Uganda: So Museveni Said – Let the People Party and Behold, They Did Exactly That…

Starting last week, I stopped criticising people who party before they work, people who prefer to spend on consumption instead of investment. Who am I to pretend to be smarter than majority of the newly elected Members of Parliament of Uganda?

For too many years, I have castigated fresh graduates who pester relatives for money to hold a graduation party. I now say to them, I am sorry.

Countless times I have given a few notes to such graduands, accompanying my contribution with lectures on how such money should be invested in a plot of land or a food kiosk instead of burning it in one evening of partying. I now tender my unreserved apologies for being out of touch with reality.

But it is better to learn late than never. So last week, I learnt what the more important things in life are.

Over four hundred Members of Parliament took an oath to start five years of legislation, and the most important item on which most of them were "assisted" urgently to spend money was partying. Now I know what matters to our people and I hereby express my deep gratitude the honourable members for the lesson.

About eighty per cent of the MPs are either members of the ruling NRM or "NRM-leaning independents." The latter is a euphemism for NRM members who lost the party primaries and stood as independents, but for practical purposes remain NRM supporters.

Their party chairman who is also president of the country, Brother Yoweri Museveni, confirmed that he had fundraised and given each of them five million shillings ($1,500) to hold a celebration.

Museveni himself is a Spartan who wouldn't spend a hundred dollars on a personal celebration. But if anybody knows Ugandans it is Museveni, and he knows their priorities all too well. He knows what the people and what they want... is to party.

So we, the stingy, frustrated observers of society can continue lamenting while the realistic people enjoy their parties. We can calculate that the MPs received Us.7 billion, which equals half a million dollars, for partying but that did not stop them drinking and dancing away with their supporters.

And this was in addition to two bashes that Speaker Rebecca Kadaga threw in one evening - the first one on the grounds of parliament to say farewell to ex-members who did not make it to the Tenth Parliament and the second one immediately afterwards in a night club to welcome the new members.

We can continue gnashing our teeth that the five million shillings could have kicked off a revolving fund in each member's constituency for a women's Sacco, lending half a million each to 10 different women every six months, so that at the end of five years there would be a hundred new extra women entrepreneurs in the constituency.

But who wants to hear such boring suggestions when there is the viable, exciting option of throwing a party? I will not add the obvious option of investing the half million dollars in improving the cancer treatment capability at Mulago hospital.

I knew that is what you expected me to say, so I won't say it. Let our people drink, dance and make merry.

Joachim Buwembo is a social and political commentator based in Kampala

Source: The East African

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