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.
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.