The squabble between First Lady and Minister of Education Janet Museveni and Makerere University Don Dr. Stella Nyanzi, has a number of interesting angles to it. It may be about aspects of education in the country.
For a start, both women are involved in aspects of education; one is the embodiment of its (should be) administrative order; the other, at the height of (what used to be) its excellence. Both are “professional” teachers: one at its lower level – of Primary and Secondary education – the other at its tertiary apex. By virtue of political appointment and otherwise, the one at the lower teaching level controls the other at the higher intellectual address.
In terms of disposition, one panders towards Pentecostal values; while the other has tendencies towards decadence. Both have had issues of public acclaim and/or scorn, which has brought the two personalities into the limelight of this national clash.
On two aspects: one of sanitary pads for girls at the Primary school level, Mrs. Museveni claimed that there was no money in her docket to provide for this expenditure for the Girl-child. Dr. Nyanzi was incensed!
How could the Minister of Education, herself a mother, be so cold-hearted as to dismiss the provision of the pads for the girls so casually? Couldn’t a handshake be arranged for such a spending!
In what appeared to be appalling reaction, the Police stepped in, summoning Nyanzi to the CIID headquarters in Kibuli to be questioned on what is not entirely clear. Sometime ago, the minister of State for Water, Ronald Kibuule, roughed up a bank guard at the entrance to a bank because she was doing her duty of demanding that she inspect him for any terrorist attachments – as is required of every person going into a public place, these days. The CIID did not summon Kibuule for what appeared to be a crime.
So, why treat Nyanzi this way? There was apparently no criminal intentions in what she was saying about the issuance of sanitary pads; or, the reference to Mrs. Museveni as “Mama”. Indeed, this was a patriotic request so that our girls would be kept in school to provide for the country’s future. What was wrong with that? Are these not the cases for double standards?
The second issue Nyanzi pointed out was Mrs. Museveni’s keen and genuine alarm for the piling up, of up-to five children on bodabodas, when they are taken to, and probably, from school. Nyanzi was faulting Mrs. Museveni for her concern. This is a common and regrettable occurrence.
As befitted her public role, Mrs. Museveni was right to castigate this carelessly dangerous attitude, of both the parents and the bodabodas, endangering the lives of the “future leaders” in this manner. Equally, Nyanzi had a serious case for the need to provide a safe public transportation for the children going to and from school.
With the strictures of the economy in being unable to get all the parents to provide safe and adequate transportation for their children, the blame should have gone elsewhere. Firstly, the parents are not in a better position to provide for their children, apart from the cheap and dangerous bodabodas. Secondly, the Traffic Police, have totally failed in their duty to regulate the bodaboda cyclists.
There is a lot to be said about the inadequacies of the Traffic Police. In the manner they are behaving, the bodabodas are a law unto themselves. The motor cycles are made to carry only one person on the pillion, but children apart, these people will carry even three adults.
And the Traffic Police will witness this happening as if it is the proper law. Recently, there was a picture in one of the tabloids of a bodaboda man carrying a cow on the pillion. Imagine that! And the Traffic Police would have been looking with considerable apparent approval.
For this case, both Mrs. Museveni and Dr. Nyanzi made appropriate observations; and should not have torn into the other;and that, all things being equal, they should be reading from the same page. True to declared form, Mrs. Museveni practiced providential principles when she went on air to “forgive” Nyanzi for whatever the other may have inappropriately cast aspersions towards her.
As a concerned citizen, it is still Nyanzi’s role to point out the inadequacies that are in the political administration that Mrs. Museveni is a crucial part of. Where it concerns the proper running of the country, Mrs. Museveni should see to it that it is her role to advise and straighten her colleagues towards the service of the children of Uganda.