The Government of Uganda Minister

The Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development of the GoU, Hon. Amongi Betty Akena, in her speech and in her actions, during The Convening, was spot on and she nicely embodied “a person who behaves in the manner of a character usually by reciting scripted dialogue.”

She left many at The Convening befuddled when after she agreed to participate in the ceremonial launch of The Report – signing the dummy; being photographed doing so; standing besides The Report – and then immediately afterwards, in her speech, she vigorously rejected The Report, right from its title?

To many at The Convening, indeed, the Minister appeared as an actor who forgets her role and her scripted dialogue; realises so; and then improvises so as to rectify and get back on course; hoping that the audience does not realise her misstep.

While delivering her speech, the Minister seemed as though she was reciting a rigidly scripted dialogue and that which is characteristic of a particular school of thought, some observed. It appeared as though the script from which the Minister read was so rigid that it did not allow her to constructively engage the views of The Report that she had just participated in launching, nor the views that a short while prior had been expressed by the discussants of The Report.

The content of her speech and the manner in which she delivered it, in addition, was consistent with what subsequent Speakers at The Convening considered as arrogant, disrespectful and insensitive. It is justified to conclude that just like those cultivation machines, the graders clearing the land for sugarcane plantations, the Minister’s attitude and her speech seemed firmly located within a paradigm that promotes the crushing of my ancestors’ bones in the name of “development”.

Whereas, the Minister was physically present and she participated in The Convening, some at The Convening were left wondering if the Minister truly participated in The Convening as a rational human being in her own right. This is because, it seemed more like the Minister was ‘participated’ in The Convening – as in her participation in The Convening was seemingly that of  one who has received ‘orders-from-above’, in order to participate, as opposed to one who attends on her own original initiative and intention to participate.

While she delivered her speech, after all, the Minister seemed as though she were acting out her assigned part, voicing a script that she seemingly did not write or even participated in writing.  It was assessed by some at The Convening that the Minister seemed like she was reciting scripted dialogue and that she seemingly did not fully understand the implications of what she uttered; the encoded message, particularly.

Yes, some, at The Convening, did question the free will or the human agency, if you will, of the Minister only on the basis of her actions and the content of her speech at The Convening.

Watching NTVU television footage of the minister struggling to respond to queries from the Bamugemereire Commission of how she suspiciously came into possession of prime property owned by others for generations, had me thinking: karma always comes back around.

And I was prompted to share this extract from a presentation titled: “Actors, Stakes and Stakeholders in the Land Question in Uganda” that I made at the HURIPEC “National Convening on Land, Justice and Governance in Uganda” that was held in November 2017.

A PDF of the full presentation is available to download here.

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