Every week, our resident chef moves around carrying a frying pan with steaming cooking oil and words in it. The pan becomes pun as he sets out to interview personalities on topical issues.
It is not every day that you hear Jesca Ababiku speak. The fiction all over the wall is that the Adjumani Woman MP talks only at home, but here we were in Parliament canteen when she observed that President Museveni was on a launching spree in the countryside. Gerald Karuhanga, the Western youth MP, said the head of state was on a morphing mission from Sabalwanyi to Visionary to Chief Viewer and now ‘Commissioner’ of the Republic of Uganda?
“Commissioner? I like that word. Museveni is virtually commissioning everything. He will soon commission a new suit he has imported,” Ssemujju Nganda, the man from Kyadondo East, said.
“But who can he delegate?” Ababiku offered meekly, prompting Ssemujju to joke that ‘non-stately’ functions such as commissioning school laboratories, Gishu circumcision rituals, pit-latrines and receiving NRM hardliners ‘crossing’ to NRM be delegated to Frank Tumwebaze or Tamale Mirundi.
That caught my attention. Mirundi is the man I have been trying to meet recently to discuss some issues on Buganda. Karuhanga suggested I could waylay him at UBC after one of those morning shows or camp around some of the mango-tree radio stations that host the chatterbox.
Two days later, I meet the presidential spokesperson leaving Metro FM where he had just been, for lack of a better word, spewing a lot of verbal garbage about irrelevant issues that dominated decibels in Kampala.
The last time we met, we talked about the rift in State House over Sarah Kagingo where I deliberately took the latter’s side just to make more saliva dribble out of his mouth in a war of words. True to himself, the presidential verbal missile went: “Aha! Frying Pun, I hope it’s not another Kagingo thing you’re going to start me on again, eh?”
I told him that my people in Busoga were launching an outgrowers’ Sacco and we needed him to push so that the Big Man is chief guest.
“The Office of the President is for running the State, not your duck and sugarcane meetings,” Mirundi said as he adjusted his oversized striped coat. “I wonder how you became an MP. I need to visit your constituency firsthand and see firsthand what kind of electionrate you have there.”
“My friend, let’s get the Busoga thing going,” I said. “It will give you that chance to meet my electorate or ‘electionrate’ as you call them.”
“This Tamale Mirundi before you is not stupid. I can’t fall for cheap talk,” he said.
“But let the intelligent Mirundi at least tell the president to consider delegating some of those responsibilities to VP Ssekandi…” his baritone laughter cut me short.
He said: “Ssekandi? We let that man go to some athletics function in London, you saw his suit? The sandal and kaveera? And you still want him to misrepresent the person of the president?”
“Mirundi, Ssekandi is the vice-president who draws salary for that office…”
He interjected like a student of Andrew Mwenda. “It’s better to pay him for doing nothing than pay him for causing more damage to our reputation, especially at this juncture when the President’s presence near his voters helps the re-election cause.”
“So you mean mzee is canvassing? I see we have moved from quarter pin to Kyakuwa through sacks of money and now we’re commissioning everything from Imbalu to saucepans. Meanwhile, UNRA and KCCA keep coming up with impressive artistic impressions of infrastructure that we never see,” I said.
“Frying Pun, don’t insult our party and the party chairman,” he said. “You talk of useless art impressions? The arts you see are the foundation of the changing city.”
“No, don’t misunderstand me, my friend,” I said. “It’s just that we are concerned people are saying our leader is being reduced to a mere commissioner. People like you and the presidential advisors should do something. As for artistic impressions, only those architects take home huge envelopes. In 1996, government gave us one on Wankulukuku as a satellite city, but you and I both know how that place is a swamp to this day.”
“Presidential advisors?” he sneered. “Some of those guys don’t even know their titles. The President does his own things. Give the archi… archi.. ash… assistest-whatever. Give them time.”
“Mirundi, those artistic impressions are like a constipated man buying toilet papers. Then there is the Cabinet Recycle with geezers like Kajura and Mateke as the faces of “government of children”. By the way, I understand even your own job description was embalmed years ago, so you jump from radio to radio to keep relevant, but the President speaks for himself… he doesn’t even follow speeches written for him, which is why we hear about wolves, swine, bean weevils and poisonous mushrooms. Those things are not written in his speeches.”
“But Frying Pun, the President is not stupid. Do you think he’s in P2B to just read after a teacher?” Mirundi fired. “Let me go.”