Monday, January 08, 2007


In justifying why opposition parties prefer the Constitutional Square to host their political events, Ms. Beti Kamya, MP, explained in the media recently that it is because the other venues cost money or are controlled by the State. She claimed that since politics is competitive, the Kololo ceremonial grounds are not favourable to them because they are under state control. If the opposition ever requested to use them and were denied, they (the opposition), in keeping quiet about it, missed a great opportunity to score massive political sympathy points.

That the other venues cost money, I believe there is nothing wrong with that. It costs money to maintain these places – naturally, they must charge money. Maybe each political party should acquire their own rally venues for which they would not have to pay fees. However, rallies cost money and there is no way around that. When I saw on television Kamya arguing as mentioned and then DP president-general John Ssebaana-Kizito riding comfortably in a fuel-guzzling luxury sports utility vehicle (SUV), I lost even the slightest shred of sympathy for her position - if he rides in an SUV, he can afford the fees charged by Nakivubo stadium. Besides, political leaders, at least those worth their salt, are in the business of planning for the distribution of wealth, and DP or FDC spending money is a contribution to that end.

However, I believe that rallies for everything are so yesterday. They are just opportunities for political acrobatics, sloganeering and the Mbiddes to stroke their overgrown egos. In the 1960’s to the 1980’s, they may have been fashionable because most Ugandans had very few sources of entertainment but today they are spoilt for choice. The release of Kayiira’s murder report did not require a political rally. However, if the rally was meant to achieve the ends further above, then it was very much justified.

One does not have to look very far to see that rallies are always not critical to achieving what parties want. Every Ugandan knows that Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging without them being invited to a rally to witness the event partly because none of them was eligible to attend but most of all because it was happening more than a thousand miles away. The news and the pictures, however, reached the biggest part of Uganda’s population less than six hours after the execution. If DP was honest, creative and had actually the will they would have released whatever version of reasons for Kayiira’s death. The Ugandan public would have had it by now. In fact, a rally would have been more appropriate after the release of their report.