By Fred Daka Kamwadda
Last week, Mukono municipality Member of Parliament Hon Betty Nambooze stirred a powerful storm in the cup when she cunningly referred to music promoter cum NRM mobilizer, Mr. Balaam Barugahara as a ‘useful idiot’.
The witty Namboze was later attacked for being abusive and using foul language to address his fellow countryman Balaam Barugahara on a talk-show hosted on national television. Balaam himself rose to the occasion and authored a stinging rebuttal which was supplemented by other social media gurus like Titus Seruga.
On his part, Titus Seruga, out of probable ignorance about the actual meaning of the word ‘useful idiot’, lambasted Hon Nambooze for abusing Balaam and being what he called a ‘political prostitute’ who jumps from one camp to another for personal convenience.
Titus went on to wash dirty linen in public when he revealed that Hon Nambooze had quietly worked with Hon Patrick Amama Mbabazi in the TDA alliance and at the same time met president Museveni in State House in the night during the 2016 elections. Revealing secret workings with colleagues is one of the most unfortunate tendencies of human nature. Its raw betrayal of sorts since it exposes you as a poor keeper of secrets.
Therefore, Mr. Seruga Titus should have attacked Hon Nambooze basing on the merits and demerits of the statements she made rather than revealing what they had done together in the past.
UNDERSTANDING POLITICAL JARGON
Having read from several briefs, I concluded that perhaps most Ugandans have not contextualized the use of political jargons. If they had known, they would simply use counter jargons to rebuttal Hon Nambooze.
Ordinarily, the world useful idiot is a political jargon which explains the person who supports an organization or leader without a firsthand understanding of the mission of that particular leader.
It also means a person who passionately supports a political movement without considering or taking into account the negative social ramifications of that movement on society.
It’s actually believed that this word was first coined and by Russian leader Vladmir Lenin in his reference to those he considered as his political opponents. It is a political jargon that is mostly descriptive rather than abusive, like most Ugandans have ignorantly portrayed it.
It must be stressed that the use of political jargon is the way political discourse is conducted in civilized societies when political adversaries are engaging in each other in a debate of some sort.
A ‘useful idiot’ is like a supporter of a cult. Like we all know, cults have a miserable ending. It’s uncouth, for instance; to call your opponent stupid, foolish because these are directly veiled abusive words.
Once you fail to use the words that describe the behavioral tendencies of the person, then you will certainly be considered abusive, which is not acceptable in civilized societies.
For instance; instead of calling someone a fool or stupid, you can simply say; he is a sycophant to describe his proclivity for offering blind support to the regime or an organization. You can also use other political jargons like influence agent, a pawn, and words of that nature.
WHERE DOES BALAAM FIT?
When you look at the way Mr. Balaam has conducted himself in the run-up to the recent years when he came out to proclaim his devotion to NRM, you cannot deny the fact that he exhibits elements of being an influence agent or even ‘useful idiot’ as described above.
Here is a man who claims to use his own money to buy off president Museveni’s political opponents. Not really bad.
But the same man claims that he is not a political actor, holds no political position in the NRM party, but goes on to spend his own money to buy off those he considers as political opponents of the president. This is bizarre as it sounds!
We understand that citizens can raise funds for a political party to pursue and actualize a given cause. During the American elections, presidential candidates raise money to support president candidates. However, it’s totally unheard of or probably unthinkable to hear someone use his own funds to buy off the political opponents of another.
Mr. Balaam brags to having used his own money to buy off NRM political opponents like radio talk-show political demagogue Bassajja Mivule, social media activists like Ashburg kato, musicians like Butcher man, Full-figure, and many others.
Now listen to this carefully; does it make sense for someone to use his own money to fish out political opponents of an organization where he holds no position? The act of buying off the political opponents makes sense to the apologists of the regime. That’s why we consider it to be useful. But the fact that you use your own money to do so is bizarre indeed.
In a more organized setup, you would expect Balaam to take those funds to the coffers of the NRM party secretariat at plot 10 Kyadondo Road. That’s what most of the powerful entrepreneurs like Sudhir Ruparelia , Mulwana and many other companies do when they decide to fund the ruling party during elections.
Mr. Balaam considers himself as a high rate tax-payer whose business empire ranks within the second tier of companies that pay most taxes in Uganda. He therefore claims that he has an interest in having a party that can sustain the peace and stability in the country in order to do business. That is granted, no problem.
Even if we justify the buying off of political opponents as a good gesture, look at the people who have been bought by Balaam. The unfortunate aspect of it is that they are not political actors at all.
We should weigh how much political relevance does Bassajja Mivule weigh in the politics of Uganda? How much of a political threat does Mivule pose to the peace and stability of the country, so that we can gauge him as a threat to the stability that Balaam needs to do his businesses?
What is the political value of people like Ashburg Kato, Full figure, Catherine kusasira and others bought off by Mr. Balaam. How much value do they add to NRM. How much of a threat do they pose to the peace and stability of the country?
Without being disrespectful, those aforementioned people are not even politicians. For instance a person like Catherine Kusasira, fullfigure and Butherman were not political actors at all. They were only interested in their music and not concerned about the Ping-Pong involved in the politics of the country.
In the most recent past, Balaam was captured on live television paying off renowned socialite known as Bad-black a huge sack of money which she had failed to retrieve from the Ministry of Health for doing an advert alerting prostitutes from sleeping with truck drivers to contain the corona virus.
The whole saga was justified by stating that the money, rumored to be over 300 millions, was handed over by Balaam to Bad-black to protect the image of the National Resistance Movement and its chairman, President Yoweri Museveni!
When you think through this, you will find it not adding up at all. If a businessman is using his money to do such work, then what name should we give him or her? Look; someone is using his own money to buy off people who are not and have never been political actors to defend a political organization! Oh dear me!
The Nigerians will say, ‘’ heey ,,you de laugh naw, ,, to such a person,
Nevertheless we need to contend that the word itself “Useful Idiot” is not necessarily an abusive word in a raw sense of the word, like most people have misunderstood it to be. In more vivid terms, those who understand politics will tell you that it’s normal for someone to use a political jargon to define someone else.
We are not saying that Balaam is an idiot, for he seems to be an intelligent lad. But we are saying that his behavior patterns in regard to the way he has submitted his loyalty to the NRM, put him in a very difficult indefensible situation.
Please describe that way you would feel when your father comes home and tells you that “I have just given BadBlack 300 million which government had failed to pay her for making the covid19 advert”
THE WAY FORWARD
Balaam needs to get back to the drawing board and change strategy to strengthen his attachments to NRM. For instance if he can make a swoop for rebel leader, Joseph Kony, and buy him out of the bush then nobody will contest his credibility.
Alternatively if he can fish out political actors like Norbert Mao, Abdu Katuntu Kiiza Besigye, or Salaam Musumba and bring them back to the NRM fold, then he will make it very difficult to be described as Nambooze did. He will forever be regarded as a master strategist.
The Author Fred Daka Kamwada Is A Seasoned Social Critic And Blogger