There are lessons from tragic drama that actually reflect closely on the tragedies that befell ministers Evelyn Anite, Mary Karooro Okurut, Adolf Mwesige, Chris Baryomunsi, Elioda Tumwesigye and many others of Museveni’s surrogates and witches.
The loquacious Lydia Wanyoto even survived a beating. Like one joker remarked, this electoral virus is worse than Covid-19; it kills without symptoms, and obliterates its target at a time when their life is sweetest. Anyways, upon the murder of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony remarked: “…great Caesar fell. O, what a fall was there, my countrymen! Then I, and you and all of us fell down.”
In these widely quoted lines, Shakespeare meant to demonstrate that the death or collapse of great men or women – generals, kings, queens, princes, and all other persons in high political positions – men or women with great talents and accomplishments – directly translated into or at the very least, represented the death or disintegration of the people and constituencies behind them.
The people died with their kings, queens, or generals. By the way, his is true of all classic tragic drama – Shakespearean and Greek – as Mark Anthony famously eulogized upon the death of Julius Caesar.
There are examples in contemporary African history: upon the death of Maj Gen Oyite Ojok, the Obote machinery couldn’t hold anymore; and upon the death of President Gregory Kayibanda, Rwanda entered a full-blown genocide. The defeat of Gen Siad Barre entered Somalia into a civil war whose end is not anywhere in sight, 30 years on.
But what happens in cases where generals, kings and queens cannot die – are simply immortal, like gods or beasts? How do we understand it when the opposite is happening; that is, members of their constituencies are simply being decimated by an electoral bug?
See, the NRA/NRM top soldier, Gen Museveni – who some surrogates have ingratiatingly called God’s deputy in Uganda – has not fallen, but his witches and top surrogates are terribly losing their political lives.
What does this tell us about the man-god himself, the giver of life to the witches around him? I want to turn Shakespeare upside down and argue that it is a two-way traffic: If a great General or King loses all his riffle-men, soothsayers, and rainmakers in war, surely that General is also a fallen one.
My contention is this: if the general election were to be as fair as the NRM primary elections, Museveni would have fallen a long time ago. See, with all its open rigging, voter bribery and bloody violence – open gunfire, burning of vehicles, burning of human beings, bloody fist-fights, etcetera, the NRM primary elections remain the fairest in this country. And the idea of lining up behind your candidate even made it more fairer.
Here, candidates are allowed to wrestle it on their own. With all contenders dressed in yellow, the regular police, military police, LDUs, RDCs, SFCs, CAOs, LCs are genuinely conflicted on who the enemy is.
With minimal differences, all these contenders have equal access to the privileges of the state, and as Mawogola North – Godfrey Dodo Kaguta, and Shartsi Muserura Kutesa – showed us, they can mobilize the same amount of lethal force, and can assure each other of mutual destruction. What fairness is there beyond this?
Perhaps the only immunized person in the NRM is Mr Museveni. The seasonal electoral pandemic that often sweeps through his party during the primaries does not touch him. Many powerful men and women have fallen before: Kahinda Otafiire, Jim Muhwezi, Sulaiman Madada, Gilbert Bukenya, Henry Banyenzaki, etc.
See, Museveni’s vaccines are very potent, and are for him alone: if he is not coming as sole candidate, he will stage a sham no-competitor primary for himself. He then emerges unopposed. When exposed to the virus further, he amends the constitution, immortalizing himself further.
To this end, Museveni cannot be killed by the electoral virus, both within his own party or in the general elections. [Well, in the general election, the vaccines are even more potent – they include all those dogs that didn’t know who to attack in the NRM primaries, and the Independent Electoral Commission. Yes, independent].
So, how does Shakespeare liberate us from this intellectual-political conundrum? What does it mean for a General who constantly loses his witches, riffle-men and rainmakers not to die himself?
It means the pandemic killing his priests and priestesses does not kill him – no matter where it came from. Thusly, his enemies interested in his death have to look beyond the electoral epidemic. Perhaps this is a simple flu to him.
The author is a PhD fellow at Makerere Institute of Social Research.