Sunday, May 2, 2010

An Upset Member of Parliament, Thugs, and the Nightly News

As you may or may not know, I am currently engaged in conducting workshops throughout the county (of Ugandan). In these workshops we present our assessment of each constituency's Member of Parliament (MP). Needles to say, if the MP performed well, he/she is very welcoming of us and our workshop, but if the MP performed poorly he/she is usually quite hostile. One MP took it to a new level.

Honorable Isaac Musumba was furious when my colleague Gerald called to invite him to our workshop in his constituency in which we would discuss his performance with the voters (he received two D's for his grades). He yelled and screamed and said we aren't allowed to do that. He said that since he is a Minister of State he can get the police to stop us! Gerald went ahead and continued with the workshop as planned. When Gerald and his team arrived (I was not there because I was with the other team at a different workshop) to meet with the local leaders on the morning of the workshop, the local leaders kept getting phone calls to which the would respond "Yes, he is here now." and "Yes, I am meeting with him now." Then a bunch of drunken men showed up and started trying to stop the workshop. Nothing got violent but it got really intense. Gerald tried to call the police but they would not come because they were afraid of the MP. So, the called off the workshop.

The people were furious and said that we must come back because the MP cannot do that, he doesn't own the constituency!

We always take a guy with us to every workshop who films the workshop so that we can show our donors that we are conducting workshops. So, our guy filmed the confrontation between the thugs and the local leaders and AFLI (my organization) staff. And Gerald took this to a national news station: NTV. NTV aired a report on the Saturday night news.

In the NTV report, they showed the confrontation footage and an interview with Gerald. They also interviewed Honorable Musumba. Musumba sounded like a complete idiot! In the interview he was screaming and shouting and saying the we had no right to conduct a workshop, that we must clear it with him because it is "my constituency, mine, mine, my constituency!". Of course we don't have to clear anything with him. Musumba was basically saying that "If anyone wants to have any public meeting in my constituency, then they must first ask me because I am in control!" That would be like a US Representative (from the US House) saying that if anyone wants to have a public meeting in his/her district, they must first clear it with him or her; ridiculous!

We are planning to go back and have a workshop in his constituency! We will not be intimidated!

Things like this remind me once again that democracy is still very new here and that a free and open society is still something that Uganda must work for and that one obstacle to a free and open Ugandan society is Uganda's leaders!


  1. Boy, you have had quite the week. You definitely deserve a vacation. Glad to know that you didn't get beat up the other day.

    P.S. Yes, I did get your text the other day. Thank you! Did you get the "Happy Birthday" message on facebook that I sent you?

  2. Adam, what a ride! I have to say I don't envy your stress, but I do envy your adventures. How exciting! It's awesome that you get to be on the breaking edge of democracy there! Have fun in your vacation, and good luck!