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Francis Zaake takes naming rights of 11th Parliament

Francis Zaake with his lawyer Erias Lukwago before MPs. Photo: Parliament Watch

Francis Zaake with his lawyer Erias Lukwago before MPs. Photo: Parliament Watch

The Igbo have a saying, Chinua Achebe tells us, “They stand in the courtyard of the coward to point to where the brave used to live.”

Exactly, the brave would have died a long time ago, living nothing behind, and if one asked about them, the coward — supposedly the more cautious one — is one to point to where they once lived.

Yes, they only ask about the brave ones, the supposedly reckless ones, who are naturally poised to leave behind a name: a legacy. Chinua Achebe’s most famous character, Okonkwo, would rhetorically challenge his pacificist relatives at a clan meeting: “If a man comes into my hut and defecates on the floor, what do I do? Do I shut my eyes? No! I take a stick and break his head. That is what a man does.”

Written in the thick of colonialism, Okonkwo’s challenge is a classic anti-colonial posture. So, the Eritreans would say, “better to die like a lion than live like a dog.” Yes, a dog might live longer, but it is a dog, entirely dependent on the generosity of its master — who sometimes, might not be kind.

Until recently, Uganda’s opposition legislators, people that are supposedly charged with resisting President Museveni’s excesses, simply shut their eyes. It is not just Museveni’s crimes, but the humiliation that comes with them, making seemingly serious people – men and women of dignity – look like little country hounds.

Consider the humiliation that comes with drones and disappearance of opposition supporters, while these legislators continue in parliament like all was normal. Consider the wanton detention and murder of Muslims. A long list of humiliations. How have dignified persons — like my friends, the Mathias Mpuuga, and JEEMA president Asumani Basalirwa — continued to act like all is normal?

I can imagine the other interests at stake, but the humiliation that comes with pursuing these other interests is undeniable (and actually compromises those other interests).

MUSEVENI’S FISHERMEN, ZAAKE’S FISHING HOOKS

If any people took their roleplays seriously, it was President Museveni on the one hand, and MP Francis Zaake on the other. Museveni would begin by appointing — and describing it — a cabinet of fishermen and fisherwomen. In truth, Museveni appointed actors and actresses, folks such as Robinah Nabbanja, Agnes Nandutu, Monica Musenero, Chris Baryomunsi, Mary Goretti Kitutu, Persis Namuganza, Matia Kasaija, even new recruit, comrade brother, Norbert Mao.

And many others. If there is anything a great many of these folks are known for, it is their beautiful lives of humour and playfulness. They joke too much. Museveni knew that in this People Power opposition-led parliament, he needed fighters, humourists, renowned hecklers and noisemakers.

But then, folks in the opposition didn’t get this at all. (or decided to pretend, because pretending makes financial sense). Except one man, the youthful legislator from Mityana.

It is my contention that at the end of the day, Francis Zaake — for all his arguable youthful recklessness — has earned himself the naming rights of this 11th parliament. (He has stiff competition from comrade brother, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda). But chroniclers will remember this as Zaake’s Parliament.

This will not be because of his spectacular debating credentials. Not at all, but, rather, having understood the nature of politics ahead of him, and embraced his role with absolute resolve.

For the entire time, Francis Zaake has demonstrated absolute understanding of the job assigned: fight back, heckle back, cause and be in trouble, and continue to put Museveni’s actors on the defensive. In sum, this has remained the only way to get anything meaningful done.

As Zaake’s party president put it sometime back, “if parliament was not coming to the ghetto [which is all of Uganda] then the ghetto has to go to parliament.”

Consider, for example, Zaake rightly and proudly announced that he had deliberately spoiled his vote during the speaker elections. Yes, this was while his colleagues shamelessly shunned the opposition-leaning candidate, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda for the NRM- party speaker (We were told their pay-outs included flimsy things such as a suit, mbu for swearing in, and in other cases, some paltry $250). What humiliation!

Zaake did not stop at just spoiling his vote. When his colleagues started donning three-piece suits, he settled for the symbolism of his election: the red beret, the red suit, and often, single-handedly chanting the release of all political prisoners.

It didn’t take long before the cost of activism caught up with him. Quickly, he would be battling one case of indiscipline over another from folks with bloated egos when the entire county is in pain: dead businesses, potholes, joblessness, abductions, murders, etcetera!

Indeed, recently, straight from winning a court case against the speaker of parliament for his suspension as Parliament Commissioner, he is in trouble again over a random, hitherto little-known colleague, Juliet Kinyamatama. This is true to the spirit of his role.

Mpuuga inspired: It is fair to say— although many would disagree—that Francis Zaake’s persona has finally infected his opposition-leaning colleagues. In boycotting parliament over many unanswered questions — missing persons, detentions without trial, murders, kidnaps, Acholi land grabs, etc.— it is arguable that Zaake’s colleagues are picking cue from his rebel example.

Even if this might be faked, and happen for a small time, it’s symbolic import needs to be recognised.

yusufkajura@gmail.com

The author is a political theorist based at Makerere University

Comments

+3 #1 kasede 2023-11-15 19:03
Zaake can aford this behaviour because he is from a rich family and THEREFORE HE DOES NOT NEED M7'S HANDOUTS, I presume.

The poorer MPs on both sides of the parliament) are PETS that must obay their MASTER and his regime, aren't they?
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0 #2 Remase 2023-11-17 09:13
Doc, "Even if this might be faked, and happen for a small time, it’s symbolic import needs to be recognised."

It is yet to be realistic, and until then, it's fake and will happen for a small time and doesn't need to be recognized.

I say this with all sincerity because it is evidenced in the fact that for close to 4 decades now, M7 hasn't changed of who he is [most violent individual on the planet, tribalistic/imbedded triblism, ruthless and corrupt to the core] but people such as Robinah Nabbanja, Agnes Nandutu, Monica Musenero, Chris Baryomunsi, Mary Goretti Kitutu, Persis Namuganza, Matia Kasaija, even new recruit, Norbert Mao. Basaja Balaba, Katikiro Mayiga, Fool figuer, Betty Kamwa and others are changing on a daily basis.

Once again, what good is parliament? What do we, Ugandans, benefit from the bogus parliament other than legitimizing M7 as an autocratic ruler?
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+2 #3 Remase 2023-11-17 21:32
Fellow, Ugandans, what good is our bogus parliament? Here is another order, "Museveni orders speedy rollout of digital number plates."

Like I sad above, M7 hasn't changed and will never change. It's the same M7 who ordered for a speedy installation of CCV cameras.

However, how many crimes have they solved so far? Zero! In the first place, M7 doesn't need CCV cameras to know who killed over 200 innocent people in Nov 202.

M7 doesn't need digital number plates to know the drones which are kidnaping innocent people day in and day out, M7 doesn't CCV cameras to know who killed Kyagulanyi's driver, Yasin, M7 doesn't need digital number plates to know who kidnaped Kibalama because Nabanja is on record of having said that they, govt, have Kibalama and know where he is, I could go on and on until Jesus comes back.

Just like the CCV cameras and everything else, the digital number plates is another highway robbery in which M7 is looting our country naked!!
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0 #4 Lakwena 2023-11-22 08:54
Quoting Remase:
Fellow, Ugandans, what good is our bogus parliament? Here is another order, "Museveni orders speedy rollout of digital number plates."

Like I sad above, M7 hasn't changed and will never change. It's the same M7 who ordered for a speedy installation of CCV cameras. ...

Just like the CCV cameras and everything else, the digital number plates is another highway robbery in which M7 is looting our country naked!!


Remase, just as the adage
, "a leopard can't change its spots", it is foolhardy to expect a regime of criminals, by criminals and for criminals, to act and function constitutionally.

E.g., in order to collectively insult and/or express his disdain and/or religious bigotry against Islam or Muslims; "Our unconstitutional Problem of Africa", Gen Kassim Tibuhaburwa refers to the ADF rebels as PIGS, which is an Abominable animal in Islam.
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+1 #5 Lakwena 2023-11-22 09:07
And remember, during their subversive and terror activities in Luweero, the man and his step brother, Salim Saleh; adopted the Islamic name Kassim, in order to implicate Muslims against the UNLA/M administration.

In other words, only the inherent and diabolic criminals by birth, hide their identities and/or, trait, class and country of origin.

Otherwise, except being a diabolical sycophant; who wants to associate with some who despises your religion and faith.

If I were a Muslim I would cross my heart and be mobilizing all Muslims to a "boycott" of all our "Unconstitutional Problem of Africa", Tibuhaburwa's functions and/or appointments, until he publicly apologizes to the Muslim Community over his concealed pigheaded reference to Muslims as pigs.

Wachireba?
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+1 #6 Lysol 2023-11-23 23:20
Salim Saleh, fake name, tried to go to Russia to study in 1980, but he was deported back from the port of entry, Kiev, now capital of Ukraine, because of a mental breakdown.

He went back and joined his half-brother's so called NRA, which was actually formed by Prof. Lule before he got killed in London allegedly by you know who?
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