Saturday, December 5, 2020
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OPINION: Museveni’s dog whistles

By Joseph Kabuleta- Secret societies often use coded language to say things which are understood by the public to mean one thing yet they are communicating something entirely different to initiated members. 

That coded language is called ‘dog whistles’ because there are sounds which are pitched so high they cannot be heard by human ears but are easily picked by domestic animals like dogs and cats. Politicians are also known to use coded language.

Coded language varies in sophistication depending on the secrecy, but Museveni’s dog whistles are very simple; the English word for them is antonym or opposite.
He ran a whole campaign on ‘Boona Bagagawale’ (Prosperity For All) and what followed were five years of unprecedented financial squeeze orchestrated by him. 

His speeches on fighting corruption are always a precursor to the biggest financial scandals in the country. Not too long ago, he gave an impassioned speech castigating those who give away Uganda’s forests and, at about the same time, Bugoma and Budongo forests in Bunyoro as well as Butamiira forest in Busoga were being felled down (by his people of course) for sugarcane planting.

When he stated emphatically that Minister Mwesigwa Rukutana should face the full wrath of the law and must not be granted bail, oppressed Ugandans baying for justice were jubilating, but cadres in the judiciary understood what he really meant. 

In a matter of days, the gunslinger from the Wild Wild West was out on bail.
So when the president recently said that he has dedicated his life to fighting vote rigging and has now procured a biometric system that will ensure a flawless election in 2021, my antennas went up and my search team went out. 

Then I learnt that at about the same time he gave that speech, a group of 1000 youths were gathered in some kind of boarding school arrangement at MUBS in Nakawa and are feeding people’s personal data — most of it collected during the COVID-19 food distribution process — into the new system. Each youth is paid 50k a day; but as is the problem with all things NRM, they tried to default on payment and the kids threatened to make noise. 

So they reduced their number to 500 and increased the pay to 100k a day. Secrecy is key. So if you are one of the people who surrendered all your National ID and voter registration details in exchange for posho and beans in April and May, don’t be surprised to learn that you involuntarily cast your ballot for the incumbent.

As we speak, the old man might be approaching the 50% threshold even before official campaigning starts. Only in Uganda!

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