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Uganda’s disposable politicians

By Morris Komakech

Mike Mukula and the insect that hoped to become a bird

In November of 1993, the famed Paris-based Congolese Musician, Koffi Olomide released a song called Papa plus. A portion of the preamble to that song has since been translated to me, from Lingala to English. In that song, Koffi warns that even when insects fly, they will never become birds.

That warning, if well heeded by prominent people like former VP Gilbert Bukenya and Soroti Municipality MP Mike Mukula, would have saved them from the humiliation and selective justice of the magnitude they have endured. They were outsiders who wanted to become insiders without fully understanding the predatory NRM’s nature.

Let me remind other NRM wannabes that even if you develop yellow wings for joining the Movement, you will only remain an insect. There are no prospects of ever becoming a yellow bird, even for crumbs clearing purposes. In other words, unless you are a member of certain clan, married to certain families, speak certain languages, been an historical, hold a gun and owe an enormous allegiance to status quo, you will remain just that – an easily disposable outsider.

Renowned researcher and advocate for anti-human trafficking, Kevin Bales, wrote a book titled: Disposable Human Beings. That book catalogues the path and troubles that trafficked women and young girls go through while in captivity. Once they arrive at their destination, mostly Scandinavian countries, the females are sold into slavery, either for sex or hard labour. Once the girls have been used to the point of depletion, drugged, scolded, raped many times, infected with diseases and so forth, they are disposed. They become disposable human beings.

Both Mukula and Bukenya, in the sense of Kevin Bales, represent our modern day political disposables. The fates of the two leaders symbolise the nature of the NRM politics and reaffirm my hypothesis.

I long hypothesised that the NRM is a party of President Museveni and some historicals. The first generation proprietors are their children and the second generation owners will be their grandchildren. That is the given direction of the ripple and anyone else who situates himself or herself outside of those socio-political gridlocks, only gets washed on by the wave for exploitation.

When it comes to corruption, the fight is taken way to the peripheral. It is the small guys who are fought, and yet this culture of impunity and immorality has been nurtured and cultivated by those situated at the crux of governance.

During Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanya’s wedding to my sister, Ms Okot, the President was quoted in the dailies to have praised Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Okello Oryem, Jacob Oulanya and others as potential allies for his “great” intentions for Acholi region. The President stated that previously his rather great intentions, such as plans to usurp land and intern the people of Acholi were rebuffed by bad leadership. He went ahead to mention Joseph Kony as such leaders.

Let’s be candid to the President and again extend an olive branch to him. First, the Acholi people have related with Museveni in a very civil manner, it is the revenge attitude that Museveni carried against the Acholi which perpetuated he hostility. Second, for years, Acholi people have sent NRM representatives to work with Museveni. Most of these leaders are humiliated and disposed easily.

How long did Acholi MPs occupy the Ministry of State for Sports in the Ministry of Education? I recall very well, Omony Ogaba from Aruu was the pioneer of that office which had no budget; Okello Oryem followed suit and for so long, no Acholi name featured prominent in full cabinet position.

We all recall how Acholi people loved Atuku Betty Bigombe and you recall how Amuru elders were surprised that Bigombe could only become Minister of state for Water. Given the above, whenever Acholi people send NRM representatives to work with the President, they send us Madhvani with his intentions to “plant” sugarcanes in the most fertile soils of Amuru. We all know that Amuru has oil and minerals. We know that land in Acholi is customary land and there are clear means of acquisition that land, why the political interference?

Finally, I still remember how Permanent Secretary Opika Opoka was summarily dismissed from his docket at Ministry of Agriculture for the failures of his boss, the then VP, Speciosa Wandira Kazibwe, to account for her imaginary dams. Had the scandals in the proportion that we see now at OPM happened when an Acholi is the PS, would he still be in office and not jail?

Given the above accounts, the President has no excuses for holding double standards on Acholi on account of hostility. Acholi people have been honest and modest with the NRM even when they were being pounded and shredded by NRM mortars in an inferno for over twenty years. Now, if the Mukula debacle does not teach us a lesson, then look around and see where Alice Kaboyo or Mukula’s contemporaries in the money affairs of GAVI are.

Well, when you know that you are an insect, please, do not develop unnecessary hopes of becoming also a bird.

Morris Komakech is a Ugandan social critic and political analyst based in Toronto, Canada. Can be contacted via

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