Saturday, 30 April 2011

Huh! Why is everybody in the party so arrogant now?

Security arrest protesters
Security arrest protesters 
By Fredrick M. Masiga
Posted  Sunday, May 1 2011 at 00:00

As you would expect, the government crafted a response to the Thursday events on the streets that included the arrest of Dr Kizza Besigye but it was the most ridiculous response I have read in ages coming ironically from Hajj Kirunda Kivejinja, once a respected politician.
Kivejinja did himself and the government that he serves a disservice by failing to take the occasion to placate the public whose view of how their man was treated has caused disenchantment towards security organs that are being used to suppress them. In that light therefore, I will not be surprised if another minister in the next 24 hours arrives at the Media Centre with another explanation, probably contradictory knowing clearly that Kivenjinja’s was a public relations disaster.
Museveni dragged
President Museveni allowed himself to be dragged into Besigye’s dance hall when his security henchmen unleashed the most vitriol intervention and with it the man Besigye has gained what the presidential elections in February failed to bring to him – massive popular support. Besigye has been forthright about his plans. He said before the elections that if he failed to win the presidency and deemed it a result of political machinations, he would appeal to the court of public opinion after losing out twice to the Supreme Court. So, even though the government was aware of what Besigye meant, it took them by surprise that it came this soon.
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There is no question that the issues upon which Besigye has decided to hinge his walk-to-work campaign are real and genuine. For the ordinary Ugandan, these are issues they grapple with on a daily basis – transport, food prices, school fees, healthcare, jobs and security of life and property, among others.
Museveni has been explaining away the rising fuel and food prices to try and stem the now expanded public outcry but apparently, he has not done a good job – people seem to believe his nemesis [Besigye] more than him. But for starters, his argument about high food prices being good for his farmers has received head-on jabs from the very people he says are reaping from the high food prices.
Farmers in Uganda are not the sophisticated type who read the changing trends of demand and supply then decide on how to price their products. When farmers operated under cooperatives or unions in the 80s, it was easier for their products to gain price value because of their consolidated negotiation power.
Today, however, these farmers are powerless and after the suicidal elimination of unions, farmers have been left to the vagaries of market forces. The real winners in the price war are the middlemen. These are Museveni’s ‘real farmers’. They are the ones making the money because they cheat the ordinary farmers by offering less the market value of their farm products and exploit the urban consumer who does not cultivate.
Urban inhabitants
That is why the noisiest in the Besigye saga is the urban inhabitant whose situation is burdened by the fact that they also have to support their rural folks with financial help for school fees, medical bills and transport, among others. It gets worse with the rate of inflation moving north. The urbanite is much affected as the rural folk and any attempts to cover their plight in economic figures such as improved GDP or higher income per capita doesn’t translate into their general happiness - which brings me back to Kivejinja’s outrageous utterance.
For many who read or listened to Kivejinja, it was an impression of a rich-potbellied-politician arrogantly trying to explain away a situation that is out of hand with a déjà-vu nuance of ‘take it or leave it’.
That kind of attitude only adds combustion to a saturated situation. Ugandans are increasingly tired of politicians who storm the scene, milk the cow dry, overstay their welcome then make statements bordering on insanity.
And there are many examples of such politicians in Uganda and Africa, who have, at the tail end of their careers, developed such attitudes blinded by the magnanimity of power. When the tables turn, as they did recently with Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, they have nowhere to hide and nobody to listen to their pleas for clemency.

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