By Ofwono Opondo

Members of Parliament (MPs) need some breaks. Nyege Nyege isn’t quite the topic that parliament should be spending days on, considering the post-Covid grief Ugandans are going through at the moment. Armed with convenient moral righteousness, a large coterie of MPs spent time in self-delusion and some quite thrilled to lead the charge. Small mercies on the public, then you notice that sometimes with MPs you have to learn to take what you get. Former New Vision chief, Robert Mukholi Kabushenga, took a hard aim, tweeting “@ParliamentUg is itself a #NyegeNyegeFestival that runs in five year cycle” sparking off a frenzied sensation on social media.

There’s hitherto an obscure Twaha Kagabo, NUP MP (Bukoto South) in Masaka district, forced to defend himself before the Rules and privileges committee over allegations he made a month ago that he had received a shs40M bribe from Speaker Anita Annet Among (AAA). Fighting without self worth that had already gone, Kagabo has now decided to eat back his induced trash. So, clearly on morals, many think some MPs are hiding in plain view, and you can each make your own jokes.

While parliament should be discussing how Uganda’s economy is opening post two-year Covid-19 induced lockdown, some MPs stood hysterically in an alarmist fashion laced with accusations not backed by evidence even when Nyege Nyege was held here in 2018. With just a little research, MPs should have established that during the last festival no nude or explicit sex scenes were recorded because they would have been all over media.

As usual, parliament leadership issued directives as if they were the law enforcement agency rather than law makers, leaving many to wonder which direction Uganda is headed. But probably all this shouldn’t be surprising. With MPs what you see is what you get. As law makers MPs shouldn’t be at the helm of changing rules in the middle of a game because that chokes innovation, enterprise, tourism, positive publicity, and portrays Uganda as unpredictable.

Unfortunately some vocal MPs having rode the high horse and got themselves boxed as to the implementation of the purported cancellation are angrily hitting back with distressed innuendos of bad-tempered narcissists unwilling to accept their follies to play the moral guardian angels. After the media backlash, and advice from cabinet, they are short of empathy for people who invested their money hoping to make legitimate business.

Somewhere, in Mulanda, I will put my feet up reading political satire as Nyege Nyege raves at Itanda on the banks of River Nile because the fears of MPs are mostly unfounded, and cabinet was right to permit this socially salacious festival to proceed albeit after some unwarranted inconvenience. With indulgent frustration we shall continue listening to MPs probably as bad facts of political life in a democracy.

This takes me to the events of 29 August, 2022 in South Sudan at which the warring factions of the SPLM/A inaugurated a new joint military officer corp passed off almost un-noticed eclipsed by the election fever in Kenya. Yet, as an East African Community (EAC) member state, this development in Juba should signal a new dawn for the region. The slow, but steady mending of relationship between the two top erstwhile protagonists, President Salva Kiir and his deputy, Dr Riek Machar, portend good signs ahead although it’s still too early to celebrate with finality. President Museveni and the Sudan Chair of Governing Sovereign Council Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan are the two guarantors for South Sudan peace and reconciliation process being supported by the IGAD.

In a sense, President Museveni has been and continues to be the beacon for South Sudan stability having given unflinching support since the liberation struggle under Col. John Garang against the Khartoum regime that wanted to impose Islam as the universal theocracy of the state. The new joint officer corp, officially known as Necessary Unified Forces (NUF), recruited, screened and jointly trained under one command is meant to thaw tribal sectarian cleavages in the army, is part of the cornerstone agreed upon in 2015 which collapsed almost immediately in 2016, and then revitalized in 2018. The training of NUF is supposed to be accompanied by demobilization, disarmament and re-integration covering all armed groups countrywide. The Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU) was to end in February 2023 but was on 2 August 2022 extended until February 2025 with hopes that by then a unified army, new constitution and preparations for general elections would have been completed to avoid a return to war.

After the short-lived peaceful co-existence South Sudan in 2013 descended into open hostility and war sending thousands to premature deaths, hundreds of thousands into refuge mostly in Uganda, and many more into internally displaced persons squalid camps. With both government and SPLM/IO led by Machar being blamed for atrocities and human rights abuses for nine years now, South Sudan has tittered on the brink of total collapse as a failed state. This new step is modest but an important beginning which should be supported.