Mr President, it has been a while since I last wrote to you. For the deep love and admiration I have for you, every now and again I find myself desiring to tell you something – sensible or not.
Bear with me, though, like you tolerate our impatience that sends us into crying longevity after only 32 years. I easily digress; so, let me get straight to my request.
I know you are a very busy man, as you have to make decisions on almost every aspect of our wellbeing – the price that people like you pay for being one in 40 million. You have these ministers to teach, who can’t distinguish the generous difference between 0.5 per cent and one per cent.
I wonder who appoints such fellows to waste your time. Your work would have been better without them. There is often this drama, where they are busy defending what they think you are in support of, and when they hear you speak differently they immediately switch the narrative!
Their behaviour vividly reminds me of my childhood. We surely know that they are responsible for much of the mess that goes about this yard. That is why whenever we register another of those incredible ‘errors,’ we ask: ‘who is giving the president such terrible advice?’
It can’t be you, of course. They are no different from many of the MPs, from whom many are picked - the fellows that pass a bill and later ask: ‘What is it that we passed?’ Their motto must be: ‘act twice before you think.’
I heard with delight that you ordered for trucks for army escorts for each MP. Whoever fails to appreciate this initiative needs to be reminded of the real threat that faces our MPs.
They have been so effective in expressing the country’s needs and desires to the extent that the people they represent have become so envious of their remarkable representation. Now they are hated by electorates for their goodness; electorates that don’t know what they need.
Such threats did not emerge before because we had never gotten a parliament as enviable as this one. They clearly need to be protected against society. I am not a violent man. The last time I engaged in a physical fight I was around 11 years old, at a spring well.
The embarrassing memories of the thin boy throwing me into the well have kept me from fighting ever since. Yet, even in my hard-earned resolution to non-violence, there are MPs I see on TV and feel like slapping it, in good faith.
Oh! Before I forget, regards to esteemed Honorables Magyezi, Simeo, and Nankabirwa. In my humble view, we should as well provide a truck of soldiers for MPs’ wives, husbands, parents, children, grandparents, and in-laws.
This money can be found. The mobile money tax revenue is enough to sort this. I have heard some insensitive people asking why government says it has no money when they ask for ambulances and hospital equipment.
As they say, knowledge is limited but stupidity has no limits! How could one fail to note the obvious difference between the value of an MP and that of peasants!
Get over your equality utopia and take a lesson from water – it always finds its level in a container. It was at a friend’s wedding last year that I got the best practical illustration of priorities. I had made a huge contribution, but somehow food did not get to a couple of tables, including ours.
Then, after the dishes were clearly empty, my friend came to register his apologies. Every here and there between the apology, he would pause to belch and say: ‘excuse me’. Well, the most important people had eaten.
The moral of the anecdote is that if you are not at the high table, get used to the possibility of being forgotten. I will, therefore, be measured in what I request for, as I sit here below the table.
One, I need protection from those seated above at the table, so that they don’t step on me as they swing their legs about for a more comfortable eating position. My life and that of others, especially those of much lower means, is in real danger.
Every month, over 30 per cent of my salary is deducted in taxes. More of my sweat’s reward goes in taxes on this, that, and everything. Ultimately, more than 55 per cent of my income ends up in government’s basket. That wouldn’t hurt much if the terms of our social contract were mutually respected.
Mr President, I need protection from those who facilitate their pompous lives by squeezing our intestines. I believe you don’t know them: those that move around like their dense convoys are chauffeuring angel Michael to a heavenly meeting; those for whose comfort everything else can wait; those whose sickness must be attended to at our expense in hospitals of foreign countries that value their people’s lives. Who will protect us from them? Will you, sir?
How many of us at the periphery of government’s priorities die every year because nobody practically cares if we live or die? Is ‘killing’ more evil than ‘letting die’?
I even wonder if they are aware that they live a parasitic life; ticks whose abdomens must be full regardless of the state of the host. And you won’t believe, Mr President, that even pointing to their parasitism is considered offensive, if not inciting violence! A colleague was brutally beaten by thieves that had broken into his house.
His offense was to wake up and shout ‘thieeeeeves.’ As they hit him into a bloody being, they kept asking in utmost anger: ‘how dare you call us thieves?’
Then they made off with all they found worth carrying, including smoked fish! Send me a truck of sniper commandos, too, sir. Thank you!
The author works with the Center for African Studies at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi.