By Allan Brian Ssenyonga
Voting out a sitting Member of Parliament is one of the powers that Ugandans can be sure of possessing when elections come around. Apart from some few powerful individuals, most of the people occupying our parliament live with the genuine fear that their voters can kick them out during the election cycle. For this reason, the dynamism and drama that comes with parliamentary contests can be interesting to watch.
The ruling NRM party primaries for example are always sources of immense and sometimes lethal drama during such times. This year has been no exception with some places like Sembabule where the drama expectations were far more than anticipated, elections were postponed. Oh, by the way, feel free to use drama and violence interchangeably. I will stick to the short word mostly.
While most of us had our eyes set on ‘the gateway to Koboko’ we ended up focusing more on Ntungamo’s where Mwesigwa Rukutana did not waste another chance to make headlines with an AK47 rifle in his hands after losing to Naomi Kabasharira. The only reason we are in this action is that there was a gun and a mobile phone involved. These two items are proving to be very crucial in our times with the mobile phone playing the underdog in this fight.
Those that know Uganda’s history know that the gun has been a dominant factor in this country’s politics for so long and more openly since 1966. Those with it have often determined the direction of the country. Even during peaceful times, the gun has remained a key factor whether in the hands of civilians like Rukutana, the army, police, or the now notorious LDUs. With most mobile phones now doubling as decent cameras for both still and video footage, those with guns may have found a match.
Many cases of people misusing guns have been caught on camera using mobile phones and then shared online. Nearly every week, the soft-spoken Police Spokesperson will appear on news to react to a video doing rounds online. Media houses with all their huge cameras and skilled crew are often left to derive news from amateur footage caught by a random person who was at the right place at the right time armed with a good phone.
With social media, a video caught with a phone can prove more powerful than a bullet from a Russian Kalashnikov. Those with guns are now aware of this development and that is why it is not surprising when at the heat of the moment they unplug the internet so the movement of such information can be curtailed for a moment.
Some mobile phone users have also learned to abuse the power in their hands and will easily exploit tense moments to share old videos and pictures or those taken from another country with the aim of adding fuel to a tense moment. I must admit though that it gets really messy when we find ourselves having to deal with real bullets and fake news. Beware and stay safe.
About the author:
Allan is an East African freelance writer.