Who will be left standing when South African ‘virus’ pays Uganda a visit?


By Gawaya Tegulle

South Africa (SA) is on fire. Not for the first time by the way; vandalism, violence and looting have happened severally before. But what we are witnessing is arguably unprecedented in terms of intensity.

The worst for me was watching a pack of tigers and leopards (cheetahs?) eat a man. People had not only broken into prisons and let the prisoners free; they also hacked down the fence of a nature reserve, setting the wild animals free. Anyone uncertain of what chaos, commotion, imbroglio and pandemonium mean should just be shown SA just now. 

Two things that this chaos is not: one, it is not really about Jacob Zuma being locked up. And it is not that South Africans are bad people; it is just that they are people. We are witnessing what happens when heartfelt needs of the people; glaring socio-economic contradictions are persistently left unattended. The wrongs committed by oppressive or negligent regimes against a people that are temporarily demobilised and unable to talk back or fight back are petrol sprinkled continuously (and very generously) sprinkled over a highly combustible substance that people’s emotions are. 

All that is needed is a matchstick – not even a bon fire or huge furnace – and the whole place blows up like a nuclear bomb. Zuma’s incarceration was simply the matchstick. The chaos then gained a life of its own, with various highly complex contributory factors coming in, causing the situation to spiral out of control. Our fathers always warned that the woman that comes across the stick that beat her co-wife would do well to throw it away; for next time, it may be used against her.

And that is why Uganda as a nation needs to confront certain matters without fear or favour, lest the virus that is having SA for dinner takes license with us too.

The façade of stability and prosperity that the Museveni administration constantly flags and flaunts as a success is highly deceptive. The “stability” is simply that Mr Museveni has built strong armed forces and intelligence networks able to crush dissent – never mind they struggle pitifully against external threats. The truth is that the “prosperity” when examined closely is geographically and politically constructed: relatives and friends of the political inner circle. This is the circle of opportunity.

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Outside that, ordinary Ugandans are struggling. 

Anyone who looks at the distribution of jobs in the public sector would be forgiven to think that only one part of the country went to school or is possessed of the requisite competence. 

If it is mid-level to ordinary or operational level; you see the jobs advertised. If you are naïve, you file an application, which will be warmly received at the reception with a “we’ll get back to you”. Truth is, the posts are already taken up by the time adverts are taken out. If it is a job at local level, then the local notables will have distributed the opportunities amongst their own. If it is national level, then the usual suspects will have taken them up. You think merit is a short, five-letter word; but it has never found space in the dictionary of the NRM. 

Still, nothing beats the drama that plays out, as the intrigue and in-fighting typical of primitive African regimes runs the show – when jobs in top management of state corporations, or ministries, departments and agencies come in. There will, of course, be pretence to interviews.

But truth is that the interviews do not matter. Just take a look around; most of the persons in the choicest of positions did not pass the interviews. Or if they did, they did not score the highest marks. 

Of course, we have a choice: to pretend that all is okay, so that we do not be seen to be daring the President and spoiling the popular narrative of a stable, prosperous and peaceful Uganda. Or to start a meaningful conversation about it with a view to redressing the wrongs and the attendant inequalities. Either side has consequences. If we pretend all is well, then we should be ready for the repercussions. When pressure builds up over time in society, you can only contain it for so long.

You can make long speeches about how you delivered the nation from the Amins and Obotes and grandstand about it all day, every day. But not for long; certainly not forever. And all that is required is for someone to strike a matchstick.

Mr Tegulle is an advocate of the High Court of Uganda     [email protected]

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Source link : https://www.monitor.co.ug/uganda/oped/commentary/who-will-be-left-standing-when-south-african-virus-pays-uganda-a-visit–3477458

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Publish date : 2021-07-18 12:33:45

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