Museveni, Bobi Wine and the law of unintended consequences – Norbert Mao

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Let’s start with a tale.

Crocodile married Hare’s sister and took her to his home across the river. One day Hare paid a visit. While there he also stole and ate all the eggs Crocodile had laid, leaving only one.

In a casual conversation Crocodile said he needed to count the eggs. His dutiful brother-in-law offered to count them for him. Hare would keep showing the one egg he had preserved to dupe Crocodile. One…Two…Three…

Crocodile was content.
All his eggs were safe. When time came for Hare to depart he stole even the one last egg. He bid farewell to his sister. Unable to swim, Crocodile had to carry him across the river.

Midway they heard a cry from Crocodile’s wife:
“Nyang, Nyang, Nyang, bol Apwoyo i pii. Apwoyo omoko tongi…” (Crocodile, Crocodile, Crocodile, throw Hare in the water and let him drown. Hare has eaten your eggs)

Crocodile could not clearly make out what his wife was saying. He asked his brother in law to relay the message.

“She is saying you should swim faster because a storm is coming,” Hare lied.
The dutiful Crocodile obliged.
When Hare was safely ashore and out of Crocodile’s reach, he pulled out the last egg and boasted:
“Amoko tongi nyong…” (I have eaten your eggs with impunity and I have no remorse…)

Uganda is faced with the unintended consequences of impunity. One man rules the country for 10 years without elections. He gets elected under a new Constitution and when constitutional term limits stare him in the face he cajoles and bribes the Legislature to remove it.

Later, the age limits threaten to end his rule. Again he coerces and bribes Parliament to remove it. The last safeguard against life presidency went down. It was the height of impunity.

Things have now spiralled out of control. It has brought unexpected consequences. Even the emergence of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, can be explained through the law of unintended consequences.

The NRM candidate for that constituency lost but didn’t concede defeat. He won a court battle forcing a by-election. That opened the window of opportunity for Kyagulanyi to win a parliamentary seat.
Looking back one can imagine the regret the NRM has wishing they hadn’t insisted on claiming that one seat. Without that by-election, Kyagulanyi wouldn’t have happened, at least not so soon.

Then came the notorious Magyezi Bill to remove the presidential age limit. Kyagulanyi, now an MP, took the lead to resist the Bill. He was a frontliner in the scuffles with the Special Forces Command members who invaded Parliament. That confrontation distinguished Kyagulanyi, pushing him to the fore of his peers.

If the Bill had not been tabled, there would have been no fight and perhaps Kyagulanyi would not have acquired the reputation of a combative legislator sparing no effort to resist a bullying regime.

Then came the tragic murder of MP Ibrahim Abiriga. The seat falls vacant. In the by-election Kyagulanyi roots for Kassiano Wadri. The culprits and the motives for the murder are unclear but we know that Abiriga became the mascot for those crusading for the lifting of the age limit. Without the age limit Bill, perhaps Abiriga would have just remained Abiriga rather than the face of Museveni’s quest for life presidency.

Then the presidential convoy is reportedly stoned. The presidential guards wreak havoc in retaliation. Kyagulanyi is arrested and tortured. He is badly injured. The country and the world is outraged.
Demos rock Uganda and abroad. Kyagulanyi becomes an international sensation and his every utterance is an indictment of Museveni. By putting short term interests above long term interests Museveni reveals a deep vulnerability – a chink in his armour. Big doors turn on small hinges indeed!

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