The book of Proverbs describes the slay queens of biblical times as a golden ring in a pig’s snout. And the Sermon on the Mount cautions against casting pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet.
These holy teachings came to mind last week with the launch of Uganda’s newest political party, the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), spearheaded by Maj-Gen (rtd) Gregory Mugisha Muntu.
It is difficult to find fault with Mugisha Muntu. He has also crafted an idealistic party. The question many are asking is: For which country, which society and which electorate?
Listening to Muntu spelling out the objectives and principles of ANT, you would think it is a presentation at a prestigious university. The reaction was also matching – polite applause at the sensible points he was making at the five-star Serena, unlike the wild ululation expected at an African political gathering.
The establishment’s reaction to the new party was captured in a rather mean cartoon in the Daily Monitor depicting the national police chief rolling out the red carpet for Muntu as a senior police officer carries his briefcase.
Under the carpet, the police chief is squashing angry opposition firebrands Kizza Besigye and Bobi Wine.
At the launch, Muntu warned the youth against rushing for the cash donations the president gives out on his countrywide tours, saying that it is impossible to give every youth enough cash and so the idea is to keep them in a state of anticipation.
But in reality, how many youth, or even mature people, can reject free cash on the grounds that there isn’t enough to go round?
Commenting afterwards, several analysts compared Muntu’s launch function to the Democratic Party convention that unveiled Barrack Obama 12 years ago.
But as Uganda prepares for the 2021 general election, the analysts need to remember that Obama, from a racial minority, was propelled to the White House by white majority votes.
So the discernment of the population is more important than the radiance of the candidate. That part of the Ugandan public that wants to see President Museveni’s back isn’t interested in great speeches.
Mugisha Muntu needs to go lighter on the diplomatic demeanour, meticulous coiffure and logical words and add a dose of dramatic confrontation if the angry, jobless majority youth are to be impressed. A decorated guerrilla war combatant who sustained near-fatal injuries, Muntu shouldn’t find this difficult.
The opposition wants loud leaders to take on Museveni. Don’t ask me why; that is Uganda. Unfortunately for the impressive Muntu, even the policemen respect him and salute him timidly when he joins a protest march like Walk-to-Work.
We Ugandans want our Besigyes bloodied, dusty, shirtless as they is being thrown on the floor of the police pickup with a heavy boot resting on their grimacing faces and half blind in black shades as they returns from a Nairobi hospital after being sprayed like a cockroach.
We love our Bobi Wine limping on crutches, wincing with pain as he returns from a US hospital and narrating horrific stories of torture by government officers while in detention. The opposition feel and act like they are wallowing in the mud.
Giving them a nice speech is like casting Biblical pearls at swine. That is why Muntu, a man many admire, is generally described as a leader for a Uganda of the future. The question is how far in the future that future is.
Joachim Buwembo is a Kampala-based journalist. Email:[email protected]