The un­cen­sored, “Big Man Syn­drome”

By: Timothy Chemonges

The Rule of Law is and re­mains a fun­da­men­tal cor­ner­stone and com­po­nent of any de­mo­c­ra­tic so­ci­ety (in this case Uganda). This would es­sen­tially mean that every in­di­vid­ual is equal be­fore and un­der the law, there­fore call­ing for re­spect of these laws by every­one. But not ac­cord­ing to the dis­play of ar­ro­gance and ego­ism by    the pow­er­ful elite in the Gov­ern­ment, the mil­i­tary hi­er­ar­chy, the re­li­gious cir­cles and “free­dom fight­ers” who have a sense of self-en­ti­tle­ment to the coun­try. These pow­er­ful elite ap­pear only to be ac­count­able to their own stan­dard while the rest of the na­tion is re­quired to fol­low rule of law.

To cite a few ex­am­ples that have come into the lime light, On 24th Feb­ru­ary 2019, pic­tures and videos emerged of an on-duty traf­fic po­lice of­fi­cer (Sgt. Es­ther Na­m­a­ganda, a traf­fic Po­lice of­fi­cer) be­ing as­saulted by the mil­i­tary es­cort of Ugan­da’s am­bas­sador to Bu­rundi, Ma­jor Gen­eral Matayo Kyaligonza (Rtd) . Fur­ther on 30th Jan­u­ary 2019, (Rtd) Brig Kasirye Gwanga Gwanga al­legedly shot at the tyres of Kusasir­a’s ve­hi­cle and as re­ported by Daily Mon­i­tor of 30th Jan­u­ary 2019, ad­vised ‘stu­pid’ Kusasira to go and re­port him to Mu­sev­eni. He said he shot at Kusasir­a’s ve­hi­cle be­cause she “acted with stu­pid­ity” when he tried to talk to her and in­stead just started shout­ing at him. On 14th Au­gust 2017 Rtd Brig Kasirye Gwanga was quoted by the New Vi­sion pa­per say­ing “I burnt that trac­tor. Tell them. I am now hunt­ing them. I am a bad hunter. Let them know.”

Each and every in­di­vid­ual ought to re­spect, pro­mote and pro­tect the law at all times. The more we treat other in­di­vid­u­als in a man­ner ap­pear­ing to be spe­cial at the ex­pense of the rest of the cit­i­zens, and then the core bedrock of the coun­try is ham­pered with. Ac­cord­ing to Salman Rushdie (a British In­dian nov­el­ist and es­say­ist) in his sec­ond novel, Mid­night’s Chil­dren (1981),“Two things form the bedrock of any open so­ci­ety — free­dom of ex­pres­sion and rule of law. If you don’t have those things, you don’t have a free coun­try.” There­fore it’s im­por­tant for peo­ple in po­si­tions of au­thor­ity to ex­er­cise their power within a con­strain­ing frame­work of well-es­tab­lished pub­lic norms rather than in an ar­bi­trary, ad hoc, or purely dis­cre­tionary man­ner on the ba­sis of their own pref­er­ences or ide­ol­ogy.

As a way for­ward it’s im­por­tant that as coun­try we ap­pre­ci­ate that the law stand’s above every pow­er­ful per­son and agency in the land, and that the state should not be seen to be ap­ply­ing dou­ble stan­dards on the ap­pli­ca­tion of the said law. The “big man syn­drome” that ap­pears to be man­i­fest­ing it­self in gov­ern­ment and even pri­vate agen­cies ought to be sub­jected on the value kind of sys­tem which em­braces equal­ity.