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Francis Zaake must be a politically lonely man

Dear reader, you could have noticed by now that I am fascinated by the member of parliament from Mityana Municipality, Francis Zaake.

I know that many of our elitist commentators and some of his colleagues in parliament ignorantly think he is undeserving. I know that he struggles to be coherent when speaking English (and being that our colonised heads consider fluency in the English language as the measure of brilliance, you rate him quite poorly).

But I also know, if it is love for country—and determination to challenge the oppressor — Zaake ranks way above many folks in our opposition politics. He is the quintessential soldier of the struggle (deserving to be partnering with Dr Kizza Besigye without joining the FDC). But he must be a lonely man nowadays.

I started thinking about Zaake’s potential political loneliness while watching a recently- released Netflix documentary on singer and activist Nina Simone. It was not Dr Kizza Besigye that I thought about, nor Bobi Wine (who would have vividly mimicked Nina Simone’s resume, but lost his antennae along the way) but, rather, I thought about Francis Zaake.

He strangely beat his principal in this assessment of mine.

Let me begin with the story of Nina Simone. After the murder of Malcom X and later Dr Martin Luther King Jr, The Blues singing legend Nina Simone, became a radical activist, vowing to fight and defeat white supremacy in America by whatever means necessary. Simone started composing blues that directly sought to galvanize her listeners in active struggle against white people.

It was unheard of. The more she wrote these songs, the more friends abandoned her. Promoters and event organisers stopped booking her. Radio stations stopped playing her music.

She had become too radical for them. Friends begged her to tone-down her activism. But she could not. She became angry, her family disintegrated, and when poverty set in, she was shattered. Depression set in and later was diagnosed with bipolar complications.

From the time of the coronavirus pandemic (when Zaake got badly battered for delivering food to help the "poor and vulnerable" in his consistuency), to the voting of the speakers of parliament (where him and Muhammad Ssegirinya deliberately spoiled their votes); to protesting when President Museveni came to address parliament, this young man remained a standout act.

He is the only opposition legislator who has consistently donned himself in red suits, or casual wear where the faces of his incarcerated colleagues Allan Ssewanyana and Ssegirinya are emblazoned. The red beret remains part of his script. Other MPs are simply unrecognisable chaps content with the crumbs that Museveni throws at them.

Especially after his removal from his seat as parliamentary commissioner, I am suspicious he has been afflicted by ‘oppositional loneliness.’

Notice that I am not talking about losing the perks that came with being commissioner of parliament — of course, these perks and related benefits matter to a degree — although, it is arguable Zaake never joined politics for wealth; with a dad who doubled as NRM supporter and good businessman, this boy was sufficiently resourced. [See The Observer profile that appeared on January 16, 2018].

But I am dealing with that old psychological condition that was first diagnosed among trade unionists and radical activists, as cited in the example of Nina Simone: the activists find themselves “too hot to touch.”

Thus, they are abandoned by friends and colleagues, and sometimes, even by family. The oppressor not only manages to buy off hitherto equal-footing colleagues, and they then see you as a threat to their bribes, but might also simply manipulate public discourse into belief that you are headed in the wrong direction.

It hurts especially when you are pretty sure to be on the right course. If the case of Nina Simone is too distant, consider Winifred Madikizela Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid heroine whose activism was so honest that it frightened the collapsing apartheid regime, which also wanted to retain its wealth.

The regimes managed to manipulate friends and colleagues – including her husband Nelson Mandela—to abandon her. She may have sustained a close circle of friends (which saved her from full-blown depression), but turning folks like Desmond Tutu and her man, Nelson Mandela against her must have hurt a lot.

Yet, she was right, and remains right to this day. I have argued before—and will repeat for the umpteenth time—that the folks we selected from amongst us as opposition MPs can only prove to us that they are working if they are in trouble with the Museveni machine.

But these folks are in bed making mad love with the Museveni machine. Museveni is them, and our opposition is Museveni: legislative agendas, cooperation agreements, lofty English in parliamentary committees, whatever trouble-free actions they carry out in parliament, they are simply doing the type of opposition that actually benefits Museveni’s more technocratized autocracy.

The last time I wrote about Zaake in these pages, I argued that this 11th parliament was his parliament. He was the only man doing exactly what he had been sent to do. And it was his honesty to the struggle that landed him in trouble. I have come back to say, our star could be politically and personally lonely, and those nearby, please try to keep him going.

yusufkajura@gmail.com

The author is a political theorist based at Makerere University.

Comments

+2 #1 Immaculate Nambi 2022-08-10 09:33
Yusuf, maybe you are referring to a different Francis Zaake from the one I know. The one I know is busy tweeting about his upcoming nuptials.

I haven't heard/seen anything from him that's worth even writing about ever since he was removed from Commissioner.

Anyways, maybe you know something the rest of us don'tor maybe you are desperate for a hero.
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+3 #2 sula 2022-08-10 18:06
1- The biggest crime museveni has committed to Uganda is brainwashing and musevenising Ugandans including well educated ones like Yusuf.

2- The parochialism our people have descended too ,will take ages to reverse. Uganda in the 60's 70's 80's had I think the best intellectuals in East Africa. Well articulate and fire spiting listened to Kalinaki and Owekitibwa Mpanga during the Monitor discussion and it reminded me of a Uganda before the primitive bushmenn.

3- Because museveni &co struggle to express themselves even in their mother tongue, they have dragged the country to their level -(musevenism) Zaake is a product of Museveni

4- For Yusuf to start exalting Zaake - is enough to show how parochial and low the country has sunk.

5- In short if Bobi Wine was to win , then Yusuf would have advised Zaake for Prime Minister ship ! Come on Uganda !!!!!!
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0 #3 Akot 2022-08-10 19:54
Immaculate Nambi, thanks.

There is no opposition to Museveni as Ugandans oppose themselves to ensure his lifetime rule, knowing the son will replace the father finally!

If there was opposition, the tribalistic system Museveni so cleaverly put in place would have been brought down & UNITY of Ugandans would have blocked & shown Museveni way out!

Existing opposition only oppose Ugandans who fight themselves, while Museveni, who owns tax money, controls every institution, including electoral commission & parliament, is at peace assured of lifetime rule!

Mao & more others will join Museveni to ensure their salaries as powerless tribally divided ruled Ugandans oppose themselves & go for fake elections that only ensure Museveni's family business!

Uganda isn't a country any more & unless our people wake up, there is no way the zone will belong to them again!
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-1 #4 Akot 2022-08-12 12:36
I will repeat; There is no opposition to Museveni!

Ugandans oppose themselves, thus ensure they are slaves & their land is Museveni's family business!

Why are tribal leaders so quiet just watching while payed off by Museveni?

Why are even DP Mao & others joining Museveni, if they haden't understood Ugand abelongs to him?

It took USA/UK/EU/UN 20 years to understand Museveni rules through the tribalistic system that goes against International Principle, so they will remain silent as long as Ugandans go along, opposition joining him, pretending the absolute dictatorship is democracy!
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-2 #5 Akot 2022-08-12 12:46
Quoting sula:


The biggest crime museveni has committed to Uganda is brainwashing and musevenising Ugandans including well educated...

The parochialism our people have descended to, will take ages to reverse. Uganda in the 60's 70's 80's had I think the best intellectuals in East Africa. Well articulate and fire spiting listened to Kalinaki and Owekitibwa Mpanga... reminded me of a Uganda before the primitive bushmenn.

museveni & co struggle to express themselves even in their mother tongue, they have dragged the country to their level -(musevenism) Zaake is a product of Museveni!

exalting Zaake is enough to show how parochial and low the country has sunk.


Thanks.

Not even so called opposition & tribal leaders are aware Uganda belongs to Museveni & family, so Museveni is assured of lifetime rule & his family business is assured!
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-2 #6 Akot 2022-08-12 13:01
+36 years of Museveni, still tribally divided ruled, +1 opposition parties further divide & Ugandans are just waiting for 2026 to ensure Museveni's 45 years in power with another fake presidential election!

Ugandans are the only happy slaves in today world & fight one another by all means, opposition leaders/members are joining Museveni to ensure the family business!

Museveni is protected on all sides & tribal leaders are the best iron wall/ring for the demon owner of Uganda!
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-2 #7 Akot 2022-08-12 13:09
It's time to ask;

Museveni,

*When will you dissolve posts of tribal leaders, reform Uganda to make it the land you dreamed & become a real man & not a chief tribal leader, fake president in a fake country?

After all, Museveni, Ugandans need/want you & won't fight nor say NO to whatever reform you will make!

So, Museveni, when will you become a real man?
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+2 #8 Eria Thabaire 2022-08-15 05:25
You clearly are on a pay roll, I see your titles and always ignored but reading this Rubbish, I wonder how your Editor let's such nonsense pass, use your free time more productively..!
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-1 #9 Remase 2022-08-16 06:56
Eria, it's clear you're emulating someone who is known for his personal vendetta against the author. Could point out what isn't true about Zaake which was written about him?

I mean, for you to come out and call the article rubbish without pointing out any substance that isn't true but simply attack the author, that looks like a personal vendetta to me.
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0 #10 Henry Baisi 2022-08-19 16:08
@Akot, we Ugandans are brought up with "fear". We are taught to "fear" from about the age of 4.

We, therefore, grow up fearing our father, teacher, the police, the government and even god. As long as we remain fearful, nothing will change. M7 knows that and uses it to his advantage.
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