The political landscape in Uganda has always been very sporadic. From one scandal to another. Perhaps what stands out is how politicians take advantage of the gullible citizens. They brandish them with any smug soundbites and the credulous public eats it up. In a few hours, however ill, all such spectacle shall slowly find its way into the history dockets as more shenanigans unfolds.
As our pride; the Uganda Cranes pitched camp in preparation for an AFCON 2015 Qualifiers showdown against the Togolese national team today, the 11th day of October 2014 in Kampala, the political battle of party T-Shirts took centre stage.
The other week it was the poor yellow piglets with hats matching royally but not colonially on wet Kampala roads. Now, it is the yellow T-Shirts.
Ex-NRM, self-exiled UPDF Gen. David Sejusa is on record to have posted on his facebook account how he had purchased over 2,500 tickets to the game on Saturday.
The blue-eyed X-NRM super minister, former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi is said to have purchased over 4,300 tickets to the same game. He however denies these allegations. But if he accepted, that would not pass as politics. At least not politics of this part of Africa. So, this is not news. We ignore and move on.
By inference, the logic of purchasing match tickets is to award it as complimentary to a Sejusa-Amama T-Shirt bearing the face of the political figure. The figure of Amama Mbabazi or Sejusa urging them to contest as Presidential candidates in the upcoming elections.
In a previous night game between Uganda Cranes and Guinea which was played under floodlights, there was a power blackout for a few minutes only for the lights to come back on and one would be forgiven for thinking he or she was attending an NRM party delegates conference of sorts.
There was a sea of fans donning yellow T-Shirts with a photo of former Prime Minister Amama urging him to contest in the upcoming presidential elections against Museveni.
Apparently, many fans had the T-Shirts on the inside of their shirts while others utilized the blackout to distribute and put them on.
The trend of dragging party political battles to the sports arena is worrying.
We are used to seeing shameless political leaders lining up to great and praise sports men and women after they have won an event and are walking in the moment of fame when they were never present during the hard work but this is something else completely.
What however becomes more disturbing is to see the FUFA administration eating into the whole saga. Anyway, it’s not like I expected anything much better from them. Over 90% of Ugandan leaders are cut from the same cloth. It is the demeanor while acting impious that changes.
The two sides to this coin:
- One side is hinged on the fact that such divisive political battles should have no place in a uniting game of football that we so much love and adore as a people. The FUFA administration ought to stand strong on this as a guardian of the sport and not take any sides.
- On the other side is the fact that people have a right to dress in any attire they so wish. No one; not even the government or police should purport to direct on which T-Shirt one should or should not wear. That is an ancient political gimmick designed to spell power when in fact, one is in panic mode.
I sturdily denounce any attempts by government to violate the rights of fans to dress in any attire in as much as I castigate any politician who seeks to bring their political battle onto a football pitch where a ball is celebrated and fairness of the game rules.
That fairness and acceptance of rules in sport is what makes it possible for us to restrain from clobbering a referee for awarding a soft penalty to the opposite team however emotional we may get. We win or lose graciously after putting up a valiant fight.
We need to respect the positive power of sport on education, cohesion of societies and other developmental enterprises.
It is a shame that we now see efforts to defile the stage by using it to settle cheap points in internal party politics and other political dissent acts.
Worldwide, such shameful acts have been condemned. Earlier in the year, the IOC President Thomas Bach blasted world leaders over boycotting the Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia. It should be remembered that many political leaders shamelessly publicly declined invitations they had not even received to score cheap political points.
Acknowledging how Mandela National Stadium has become a political hot bed, government has reportedly named the new Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda as the chief guest rendering the earlier announcement by the Federation of Uganda Football Association that the Minister of the Presidency Hon. Frank Tumwebaze would be the chief guest null and void
As political figures jostle for a platform like a wake or committee of vultures around a carcass or a sumptuous meal, I kindly implore the FUFA management to ensure that divisive politics do not split the wonderful unifying love for the game. This entails the management not going into bed with either political side. Including the government.
UGANDA CRANES GUNNING FOR A WIN
All the reports coming in from the Cranes camp a few hours to kick-off indicate how the spirit is high.
The Cranes players have already had their match-day meal which included rice, chicken, chapatti, and spaghetti. Most of them are now in the massage room getting their muscles relaxed. When they leave the massage room, they are expected to meet Coach Micho to go through the final tactics. At around 14:00 hrs, the players are expected to have picked their match-day kits and board to set off for Mandela National Stadium ready for the showdown. The line-up is not expected to change from the team that played Guinea.
Other reports coming through also reveal that the players have already received their allowances – $600 as match-day bonus and a possible addition of other allowances such as around $1,200 bonus after they pick up the win.
Forget about Adebayor; if our boys can cut out his supply, we have another of those Ghana stars running around the pitch. This is not about autographs; it is about football. And at Namboole, you don’t easily get anything from the gallant Cranes. So, Adebayor and company be warned!
Togo lost its last two group games and losing this should mean they are almost out. But that is their business.
Go Cranes! Cranes Namutiima!
A big thumbs-up to all the supporters who have thronged in huge numbers to cheer the Cranes on!