So it’s been confirmed Uganda will have its annual presidential debate hosted by the religious leaders who constitutionally are the most neutral lot in the muddled waters of Uganda’s highly commercialised and finger pointing elections. The last debate we had was the mayoral campaign which was as chaotic as the city itself although looking back the moderator didn’t help matters by not pinning candidates against their manifestos instead the personality’s reigned supreme. However what looked like a smooth process has been marred by all sorts of excuses as to why the debate will not add any value to the process which is true depending on what part of the fence you stand. However out of the many excuses some are very annoying to save the least.
Win the debate you win the election
Many of the parties not interested in taking part in the debate and have sold it to their supporters as though the debate has a caveat in which he who comes out of the debate looking good or purported winner automatically has a certain percentage of the final election. However the whole spirit of the debate is having a uniform platform where the candidates can explain in detail why there policies are better than the guy standing on their left or right which is all we want. It’s the only place where it’s my candidate verses that candidate without the shenanigans of who has the biggest crowds, who has the better team but rather my manifesto against his. It’s the only place where there is no choir to chorus out the candidates opponents every time they open their mouth to speak.
Lack of access to TVs
Many Ugandans don’t have access to TV although I see many lining up shop entrances to watch agataliko nfuufu is another excuse I have seen being peddled around the internet and in some news outlets. Given that even UCC switched off some TV’s for not being analogue this argument would hold water however it’s a fallacy as the guy who tried to sell it. Dig deeper in the issue and you will notice that the president always gives his state of the union address which is relayed on all the radio stations in Uganda why can’t the same be for the debate. Also the national budget that has our leaders sleeping like their beds are made of the wrong stuff is also relayed over radio in the most complicated financial English full of percentages is also over the radio why can’t the debate follow suit. Given these radio stations even have ‘interpreters’ where the key talking points will make fodder for all the political shows after the debate.
I have seen many commentators write off the debate because we have no language the candidates can use to pass on the message. Ironically this excuse is peddled in a country that prides itself in its high numbers of enrolment of pupils going to school where they go to learn how to communicate in English. The body in charge of keeping statistics in the country too says close to three quarters of the population is under 30 years old and if the mass enrolment started in 1997 that would make the learned have an average age of 19 which is the school going age and also the voting age. All this just goes to make that excuse irrelevant besides even the candidates are campaigning in English on their trails with random interpreters here and there.
Sticking to personalities instead of issues
Many candidates have prided themselves in being the party that is built on issues with well-choreographed manifestos that will quickly show up in your search engine with one search however the same parties have tied their lack of interest to another candidate which looks stupid given he hates that candidate so much. With this attitude one can’t help but think his whole political career depends on the presence of another candidate and his solely campaigning to remove the person not the issues that leave many Ugandans to live unfulfilled lives. Without that candidate he would probably not stand or engage in any political related work.
Candidates are debating issues with their electorate
So late this week a spokesman in a smaller capacity raised a storm by explaining his party was not interested in the debate because apparently their candidate debates on a daily with the electorate. This is very questionable like every time I see candidates on the trail they are always giving one speech after another and I don’t think with all those crowds there is chance for a question and answer session. Also from the experience of one candidate who tried to carry out consultative meetings that were brutally stopped how does the candidate debate with the electorate then?
Our politics so highly commercialised and it has started to breed mistrust in nearly all organised. For example many don’t trust the religious people and civil society behind the debate because we question
their funding, their motive for organising the debate from experience the way debates roll you can come out looking great or miserably bad and that would be worse than when you stepped into the debate looking good. So even when it’s been organised with genuine reasons there is always a conspiracy as to why it has been organised because money talks and there is nothing like a free lunch.