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Being a former Student Leader does not necessarily make one apresidential material

By Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba

Dear readers,

We will never know if FDC's Kiiza Besigye lost or won the 2001 and 2006 elections because of the rigging that was reportedly involved in both elections. This rigging is partly mentioned in Dr.Kobusingye's book: 'The Correct Line'. So it's unfair for one to justifiably determine Besigye's failure in politics after the elections had been rigged unless if some people wanted him to fight his way to the top, just like Museveni did, by waging a war against the government. But then again, the same voices would end up accusing Besigye of ascending to power using primitive means of violence. So what do these people exactly want, a conference room and aeroplane politician, like Mao, or the guy who bends it like Beckham, such as Besigye?

Some Mao supporters have also been telling us that he was born a leader and that's why he has a story to tell, and that it was not by mistake that he was Head prefect at Namiryango and later on, the guild president at Makerere University. But the fact is that Norbert Mao's story in leadership is one of those that can send anyone to sleep because it does not really involve anything extra ordinary. First, anyone with sheer luck can easily become a guild at Makerere University or MP in Uganda. It's not rocket science or such a huge responsibility as exemplified by some of the sleeping MPs in the parliament. With due respect to our MPs, I think so many Ugandans are probably more qualified to be MPs in that parliament than the ladies and gentlemen there. So I don't think there is any big deal there as far as Mao's CV is concerned. He only became Gulu chairman with the help of FDC and UPC but he is probably too arrogant to publicly admit it.

If presidents were picked based on their prior performances as student leaders, then we would have had many of those in Uganda. Uganda got its independence in 1962 and we have had more than six presidents but none of those were guild presidents,partly because student politics tend to be totally different from the national politics. So I was amazed to watch Mao on YouTube making this a big deal in one of his rallies as if he won some sort of a lotto by having one leg over late Mayombo while still at the university.

Mao's guild presidency story at Makerere University is more of a fable than anything else. I don't know of many student leaders that have made it to the top office just because they were student leaders. More importantly, I don't know of any great leaders of the world that became so because there were student leaders prior to that. At least, I know George Washington, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Churchhill, Nyerere Julius, Mandela Nelson, Kenyata, Obote Milton, Sir Edward Mutesa, Kwame Nkrumah, Fidel Castro, Gadaffi(Libya) and others in that category were not.

Jan Bubenik was a student leader during the Velvet Revolution but he did not make it very far in Czech politics.

Li Lu was a student leader who later turned himself into a politician and an activist after going to exile in USA, but that did not bring him anywhere near the presidency or prime ministerial offices in China. Actually, after going into exile, he only managed to sneak back into the country this year in September, under the wings of US billionaire, Buffet, for the Chinese car manufacturer annual business meeting in Shenzhen. The government saw no need to arrest him since he was bringing them business and profits instead of politics. Li is actually spending most of his energy in business and working closely with Buffet instead of wasting time with Beijing politics. He has tried to make peace with Beijing after realising that some times dogs can only be chased by fellow dogs, something which will take some DP supporters a long time to understand.

Another famous former student leader in USA called, Sam Brown, was only very instrumental in helping one of the Democratic presidential candidates, Kerry, in raising funds in California in 2004 but he never became a president. He also served in Carter and Clinton administrations.

In France, there was Daniel Cohn-Bendit who was a student leader of the May 1968 student protests in Paris. The best he could become was an MP for some party but not the presidency.

In Britain where I live, Margaret Thatcher was the only student leader who made it to the Downing Street as PM but Labour's Charles Clarke looks like he will never be anything bigger than a cabinet minister in politics despite his endless campaigns on TV against Gordon Brown when he was prime minister.

In Iraq, Iyad Allawi was a student leader in Britain in 1960s and he only became a PM because of his connections to CIA and M16.He established these links when he started opposing Sadam Hussein.

As for his being Head prefect, Mao should not be mentioning this on rallies too because there are lots of head prefects I know who are now grassing. Actually, these things of 'head prefect' or whatever don't really matter that much or determine anybody's future prospects or potential. President Museveni was reportedly one of the bumless and unrecognisable boys at Ntare Sec School -constantly involved in political debates but he is now our president. Late Obote was a university drop out but he died being called a president and a doctor. Sematimba peter is a school drop out but he may become our city mayor if Lukwago and Mbaike don't sort things out.

So ,it would only be reasonable if Mao stops wasting time attacking Besigye because he is not going to become anything bigger than Besigye, at least not in the next 15 years, unless if he later decides to join NRM.

Byebyo ebyange

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
United Kingdom


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