Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ugandans 'sleeping ministers'

Kampala, Uganda -

 At the most recent state-of-the-nation address, Uganda's second deputy prime minister wore sunglasses too dark to enable anyone to see whether his eyes were open or closed. 

Moses Ali, 74, is one of the cabinet ministers who seem to have improvised a way to escape the scrutiny of nosy media cameras that have on several occasions caught senior government officials and MPs dozing when the president is delivering his address and when the national budget is read. 

It all started four years ago when a local tabloid splashed the pictures of sleeping ministers and MPs on its front page as President Yoweri Museveni delivered his address to the country. 

The paper's headline on the day was "Sleeping Nation". 

The public has since come to covet these events as much as the politicians seem to dread them. 

TV cameras are always out for who is napping, and photographs of ministers and MPs sleeping though these important speeches - delivered annually in June - end up on social media, with many lampooning the politicians. 

"When I served in Museveni's government things were exciting and one would have no reason to sleep," said Professor  Edward Kakonge, who served as the first minister of local government when Museveni became president in 1986.
"What is happening now is a clear pointer that there is nothing exciting in there any more."
Whether MPs and ministers simply sleep through these events has become a key focus for the media.
Some commentators have said that if government officials can doze while attending important events they know are being covered live, they can do anything in the privacy of their offices. 

"Sleeping is not a bad thing. Sleeping on the job is," Bernard Tabaire, a columnist for the Sunday Monitor, wrote. 

"No one has yet done the count that I am aware of, but the number of our big men and women who snored away as the president delivered his annual state-of-the-nation speech ... was possibly the largest in five years."


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