On February 18, 2016, the good people of Rubaga (a suburb of Kampala, Uganda) went completely haywire, bonkers even, when they, during the Presidential and Parliamentary elections held on that date, chose a one Kato Lubwama as their Honourable Member of Parliament, trouncing the popular and long serving Ken Lukyamuzi.
Kato Lubwama was, until recently, when he offered himself to lead and/or serve his constituents, only known for his work in the creative works industry to which he contributed as a radio personality and a theatrical performer. Fast forward, he is now a distinguished member of the august house. How he got there is not subject to debate, really. He, like most political leaders today, is, apparently, quite good at the only asset they require to get to the top; political mobilisation. On the other hand, why he got there is, gradually and consistently, increasing our disgust for him.
Even in parliament, he is still not any different from a character at Bat Valley Theatre. In a couple of sound bites, he has asserted and emphasised the core reasons why he made it there; he does not want to suffer anymore, he has to live – and large, and to be better than what he used to. While there, he has ably disappointed, amongst others, the creative arts industry, which is his forte. Perhaps, he is still in character.
Kato Lubwama is, indeed, a clown, one without any known leadership skills, and, also, one whose emotional intelligence is wanting. The two are the most basic qualities meant to be acquired from the lower levels as any and all prospective leaders upgrade to higher levels such as parliament.
The law has provided in, Section 5 (1) (a) (b) (c) of The Parliamentary Elections Act, 2001, Laws of Uganda, that a person qualifies to be a member of parliament if they are a citizen of Uganda, a registered voter, and has completed a minimum formal education of Advanced Level standard or its equivalent. On meeting the mentioned, and getting elected, Section 3 (2) of the same law applies, by crystallizing their station by way of a swearing in ceremony.
Kato Lubwama meets or has met the requirements of the law. However, his stay in parliament has moved us to question our appreciation of phrases like “people’s choice”, and the reasons why the people of Rubaga chose him. Besides a viral photo of a pass slip with what are reflected as his rather quite appalling results, Lubwama has provided a photo of him donning an overly big and shortly knit red tie, a white shirt, black shorts, and standing amidst fellow comedians at a past show, Kato Lubwama has assembled evidence that he indeed went to school.
Also, he has repeatedly said that he is only in parliament to eat, to live, and that he did not get elected to die like a pauper. Certainly, we cannot blame such a character for being open about his intents. What we need to do, however, is examine all our choices. He has let not only the people of Rubaga, but the rest of the country with a bitter taste in our mouths. He is an illustration of what parliament really is today; a route to quick wealth. We, the better jokers, have helped men and him like him further their personal agendas.
The legend of Lubwama is an illustration of the problem of having peasants taking centre stage in the country’s politics – at both ends of decision making, that is, the choosing of leaders and effecting of policies. They do not vote or elect themselves for any viable issues, but personal preferences and a plethora of bread and butter concerns.
Our decisions should not be as simplistic as one voter said; “I will not vote for Lubwama because he always plays the villain in his plays.” Kato Lubwama is what you get when you substitute lucidity, sorry, stupidity, with emotions at the ballot box. The populace needs to appreciate, and properly so, their responsibilities in the process of choice of leaders, and their quest for their accountability, lest we have more Kato Lubwamas and this time, offering themselves – again – for the Presidency.
If we do not fault ourselves, we will breach Section 5 (2) (a) of the aforementioned law by electing people of unsound mind. Recalling them, as per the provisions in Section 7 may be too late and unnecessary, but reducing the number of parliamentarians will go a long way in making the house august again.