The Legend of Lubwama: The Joke is On Us

On February 18, 2016, the good people of Rubaga (a suburb of Kampala, Uganda) went completely haywire, bonkers even, when they, during the Presidential and Parliamentary elections held then, chose a one Kato Lubwama as their Honourable Member of Parliament, trouncing the popular and long serving Ken Lukyamuzi.

Kato Lubwama was, until recently, when he offered himself to lead and or serve his constituents, only known for his work in the creative works industry to which he contributed as a radio personality and a theatrical performer. Fast-forward, he is now a distinguished member of the August House. How he got there is not subject to debate, really. He, like most political leaders today, is, clearly, good at the only asset they need to get to the top; political mobilisation. On the other hand, why he got there is, gradually and consistently, increasing our disgust for him.

Even in parliament, he is still not any different from a character at Bat Valley Theatre. In a couple of sound bites, he has asserted and highlighted the core reasons he made it there; he does not want to suffer any more, he has to live – and large, and to be better than he used to. While there, he has ably disappointed, among others, the creative arts industry, which is his speciality.

Kato Lubwama is, indeed, a clown, one without any known leadership skills, and, also, one whose emotional intelligence is wanting. The two are the most basic qualities one should gain from the lower levels as any and all prospective leaders upgrade to higher levels such as parliament.

The law provides in, Section 5 (1) (a) (b) (c) of The Parliamentary Elections Act, 2001, Laws of Uganda, that a person qualifies to be a member of parliament if they are a citizen of Uganda, a registered voter, and has completed a minimum formal education of Advanced Level standard or its equivalent. On meeting the mentioned, and getting elected, Section 3 (2) of the same law applies, by crystallising their station by a swearing in ceremony.

Kato Lubwama meets or has met the requirements of the law. However, his stay in parliament has moved us to question our appreciation of phrases like “people’s choice”, and the reason the people of Rubaga chose him. Besides a viral photo of a pass slip which reflects his rather appalling results,  Lubwama has provided a photo of him donning an overly big and shortly knit red tie, a white shirt, black shorts, and standing amid fellow comedians at a past show. Kato Lubwama has assembled evidence that he indeed went to school.

Also, he has repeatedly said that he is only in parliament to eat, to live, and that he did not get elected to die like a pauper. Certainly, we cannot blame such a character for being open about his intents. What we need to do, however, is examine all our choices. He has left not only the people of Rubaga, but the rest of the country with a bitter taste in our mouths. He is an illustration of what parliament really is today; a route to quick wealth. We, the better jokers, have helped men and him like him further their personal agendas.

The legend of Lubwama is an illustration of the problem of having peasants taking centre stage in the country’s politics – at both ends of decision making that is, choosing leaders and effecting of policies. They do not vote or elect themselves for any viable issues, but personal preferences and a plethora of bread-and-butter concerns.

Our decisions should not be as simplistic as one voter said; “I will not vote for Lubwama because he always plays the villain in his plays.” Kato Lubwama is what you get when you substitute lucidity, sorry, stupidity, with emotions at the ballot box. The populace needs to appreciate, and properly so, their responsibilities in the electoral process, and their search for accountability, lest we have more Kato Lubwamas and this time, offering themselves – again – for the Presidency.

If we do not fault ourselves, we will breach Section 5 (2) (a) of the aforementioned law by electing people of unsound mind. Recalling them, according to the rule in Section 7 may be too late and unnecessary, but reducing the number of parliamentarians will go a long way in making the house August again.


This article appears in our digital law magazine, The Deuteronomy Vol 8 Issue 1 of October 4th, 2016

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