The story angle that Prof Gilbert Bukenya’s political star has fallen is too tempting to resist. I toyed with it and nibbled it here and there but I can’t say Daily Monitor was as cautious.
It’s true the man’s political astuteness was worse than weak. He turned both on his bed and his word, to rejig a little a phrase popularised by Eriya Kategaya, who is yet to be reconfirmed as first deputy premier and East African Community Affairs minister or handed a new docket.
Kategaya, let’s mention in a slight digression, went against the saying he invoked and returned to work with his childhood bud Yoweri Museveni after accusing him of going against everything they’d believed in and fought for.
That said, one thing you cannot deny the man who nicknamed himself mahogany (after the hardwood) to scoff at the so-called cabal of mafia that, according to him, were working tirelessly to bring him down is that, somehow, he made it difficult for them to chop him down (in keeping to his self given moniker).
You can berate this professor of public health, a distinguished malariologist and pioneer of the wildly successful upland rice initiative all you want about his choice of tactics in keeping a step ahead of the “mafia” until you fully appreciate that politics is about survival, which has no specified prescription.
Had he, for instance, been dropped in, say, 2005 when he scuttled to Daily Monitor to raise his own alarm against whoever he thought was interested in felling him, then perhaps it would be fair to say the “mafia” set the man’s political and social misdemeanours against him and he toppled over.
Regardless of how crucial those were in influencing the appointing authority’s decision, it’s pretty clear than in his good time, and in the absence of the myriad scandals that have come to define Bukenya’s political career, he who made him VP decided to unmake him.
Lest we forget, Bukenya was never going to be VP for life. It is not a position he was born into so he couldn’t die in it. He could fight for it yes, which he did, but that’s all he could do. Ultimately, the last word belonged to the appointing authority.
What is true is Bukenya’s light has lost a bit of its shine, as is to be expected. However, he can easily reignite it. For one, he still has a healthy chance of remaining powerful if he seeks, and wins, the secretary general position in the NRM, which he tried for last year and lost to now newly appointed premier Amama Mbabazi.
With all his much touted mobilisation and organisational skills, who can tell what he’s capable of doing in that position? There’s a cautionary tale in the man’s middle name Balibaseka. As his life has demonstrated, the last laugh seems to exclusively belong to him.