The first ever Ugandan Presidential debate was a success. Its is quite impressive that a democracy as young as we are can pull off an event of such magnitude on the global scale seeing as during the debate, the #UGDebate16 hash-tag was trending number one on twitter. The moderators, Allan Kasujja and Nancy Kacungira were a bold representation of free press and journalism and were unshy to show that in the questions they asked and in the authority they held both over the panelists and the crowd.
A sovereign country has the right to choose its leaders but the population should come to the understanding that choice of a leader is interwoven with choice of a leadership; how the country is going to be governed.
When you choose a leader, you are choosing their policy. You are choosing what they stand for. You are choosing their moral stand, their philosophical stand-point and their ideology to a great extent, since the greatest influence is really at the top.
This is why it is important to “look before you leap.”
The debate showed a couple of things about us as a democracy.
1. The refusal of Candidate Museveni to show up.
It was very disrespectful of our president to not show up for the debate. To vaguely quote Dr. Kiiza Besigye (not my candidate), “Unlike me, Mr. Museveni is a civil servant.” The failure of the president to show up is more or less a spit in the face of the people who invited him to the debate. It is a disregard of the entire debate, its organizers and its audience. In times like this, political times, when the ground should be level, we should be able to see some kind of effort from all participants.
I would like to note that the president has a very busy campaign schedule as do his colleagues and he was preoccupied with the pre-drafted campaign trail. But on the 10th of Jan 2016, the president managed to take time off his western Uganda tour to address a rally of the informal sector at Kololo in Kampala, during campaign hours, time he couldn’t take off the same tour 5days later to attend the presidential debate after campaign hours. Why? Because the informal sector is not going ask the questions that will be asked at the debate, I guess. Questions of policy, of real democracy, questions of the development and progress of the country, they didn’t ask any questions at all.
Does this imply that he is more interested in the lack of intellectual dialogue of the informal sector than he is in the intellect of the more ‘formal and more exposed’? Should we all be peasants? Maybe the peasants and the informal sector should have been the organizers of the debate.
A million questions run through one’s mind, some too sharp to ask.
2. The audacity of Maureen Kyalya and Joseph Mabirizi.
The presidency is not a joke. The thing that makes one president is ability as opposed to just qualifications. The presidency is not a seat for the misinformed, less informed and its definitely not for the uninformed. I personally felt embarrassed and insulted at the likes of Ms. Kyalya and Mr. Mabirizi’s thought that even they could be president. While it is the right of every Ugandan to run for political office, one must at least know a thing or two about the country that they live in and have the ability to and be interested in developing strategies for the progress of their country. The fact that an individual doesn’t have the discipline and preparation to answer simple questions in the fairly allocated time should mean that they are not ready to be president. Perhaps Mr. Mabirizi and Ms. Kyalya are not meant to be presidents. Perhaps they should try their leadership aspirations in other positions, but we as a country should have no intentions of having such misrepresentations of our population. Joseph Mabirizi and Maureen Kyalya had no business being up there on the podium. It was just wrong. I’d suggest that the Uganda Electoral Commission adjust its criteria and guidelines on who can run for president to avoid further embarrassment.
3. The Boldness of Allan Kasujja and Nancy Kacungira.
The moderators, Allan Kasujja (BBC) and Nancy Kacungira (KTN) did a tremndous job. Their questions, sternness and resolve were a good representation of free journalism and the freedom of speech and expression that we have in the country. A free press is one of the building blocks of good democracy. I extend my appreciation to the president for the rights and freedoms we get to experience in this country. These are God-given rights but they can be withheld by man. The fact that Allan and Nancy could have that much boldness is very significant that the foundations of a great democracy have been laid. Man has not withheld our God-given rights and we are grateful.
We have peace and different rights and freedoms are observed in this country. However, I also propose that if we have set the foundations for the progress and prosperity of our nation, that we continue to build the house til it is habitable. We will not remain at the foundation level. We will have to move in, and to move into a finished house.
I also acknowledge Maj Gen. Biraaro and Dr. Abed Bwanika. May they continue to inspire. I doubt that Uganda is ready for their leadership, but I am confident they’d make excellent leaders.
On the contrary, Hon. Amama Mbabazi and Dr. Kiiza Besigye, what happened? These gentlemen are the movers and shakers of this election but they clearly weren’t on their ‘A-game.’ Probably because they were too busy trying to clear their name in the past, especially Amama. Don’t do anything today that you don’t want to be remembered for tomorrow. Besigye did a better job than I expected of him. He was cool and composed inspite of the moderator’s trial to set him ablaze. As for Amama, he didn’t answer a single question head on. I frankly was disappointed by JPAM. I’d expected better.
As for Vern Baryamureeba… Maybe it just wasn’t a good day.
We are a young country and an even younger democracy. We are on the right track and I am sure if we continue to uphold our values as a population, we will continue to soar to unseen heights. We can never allow the compromises of political times to erode our values of peace, brotherhood, culture, grace and all the things our flag and coat of arms represent.
The only challenge is for us to rediscover these values and keep them fresh in the hearts and mind of every Ugandan.
For God and My Country!
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