This article was originally published in March 2011
The country isn’t broken. The country is fixed. Museveni’s constant references to the bad old days can be tedious, but they are true—the man has done some good. But the country isn’t working the way a good country should. There are bugs in the software, knots in the circuits, and they need to be addressed.
And Sevo, quite simply can’t. No one is perfect; certainly not Sevo, and unfortunately, it’s one particular imperfection of his that is the biggest issue the country needs to face.
Because corruption is his imperfection. He is part of the problem.
That’s why this election was supposed to be so important. It should have been our chance to replace the aging, flagging machine and its leaky parts and shuddering seams and its smell of stale fuel with something that will do the same job better. An upgrade. We are not that divided: mostly we all want Museveni. It’s just that some of us want a new, better Museveni, one without all the crap.
Then came nomination day and we began to see that this wasn’t going to happen. Mao was a promising prospect, but then came all the others. And no matter what their individual merits were, there was just one problem: They were not going to win. There were too many of them.
I can’t help but think that there is one thing that would have turned the tables. A sleek supermanouver, a messiah move—if seven candidates had stepped down and declared their support for just one guy, things might have been different. At least I would have been swayed. Though, with the results coming out I can see that I overestimated the other guys. Mao, Kamya, Otunnu etc were mere spoilers. I was only one of very few people who took them seriously, it seems.
The campaign went on. It became increasingly evident that politics is not really about competing interests or “issues” or what’s best for the people. It’s a bullshit contest, it’s about who has the richest spectacle, the most flamboyant show. Trucks of loud megaphoned babel blaring through the night followed by the rabble with leaves and rags stuck to their clothes. This was enough disillusionment before Tunisia imploded, and then Egypt imploded and then suddenly disillusionment gave way to fear.
Because who said it can’t happen here? Street riots have happened before and it doesn’t take much to set them off. Just an excuse. Every day we walk past people and see it in their eyes—that man has it in him to throw a brick at the head of another man. It’s all around us. We are not as safe as we think.
And so when the policemen in camouflage with their assault rifles sprouted out of every street corner, and then when the long files of soldiers started to march up and down the city, instead of thinking how this violates the spirit of a national voter exercise, I was relieved.
Now more than ever I know just how much of a Movementist I am. I, as much as Museveni, have a vested interest in the status quo. I am ready to have the people’s army unleashed upon the people themselves just to protect the stability of my way of life.
Well, nothing’s going to happen. We will be back on Monday, writing jokes at ULK, having lunch with my pretty friends, tweeting about NBA all-star weekend etc. This period has done a lot to help me understand my own political position better.
There is a way people think things are supposed to be and then there is the way they actually are. We think that citizens are supposed to be constantly vigilant and curious and should be perpetually engaging with the government that rules them, demanding accountability, asking questions and applying pressure.
Then there is the way things are, which is that most people just want to wake up, make some money, eat some food, meet their friends, have a laugh, go to bed.
As long as we can do these without hindrance, we won’t think that much of government. When something interferes with these, then we will look for ways to deal with it, maybe demand that the government comes in to solve the problem, but the fact is that most of us in my elite middle class urban bubble are pretty comfortable with our lives. Things are fine for us. We hardly ever have to deal with the public sector, let alone the government, so, though you might think that makes us apathetic, and we might think the same, what that actually does is make us For. We are in support of things as they are. We don’t mind another term of Museveni. An upgrade would be nice, but we aren’t too eager.
Here’s to the next four years.
By Monsieur Ernest Bazanye . The writer can be found at bazanye.com