The Observer (Kampala)

Uganda: MPs Now Noticing Museveni's Hunchback?

opinion

The Baganda have an admonishing expression, "Okwegendereza okwebikka bulangiti emu n'owebbago" (being wary when sharing a blanket with a hunchback).

During the sharing of a blanket, the hunchback has the uncanny ability and, of course, the indiscipline to tug away larger parts of the blanket to his side to cater for the pitch of his hump, leaving his stretched partners bare and huddled in shivering cold. Each turn by the hunchback further peels off greater share of the blanket from the others.

An old, thread-bare cover worsens the ordeal. The hunchback's hump hitches clinically to each of the yawning holes, clasping the blanket from the others as well as ripping more tears. Everyone is induced to intensify restlessness and to kick desperately in the darkness to secure a piece of the rug for one's warmth. The Luganda saying teaches the need to be vigilant towards the company of others. Blind trust in relations with others always leads to grief and being short-changed by the superior faculties of ulterior motives.

This is why it is advised that a relationship is worthy and durable only if it is founded on mutuality, equality and clearly defined principles. Even guests kindly invited to a private reception need to be accorded decorum and orderliness if the occasion is to be saved from degenerating into fracas and disarray. NRM MPs are sensing, to their chagrin, why they have been slow in heeding to this age-old wisdom of the Luganda saying.

Some ruling party MPs have been lined by the cabinet for disciplinary action of expulsion from the NRM for their pinpricks and utterances. While the cabinet stance has met approval of sizeable NRM supporters who cheer that the action is long overdue, there can be no ignoring the general bemusement that the cabinet could dare to undertake adjudication on NRM party affairs.

The division of labour in the county holds management of NRM matters to be the prerogative of its various organs as spelt out in the NRM constitution. Although members of cabinet may also be enjoying positions in the NRM in their own right, the cabinet is appointed by the President as an organ within the state with quite distinct roles from the NRM organs.

The cabinet deliberates on the affairs of the state rather than of NRM as much as no NRM official or member is entitled to sit in the cabinet or Parliament simply because of belonging to the party in the power. These distinctions are not unknown to the esteemed members of the cabinet. Even if the political credentials of some of them may be put in question, they, at least, possess capacity to read and understand the statutes provided for the state.

But in Uganda's spreading fireball of ow'ebbango syndrome, any person expected to share space with others greedily learns to pull at the responsibility of others to oneself. This has cultured wanton contravention of each other's allotments in every realm of responsibility, causing mayhem and disarray.

Consequently, routine NRM meetings of its CEC, NEC and the parliamentary caucus are inappropriately convened to sit in State House like they were matters of the state. NRM MPs have been made to hold out like they were the central organs administering the NRM while the legitimate organs of the NRM lie in abject abeyance and decay.

The blurring of the distinction between the different roles has permitted complicit interposing and usurpation of powers, enabling a few people to do and pronounce themselves arbitrarily on everything without all the others. Last week, NRM MPs were carted to Kyankwanzi supposedly to discuss the implementation of the NRM electoral manifesto and to harmonize relations between the legislature and the executive.

Ordinarily, the duty of implementing government programmes lies primarily with the organs of government itself, but the MPs found themselves dragged onto an ostensible responsibility over which they have neither say nor influence. The tone for the Kyankwanzi retreat was appropriately set by President Museveni who breathed down on the legislators against their obdurate procrastination over granting land in Mabira and Amuru to the sugar barons.

The MPs were given an ultimatum to respond promptly. Poor fellows had to choose between being a malleable pulp yielding to the President or risking trying his patience over his determined drive at industrialization of the country. Whatever way the NRM MPs opt to answer to the President, the people of Uganda will wake up in the morning severely cold.

The author is a member of NEC (NRM) representing historicals.

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