He knocks their heads against each other, sets them up to tear each other down, uses them to cheer the indefensible, and stokes the flames that compel them to insult and deride one another in public..and in the end, they all run back to him to save them from each other.
Examples abound. Persis Namuganza v Rebecca Kadaga; Beti Kamya v Jeniffer Musisi; Hanifa Kawooya v Joy Kabatsi; Beatrice Kiraso v Dora Byamukama and Marie Antoinette v Amelia Kyambadde.
We’re now watching the latest episode in this Season of Museveni’s Women: Betty Amongi v Catherine Bamugemereire!
Season 8 might feature Diana Atwiine and Molly Kamukama. The script is still being written.
Our already and deeply patriarchal society shrugs its shoulders and scornfully says—while pointing a dismissive finger: “didn’t we tell you? …women are emotional, women can’t handle public affairs, women have natural hatred for each other, in fact, a woman president would be a national catastrophe…women are this, women are that!”
When matters come to a head like they did between Irene Mulyagonja and Justine Bagyenda, the Visionary General, Yoweri Museveni descends from the clouds in full glory and invites the warring parties (preferably to Rwakitura) where he plays arbiter and ends the war. He comes out of all this looking as clean as a new pin.
A few weeks down the line, yet another woman is appointed to head something…they immediately hold a press conference, a prayer breakfast or other form of thanksgiving at which they “thank God for the Visionary leader who has brought them from the kitchen into public affairs blah blah blah…” At such events (where the Visionary is Guest of Honour—of course), speakers of inconvenient truths like Miria Matembe or Irene Ovonji are either not invited or are given seats that are too far from power lest they spoil the party by upsetting Ssaabalwanyi by calling him out on his duplicity.
Somehow it is lost on them when the very Visionary they regard in the same stead with God (as Beti Kamya, Mary Karooro Okurut and Ruth Nankabirwa) have repeatedly told us shoots down meaningful interventions that would tangibly ameliorate their suffering: think of the Marriage and Divorce Bill, increased budget allocations to maternal healthcare and/or tax reliefs on necessities like kerosene and fertilizer!
They continue to bleed-out in death traps called hospitals as they give birth. Pregnancy which should be a source of joy and hope for new life is a life-threatening situation. It doesn’t even spare those who can afford private healthcare.
The vast majority of women is kept out of the male-dominated economy and relegated to playing second fiddle to the already set tune!
When it comes to especially elective politics, they are sexually harassed, ridiculed and seen as little more than additional points…a formality to balance the equation. When Stella Nyanzi calls them out, they say that one is mad.
This mastery of patronage isn’t exclusively deployed against women by our Great GrandPa Museveni: he has effectively split the Anglican House of Bishops by playing the clerics against one another; dazed the Roman Catholic leadership with envelopes; stirred chaos among the Muslims, professional associations, cultural institutions and the private sector…but that’s for another day. I cannot agree more with Jimmy Spire Ssentongo who says Museveni must thank God that he was gifted with a lot as pliable as us.
Begs the question though: when will we start seeing this manipulative and abusive relationship for what it really is, and as opposed to falling over ourselves for crumbs, demand for and take the whole loaf?!
Over to you, Museveni’s Women.
By Andrew Karamagi