Africa: Guinea Coup and Disquiet in Uganda

(file photo).
26 September 2021

I have been struggling with attempts to settle my in-boxes, calls and comments regarding the ugliness of military coups in Africa but the calls keep coming.

I had resolved that enough of my ink had sunk with it yet it still keeps coming, mainly from Ugandans. I had attempted to play comfort-zone politics and with some laziness, sought to refuse the depth of the issues yet, the realities-are-real. Here is why:

While Ugandans have had disproportionate number of vicious military coups in Africa in relative terms, and whereas the current transitional-NRA/M government is an offspring of a coup within-a-coup, it would appear that after 35 years of entrenched attempts to legalise and or formalise it into some kind of acceptable 'democracy', neither the actors nor the booze with which ill-gotten power drunken humans can realistically settle the country into normalcy, however accidental.

The corruption, the incompetence and break-up and the break-downs of public institutions are obvious manifestation. The mild 'weeds' growing on the Kampala-Tororo railway line are sickening facts. The as-if-kraal leading path of the Tororo-Pakwach railway line via Soroti is it. Yes, that's the line that passes via tragic Mukura-Teso.

So, when I begged those with ears-eyes-and-conscious to learn from the Guinea coup - pretentiously quiet as they might appear - here in Uganda and across Africa, it was like opening a Pandora's Box but mixed. Despite my messages in principle and whereas I was two-pronged, the strength of opinion are, understandably, that most Ugandans are tired and hence, the almost-single dimensional response. Who can reasonably blame them?

An important opinion sought to question; 'what are the conditions' that lead to military coups? I had dealt with it and you know the answers yet some will seek to debatably-argue, even academically, however dwarfed especially, those currently on the 'other-comfy-side'.

Opinion broadens and suggests: military coups are "understandable in situations in which those in power do not abide by the will of the people. Otherwise, how do the people ever stop autocrats from becoming hereditary rulers by transferring power to their own children generation after generation?"

Knowing that these are 'gossips' in many malwa-busheera-drinking-joints, including those that benefit from Emyooga economic miracle deals and aware that yes, in some places in Africa the same games are Olympic-qualified, who would blame the guys?

But, kind is the feedback that corrects my last opinion (apologies) that Ben Kiwanuka, was actually Idi Amin's Chief Justice, not 'Attorney General' as it appeared in last Sunday column. The correction was backed with further beef; that I should have credited Kiwanuka as the 'mastermind' to assignation attempts on late president Milton Obote in 1969.

While I had opted out of this assertion, I wasn't remiss to my own argument that democrats must remain democrats, whatever the provocations unless, they are those who claim 'democracy' during the day yet by night, crawl into mystic shrines, wrapped by the forces of powers-that-be.

It was at this time when I sighted another comment; 'constitutional coup', then I remembered: age limits, term limits, the sacrilegious penetration of the High Court by the so-called black mambas, the invasion of Parliament by mysterious men that even my sister Rebecca Kadaga as president of the National Assembly could not identify are just but a few.

It is these drip-drip at some point - like it or not - even after another generation and, even through the seemingly impossible polls, change must happen except I would rather it were a 'no-coup-change'. Like today I still ask for what happened to the monies stolen from Uganda Commercial Bank (Kabale branch) in the early 1980s, Ugandans will demand, some-day.

The writer is a pan-Africanist and former columnist with New African Magazine.

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