seems to thrive on contradictions. A couple of weeks ago, we were celebrating
Uganda's second-ever Olympic gold by the hitherto unknown athlete Stephen
Kiprotich, who broke the 40-year-wait since Uganda's previous gold. For
many of us, he was the salvation from the negative press we were receiving in
the international media regarding the Ebola outbreak earlier in the summer -- and
how poorly it was handled. However, on the same day of Kiprotich's win, a team from
the Uganda People's Defense Forces, part of the African
Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) peacekeeping troops in Somalia, crashed
into Mt. Kenya; they were on their way to launch an assault on the al-Shabaab
Islamic militant group operating in Somalia. Several versions of the crash have
come out, but we still await the final version of what exactly happened.
to be expected, that day we all participated in the excitement of Kiprotich's
win. The state-owned newspaper launched a cash
drive to reward Kiprotich as the nation's hero; President Museveni also rewarded
Kiprotich in cash and promised to construct a three-bedroom house for his
parents. Kiprotich has also since been promoted
from his position as prison warder to assistant superintendent.
of underprivileged 11-year-old boys from Lugazi, a small town in eastern Uganda,
also made history this year as the first African team ever to compete
in the Little League Baseball World Series. The team won
accolades and brought more positive publicity to Uganda. While the boys
received much attention in international media, their success was hardly
recognized in Uganda, according to the Ugandan newspaper The Independent.
same month, in August, while we were still basking in this sports victory, Transparency
International, in its 2012 East African Bribery Index, named Uganda the most corrupt country in
the East African region. We weren't surprised by this survey. It only confirmed
what we've been seeing all along: funds mismanaged with little or no political
will to apprehend the culprits.
icing on this bitter cake is that, according to a police investigation, over 63
billion Ugandan shillings were paid
to 1,000 ghost pensioners. Ghosts are synonymous with Uganda's Civil Service,
which has been plagued with non-existant ghost teachers, ghost soldiers, and ghost
voters. The pensioners are the latest ghosts to be recruited into the process
of embezzlement from the state under the guise of public transfer programs.
was also no great shock when, three days ago, The Daily Monitor,
a local newspaper, reported
that the child victims of nodding disease in northern Uganda were being fed
rotten food provided by the Office of the Prime Minister, which has been in the
press due to massive corruption
scandals. The Office's principal accountant was arrested last month for embezzlement
and fraud, exposing the inner
rot plaguing the department.
President Museveni is alleged to have stormed out of a meeting with members of
parliament after MPs asked him why the government had failed to fix the ailing
health sector. The Daily Monitor reports
that the president had sworn not to sacrifice the defense budget for anything
else. The meeting had been held to encourage MPs from the ruling National
Resistance Movement (NRM), who hold the majority in parliament, to pass the
2012/2013 national budget. The MPs insisted on additional spending for the
health sector before passing the budget.
contradictions continue with the news that a 19 year-old girl, Proscovia Alengot Oromait, won
the parliamentary by-election in September for the small constituency of Usuk on
an NRM ticket. Because the vote was marred by massive violence, some are saying
that the election results were delivered to Alengot on a bloody plate. While
she may go down in history as the youngest MP in Uganda, and perhaps even Africa,
many are skeptical of her ability to capably represent her constituents.
Next month, Uganda celebrates 50 years of independence.
As we approach the 9 October celebration date, I suggest that we all harness
our energies to make sure that the positive stories outweigh the bad ones.
twitter handle is @jackeebatanda
Photo by AFP/Stringer