On Facebook, MPs Are Not So Private [analysis]

Our legislators discuss policy issues and make laws for the country – or at least that is what they are supposed to do.

And in the eyes of many, they belong to a distinguished, privileged group of people who rarely have a not-serious moment. Yet when it comes to their private lives, they are no different from us.

Over the past couple of months as The Observer has sought to explore the kind of lives that our MPs live outside the marbled walls of Parliament, it has keenly followed some of their Facebook posts (for those who are active on social media) if that will give us some clues. And our findings range from shocking to interesting from illuminating to the bizarre.

From some of their posts, it is clear that some of the sampled legislators are “politicians in disguise” and would have made better careers as love doctors, counsellors, teachers, poets and dramatists. For some female legislators, they would give some of the top divas in town, a run for their money.

Don’t get us wrong, our dear legislators many of you do post about your legislative duties or political issues that are of interest to the country or your constituents. But it is the cheeky posts, which reveal your wild and trivial side that caught our attention.

We sampled a few MPs, basing on the contents of their posts and grouped them into various categories.

THE LOVE DOCTOR

This accolade goes to Asuman Kiyingi, the minister of state for Works. For quite some time, Kiyingi has been an active Facebook user regaling us with tales about his political work and life. Yet not many of his posts attract attention as those about his love life.

Last year, when he went on holiday with his wife, Faridah Najjuma, he posted a number of their photos making out on Diani beach in Mombasa. But it was the photos he posted on his wall on February 14 this year that elicited most comments. In the true Valentine’s spirit, Kiyingi posted a picture with his hand wrapped around Najjuma’s waist.

They were like teenagers who had just fallen in love. Predictably, it attracted a barrage of mixed reactions. Some Facebook users congratulated him on showering his wife with love, some going as far as calling him “romantic”.

Others accused him of displaying “bad manners” – but Ugandans! – which could corrupt the minds of young people.

A few days later, he deleted some of the more suggestive ones but we managed to get “a watered-down version.”

THE COUNSELLOR

If you have any nagging problem, “counsellor” Nabilah Naggayi Sempala, the Kampala Woman MP, will have the appropriate answer for you. When she is not politicking, Sempala turns her Facebook page into a platform to dish out aice to friends and admirers.

On December 19, 2014, she wrote on her wall: “As 2015 approaches, don’t complicate life. Missing somebody? Call. Wanna meet up? Invite. Wanna be understood? Explain. Don’t like something? Say it.” That’s cool aice. Isn’t it?

THE “VILLAGER”

Here we don’t use the term “villager” in a derogative sense. MPs are some of the most well-travelled people (we mean trips abroad). So, we assume that many of the things that would shock their constituents in Sheema, Kyanamukaaka or Namutumba, would not shock them.

That is why we are surprised that Susan Namaganda, the Woman MP for Bukomansimbi, was astounded to discover that there is a handbag that costs Shs 1.75m at one of the shops in Acacia mall. Here is her narration posted on her wall on January 18.

“As we went to have breakfast this morning on Acacia mall Kamwokya…my eyes land on this beautiful handbag. [My husband, Mukasa Mbidde] asks me whether l like it en l happily reply yeah. ‘Let’s enter en have it’, he says. I ask the shop attendant how much the bag costs, she answers with a smile, ‘1.75M’.

As if l hadn’t heard, l ask again… ‘nyabo how much is this bag?’ ‘1.75M shillings ONLY, these r designer bags, we only sell designer staff here.’ She adds. ‘Do u normally get customers here?’ we both ask. ‘Oooh yeah… on a daily basis, or else we would have closed long tym,’ she assures us.

[Mbidde] pulls out $700 to pay. As he delivers the notes to the attendant, I pull his hand, get the cash from him back to his wallet. ‘I have never bought a bag that much en I don’t intend to start now’, I whispered to him.

Still wondering… Kampala women r damn expensive en super rich. Or I am I only being villagish with a lot of maalooo???” Need we add more?

THE “SHOW-OFFS”

Once in a while, it is okay to flaunt what we think makes us special in the faces of our friends. But some MPs take it to another level on Facebook. Take Abdu Katuntu, the flamboyant Bugweri county MP.

On January 14, Katuntu changed his profile picture from that of a personal portrait to that of a double-storied house – one of several, we hear, he owns.

In the basement of the house are two cars, a Jaguar and a Mercedes Benz S-Class. He did not comment on the picture. And perhaps he did not need to. The message was clear: “Do you see me?” Of course, his admirers saw him.

“Wamalayo Ssebo,” said one of his Facebook friends, meaning Katuntu is well off. “Cool,” said another.

Hot on Katuntu’s heels in this category is George William Nyombi Thembo, the minister of state for ICT. If Thembo is hosting friends for an evening or touring his farm (he named it Camp George) in Mubende, he will post even the minutest detail. If one of his goats gives birth, you will know and when his mango trees flower, there will be photographic evidence.

“A well-deserved relaxation after a long working day,” he wrote on March 24, his message accompanied with a photo of him playing the traditional board game, omweso.

THE MODELS

Mariam Nalubega, the Butambala Woman MP, takes this ahead of her colleagues Brenda Nabukenya (Luweero Woman) and Proscovia Alengot (Usuk). Nalubega likes posing for the cameras so much, we assume she would have made it on the catwalk. And yes, she is beautiful and she knows it.

On March 25, she cut a suggestive pose in one of her photos taken in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was captioned: Ayagala yegombeko, atayagala asirike!!!! (If you like it, admire if you don’t, keep quiet). We liked it, nyabo.

Other MPs whose photos we cannot help but drool over include Nabukenya’s and Alengot’s, the Usuk MP who made 25 years on March 4. There is a killer pose in a series of Alengot’s photos taken while she was attending the NRM retreat at Kyankwanzi in February, that left a number of her male colleagues salivating and wishing they could get a piece of her.

THE INTELLECTUALS

We use the term ‘intellectual” loosely. On Facebook, there are legislators, who like to be philosophical and pose questions that prick the mind of those who follow them.

On March 23, the day Lee Kuan Yew, the former transformational leader of Singapore, passed away, Obua-Ogwal posted: “… In his last book One Man’s View Of The World, published in 2013, Lee looked back at his remarkable career and concluded: ‘As for me, I have done what I had wanted to, to the best of my ability. I am satisfied.’ How many African leaders can confidently say that as they inevitably bow out?” Pass that question over.

In similar category is Matthias Mpuuga, the Masaka municipality MP. He once wrote: “George Washington wisdom could benefit the Ugandan quarrelsome opposition. Associate yourself with people of good quality if you esteem your own reputation, for it’s better to be alone than in bad company, true friendship is a plant of slow growth, and it must undergo and withstand all the shocks of aersity before it is entitled to the true appellation!” Simplify for us, honourable!

Wafula Oguttu, the Leader of opposition and Betty Nambooze, the Mukono municipality MP, too, deserve a mention.

THE TRAVELLER

This goes to Vincent Waiswa Bagiire, the cerebral chairperson of the ICT committee in Parliament.

See, many MPs travel a lot but not many document their travels the way the Bunya West legislator does. He will post a picture of his handshake with Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa in another instant he will be in Nairobi “exchanging” knowledge with Dr Bitange Ndemo, the permanent secretary of Kenya’s ministry of Information and Communication.

Next time, you will see him in Italy posing outside the San Siro, the home ground for the great football club, AC Milan. Before you catch your breath, he will be in Bradford, UK, meeting with Philip Davies, an MP for Shipley. Headspinning stuff.

Source : The Observer

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