Just because words can heal, it does not leave out the fact they can kill. Elements like intonation, tone, the mental state of the sender, the mental state of the receiver, punctuation and timing highly influence the ultimate effect of words.
With widespread uncertainty about who is to be the next president of Uganda, three of the eight participants in the presidential race have resorted to verbal artillery as their stronghold, in the bid to assure the public that they have won or are going to win the election. The war of words is mainly witnessed between the camp of incumbent His excellency Yoweri Museveni and that of Dr. Kizza Besigye. There are mild traces of this tactic from the camp of Amama Mbabazi.
It is so unfortunate that the Ugandan presidential race has tasted the destructive power of words. Whether Uganda will be killed by this power or defy the odds and survive, is what is yielding severe doubts, fears and anxiety among the population. The race has been marked with egoistic and scary rants, mainly from the incumbents. His excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is on record saying he would not leave the country for his opponents to run it. Whether this means after losing elections or not is left for the political analysts to decipher. Just after such a poignant remark from the incumbent president, who happens to be in the race as well, the Chief Of Defense Forces, General Katumba Wamala roared! He affirmed to the army’s active participation in the election process in case of violence. The inspector general of police, General Kale Kayihura is quoted by a media outlet in the capital to have said that the police would authorize the prematurely unleashed community police (currently known as crime preventers) with guns in case one party in the race rejects the results. The secretary general of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), which is the party in power, is on record to have arrogantly sown the greatest seed of fear by being as direct as possible. She said the state would kill all participants in the post-election violence. The suddenness of these utterances by those wielding power has filled the public with a pang of intense fear.
With nine days to the presidential polls in Uganda, the political atmosphere has been polluted with words that kill. Yes! words that kill. An evening walk in the streets of the capital, Kampala, not only exposes one to streams of lingering anxiety and fear in the people but also stirs up ones’ adrenaline in preparation for a fight. Tune in to the political, radio talk shows and all that will land in your ears is either an analysis of whether to expect post-election violence or it is an attempt by a naïve political figure to try and birth the idea of violence. Unlike the past elections, the intensity of the fear of the post-election atmosphere in this race is overwhelmingly high.
In the throes of disorganization
As Ugandans live in the polluted political atmosphere, they have to untangle the threads of confusion from the Electoral Commission(EC). There’s limited clarity on the voter requirements. A new voter register was developed basing on the registrations that were made in the recently concluded national identity card registration process. Following the massive irregularities from the ID registration process, new irregularities are emerging which include contradicting statements by the EC officials on whether the ID holder will be the only legitimate voter. Given that many Ugandans (even those on the old register) did not register for the ID for one reason or the other, these contradicting statements are not only fueling the prevailing fear but also setting potential grounds for violence.
A Ray of Hope
With all the sustained tension ahead of the polls, there’s a reason to be positive. It is the Inter-Religious Counsel. It has initiated a new dimension in Uganda’s politics where intellectual faculties of the brain have to be employed when choosing who to vote. This has been done by organizing the first ever presidential debates. These have diverted a section of Ugandans from the cheap rhetoric by politicians to the “HOW” of the matter. This unprecedented twist in Ugandan politics has tried to depollute the political atmosphere, thanks to one of the presidential aspirants, John Elton Mabirizi, who happens to be more humorous and dramatic than serious. His articulation skills have birthed laughter which has not only earned him fame but has also calmed the tensions. I hope the tension continues to calm on this ray of hope.