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Anita Among’s political suicide

Anita Among’s political suicide

The Right Honourable Anita Annett Among’s goose is cooked. Or if, like me, you prefer African languages to English, dada yetu Among yuko hatarini, ali mu mitawana, ari omukabi.  The Ateso say it best. Adaun ngin. She is finished. There is no better example of this ancient English idiom than the situation in which the Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament has got herself into. 


How do I know? President Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Museveni has told us so. Any long-time student of Museveni knows how to read his words. And one must always read and listen to all his words. Museveni letters and speeches are always peppered with words, thrown in casually, that the hurried reader or listener is likely to miss. Yet those words, carefully chosen but innocuous sounding, are usually the clues into the thoughts, actions or plans of our exceptionally brilliant president. 


The first paragraph of Museveni’s letter to Jeje Odongo, the Minister of Foreigner Affairs, dated May 2nd, reads: “On Tuesday at 1000 hours, I met the British High Commissioner at her request for an urgent meeting. The meeting was at Nakasero but I was on my way to Entebbe for other meetings. I, therefore, did not have time to discuss with anybody the issue.” (sic)


Now, read Museveni’s words very carefully. First, the decision by Britain to place sanctions on the person of the speaker of parliament of a sovereign country was a grave matter that could not have been subordinate to any other meeting, except that of the UPDF High Command during a state of war. 


Second, Museveni’s sudden respect for punctuality, was not in keeping with his reputation for keeping people waiting for more than ten hours. Third, with easy access to helicopters, or the ability to halt all traffic on his land route to Entebbe, Museveni would have had no problem with summoning people to his Kampala office for briefing before departing for Entebbe. Fourth, the president has very secure communication facilities through which he could have called Odongo, Anita Among herself, and other relevant individuals while he made his way to Entebbe. Fifth, he could have very easily summoned them to Entebbe for a quick briefing.


My take is that Museveni was satisfied with the evidence that the British showed him and allowed them time to announce the sanctions. Then he came out to defend Uganda’s sovereignty over matters of internal corruption, but raise questions about Speaker Among’s alleged real estate and financial holdings in the United Kingdom, and whether she had declared them to the Inspector General of Government. Museveni, with a superb knowledge of the goings on in the lives of his courtiers, may have been aware of the answers as he dictated that letter. This was vintage Museveni, the brilliant master of practical politics, administering a punch and soothing the bruise. 


This last statement is likely to drive some people nuts. Many in the opposition do not take kindly to statements that speak well of Museveni’s political acumen. Some underestimate our president’s intellect, as though his elevation to the highest office in the land was a fluke, and undeserved. His lack of postgraduate degrees, much fancied by Ugandans but irrelevant in power politics, has misled some to think that he is just a gunman who forcefully captured power and has retained it with the same means. That is false. 


Museveni is one of the brightest people that I know. He is smart. Way up there with the best in our country and continent. His journey from the cattle kraals of southwest Ankole to the Presidential Palace at Entebbe has been paved by a brilliant, and cunning mind, gifted with a mathematician’s calculation of anticipated results, and the patience of Job. The political careers of those who have underestimated him have invariably ended in ashes, their shellshocked bodies and dazed minds unable to comprehend the ease with which Museveni disposed of them. 


One of the most unforgivable sins in Uganda is to build a formidable, consequential political constituency of any kind. Former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and former Speaker Rebecca Kadaga learnt their lessons the hard way. Which brings us back to Anita Among, she who was blinded by power and wealth, and completely ignored history and evidence of the high political mortality that awaits those who delude themselves that they are “insiders.” Ms. Among got rapidly drank with power. She rode roughshod over opponents, usurped some functions of the executive, tried to dominate parliament, and engaged in the crudest display of wealth and luxury.  


In a country whose citizens were under severe economic distress, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, Ms. Among happily presented a picture of a Hollywood lifestyle that reminded one of Grace Ntombizodwa Mugabe, wife of the former ruler of Zimbabwe. Ms. Among’s housewarming party for her new palace at Bukedea, with nearly 300 compliant members of parliament in attendance, was the final public self-harming act that the television sets at Rwakitura presented to the ruling house.


Ms. Among may well be less wealthy than many political insiders in the Museveni regime. But she missed the fact that very few of them displayed their mansions and other luxurious trinkets to the mass of struggling Ugandans. Everything is kept private, with only friends and other members of the wealthy class allowed a glimpse during weddings, funerals, and other gatherings. 


Her display of wealth, coupled with having been on the list of politicians that took iron-sheets from the poor people in Karamoja, was an act of political suicide. Her dismissive  disregard for concerns about self-enrichment by Parliamentary Commissioners with so-called service awards of UGX 500 million each, tightened the noose round her political neck. Museveni’s job was to administer the last rights and pull the plug.


Reckless politics has consequences. Anita Among is finished. Not even that embarrassing spectacle of her, the Speaker of Parliament, kneeling before the president, the head of the executive, was enough to save her from the self-inflicted fall that has now begun. Her claim that it has to do with the anti-homosexuality law is false, and she knows it.


Clearly Anita did not take the time to study Museveni and learn that he despises and distrusts those who prostrate before him and make loud declarations of loyalty. He has not ruled our complex country for nearly four decades with his eyes closed. 


© Muniini K. Mulera

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