Monday, April 25, 2016


Makerere’s Dr Stella Nyanzi dominated the headlines this last week.

The happenings around her and Professor Mahmood Mamdani would be fitting fodder for this week’s column. But we shall desist. If only because we think the people around the good doctor are doing her a disservice and would be best advised to seek professional help for her.

She may have provided much grist for the printing presses, material for our wagging tongues and itching whatsapping fingers, but we need to see it for what it is, a tragic meltdown being played out in full public view.

Our attention diverted we might have missed the New York Democratic Party primary on Tuesday.

The US is deep into nominating its presidential flag bearers for the Republican and Democratic parties. There are currently winding their way through the primaries and on Tuesday the state of New York was voting.

Hillary Clinton annihilated her rival Senator Bernie Sanders in an election that was marred by closed polling centers, missing voters on the register – 54,000 by some counts and broken voting machines, the equivalent of tampered ballot boxes here.

"It was interesting how the reporting on these incidents gave the electoral officials the benefit of doubt, reporting the incidents more as incompetence than a deliberate ploy to gift Clinton the victory. And no one blamed Clinton for the chaos...

At what point is it election rigging and at what point does it become unbiased incompetence or system malfunction or, even better, just bad luck?

And at what point do you decide that one person’s intentions were noble and the others not?
There was a lot of snickering on social media at this turn of events.

But the events in New York should have come as no surprise to long term observers of politics around the world.

The classic definition is that politics is the management of society, but in analysing politics we might be better served if we focused on power – the ability to influence events, people, the environment.

"Politicians strive for power and even the best of them are not averse to disregarding society’s moral code to attain power and once there to hang for as long as is possible under the law or even in total disregard of the law...

That probably explains why we look at all politicians with a jaundiced eye.

With a politician what you see in not necessarily what you get. There is always an angle, an ulterior motive, a hidden agenda.

So how is it that the failures of New York's electoral officials were not placed at Clinton’s feet? After all she is an establishment figure, well embedded with the power brokers of the Democratic Party. And there have been several allegations, all unproven of her sharp practices as a lawyer in her previous life and questionable decision making as the US’ top diplomat in Obama’s first administration.

It helped of course that Sanders slunk off once he determined how badly he had been trounced.

But what if he had gone to court and challenged the result – as is his right? Never mind that it is unlikely It would be overturned in his favour, but maybe he might have won a repeat of the election.

Or what if he just started a narrative that the vote has been stolen and he never had a chance anyway and kept shouting it from the rooftops and twitter?

You do not say these things in polite company but isn’t it that “These things don’t happen in the west” because the people would not allow it? Because their politicians are not like ours?

Mbu they are ethical politicians. An oxymoron if ever there was one.

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