connections to senior officials of the kingdoms of Toro and Buganda, Bazarrabusa had been hard put to explain the political tensions in the build-up to the 1966 crisis. He is even said to have expressed his discomfort (in confidence to a British diplomat) over the political developments in Uganda. A crisis in the ruling Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) with a section accused of ill-gotten wealth from Congo had led to the arrest of five ministers. And relations between the central government and Buganda were on the rocks. The two had prior to Independence forged an alliance that secured Buganda’s privileged position in independent Uganda. In response to Bazarrabusa’s concerns, the diplomat informed him that Britain was watching with keen interest the political tensions in Uganda. “The British had been involved in the compromise provisions in Uganda’s 1962 Constitution. And they were disappointed that their handiwork was failing just after two years. Plus many British companies had investments in Uganda,” the British diplomat is said to have intimated. Mysterious death Bazarrabusa died on April 25, 1966 in what the local press of the time said was an accident. The Uganda Argus reported that his car had been involved in a head-on collision with a bus in central Kampala. And The Times (a UK publication), picking cue from the local media, ran a story headlined: “Uganda Envoy Dies in Road Crash”. However, there were unconfirmed reports that Bazarrabusa might have died as a result of a politically motivated murder. A former senior member of the UPC recently talked of Bazarrabusa’s death thus: “I really don’t know whether he had made alliances with any of the principal actors in the 1966 crisis. This would certainly put his life at risk. And if he expressed his disapproval of Obote’s actions, then his fate was sealed. It would only be a matter of time.” Indeed, being the son-in-law of the former Buganda Kingdom Treasurer (his first wife was related to the royal family of Toro Kingdom), everyone would expect and suspect him to be sympathetic to Mengo. So, even if he may not have had political alliances as would have been required of a diplomat like him, Bazarrabusa would most likely not have been trusted by the Obote side. Nearly a month after his death, the army stormed the Lubiri, Kabaka Mutesa’s Palace, on Obote’s orders. This followed accusations and counter-accusations between Mengo and the central government officials of a plot to overthrow the government. Tom Stacey, a British writer with extensive knowledge of the Rwenzori region, met Bazarrabusa in 1954, beginning a friendship that was terminated by Bazarrabusa’s death. In his book Tribe: The Hidden Story of The Mountains Of The Moon, Stacey claims that Bazarrabusa was “murdered one evening on the streets of Kampala by persons unknown and for reasons unknown”. Yet there are rumours that Bazarrabusa had been recalled to Kampala to be appointed Vice-President. That when some senior Toro politicians learnt about it, they killed him; for how could this Mukonzo ‘social climber’ lord it over the Batoro and indeed the whole country as VP? This thinking, however, feeds into the tribal rivalry between the Bakonzo and Batoro and would not pass the test of dispassionate analysis and judgement. President Obote was later to appoint John Babiha (a Mutoro) as Vice-President. However, another conspiracy theory states that Bazarrabusa was murdered for snubbing Obote during the political tensions of early 1966. With Obote’s political life at stake with challenges from the political opposition, the kingdoms and within the ranks of UPC, his own party, he was enraged by a confidant (Bazarrabusa) refusing to rally behind him. Slave father Bazarrabusa was born on March 28, 1912 to Paulo Byabasakuzi, a former slave to a Mutoro chief and Sofu Kihangwa. Both were Bakonzo. In a 1966 interview by historian M. Louise Pirouet, Paulo Byabasakuzi said he was captured as a youth from his home at around the time Capt. Frederick Lugard passed through the area in the late 19th century. At the turn of the century, European Christian missionaries used to frown at slave holding; and indeed many European missionaries are known to have bought people out of slavery from African chiefs. The name Byabasakuzi means ‘for the slave raiders’ in Rutoro. After escaping from slavery, Byabasakuzi found new hope and meaning of life in Christianity. He was later to become one of the pioneer Anglican Church catechists in western Uganda. According to his grandson David Horn, Bazarrabusa was an educated Mukonzo who was completely acculturated into Toro culture. Indeed, save for his Bukonzo blood, Bazarrabusa was all, but a Mutoro. Politics In the 1961 general elections to the Legico, Bazarrabusa lost the contest for Toro South composed of all sub-counties of Busongora County (the entire Kasese District) and Musale Sub-county in Bunyangabu County. According to the official election results, Bazarrabusa (UPC) got 1,831 votes, while Prince Akiiki Nyabongo (independent) got 1,273 votes. The winner was Ezironi Bwambale, the little-known DP candidate who got 3,087 votes. Bazarrabusa’s campaign manager, Richard Baguma (now the Rev. Baguma), was a Mutoro. Coupled with the fact that Bazarrabusa spoke poor Lhukonzo if at all, the predominantly Bakonzo voters of Toro South voted against him as a punishment for being more of a Mutoro than a Mukonzo. With Bazarrabusa’s experience and exposure, Obote immediately appointed him Uganda’s first High Commissioner to the UK. Bwambale later crossed the floor and joined UPC in exchange, as it were, for the position of Deputy Minister for Culture and Community Development. Family Bazarrabusa was married to Caroline Lwanga, a relative of the royal family of Toro Kingdom. Their marriage was blessed with two daughters. After Caroline’s death in 1945, he married Jane Kulubya in 1948 and they had two daughters and two sons. Jane was the daughter of S. W. Kulubya, the former treasurer of Buganda Kingdom. Dateline
· Makerere College (1934).
· Teacher, Nyakasura School (1934-42).
· Headmaster, Kabarole P. School (1943-46).
· Assistant Schools Supervisor (1947-50).
· Schools Supervisor, Anglican Church, Toro (1951-61).
· Member and Chairman (later Patron), Bakonzo Life History Research Society (1950-62).
· Cross-bench member, Legico (1954-55).
· Backbench member, Legco (1955-61).
· Commonwealth Parliamentary Course, Westminster (1958).
· Member, Constitutional Committee (The Wild Committee) (1959).
· Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) (1960).
· Minister of Education, Toro Kingdom, (January to October 1962).
· High Commissioner for Uganda, United Kingdom (1962-66).
· Board of Trustees Member, Uganda National Parks (1956).
· Board of Trustees Chairman, Uganda National Parks (1961).
· Mountain Club of Uganda Member (1954).
· Executive Committee Member, Mountain Club of Uganda (1958).
· Founding Member, Uganda Ski Club (1958).
· First recorded Ugandan amateur to climb Margherita Peak (Rwenzori) in 1960.
· President, Mountain Club of Uganda (1961-62).
· Patron, Mountain Club of Uganda (1963-64).
· First African member of the Alpine Club (1964). Publications
· Ihanga Rukanga (On Citizenship) 1947.
· Onyuunye Omale (On Saltworks) 1952.
· Mugenzoomu (The Lone Traveller) 1962 (Reprinted 1966. Reprinted 2005 by Fountain Publishers).
· Obu Ndikura Tindifa (I Will Never Die) 1962 (Reprinted 1966. Reprinted 2006 by Fountain Publishers).
· Hamunwa Gw’Ekituuro (At the Point of Death) 1963 (Reprinted 2006 by Fountain Publishers).
· Kalyaki Na Marunga (Kalyaki and Marunga), 1964 (Reprinted in 2006 Fountain Publishers).
· Mainaro Omusuma Kajingo (Mainaro the terrible thief)
· Tubaze Ha By’Obwo-meezi (a Rutoro translation of J. W. Chanell’s Let Us Talk about Health) 1962. Bazarrabusa was proud of being a Mukonzo Timothy B. Bazarrabusa attended Makerere College, as Makerere University was then called, in 1934, where he received a Diploma in Education. Starting as a teacher at Nyakasura School, he was to become the Inspector of Schools and later Minister for Education in Toro Kingdom. However, the most significant part of Bazarrabusa’s public life was his appointment to the colonial administration’s Legislative Council (Uganda’s seminal parliament) first as a cross-bench member in 1954 and later as a backbencher. David Ernest Apter, in Political Kingdom In Uganda, writes about the Legislative Council thus: “The nominated unofficial back benchers, who also sat on the government side, were given a Queen’s appointment to the Council because of the divergent views and interests they represented. They were not chosen simply arbitrarily; they received their appointments only after lengthy discussions with private groups and associations throughout the country. Among them were the former Katikkiro of Buganda, Michael Kawalya-Kaggwa (legendary Apollo Kaggwa’s son), Erinayo Okullo, Treasurer of Lango District Council and District Council Member for 18 years and Bazarrabusa from Toro, a teacher and District Council member. There were two women in the Legico; both outstanding. With religion at the centre of social transformation at the time, the former slave (now turned church leader) gained the respect of all. Needless to say, Bazarrabusa benefited from his father’s early exposure to Christianity and the attendant social benefits that came with being a church leader’s son. So, Bazarrabusa’s life represents schemata for the anthropological theory of upward social mobility and the role negotiated character plays in the formation of nationalist attitudes. His life is a study of the influence of Christianity on the social transformation of colonial Africa. For here was a Mukonzo (it was tough being a Mukonzo in Toro Kingdom) son of a former slave who climbed all the rungs on the ladder (local and national) to reach St. James’ Court as Uganda’s representative. And he owed it all to his father’s early exposure to Christianity. Because of Bazarrabusa’s success, the Batoro and Bakonzo always ‘fight’ for ownership of his legacy; more like the Mamba, Mutima and Bito (royal clan of Kooki) clans fought for ownership of the Kakungulu legacy in Buganda. However, Bazarrabusa never shied away from saying he was a Mukonzo despite the lowly position of the Bakonzo. He was the first chairman of the Bakonzo Life History Research Society which later became the vehicle for Bakonzo nationalist attitudes and Rwenzururu armed rebellion. A pioneer in several domains, Bazarrabusa wrote novels and poetry in Rutoro before the firebrand proponents of writing in native languages like Ngugi wa Thiongo acquired their writing skills.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Eng. Kiggundu’s job, the curse of female nakedness and why EC needs a female boss

By Asuman Bisiika

After hitting their heads on the wall with minimal results, opposition leaders now want to meet Eng. Badru Kiggundu, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission.

Although Kiggundu will welcome this engagement, he must be praying that his ‘special’ guests don’t have the IPC ladies in their entourage. These ladies are famous (infamous?) for their threat to strip naked in protest of Kiggundu’s re-appointment as the Electoral Commission’s (EC) boss.

During our recent meeting, Kiggundu passed for a man who is free in his skin: cracking a joke here and there with fatherly, nay, grandfatherly confidence. But he will have to dig deeper in his chest of charm to impress these hard men from the opposition.

The opposition has after all vowed to do anything to get Kiggundu out of his job: even if it takes the IPC ladies to ‘cast a curse on him’ by undressing in front of him.

Man under siege
The results and management of the 2006 Presidential Elections were challenged in court. The Supreme Court agreed with the petitioners that there were irregularities in the management of the poll. This is the basis for the opposition’s claims that the EC (as constituted now) is not competent to manage the 2011 polls.

Consequently, the opposition is posturing itself as victims of an electoral robbery and portraying their militant actions as vigilance against being robbed again. This puts the burden of managing a free and fair poll squarely on the shoulders of Eng. Badru Kiggundu.

The political opposition is promoting itself as the legitimate voice of Ugandans. And only free and fair elections would deny them (opposition) the initiative of unsettling the government as weak and illegitimate.

Initially, the opposition called for the amendment of the existing electoral laws. The laws were amended and most of the opposition’s ideas were included in the amendments. The actionable demand was: the opposition’s input in the Electoral Commission Act Amendment Bill and other related legislations. That was done.

Zero-sum demands
Expecting the government to play hard ball, the opposition was surprised by the government’s acceptance and adoption of almost all their input. Disarmed, the opposition now cast doubt on (challenged) the independence of the EC. The actionable demand was: the EC was not independent enough to manage the 2011 Elections.

The EC stole the initiative from the opposition by holding four successful Parliamentary By-elections in Mbale Municipality, Padyer County, Rukiga County and Mukono North. Then the opposition demanded that they should have participated in the process of constituting (appointment of) members of the EC. Actionable demand was: the political opposition should have been consulted as part of the process of appointing the members of the commission.

Other than participating in the parliamentary vetting of EC members as provided for in the constitution, there is no constitutional or legal compulsion to consult the opposition in the appointment of the EC. That’s why the opposition’s demands are now focused on the person, personality and office of Eng. Dr. Badru Kiggundu. The actionable demand is: the removal of Badru Kiggundu from the chairmanship of the Electoral Commission.

Female EC boss
Among my people, the worst a woman (must have given birth) can do to a man (must not be her hubby or sexual partner) is by holding her breasts and casting a curse on you. A woman’s nakedness as part of the ritual to cast a curse is only talked about, but not done. Only mad women, even then in the worst degree of madness, go naked. That’s why Kiggundu should take IPC ladies serious.

The curse of female nakedness can only work against a man and that of a man works against a woman. Since men are very unlikely to strip naked as a means of protest (against women) and female nakedness can’t work against a woman, an EC female boss would be immune to the IPC ladies’ threat of stripping naked. That’s why the next Chairman of the Electoral Commission should be a woman. ENDS