Why Masaabaland is losing its grip on national politics

Gone are the days when the big boys were in town with the likes of Chief Justice George Masika, the Director of Public Prosecutions Mr Nasaba, the Solicitor General Mr. Wekesa, Honorable Minister for Works Nangwale Abuneli, the Minister for Finance/Rehabilitation Honorable Masatte Kuya, Mr. Takhuli, Commissioner of Rehabilitation, and Issa Khakosi in charge of all prison farms in Uganda. Also present were Mr. Andrew Nyote, Head of External Security Organization (ESO), and Mr. Frederick Kamuli, the Commissioner of Lands. Not to forget the likes of Regional Police Commander Namawa, the brother to James Wapakhabulo, and militants like Major Mitielo, etc.

These big boys from Masaabaland wielded a lot of national authority and were also very close to the president. If the president was equated to God, then these were his main angels in Masaabaland.

When these big boys were in Masaabaland, they would engage in some kind of colloquial fora at various points with prominent Bamasaaba around town who were their de facto contacts. They mingled freely with members of the public as they delivered sensitive information from the president.

The last person from Masaabaland to hold such vestiges under the National Resistance Movement was the late Parliamentary Speaker Honorable James Francis Wambogo Wapakhabulo, who was regarded as part of the NRM liberators and thus one of the poles in the NRM wheel.

Honourable James Wapakhabulo was the government itself, and his contemporaries in the NRM government included the likes of the late Eria Kategaya, Mr Amanya Mushega, and Moses Kigongo, including the president himself. They regarded Mr. Museveni as their group leader.

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Currently, nobody from Masaabaland is that close to the president. No wonder many youths from Masaabaland who had been assigned roles as Resident District Commissioners lost out during the recent reshuffles, and nobody cared to bring this to the attention of the president, reminisces Honorable Woboya, the former Member of Parliament for Budadiri East.

The region lacks a clear linkage to the centre, hence the increasing influence of FDC and NUP in Bugisu.

Madam Hope Mafuranga, an editor with New Vision, once challenged me openly, claiming that we Bamasaaba are narrow-minded, fighting over petty things like Bukuka instead of focusing on the bigger picture.

For NRM to help capture the Bamasaaba into their fold, efforts should be made to deploy our people in sensitive positions, as it was before. The examples of George Masika, and DPP Nasaba, may suffice.

Those considered for sensitive appointments should equally mingle freely with the locals. Many of our people sometimes don’t bond very well with the Mwanainchi, yet Mwanainchi is the real glue that ties the government and the community.

Those equally appointed must not engage in acts of corruption and robbery of government assets, as has been widely reported in the press. Misuse of public office was unheard of in the past among Bamasaaba.

What belonged to the employer was different from what belonged to the employee; that dichotomy must be well understood and emphasized. Sometimes, it is disturbing to note that those who were placed at the centre of ‘things’ never stole, while currently, those placed at the periphery are the ones stealing and robbing.

Our culture encourages honesty in work methods. Currently, those appointed as ministers don’t want to appear in the limelight because of the bad press they courted earlier, while many still have pending court cases over corruption.

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Steven Masiga is a researcher from Mbale, available on tel: 0706655811.

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