Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. What affects one directly, affects all indirectly. — Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Senator Obama leads McCain in US poll” screamed the New Vision headline of November 4, 2008. The excitement all over Africa especially in our East African neighbour, Kenya, have almost reached fever peak, as I write this. A great day is dawning on the black race, it can be said.
On the same day in the Parliament of the Pearl of Africa, the debate on the NSSF Temangalo land transaction kicked off in Parliament. There was drama as the government was quick to smuggle in a document that stated “the government position” on the transaction and insisted on it being read by the Prime Minister and Leader of Government Business in Parliament before the debate could even start. Despite the insistence that the Government make its submission as the closing word to the debate, the Speaker ruled that it should be tabled and read first!
The contents of the document, the manner in which the government smuggled it in, the pride with which the Professor of politics tabled it and the thumping approval of NRM MPs was chilling to the spine. How could we let this happen in the Pearl of Africa? It was bad enough that he stated that there was no conflict of interest but to do so with such confidence was baffling!
I know that to most Ugandans this may pass as normal, but wait a minute, “Is this normal? Is it OK for the government to dismiss the findings and recommendations of a majority of MPs on the standing committee of the house, including many MPs of its ruling NRM, based on a minority report that was proven to contain falsehoods on the floor of Parliament?” Yes, we normally shrug it off and say, “This is Uganda” but is it? Is it the Uganda that we desire? Is this the Uganda that we crave to hand over to our children and grandchildren??
It was revealed that the Minister of Finance is a shareholder in the National Bank of Commerce, where the said Ug. Shs. 11 billion was invested, and the Supervisor and Appointing Authority of the NSSF Board. Do we need a rocket scientist in the government to prove that there is conflict of interest, especially considering the hurried way the deal was approved? How could the 6 authors of the minority report and the government ignore the NSSF Board’s advice to the Security Minister on the conflict of interest? Didn’t Hon. Mbabazi hand power of attorney to Mr. Nzeyi based on this? Isn’t this material?
As Africa and the US celebrate a historic day in the history of the world, Uganda, in contrast, is experiencing a day of national shame! The open condoning of conduct unbecoming of public officers by asking them to apologize, “forgiving” them and the defending them on the floor of Parliament is truly a further indication that this country is going to the dogs!! All the talk by the President about fighting corruption is but hot air. All a leader has to do is be extremely loyal as Hon. Mbabazi has been over the years or be non-controversial and technically astute like Hon. Suruma and you will go scot-free!
The U.S.A is on the brink of making history by taking a decision for change by electing a man who will not only turn around the bad policies that Bush has engineered, but also attempt to steer the country out of its worst economic crisis since the great depression of 1929-1933. In stark contrast Uganda’s elected representatives are voting to retain in government people that have disgraced their offices and used the authority they have been entrusted with dishonourably.
I hope that Uganda is not too caught up in the Obamamania to realize that the country is being robbed from right under our noses. Cry, the beloved country!
For God And My Country,
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika!
Charles A. O. Makmot
Former Guild President,
Makerere University Business School and
Strategic Leadership Forum