March 7, 2011
This Youtube clip contains highlights from an interview with Kampala mayoral candidate Peter Sematimba.*
On polling day a few days prior, ballots pre-ticked in the businessman/pastor’s favor had been discovered, leading to violence and rescheduling of the election (now set for March 14).
Our interview also ended in bitter dispute (starting at around the six-and-a-half-minute mark of the link above), with Sematimba following up his almost plausible-sounding claim that he was not guilty of cheating by passionately defending Uganda’s destructive habit of vote-rigging.
He did so on the grounds that Uganda is only 49 years old.
I have always found apologists for mediocrity troubling, especially when they are leaders or aspiring leaders.
What leader of a now-developed country that turned independent around the time of Uganda has succeeded by excusing pernicious permutations of the status quo? And here I was hearing it from a pastor who told me he wants to fix not “some things” in the city, not even “many things,” but “all the things.”
With due respect for Uganda’s impressive gains in key areas over the years, a true 21st century leader – the kind of leader Uganda sorely lacks – understands that while it may take a nation more than 50 years to fix some things, vote-rigging should not be among them.
And so I hope you will excuse me for chiding the mayoral aspirant for defending his country’s moral decay. (In viewing the clip some of you, especially those who have come to count on me to call to task the avaricious and powerful without fear of consequence, will no doubt be disappointed to find that I did not voice out more firmly, and I can see your point. Admittedly, I had one eye on salvaging the interview to ask some hard-hitting questions, and besides, it got to a point where it seemed wiser just to let the wily preacher do the preaching.)
The morning after our abbreviated discussion, Sematimba’s assistant called me requesting to redo the interview, but on one condition, that it not be recorded.
* Since posting this clip, a reader of this blog notified me that it looked like I was doing all the talking, when in fact the clip was edited to omit the candidate’s self-absorbed monologues. I will, however, post a clip in its near entirety in the days ahead for those BreakLines readers with time to kill.