On your bike, Museveni, show those peasants how to do it...

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Frederick Golooba-Mutebi  


Posted  Thursday, April 20   2017 at  13:46

In Summary

  • A few weeks ago, the president was all over the media, fetching water from a village well on a bicycle in a jerrican and using it to water plants on a “presidential model farm” somewhere in rural Uganda.

Outside the occasional successes on the soccer field by the national soccer team, the Uganda Cranes, and the equally occasional successes by the country’s generally neglected and mostly struggling athletes, Ugandans rarely engage in mass celebrations of anything.

Much of this has to do with the largely poisoned political environment.

The toxicity is born of a zero-sum approach to competition for office that sees winners take everything and losers get nothing.

Augmenting the toxicity is the widespread tendency to associate electoral success with cheating. An inevitable product of this is the reluctance by the losers to celebrate any achievement by the other side and a keenness to denounce whatever they try to do.

It is taken for granted that this is what any self-respecting “opposition” ought to do in a democracy. It is what marks out a “strong” opposition from a weak or non-existent one, and what makes them popular and electable.

But in recent times, something rather than a successful soccer match or marathon has sent Ugandans into spasms of collective self-congratulation regardless of political inclination or affiliation.

The good news came by way of the launching of a road leading into a section of Kampala suburbs. Kira Road used to be one of the city’s narrowest and most potholed thoroughfares.

At peak hour, it would get so clogged with traffic that a short journey of only a few kilometres could take anything up to two hours or more.

And then Kampala city acquired new leadership that saw sorting out the city’s crumbling transport infrastructure as a key priority. The result has been smoother roads, remodelled road junctions and in some cases, street lights where before there was pitch darkness at night. Kira Road is one of the latest roads to be repaired and widened. And now not only does it have traffic lights, it is also lit.

As soon as the lights started working, photos of what it looks like at night flooded social media. Some Kampalans have gone as far as proclaiming that soon enough, “Kampala will be like Kigali.”

I don’t know about that. What I know, however, is that finally the people responsible for the day-to-day running of the city spend time trying to do what they were hired to do.

Their predecessors, it is now clear, simply didn’t.

They were hardly alone in not doing what they were supposed to do. Indeed, so common is the phenomenon of people not doing what they are supposed to do or doing what they are not supposed to do that it has become “normalised.” The consequences can be as comical as they can be tragic.

Of late, nothing has provided better insights into the comical side than President Yoweri Museveni’s involvement in activities that, as president, he ought to leave to the people his government has hired to carry out.

A few weeks ago, he was all over the media, fetching water from a village well on a bicycle in a jerrican and using it to water plants on a “presidential model farm” somewhere in rural Uganda.

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