This is Uganda, not Zimbabwe!

Almost all of the main stream media news outlets are covering political developments in #Zimbabwe that have peaked with the resignation of their president.

The developments are ‘big’ news in Uganda because Uganda’s president is one of the longest serving leaders and ofcourse given the current on-going political developments within Uganda’s borders (#Togikwatako and #Bagikwateko).

The other is that like in Zimbabwe, many believe their a leadership qeue of bush-war fighters who hope to one day take on the mantle of leadership as president of Uganda. Prime minister (former) Amama Mbabazi, it believed, was punished for positioning himself to be first in that long qeue, leading to his ousting. You know the rest.

The most logical and realistic thing that can be said, just like Uganda has been told off by politicians in Portugal or demonstrators on the streets of Kenya, is that: ‘This is Uganda,’ not…. Zimbabwe. Uganda needs to pride itself it it’s exceptionality.

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Age limit or not; common-sense, introspection and cool-heads need to prevail

For a country who’s main preocupations have always been politics and sports, it comes as no suprise to pick-up talk on politics from any buzzing market – markets are a political constituency in themselves – or sports from a bodaboda stage at the next stage – its no secrete they are a target demographic for Uganda’s proliferating sports betting houses.

What about the economy? You may ask. Well, if you must know, the economy isn’t the talk of the town, atleast in good terms. To put it simply, the economy has grown at an average of 5% as the years have gone by but hardly has that growth translated into money in people’s pockets. Reason? Uganda’s study the wrong things at school and are thus unemployeable. Is anything being done? Well yes. Some adjustments and modifications are being done to create a more market oriented education syllabus, so we are told.

As I was saying; salaries are almost stagnant, employment as you know…etc but there’s hope, we are told. Chameloen’s motomoto is good therapy for you who’s in despair. It should be said though – there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

uganda parliament

That said, for some time the general public has been rather aloof and indifferent to the politics prefering to be passive – calling into political talkshows and tweeting, or posting on facebook – rather than actively getting involved.

The public had developed the ability to tolerate the buzzing that is often characteristic of Ugandan political class, and to be fair, has always come and gone with successive political outfits.

That rather looks to have changed in recent time.

The buzz eminating from the chambers and corridors of the legislative arm of government seems to have gotten louder and deafening as well as disconserting enough to the point of being unbearable for what has hitherto been a tolerant and largely unresponcive character of the wider public, that has compelled the public to take a keen interest in the affairs of parliament.

The overnight spike in the serial murder of women in Entebbe – to which no widelly convincing answer exists yet – has shocked and scared many in equal measure.

The attempts being made at reforming the land laws of the land to allow for compulsary takeover of individual private land by the government, none of which is new in the law books.

But the proposals’ suggestion of transfer of land from private hands to the government without adequate and prompt compensation before takeover of the land in question has incensed many a people, bringing to the fore of the longstanding but deep seated suspicions that the general public has haboured about the government’s intentions – many controversial land evicitions or ‘land grabs’ have government officials at their centre.

This hasn’t been helped by the on-going land commission traversing the country that has only formally confirmed the extent of the land grabs.

The land grabs have always been a common topic for discussion in public domain.

And now the protracted debate on the removal of the upper and lower age limit for the presidency under the disguise of making it possible for the youth to run for elective positions without them being subjected to “discrimination” is proving a hard-sell.

A significant number of the populance are yet to buy into it.

All this has stirred quite a political storm within the political circles that the public couldn’t help but notice.

This turn of event has been fuelled by those opposed to the above issues rallying the public against all three issues. Those in power have found themselves on the firing end prompting them to respond.

The ruling class has always sought refuge and comfort in knowing that they have the numbers to overide any opposing side when it came down to a vote in the August house.

That hasn’t been the case f late particularly with the age-limit debate. There is dissent within their own ranks with a cohort that has been known as “rebel MPs” leading the dissent.

The shift of the debate from within the controlled evironment of the political class into a passive ordinary and often unpolitical public has turned the debate into a war for the minds of the general public, a “war of ideas” if you will.

This change of tact now spreads the debate to two frontiers – on the floor of parliament and the minds of the general public.

Could this be a pivotal time in the politics of Uganda? That the general public takes more and more interest in the discussions taking place within the political circles?

As the country continues to be polarised along those in favour and against the lifting of the lower and upper cap on the age for the presidency, it should be noted that the current political debate within the country is good, healthy and worthy of encouragement if the dividends of a multiparty political dispensation are to be harnessed and used to create a politically astute public.

Kyadondo East by-election: High-school styled politics on a grand stage

The candidature of Kyagulanyi Ssentamu a local musician commonly known by his stage name ‘Bobi wine’ seems to have sensationalised what would otherwise have passed off as the usual competition between the party in power, National Resistence Movement (NRM) and the leading oppositon party, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).

Mr Kyagulanyi Ssentamu a.k.a Bobi Wine Mr Kyagulanyi Ssentamu a.k.a Bobi Wine. Photo: theUgandan.com.ug

A field day for the media
A huge benefitiary of the current status quo is the media that is always looking for stories of public interest that it can sensationalise, attracting a following that is converted into advertising revenue.

Many media houses bearly made a profit in FY 2016/17 than the previous year largely due a tough economy which saw business activity subdued. Some have labelled the economy a ‘bad economy’ a narative the government rejects.

The economy grew at 3.9% down from a projected 5.5% growth rate.
But that’s a topic for another day.

Bobi wine’s campaign has thus received extensive media coverage by most local media stations; that it has shadowed the other candidates in the race.
First things first
The by-election resulted from the courts nullifying Mr. Apollo Kantiti’s (FDC) election win after his challenger Mr. William Sitenda Sebalu (NRM) in the recently cocluded 2016 elections successfully appealed against Mr Katinti’s win.

Many members of parliament have been ejected from the August parliament, as well.

Who’s Kyadondo East
To put this into perspective, Kyadondo East is an electoral constituency that covers 219.48 square kilometers with an estimated population of about 216,726 people as of 2010, according to this article.

The economic activities being farming, brick laying, transport and trade for the rural part of the constituency; and restaurant, market vending, hair care, road side groceries and health care clinics on the semi-urban part of the same.

THE #Beat of THE MONTH. Police has the best #Beats.

Police #Beats Bodaboda Riders
AS THE WORLD spins ever faster along it’s axis so does nature up it’s speed and pace.

#NapoleonMusic is know for it’s slow pace and so is music from the 90’s. During Napoleon’s time, transport was mainly by horse and carriage. Things have gotten alittle bit faster since then.

Think of modern cars, aeroplanes, bicycles and even #HusseinBolt. It seems like #Beingfast is the trend of the century.

Beats become #Beats

The world witnessed the rise of #Beatsbydre which sold like hot cakes world wide, including here in Uganda. Ugandan’s didn’t want to be left out and so to came up with our own local version – #BeatsbyKenzo.

As if that were not enough there was #BeatsbyRedtop as the Military Police cleared the streets of Kampala during previous riot. Not long ago, Ugandan’s were made to dance to ‘you want another rap’ by M7 to which the chorus was ‘yes sevo.’

Kampala and the central region at large have been a fortress for the opposition which has generally outperformed the ruling party – NRM in most election cycles. This has made Kampala a hotbed for Police patrols as there’s need to keep an eye on the rebel territory; a way of keeping law and order, if you will.

With the relative calm in the city which has left the Police abit unoccupied, the men in uniform decided it was time to create their own beat – #BeatsbyUgPolice.

This isn’t new in kampala as the city has seen quite a good number of upcoming stars only for them to quickly fade. Kampalans have danced to #BeatsbyGoons, #BeatsbyKcca, with the recent one being the infamous #BeatsbyUgPolice.

If everyone is creating there own beats, you should prepare to see a surge in the number of music studios as entrepreneurs in Kampala position them selves to make a kill in the growing industry.

I have a feeling the BodaBoda men are not far away from making a launch of their own, creating there own #Beat, say, #NoHelmets or better a #BeatsbyBodas if you will.

Back to #BeatsbyUgPolice

It seems like the recent #BeatsbyUgPolice was not well received and appreciated as the Police came under a lot of pressure and criticism for their dance moves. They should have borrowed Eddy kenzo’s notes on how he does it #bytheway.

That said, #IGPKale had to arrest some of his lead singer and dancer Policemen and had them charged before the ‘Police court’. Despite all that, #IGPkale too has been invited to court for a chat with some of the aggrieved revellers who didn’t like the show.

Which ever way that conference turns out, one thing is clear; Police should stop creating beats and start #Policing like that man in Mityana.
The Police might not have received applause but they certainly made a hit. You might want to check the press for details.

CAN THE MEDIA BE TRUSTED?

Donald Trump

The US Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trumph
This week the US presidential nominee Donald Trump was endorsed at the Republican convention in Clevenland, Ohio defying all odds and predictions by pundits and experts that he wouldn’t make it. It was said that he looked ‘unpresidential,’ that skeptism over his ability to lead the US appears to have followed him to nomination day. He’s the last man standing.

The event was not so colourful like previous conventions. Drama, protests,and celebrations highlighted the political divide that still exists in the Republican Party and the wider American society. The Democratic camp isn’t any different either. What is clear is than Amaerican society isn’t united.

A world in chaos

Over in Turkey, a coup attempt failled to amount to anything thanks to the thousands of Turks who held anti-coup demonstrations and foiled the planned military take-over, saving the fall of an elected government. And now many are experiencing the cost of failure, the country is being ‘cleansed’ of ‘terrosists,’ going by the Turkish presidents statements.

A three month state of emergency is firmly in place. Organs of the state and non-state entities are being ‘purged’ starting with the army, judiciary and now thousands of academics were suspended and banned from leaving the country. No stone will be left unturned.

The world doesn’t seem doing well.

To borrow the words of Chinua Achebe, things seem to be ‘falling apart,’ as the ‘centre nolonger holds’ atleast if one is to go by media reports and the press.

A regrettable trend of things

It’s as though there is a race to out do each other in reporting a story. Everyone seems to report on the same stories the same way, only abit better and varying of style in reporting.

It’s akin to the worship and admiration thereof of love themed songs by most, if not all musicians, that has sucked diversity and richness out sound out of this generation’s music. Artists seem to fall over each other to recapture the emotions of life that have been the centre piece past songs, in their own voice.

Here at home

Police beating Bystanders

In Uganda, there has wide condemnation of the recent police beatings and harrassment of innocent by-standers and passive on-lookers that lined the roads to get a view as Kiiza Bessgye’s procession make it’s way in the winding streets of Kampala to his Wakiso home. The media has been credited, by some, for it’s efforts in comprehensivelly covering the incident, something it never did quiet properly in the Kigezi incident involving Amama’s supporters during the election campaigns early on in the year.

Our own Kazibwe, a one time Vice president just lost an election to be Chair of the African Union with elections being moved to January 2017. Two contenders are left. Kazibwe unfortunatelly will miss the grand finale come January.

Some commentators believe the media coverage and posturing of her public image as a suitable candidate for the job, both here at home and elswhere on the continent, had a significant contribution to her current predicament. There is some merit to it.

It is quiet clear that the media has a hand in shaping the outcomes of any process, be it posively or negatively.

Take an example of the media’s coverage of Golola’s fights that have given kick boxing, a hitherto dying sport, a breath of life that has catapulted it among the prestigious sporting activities in the sporting line-up of Uganda. More people have taken up the sport in; training schools/clubs, open fields as well as in ‘secrete bases,’ the kind that Golola prefered.

He’s equally well known for taking a lot of porridge, especially before his fights, something that has worked to his detriment and made him unstable on his feet exposing him to the occassional ‘dislications.’ What I wonder though is how it has influenced the publics view of porridge and whether it has watered their appetite and made their taste buds long for a cup or more. It’s hard to tell.

What is at play

With the on-going campaign process in the US and the behaviour of our own media here, I am fairly confident that it hasn’t escaped the mind of a keen observer that there is a taking of sides of some sort, either overtly or covertly, in the media. The media doesn’t seem too comfortable standing on both feet.

A desired image is projected for a ‘favoureable’ candidate, who are also the major shareholders, of who is favourable and will serve the interests best. A less desirable image is protrayed of the other.

Trump being associated with chaos, disruptiveness which has led some to associate him to Besigye’s public image in Uganda; and Hillary Clinton as the more presidential candidate. Not that I am drawing any unfair juxtapositions of the US candidates or parallels with Uganda’s political culture.

It is no rocket science that an establishment will consider it’s interest first. The media is no exception either. However, I find that a delicate balance of the many conflicting and competing interests has to be observed in order to serve the wider interests of society as a whole.

Is neutrality workable in matters of wide interest and will it buttress in the business of the media and produce a more balanced representation of events? It’s hard to tell. But one thing is clear: nothing is what it seems with the media. Your descerning abilities will be needed logicalmeter lest you find your self with unfactual accounts of events