For Online E-newspaper
The East African : Dec 19th 2015
20 The EastAfrican OPINION DECEMBER 19-25,2015 LAST WORD Zuma plays musical chai≥s with finance docket, ma≥kets left standing Appointing three finance ministers in four days? President Jacob Zuma unexpectedly announced that Nhlanhla Nene would be replaced by the relatively unknown David van Rooyen as finance minister. Then within days, the latter was abruptly moved, swapping ministries with Pravin Gordhan. The move rattled the markets at a moment when the news for South Africa’s economy was already grim, with the rand hitting a new low against the US dollar. Former Cabinet minister Tokyo Sexwale warned Zuma not to toy with the financial markets. Illustration:Patrick Gathara Joachim Buwembo Calling all candidates, whe≥e’s that lovely campaign cash gone then? U ganda seems to be set for its financially driest election in living memory. Ever since the so-called monetisation of elections started in 1996 (the first under the 1995 constitution), the country has been flooded with money for half a year every five years during the campaign and election rituals. Until this year. Ugandans are currently decrying the shortage of money in what ironically had been expected to be the most cashdrenched poll ever. The three main presidential candidates have greatly disappointed thirsty campaign agents who had counted on half a year of fishing in a river of money. The entry of former prime minister Amama Mbabazi had fuelled great expectations. Mbabazi has long been rumoured to be extremely loaded. The rumour mill was filled with stories billions that were expected to flood the campaign trail with tributaries from China, Israel, USA and Dubai. It was then expected that the incumbent Museveni too would open his floodgates to outspend Mbabazi. Instead, Mbabazi has turned out to be the most tight-fisted presidential candidate in Uganda’s history. Yet the stories of his bulging moneybags were so convincing that even Cabinet ministers who should know had known better fell for them. A whole shoal of MPs who lost the primaries of the ruling party — 60 of them — were planning to defect to Mbabazi’s camp but it is said the man only offered them Ush800,000 ($230) each, so the mass defection did not take place. And it seems Museveni has refused to enter or initiate the spending competition. Even at the high level of parliamentary contestants, Museveni has refrained from buying back the primaries losers, like paying them not to run as independents against NRM candidates. Instead he has philosophically told voters that they are all his children. Instead of spending their money as independent candidates in a poll they are likely to lose, many NRM primaries losers are declaring non-participation and reaffirming their support for u n d y i n g Museveni. Rumours that a recently retired Lieutenant General was given sacks of money to mobilise for “Mzee” are unconvincing as the man has only been “demobilising” Mbabazi supporters with tricks like taking them to meet the president to divert them from the ex-PM’s rallies. No sacks of cash, not even envelopes. The third big candidate, the inde- fatigable Kizza Besigye, has turned the campaign cash tradition on its head. This season, Besigye goes to campaign rallies and collects money from the voters instead of giving it out. At rallies or “greet the people” stops along the route to his main rallies, Besigye stands out of the open roof of his car and peasants start giving him their little amounts of cash to keep his campaign afloat. It is said there is a strongbox inside the car to which only Besigye has the key and into which he drops the collections. There are five other can- didates, whose names you wouldn’t recognise. One of them is in London. The four are perpetually complaining of being broke so voters cannot start asking them for “facilitation.” Compared this with previous elec- Illustration: John Nyagah tions, when campaign agents used to bargain with candidates by inflating the offers made by rival camps… If things continue this way, the February 18 poll may even produce a Magufuli for Uganda! Poo present? It’s the thought that counts A thief in Las Vegas ran off with a Christmas package that was left on somebody’s front door, but it turned out to be a dog poo. Homeowner Eric Burdo was tired of opportunistic thieves nabbing valuable outside homes during Christmas so he decided to leave thieves something he could do without — the droppings of his pet dog. The thief was captured by the CCTV gleefully carrying the poo away. Mr Burdo said the box sat on his porch for five days before somebody actually took it, but that he was “excited” when he saw someone had. “I just wanted to give them back something. Hopefully they don’t do it again,” he said. What’s in a name? Your identity, for one Kaori Oguni, a Japanese woman who is about to get married, is agonising over the prospect of losing her maiden name, which she feels is part of her identity. She has gone to court to challenge the constitutionality of a law requiring spouses to adopt the same surname. Ms Oguni say the law is unconstitutional and violates married couples’ civil rights. “By losing your surname, you’re being made light of, you’re not respected. It’s as if part of yourself vanishes,” said the 41-yearold translator. An 1896 law says spouses must adopt the same surname to legally register their marriage. The law does not specify which one, but in practice, 96 per cent of women take their husband’s name, a reflection of Japan’s male-dominated society. “If changing surnames is so easy, why don’t more men do it? The system is one that says, basically, ‘If you’re not willing to change, you shouldn’t be getting married’,” said Oguni. Hit and run driver busted by her own car A car reports the owner to police after a hit and run accident: A woman in Florida got a rude shock when she thought she had escaped crashing into the back of a Dodge Caravan, until her own car called emergency services. St Lucie County Sheriff’s Office received an automated call from the vehicle’s emergency system Sync, stating the owner had been involved in a crash and to press zero to speak with the occupants of the vehicle. When the police called, Cathy Bernstein, 57, denied she had been in a crash, stating that a car had only pulled out in front of her and did not hit her. However, the operator was sceptical. A visit to her home revealed that she indeed had hit the van. She was arrested and later released on $3,750 bail. Dog bites politician? Now that’s news – good news! Political bite? Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recently adopted dog Kaiya bit two visitors at an event in his house — including the husband of the deputy foreign minister. At a candle-lighting ceremony to mark the Jewish festival of Hannukah, the 10-year-old mixed breed also took a snip at a Member of Parliament from Netanyahu’s Likud party. Kaiya has met several dignitaries, including US Secretary of State John Kerry. But Kerry escaped unharmed.
Dec 12th 2015
Dec 26th 2015