Hello Amama, How Does It Feel Being Out of Power? [opinion]

Dear Honourable John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, it has been a while and I owe you a cup of coffee.

I just decided to write to you to know how it feels now being out of power! When the right time for coffee comes, I will tweet you.

Might you have come across this Baganda saying: “Akabwa keweeyolera, kekakuluma entumbwe,” basically meaning that it is the dog that you happily raise that turns against you?

The other week when I saw the district police commander of Mbarara, Dickens Bandeba (as if trying to live up to his name) sizing up with you at the podium, I wondered what was going through your mind.

You must have looked at him as a misguided, overzealous cadre. You see, that man even didn’t know that you own a radio station in Kinkiizi, which is in western Uganda! A kind of a busy man with no particular focus who feels happy to show his appointing authority that he works!

You might have had an idea about some police officers’ presumptuous character, since General Kale Kayihura had earlier harassed a number of your supporters. Never mind that even then, you were still a powerful man. But I think this event crystallised your mind on what it means to be candidate of state harassment.

But Hon Mbabazi, I think you deserve that kind of treatment for two reasons. One, the taste of the pudding is in the eating. What better opportunity for you to learn of unjustified police harassment than this? You have to feel it you have to live it. Yes, we learn when we are too old, Sophocles once remarked in the Antigone-ian tragedy!

Two, in the past, when you were still a powerful, or is it the super, minister, and then prime minister, some of these police officers used to disrespect and mistreat other Ugandans, especially opposition politicians. And you didn’t seem to care. You remember when Gilbert Bwana sprayed pepper into Dr Kizza Besigye’s eyes at Mulago roundabout?

They not only injured his eyes but he was also hurled under a police pickup truck’s seats like a bundle of firewood. This caused uproar and gave the country a snapshot of what the security forces were capable of. You remember the ridiculous comments by your senior colleague, the then minister for Internal Affairs, Kirunda Kivejinja?

He justified Bwana’s action claiming that Besigye had a hammer in his car and tried to attack the police with it. So, the police sprayed the pepper in order to stop that attack. And you know that even this officer, Bwana, was never reprimanded or made to appear before any disciplinary agency (Instead, he was recently formally cleared of any wrongdoing).

Well, you could argue that you were part of government and you could not been seen criticising yourself. But I have seen you come out gly against some officers in government when they did things closer to your heart.

I remember you once made a statement in Parliament that police, under the leadership of Gen Kale Kayihura, had arrested and detained your supporters in Kinkiizi and ordered him to release or take them to court. That was really courageous.

Oh, sorry, I have remembered. It wasn’t courage. By that time, the signs were that Kayihura had leverage over the president and you were about to be kicked out of cabinet! Again, I heard your former subordinate Ofwono Opondo on airwaves saying Mbabazi must behave and follow the laws of Uganda if he wants to avoid being arrested.

By the way Hon Mbabazi, what exactly is your sin with the NRM? Why all this animosity? Some leaders, especially the historicals, don’t even want the whiff of your presence!

Others, who were once under your command, have referred to you as a snake. I have heard rumours that resident district commissioners have done a thorough job to ensure that all your supporters are not among the delegates headed to the NRM conference at Namboole!

Do you now realise that NRM might not fit the exact definition of a proper democratic political party? It appears the party is the chairman’s party. Inside it, there is no free expression.

I know you have insisted that you have never declared your intention to stand for president under NRM. Well, the intention is not expressed. But we can infer from your conduct. Anyway, why don’t you declare? Why do you keep people guessing?

And this silence has come to work against you. You see, you chose to keep quiet about the wrong things that were going on in government when you had a chance to say something. Now that decision has come to haunt you. Please don’t employ silence on your intention to stand.

Hon Mbabazi, if you were given a chance to go back to government, would you take it? And if you accepted, what changes would you put to make NRM a good ruling party? Now that you have experienced police harassment, would you, for instance, revamp the police force from being a party organ to national force?

By the way, we would have heard a long discussion on phone and Twitter, but you know how you spoilt things yourself when you sponsored that phone tapping law. It has now come to haunt you.

You cannot freely seek aice from some of your friends for fear of being tapped. The state has gone a notch higher it plans to spend over Shs 200bn to buy tapping gadgets! Convey my regards to our alert forthright Jacque, and our dedicated daughter Nina. And you know why I am singling them out. We chat later.

The author is the finance director of The Observer Media Ltd.

Source : The Observer

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