A lot has been said about the Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) who were recently appointed by the president to execute his critical duties in the different districts. While these appointments rightly depicted a new dawn in these very offices — especially with many youthful Ugandans filling these positions — a section of evil-minded Ugandans decided to scandalize the whole exercise.
Sadly, the chronology of the scandal points clearly shows that far from the naysayers’ attempt to posture as hurting nationalists and patriots, time has finally exposed their true ulterior motives.
Initially, the detractors first caused a storm by showing that a huge chunk of the appointees were Basoga and as such appointed on nepotistic grounds since the Presidency Minister, Milly Babirye Babalanda is a Musoga. However, a quick run through the list showed that just about 40 of the over 300 appointees actually come from the region and are not necessarily Basoga like it was imputed. Once this become an apparent bad joke, the destructive gang coined the claim that the appointment exercise was marred with corruption. Without shame, a whole MP in David Kabanda went on national TV and alleged that the appointees each paid Shs20m to secure posting. In Uganda it is common knowledge that many people who claim to be social pundits are paid hefty sums of money to work as hired guns and agents of defamation/destruction of specific people’s rivals. Such defamation is known as “okukuba” in unofficial lingua.
Interestingly, Kabanda could easily be taken for a “mukubi” as he flatly failed to substantiate his claims on Tuesday while appearing on NBS TV’s Barometer show hosted by Zambaali Mukasa.
This was after he was put to the sword by Charles Rwomushana to explain his “nonsensical” claims. However, those that have followed Uganda’s national politics shouldn’t be surprised that Kabanda would come up with such allegations. His is a case of old habits dying hard! A quick flashback shows that Kabanda was among the close hangers-on of then IGP Gen. Kale Kayihura at the time his police was accused of presiding over the greatest torture of Ugandans. Unfortunately, this was most times meted against innocent Ugandans who would simply be victims of wrong intelligence and personal vendetta unrelated to the crimes they were being framed to have committed. When such cases went overboard, trained police officers blamed the deterioration of investigations on Gen. Kayihura’s heavy reliance on civilian informants who were said to wield more power than actual police officers. Unfortunately, among this lot was people like David Kabanda, Abdalla Kitatta, Muhammad Sebuwufu, Nixon Agasiirwe (a reformed highway robber), and Abdu Kiyimba among others. Senior police officers complained that sometimes out of the need to be relevant and also get money from their boss, this group even fabricated ‘intelligence’ information, sometimes even paying fake suspects to come up and confess to crimes they knew nothing about. It is therefore not surprising that a man with a bearing to such history can come up with claims that he later fails to substantiate!
Curiously, while initially these detractors’ allegations were blanket in nature, they soon changed gears and directly went for the person of Minister Babalanda. The biggest claim is that she personally drew the list of appointees and passed it without the president’s input. How laughable this claim is! Firstly, as stated by Rwomushana during his dress-down of Kabanda, the prerogative to appoint any Ugandan RDC rests entirely on the president. His confirmation of any appointees, however, follows an elaborate vetting process of the nominees by security agencies led by ISO. Therefore, the claim that the appointees paid bribes is equally an insinuation that the president received bribes. Also, alleging that he didn’t do the appointments amounts to imputing that he is incompetent— another ridiculous and unacceptable insult to the Fountain of Honour!
Last week stories were published to specifically pin the minister on appointing her brother George Magunda and her daughter as RDCs, thus making her guilty of nepotism. History, however, shows that there’s absolutely no law which prohibits any suitable Ugandan from serving their country as long as they have the requisite minimum qualifications. It is also important to stress that Magunda was RDC even before Babalanda became Presidency minister. In any case, Babalanda isn’t the first and last person to do so! Just recently, detractors unsuccessfully tried to block the President’s sister Violet Kajubiri from being appointed to the Education Service Commission. And for years now, there has been similar debate around the ascendancy of the president’s own son through the army ranks; with the answer to this always being the question as to whether Muhoozi has no right to promotion for excelling at his job! In 2009, then Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary Francis Xavier Lubanga was absolved of accusations of employing his family members in the ministry after they were found to have the requisite qualifications. Such examples show that as opposed to blanket witch-hunt, it is vital for all of us to espouse the principle of meritocracy; otherwise we shall miss the talents of very capable Ugandans in favour of mediocre due to senseless biological blackmail.
It has since emerged that some of the dropped RDCs are refusing to leave office on account of being more loyal or better suited candidates than their replacements. What a joke! Such behavior reeks of not only impunity but also empty self-entitlement. Intriguingly, some of these “bigots” also advance excuses such as their replacements being ‘less NRM’ than them, having opposition roots and being of less education among other insults.
However, experience has already shown us that all this is immaterial. The NRM as a mass party has shown us that it is an all-accommodating entity which simply looks at what one can bring to its cause. That’s evident in the fact that fallen Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, his successor Anita Among and Deputy Thomas Tayebwa all previously belonged to the opposition UPC and FDC respectively but were fronted by the ruling party for topmost positions in the party. It is thus proper for those who think they are more NRM than others to emulate party chairman president Yoweri Museveni’s all-embracing nature. Even claims of seniority have been demystified by NRM going for less experienced speakers to steer the House and learn on the job — after all no one is born with experience; even the inexperienced RDCs will learn on the job and be as good or even better than some of their predecessors who posture as though they were born RDCs.
If that’s too hard for them to comprehend then they should emulate Jesus who made Saul one of his most fruitful apostles (Paul) despite the many years he spent persecuting Christ. It is high time the older generation learnt that the youth also have a duty to contribute to building their nation. It is therefore absurd that the egocentric older generation think they are blindly entitled to solely determine the destiny of Uganda. In all honesty, most of the young men and women who were appointed were part of the presidential vote protectors (PVPs) as well as voluntary NRM mobilisers who were recruited several years under the office of the NRM National Chairman which Minister Babalanda headed at Kyambogo. As such, most of them have been down in the trenches promoting and defending the NRM party on various platforms and fora — albeit voluntarily without any pay whatsoever. By implication, therefore, they have been trained and groomed within the NRM party structures, so it is only fair that they be given chance to prove themselves. Public office is not hereditary and therefore it is foolish for anybody to think they have a birthright to any office.
A case of PHD!
What we shouldn’t overlook is the Ugandan tendency of ill-hearted people always fighting to pull down every person who finds success in whatever he/she does. Because of this, we now have a term called ‘PHD’ or “Pull Him/Her Down”. Without doubt, Minister Babalanda has already exceeded expectations of her detractors thus making her a candidate for the malicious PHD. Remember her witch-hunt began as soon as she was named minister, with claims she was not well-schooled and therefore not fit to hold the office. This was despite the President’s extensive knowledge of her abilities, efficiency and effectiveness having personally spotted her in Busoga where she mobilized women through her own BURDA initiative. What many don’t know is that the attacks we see today began late last year when the mafia clique published a fake list of RDCs and began debating how it had many Basoga. It is possible that the fake list was either meant to tarnish/distract the minister or was a bait by its authors to extort greedy and power hungry schemers to fall in whatever extortionist trap they laid for them. It is therefore possible that such schemers are now pushing the Kabanda allegations. But like we have seen, God defends the just. Kabanda’s humiliation on live TV as well as MP Gonzaga Ssewungu’s heckling in parliament when he tried to complain about Babalanda being appointed to head the Oulanyah burial committee show that no amount of ill-will can derail good work. The Lord says ‘Touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm’. Babalanda is a prayerful woman of virtue and the signs are clear that the God who put her in that office will fight her enemies. All the detractors can do for now is to let the PHDs be truly the academic Doctorates of Philosophy; otherwise the destructive ‘Pull Her Downs’ will soon drag their schemers with them to the abyss.
The writer is a journalist and teacher