Why the President ill-advised intercourse with the kiwempe balokole old-guard portends an anticlimax
COMMENT | MATSIKO GODWIN MUHWEZI | It is an open secret that the laws of Uganda and its attendant machinery and political machinations are designed to give incumbents a head-start in electioneering. Any politician trying to campaign at this point will be faced with flying porcupine hair from some black book of this our democrat banana republic. Dr. Kizza Besigye cannot freely be hosted on talk radio, some people cannot perform at innocuous kidandali concerts, and guess what; we have a government that is suddenly keen on regulating fashion!
Conversely, President Museveni is free to sell his yellow brand across the country in a plethora of activities. For argument’s sake, we will call the wealth creation campaigns, outlandish bye-election endorsements, meet and greets, cameo appearances at silent majority Bazukulu concerts, occupational hazards and not political campaigning.
Where though is this approach ill-advised? I would say the unholy alliance between the President and the Balokole old-guard is a still-birth in an incubator. If the President’s endearment to the Balokole community in the 80s and 90s was his supposed rescue and validation of the Kiwempe movement, that ship has long sailed. In-fact it has docked a thousand miles away, beyond the mark set by Christopher Columbus and Vasco da Gama.
These supposed Balokole leaders, never a better place to use the notorious phrase “self-styled”, traversing the country holding wealth creation crusades, are the worst allies for anyone seeking political affinity with the Balokole community.
First off, they are flat out liars; paradox of paradoxes! Yes; they are pull-neck choked in debt, inchoate building projects, unpaid media staff, and tax evasion hide and seek. But guess what; this old guard has the liquidity to dish out their benevolent change to Ugandans across the country. No, we are not aware of the late night meetings in Kalangala, Mukono, the Serena and Nakasero hill; we are haplessly blind to brown envelopes and Mpekonis financed by state budgets.
Ever since most of them ran out of schemes to dupe American patronage and kitole visas, this old guard has resorted to kissing some military boots (yes, the people faulting Mr. Joseph Kabuleta for kissing Prophet Elvis Mbonye’s shoes have sold their souls to the state and are unapologetic about it).
They recently organised a sham high level meeting with the President, gathered hordes of well meaning people to prop some numbers but the distraught situation of the majority was evident. Ironically, the balokole old guard is a handful but still bicker over who poses with the president or shakes his hand; at least their father Judas had the unity of mind to convince his investors to pay full value upfront for his bounty. Poor believers at Cricket Oval were left to fight over veggie samosas and pints of super dip before trekking the dusty hillock to downtown taxi park.
Still, the real alert Balokole, who are no longer Kiwempe, have maintained their resolve against state religious patronage. Either the President has lost touch with this demographic of Ugandans or does not care that he is creating the most passionate enemies yet!
Bottomline, we in the Balokole community do not know those people anymore than we know Mama Jonah, Musuuza, Sebunya and whoever else somehow makes it to mainstream media mbozi za malwa these days.
To realise who the opinion leaders of the Balokole movement are you do not need theological training. Prophet Elvis Mbonye and his remnants; including the Joseph Kabuleta some princes love to hate and lock up, will galvanise more youth in this country than the entire Balokole old-guard combined.
Relatedly, it is bad enough that a person excommunicated from a religion in which he is supposed to be a priest is trusted to galvanise diametrically opposed religious views. If Fr. Lokodo was not good enough to be accepted in the Catholic Church, I wonder how he is expected to be trusted by the Balokole.
Everybody knows that the Religious Faith Based Organisations policy is an instrument of religious oppression. For one of the few educated people from the Eastern horn of Uganda, Lokodo’s skills would be better employed elsewhere. I wonder if the people he represents understand what job he does and how irrelevant it is to their daily struggles.
Sooner or later, this little endeavour will crumble faster than a house of cards. The Balokole old guard will run out of lies and hyperbole to solicit state favours and accept the fact that they have become irrelevant in the gospel that propelled them out of oblivion.
Sooner or later, all personal funds, printed notes, oil money, taxpayer’s contributions, or wherever else these wealth crusade gimmicks are being funded from, will become porous and we will all get back to sense and sensibility. Basically, we will all be fine, but will President Museveni? Some soundtrack by Sam Smith in a James Bond movie has my concluding line!
The writer is a lawyer and author