Monday, October 25, 2010

Dr. Kobusigye, Engineer Badru Kiggundu, Hon Nandala Mafabi and LAVIT

On the Correct line?, Kiggundu’s Election prayers, Hon.Mafabi and LAVIT.

I did not know any of FDC President Rtd. Col. Dr. Besigye’s siblings apart from Musasizi Kifefe who died after endless battles in court and detention in Luzira prison and numerous safe houses over terrorism/ treason charges. Am sure not so many people knew either. So Dr. Olive Kobusigye, Dr. Kiiza Besigye’s younger sister’s book – The Correct Line? Under General Museveni has kicked off a mini storm in the mainstream media and in Kampala’s elite circles. Apparently, the book is critical of the Museveni regime and puts to the fore, scenes and incidents in our society and political sphere etc that are in stark contrast to President Museveni’s preaching and assertions on the rule of law, freedom of expression, human rights etc. For example, today General Museveni may say, let the Kabaka be, let him freely talk and engage with his subjects, only to unleash a paramilitary outfit the following day to disperse a cheering/singing/dancing crowd waiting to receive His Majesty Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi in a remote town 60 kms outside Kampala. But for me, that is not my point of interest. What puzzles me is why a government of the day or government officials for that matter, would want to confiscate a consignment of books purported to be critical of the regime, by locking them up or holding them up in a safe house for that matter. Needless to say, you don’t lock up information in this era and age. With mobile phones, internet, social networking etc, any attempt to block a book from hitting the book stores is a sad and mediocre endeavor. So the government realized they were playing “dog-chasing- its own tail”, and decided to let Dr. Kobusigye be with her books, but they had already accorded her free advertisement and publicity. I mean, how else would ordinary mortals in the country side or upcountry towns, offices etc be interested in her book if it weren’t for the media frenzy and hullabaloo over Kagina - Kivejinja’s seizure of the book. We are not known to love reading. If Museveni’s lieutenants hadn’t seized that consignment for even a single day, that book would be gathering dust in Aristoc Bookshop and Dr. Kobusigye’s home store.

Engineer Badru Kiggundu and his team organized a prayer session at Kololo airstrip to pray for peace and stability before, during and after the 2011 general elections. Why is kiggundu calling on divine intervention for guidance and support during next year’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections? I think the guy is preparing us and asking God to help him be strong enough to announce a Dr. Besigye victory come February 2011. You wonder why Kiggundu and Co. seem worried this time round. In the last two General elections, they have been at fault - not reigning on NRM candidates acting with impunity, hijacking polling stations and materials, beating up, arresting, intimidating and killing opposition candidates, agents and supporters. The courts of law have put this on record. And kiggundu is not your 100m athlete or budding footballer that you can argue will get better with time. He seems to perform poorly with each passing year. But like any elite professional, he seems bent on redeeming his legacy and thus is calling on God to give him the guts to declare Dr. Kiiza Besigye winner next time round. The NRM folks seem to have smelt this already, no wonder their Chairman and party top dogs, snubbed this national prayer event at Kololo. Keep your fingers crossed, 2011 is not for the faint hearted.

In light of next year’s Presidential and General elections, if the electoral commission ensures and delivers a fair contest in this political arena of ours, two gentlemen will be back in the august house. Hon Nandala Mafabi, MP for Budandiri East and also chairperson of Public Accounts Committee (PAC), and Hon. Nabetta Igeme, MP for Jinja West and more importantly Director/ Project Manager of the LAVIT project (Lake Victoria Information Technology Park). These two guys are the true symbols of the two ironies that define our society today. Hon. Nandala Mafabi as head of PAC is endlessly putting government officials and accounting officers to task to explain fraudulent deals, loss of money, corruption, value for money etc in the spending of tax payers’ money. CHOGM, Road Sector, Finance etc have been fodder for him as he puts government big fish to task to explain their fishy deals and accountabilities or the lack of it. But that is as far as he goes. He and his opposition colleagues, despite their best efforts to ensure better accountability and procurement procedures in government expenditures, they don’t have a critical mass in the house to bring the perpetuators of corruption, fraud and bribery to book. All they do is bark, bark and bark. None of the guys indicted by the CHOGM report will ever be questioned by the police or even disciplined by the party. Hon. Mafabi’s efforts are to waste. PAC is fighting a lost battle. This brings us to Hon. Nabetta, a guy who purchased 200 acres of prime land on the shores of Lake Victoria from the Uganda prisons for a paltry Ugx 10,000,000. The land is intended to for the Lake Victoria Information/communication and Bio-technology park. The park will be complete with real estate products, ICT research and innovation centres, biotechnology institutes, airport etc and will create over 10,000 jobs directly, boost trade and commerce in eastern Uganda, develop appropriate ICT tools etc. The picture is rosy, the intentions are great. But then Hon. Mafabi and his PAC team come in, procurement guidelines were flaunted, the land was given away for peanuts, etc. This is where I get lost on whom to side with. The argument for good accountability vis avis procedures that may frustrate a good-intentioned project is our biggest challenge today. Temangalo was a good investment deal, it would give an opportunity to pension contributors to own homes/ property – the NSSF argued. For this, they wanted us to forget that there was influence peddling, irregular procurement procedures, political influence etc all perfect recipes for frustrating even the best of intentions. The citizenry don’t understand why the roads authority and ministry of health would return money to the treasury when our roads are a mess, hospitals lack drugs and basic equipment. Would we rather spend the money fraudulently and come up with a shabby job or would we rather have tax payers’ money stashed away safely in the treasury, away from the filthy hands of corrupt technocrats and politicians, as we engage better planning mode? Give me the latter any day.