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Kampala’s dishonest public intellectuals

Artistic impression of Lubowa hospital

Artistic impression of Lubowa hospital

In March this year, parliament approved a guarantee of $367m for the construction of a world-class hospital in Lubowa.

The money was released by Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank. By May, Shs 140bn had been stolen. Earlier, Abdu Katuntu’s COSASE report noted that Bank of Uganda, for 30 years, was run like a mafia and had irregularly closed and stolen from seven banks.

Before winding our heads around this BoU gangsterism, we have been hit by another series of crimes – printing more than contracted currency [Is this the first time?]. Mafia-like robberies are common on Kampala streets nowadays – implicating security operatives.

Mid last year, soldiers entered parliament and beat up legislators who, strangely, still had the energy to return the following day and debate on the same bill for which they had been crushed. Women are systematically abducted and murdered in and around Kampala.

Journalists are beaten and media houses constantly threatened for reporting obvious stories. Suspects detained for unknown reasons are released by courts, and re-arrested, gangster style, by “unknown” casually dressed gun-wielding men, who we later learn are from “sister security organizations.”

The list of scandals and absurdities above is incomplete. Even when I enumerate events of the past 12 months alone, it remains terribly short. See, only in September last year, a senior police officer – Muhammad Kirumira – was assassinated after a long-running duel over exposing the dirt in the police force.

Two months earlier, NRM legislator Ibrahim Abiriga had been assassinated same style. No explanation whatsoever. Activist and academic Stella Nyanzi is in jail for writing strong anti-government poetry. As this pile of absurdities continues to grow, how does one make this world above comprehensible?

Regime-leaning analysts, such as Morrison Rwakakamba, Andrew Mwenda, or government spokespersons such as Ofwono Opondo and Chris Baryomunsi, will quickly pivot their listeners towards Uganda’s roads. 

Oh, we have become a country of infrastructures. What a country with good roads. Then you will see pictures captioned, “this is not New York, but Arua…” or some rhetoricism, “where do you think this is…?”

Other times, Kampala’s traffic mess is the reason to celebrate Uganda’s rise. Oh, wait, we also recently bought two new planes, and more are coming. You will then be bamboozled by a patchwork of figures on economic growth – and how you are second fastest-growing economy in the world!

For human rights and other legal-related issues, you are challenged to go to [their] courts. But these are government spokespersons, and should not be begrudged for doing their job. Recall the philosophical puzzle between public and private use of reason? Yes, these comrades are faithful to the private use of reason, and public idiocy.

But there is a section of supposedly “middle ground” “objective” analysts [who, by the way, hate being identified as opposition-leaning] who read the world captured above as mere technical mistakes. 

These include mostly our so-called economists, pollsters and some wacky legal practitioners.  Although BoU has been ruining commercial banks for the last 30 years, a clear indication the central bank is deliberately managed like a modern shrine – because that is how power wants it to be run – our analysts read the now well-advertised crises as technical mistakes – needing alternative technical approaches!

The murders or human rights abuses are actions of rogue elements in security forces who need a little sorting. Because courts have given them favourable verdicts on matters of civil nature (domestic violence or insignificant political victories, say over an uneducated NRM legislator), they are convinced the same courts will be impartial on matters of a great political significance especially involving President Museveni tenure.

In truth, besides seeking to avert the increasing irrelevance of their professions under Museveni [and all other professions, for sure], and also garner some fame, they are either ignorant or acutely blind to power.

They are ignorant about how power often cultures chaos as a way of reproducing itself. Sadly, you will find these dandies hanging out with the mighty and powerful like they were in a science-fiction movie of British politics in Kampala.

These are the most dangerous to public debate in Kampala for they enjoy a fake appeal of intellectual balance. There is one favourable group of mine who see raw power in its seams. They know that chaos is a mode of government, and reason and logic cannot explain Museveni’s Uganda.

To understand Museveni’s Uganda, one has to find meaning in chaos – because chaos is culture. Robert Kalundi Serumaga, Semujju Ibrahim Nganda, Moses Khisa, Ssemakula Luttamaguzi, and Kiiza Besigye are examples here. However, they still lack tact and strategy to move the center.


The author is a PhD fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research.


+5 #1 Lysol 2019-06-27 00:49
The so-called academic or publics intellectuals with their bogus PhD papers or titles are the ones letting Uganda down.

Many are a complete disgrace to the country. I once was asked by a Tanzanian why do Ugandans who are so highly educated let just one man lead them for all these 30 plus years and do nothing about it?

The person went on to add that, without the help of TZ, may be Amin would have ruled Uganda for life, like Museveni is now trying to do, Only that Amin was frank and got courage about he intentions unlike the conning and sleazy Museveni.

Many current so-called intellectuals which I went to school with are cowards and only drink a lot to forget their sorrows.
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+2 #2 Stewart 2019-06-27 09:12

I like this one, you stated and i quote,

"To understand Museveni’s Uganda, one has to find meaning in chaos",

That summarizes our fate.

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+4 #3 Jwariakoli 2019-06-27 11:52
Intellectuals???!!! After the 'primitive' Idi Amin and his likes were gotten rid of, we expected the incoming 'elites' to perform wonders to move the country forward in all aspects.

Forty years later, the pigs look much cleaner than the men.
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+4 #4 sula 2019-06-27 15:38

Intellectuals or no intellectuals - ''Uganda is under occupation'' - What has happened and still happening has happened in many occupied countries like : Germany, Syria, Iraq or in the former colonised states.

- Sell the countries assets without any bother
- Sell the countries economically strategic assets cheaply and bag the proceeds
- enter Central Bank pick $750m buy yourselves fighter jets
- tax citizens to the bones and luxuriously enjoy yourself

- crush any sign of opposition with maximum force and death , Kyagulanyi ,Besigye or kirumira,sebwufu ,kawuma or kill indiscriminately - kasese,Northern Uganda ,luwero etc.
-enter Central bank bag any amount go on a spending spree including donating randomly !
- spend and call it government spending /budget etc

These are normal in a 'captured state'. -called-'reparations'.Ask what the Tanzanians did after chasing Amin !
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0 #5 Lakwena 2019-07-02 13:42
In other words Yusuf, including our ravenous politicians, because of their shortsightedness, driven by self-interest placed above public interest (public good); Amartya Kumar Sen categorize our Kampala Dishonest Intellectual as "Rational fools.

Fools because, in the medium and long run their momentary selfishness is self-defeatist. Defeatist because no society or community condones covert and/or overt dishonesty, which is the origin of injustice and/or unfairness.

At the end of the day, the "people" who in most cases are their victims, will plot for their isolation and down fall (the collapse of their fraudulent empires).
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