A zinger is defined as a “quick, witty, or pointed remark or retort’’ (online dictionary). A zinger’s strength is that it mostly catches its recipient unawares, unprepared and even off-guard. The recipient of a well-aimed, well-timed and well-shot zinger will stand transfixed, speechless, jolted and in popular talk ‘‘wishing the earth could swallow’’ himher.
About four years ago, I attended a talk by celebrated Voice of America (VOA) talk show host, Shaka Ssali. At the event, a second year Makerere University journalism student asked: ‘‘Shaka, I come from Rwanda,’’ the kinky-haired student spurted ‘‘I think service delivery is better than democracy,” the boy said with a stone face.
A stunned but unshaken Shaka calmly shot back: ‘‘Right now you and your parents might be on the right side of the river but you will know how important democracy is the day the riverside changes.’’ The VOA journalist gave the young man a talk about how Kayumba Nyamwasa’s riverside changed, and how that led the former Rwandan army chief of staff to exile in South Africa.
The kinky-haired boy gaped, kept shut, and sat down in slow motion.
Uganda is mourning the tragic death of Principal State Attorney Joan Kagezi whose eventful life was tragically cut short by people with dark hearts. At her requiem service at St Luke’s Church in Ntinda, the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura, is reported (Daily Monitor, April 3) to have said the Constitution should be amended to permit longer detention for suspects beyond the constitutionally mandated 48 hours.
But like Shaka did to the student from Rwanda, Kayihura got a well-aimed and timely zinger from the respected new Chief Justice, Bart Katuereebe.
“If I may also quote from ‘A Man For All Seasons’, when Sir Thomas More was asked to amend the law to suit the King’s bidding, he was told to cut down all the forest of the law to get at the devil. He answered, ‘If I cut down all the forest, where will you hide when the devil turns against you?” Justice Katureebe said, according to Daily Monitor.
The Chief Justice added: “Let’s be very careful. The people who killed Joan, didn’t believe in the rule of law. Those people wanted to frighten us, they wanted to make us panic. That is not necessary. Let’s not fall into their trap and pass laws which will actually run down the rule of law.”
I was not at the requiem service so I don’t know whether Kayihura reacted like the Rwandan student or not, but he should, if he hasn’t already, think hard about what would happen the day the devil turns against him if he urges the unnecessary amendment of the Constitution to allow for detention of suspects for longer than the 48 hours.
The police boss is for now on the ‘right side’ of the river, but he should not forget that the river side is not a permanent address.
For about a decade now, the Uganda Police Force has topped the list of human rights violators, including in the most recent report by the Uganda Human Rights Commission. Kayihura should focus on addressing that instead of asking for more time to detain suspects who he is already mistreating.
There is a strong tendency for people to remain silent when they feel their opinion goes against majority views. The death of Kagezi led to massive outpouring of emotions. But by remaining sober in a difficult moment, Katureebe proved once more that he’s the kind of a senior citizen Uganda needs. Kayihura should learn from him instead of trying to take aantage of an emotive situation to urge for unnecessary amendment of the Constitution.
Mr Odokonyero has interest in media development and communication. firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE: Daily Monitor