We Risk Looking Like Fools Again If Some Changes In Our Electoral Laws Aren’t Made After Mbabazi’s Electoral Petition!
There are many things that make us a bit safer that one takes for granted that are the direct result from law suits and election petitions. But what’s the purpose of having a lawsuit or election petition which doesn’t result into any positive changes. Besigye went to court in 2001 and 2006 and now we have another one in 2016, but we are so likely to find ourselves with similar loopholes in 2021.
Law suits have provided incentive for a lot of safety improvements, and that is good. It becomes a problem for one to argue that you did everything you could to prevent something from happening yet the same problems resurface every time you do something. If you build a six-foot high fence, and someone climbs over, gets in your pool and drowns, then obviously the fence didn’t work. But for us, we do nothing in Uganda even if someone points out that ‘A’ led to the rigging of ‘B’…..’A’ will still be around several years later.
The point is going to court should always result in some positive changes, but in the case of Uganda’s so many election petitions, we have turned out to be a laughing-stock globally several times. I bet a ‘muzungu’ seeing the Mbabazi petition on TV said:’There they go again doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. This is the classic definition of stupidity’.
For instance, there was a guy who won a judgement against a bicycle manufacturer. He was hit by a car while riding at night without a light. The suit was based on the fact that he had no warning that he needed a light at night. Now the bike company has a warning on the bike. I think the article was in bicycle mag years ago.
Garbage trucks used to not beep, until there were too many expensive cases with plaintiffs who were crushed garbage men.You can look it up in Bock Industries.
Even the lawsuit over McDonald’s selling hot coffee makes more sense than Uganda’s election petitions, as some people might not have realized that the coffee was hot enough to cause serious burns and that it didn’t have to be that hot.
McDonald had had several thousand small claims (and a few fairly large ones,with confidentially agreements as part of the settlement) previously for scalding due to excessively hot coffee.
You see, coffee has to be brewed around 180-190 degrees. The coffee makers at McDonald’s had routinely had their temperature regulators disabled so that the brewing could take place at 205 or thereabouts.This allowed them to extract more coffee from the beans, and use cheaper beans.
There had been scaldings of kids where a cup had inadvertently knocked over. Some serious facial scarring had occurred and McD paid for it.However, they still continued the practice of disabling temperature regulators.
Then, this woman goes through the drive through and gets a cup and places it between her legs. Not all cars have cup holders. This turns it into a foreseeable occurrence.
Next, she spills the cup in her groin while wearing sweat pants. This allowed the scalding liquid to stay in contact with her genitalia for a long period,thus resulting in serious burns(she ended up looking like that lady black recently released from Luzira), not just a scalding, that required reconstructive plastic surgery.
Granted she was not too bright, but there is no IQ test to buy coffee under the circumstances she did. It was foreseeable that there would be a spill of extremely hot coffee in a car.
The jury heard that McDonald’s had this long history of claims, and that they had done nothing to prevent more. Since the state allowed for punitive damages,the jury hit McDonald’s in the pocketbook, right from where the decision making process came.Now, McDonald’s has better coffee, and it is not as hot as it had been.
And here’s the ‘delightful’ bit.The jury decided the amount of the award (which was later reduced) by considering the profit McDonald’s makes on coffee.Something like “their profit from coffee sales for a day”. McDonald’s made a marketing decision to make more money on their coffee; when that decision caused damage to someone, the jury thought that they should lose some of that extra money they were trying to make.To me, it showed good, fair thinking on the jurors’ parts. (There are those who argue otherwise; I don’t dispute them, though I disagree with them.)
They changed the way. All temperature regulators must be connected and, now disconnecting one is ground for firing. Remember, McDonald had paid on thousands of claims before. The issue is not what happened to the woman, but what the potential was for future injury. Since many of the prior victims were kids, the jury ruled for punitive damages. Punitive damages are the little guys ways at making big corporation blink.
But in Uganda, Besigye went to court again in 2006 but i bet he wasn’t even paid anything after that case. Hopefully, Mbabazi will make some money out of this one if the judges’ brains go awol again, as expected, and rule in favour of Museveni and the Electoral Commission.
There should be an immediate public discussion and engagement after the final ruling by the judges, and eventually a political decision that a fence more than 6’6″ is safe, less than 5’6″ is dangerous and in the middle we will give it to the jury. Whatever Mr. Bart Katurebe and his team come out with on 31st March, society should be able to say, “this is the kind of dangerous thing for our elections” and “this is what we need to do to prove you are taking adequate measures against rigging”.
These things should be written down, discussed to death in the legislature, radio stations, and social media, and finally written into law so that everyone knows the rules.
*Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba*
Stalk my blog at: http://semuwemba.com/
"My journey is long and my preparation is so little, and weakness has gripped me and death is chasing me!"