23 February 2016

Uganda: The Sin of Suspicion

opinion

It is obvious that America and the Western League of Democracy Inspectors would have to accept that there is a new definition of democracy in Africa. Last week, the saviour of Uganda, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni won his fifth term in office and ordered his closest rival, Kizza Besigye detained on suspicion that he might announce fake results. When a BBC reporter put it to him that mere intent is not a sin, he disagreed, saying that you do not wait for a man to commit murder before taking action to stop him. It is one of those rare instances when the intention to commit a crime is criminal in itself. The Ugandan police first clamped Besigye in detention before going to his party headquarters to look for the evidence to keep him there. They picked up eight members of his party at the secretariat and removed several files and computers. The world awaits the evidence needed for conviction.

There is an eleventh commandment in Uganda that targets suspicion. Besigye's supporters might be saying that this app ought to target rural unemployment which stands at 80% among youths. Museveni must have been re-elected to put an end to these and other societal ills that his first 30 years in office could not address.

Eat your heart out Commonwealth, your wealth of monopoly on how democracy should be practiced in Africa has been successfully challenged. In the Gambia Yahya Jammeh spat on democracy by declaring himself the life president on the throne of his forefathers without consequence. Having declared the Gambia an Islamic republic, he should have new allies from Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb to the Islamic State and even Boko Haram. He could count on a windfall from the Saudi Arabia and others hoping to expand the frontiers of their faith. As long as they do not challenge his titles as Babili Mansa, all is well.

European Union officials should put a zipper on their lips because all their noise, hues and cries has not stopped Pierre Nkurunziza from extending his popular mandate in Burundi. America should deal with the consequences of a Donald Dumb presidency instead of trying to stop Paul Kagame from undoing his own legacy in Rwanda. Like Donald Dumb whose popularity rating soars even after a spat with the Pope, Museveni has learnt that in Africa one could get away with blue murder. He is at home with dinosaurs like Uncle Bob Mugabe who, incidentally celebrated his 92nd birthday just last week. His league include Eduardo dos Santos of Angola, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and Cameroon's Paul Biya together, they are evolving a new form of democracy fueled by the acid of gerontocracy. American bombs stopped Kabilaization in Egypt and prevented Eyademaism spreading from Togo to Libya. It replaced both with insecurity.

Before coasting home to victory with 61 per cent of votes last weekend, Museveni had warned those hoping for an Arab Spring in Uganda that "the peace here will stay" and that nobody (but him) would cause violence". At 72, just like Sai Baba, Museveni has fuel left in the tank. He still wears his famous wolewole or sanitary inspector's hat without assistance from his wife or four children. His only son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba is the commander of the Presidential Guards Brigade securing the president-of-life. Bearing in mind that his father rode through the trenches to government house, it would not be surprising if he is nursing a similar ambition. Unlike Besigye this crime of suspicion is unlikely to land him in jail. A Muhoozi ambition wouldn't amount to a sin.

Uganda is not new to these things. It has never had a successful democratic transition - passing from one insurrection to the other, the worst of which was the infamous ruin of the late Field Marshall Idi Amin Dada. Whatever it must have done to its ancestors, the land of the Buganda is far from being redeemed. At one point, it had the highest level of HIV infection in the continent, then it reversed that, but cynics say that the rate is rising again. They may be saying that just to spite Museveni who would tell them that if he did it in the past, he could do it again. Wikipedia records Museveni's original birthplace as unknown, which is all well and good because were it known, his enemies would've returned there to appeal to his chi to let his nation move on.

It's not that events in Uganda is any of my business. Frankly, Naija has enough scandals to keep us all occupied until the world itself ends. The West should probably spare us these hollow rituals called elections and let Africa live with its dictators. This might save us the dollars wasted in the charade and help people like Besigye find the stethoscope that most of his supporters need. Not only has democracy not worked for Africa in 50 years, the land of Kings and Queens is not ready to embrace Greek-style democracy; perhaps it shouldn't!

Uganda

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