Opinion | Gen Otafiire Incident No Laughing Matter By Dismas Nkunda

Posted July 29, 2017 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Opinion ~ 2,631 views


Dismus Nkunda — We indeed live in strange times. I never thought that one of the most quoted ministers and feared generals, Kahinda Otafiire, could take to his heels, fearing for dear life!

I am told this is what happened last Saturday at Namboole stadium when the affable minister known for his knack for cracking jokes was treated to a very rude welcome. Was this another joke or rather a serious protest when the good minister was doused with water and whisked away from the angry crowd of local government officials?

You see, these days we need to be careful! There is need to first study the people you are going to meet and speak to. People are perpetually angry. Their source of anger comes from all manner of things – from empty promises to lack of a strong handshake. The handlers of the good minister should have done their due diligence before putting the minister of the mavi ya kuku fame in harm’s way. 

I am told those gathered had been promised to be addressed by the president. These were members of Uganda local government leaders’ association which brings together LC-V chairpersons, LC-III chairpersons, district speakers, etc.

As you can imagine, these are people who are deep in the administration of the general public at the local level. They are not the ones that usually rub shoulders with the mighty in Kampala. 

You can also imagine what it meant to travel to Kampala to meet the president. They must have left behind droves of promises including cash and other goodies since they were going to meet the only person who has capacity to give any amounts of money, anytime. Their unfulfilled promises back in their areas must have been the reason they did not want any other person to represent the president.

Imagine they had waited all day, each one of them positioning themselves and readying what kind of ‘ask’ or ‘request’ they were going to extract from the president. They were sure that whenever the president met ‘local’ leaders – the ones that manage the voters – he would do anything to make them happy.

They had expected someone who would hand them fat envelopes and transport refund for having come all the way to Kampala. Instead of finding the usual preps that indicate the president will be arriving such as heavy security, they discovered that it was a mere minister coming.

They swore upon the graves of their ancestors they would not listen to the bulky minister. Insults and heckles must have followed. Knowing Otafiire, he must have tried to speak but his husky and jolly voice was drowned in heckles that followed.

With anger on their faces and sure that the deal to meet the only, and only, person who made sense to them was fast fading, they decided to chase away Otafiire. And he ran for dear life.

This is why I find it improper that a military general can be chased away like a chicken thief. TV images showed a clearly-scared Otafiire being hurriedly taken away to safety. Rarely do you see this general scared. In the past, he has spoken with a lot of bravado about how he can cause trouble.

But here he was, clearly troubled. His face known for combating any arguments with his characteristic humor was pale. His neat suit and his face were all dripping in water, sprayed on him by one of the attendees.

These local government leaders are not serious! Do they know who Gen Kahinda Otafiire of Ruhinda is?  The fact that he got a small inconvenience of losing the last election to a novice does not make him an easy prey to disrespect.

There is certainly reason the president chose him among other ministers to be the one to address local leaders. He knows how combative he can be when faced with adversity.

I am sure that when he reached his vehicle, the minister must have sighed in relief. Then he must have called the president and narrated the close-to-death episode and the rude welcome he got on his behalf. He must have assured his boss that this group is dangerous and the president, too, should not ever address them for he might end up being harmed.

Meanwhile, if groups like those charged with the administration of the local governments begin rioting and refusing to listen to top leaders, then what should we expect of the very people they lead?

At least Gen Otafiire was only doused with water – what if other crude methods are used to chase away our leaders as the only way to get back at them? This could be a good lesson for our leaders.  

The author is a human rights expert and specialist on refugee issues.

Source — The Observer

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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