KAMPALA – It is said that politics is a dirty game, but what makes it dirty? Dirty-minded people make politics dirty. Clean-hearted and careful people make politics clean, noble and joyful. Uganda’s politics is brightening by the day but with a potential risk of being overshadowed by primitive behaviors or, as some would say, bringing ghetto culture to the fore.
Recently, some prominent personalities came out to lament the uncouth and uncultured attitude and language of supporters of “people power”/NUP whose basis in public interaction is abuse and leveling personal attacks. Dr. Stella Nyanzi (who claims to have a foot in “people power” but otherwise belongs to FDC) and Basajja Mivule, a media personality and vocal political commentator, came out to push back against unwarranted verbal attacks leveled at them for speaking out on issues that would otherwise be considered as standard matters of discussion in politics. Nyanzi demanded answers in line with counsel Male Mabirizi’s inquest into the discrepancies in NUP leader, Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu’s (Bobi Wine) official records.
Bobi Wine’s supporters responded with MBs and MBs of abuses on social media and name calling, hardly taking a second to understand her “friendly research” concern. She had to “bark” back at them to stop herself losing her mind due. Yet Nyanzi is not known for softness when it comes to wars of words, but the intimidation she suffered, and continues to suffer, from “people power” keyboard warriors is making her think twice about many things.
For Basajja Mivule, he quit the Kamwokya camp which he had only joined a few days back and announced that he would join NRM and work with President Yoweri Museveni. Justifying why he made the move, he said it was in protest against the uncouth language and intolerance of the Kamwokya brigade whose leader, Bobi Wine, was unbothered about how his supporters interacted with those who did not think exactly like them.
Mivule gave the example of President Museveni saying that in the years he has criticised him, the head-of-state had never raised a finger at him tongue but here were “nobodies” hurling obscenities at him. He couldn’t stand the disgrace! He felt devalued and (mis)used, I am sure, just like many others feel but have not yet gathered courage to face their tormentors and speak their mind.
For Dr. Jimmy Spire Ssentongo, a seasoned academician and cartoonist known for his satirically brazen depictions of Museveni, he, without any known form of coercion, confessed that for the thirteen years he has been in the trade, he had never suffered any reprisal from the head-of-state. In contrast, he had observed a trend that when you draw a cartoon of someone in opposition, they react “like if they had a gun you would be a heap of flesh”. He feared that if such characters got power, he would be forced to quit drawing cartoons or be jailed “soon after”.
The above three individuals have all been anti-Museveni but that they came out to lament the attitude of those who claim to be agents of change and one of them even took the bold step to jump off the opposition wagon should open the eyes of Ugandans more. If they attack their opposition counterparts without giving them a hearing or appreciating their service, how harshly do they treat NRM supporters? How would they behave if they got into power?
This ugly reality is hitting Ugandans hard and good enough there is enough time to do something about it. The silent and well-behaved majority are not about to sell their country to impatience, disrespectful and green persons as best described by Mivule in his “state of the opposition address” as he declared his conversion to the correct side.
Such characters as described never offer anything utilizable on the policy front but only bully and intimidate opponents instead of engaging with them in discussions with the possibility of converting them. The problem started with Dr. Besigye who groomed and emboldened radical extremists ready to use disastrous language to ridicule and silence on anyone who seemed to have a divergent opinion from that of their cult leader then, and now Bobi Wine who he also groomed. Partly, Besigye has been losing support because of them and now he is almost totally out of the contention for power.
There is a price to pay for playing dirty, of course!
To Museveni’s enemies, I say “don’t stop the insults! You can call him ‘dictator’, ‘Bosco’, abuse his late parents, draw and crop sick images of him and spread lies about him, it will not get you into power. You will have to raise your level of reasoning and emotional intelligence before clean Ugandans, who determine the course of history, start taking you seriously”. Abusing Museveni will not stop him. He has a mission to fulfill and is deeply gifted in statecraft unlike his rivals who try, and fail miserably, to copy his charisma and grasp of serious matters. The more you abuse him, the more your weaknesses and immaturity come to the fore and the more he earns support, including from all persons named Bosco who should come out and support their fellow Bosco. Bosco is a good name which shouldn’t be turned into a laughing stock.
The author, Faruk Kirunda is a Presidential Assistant in Charge of Media Management