Lessons from UK, Nigeria, Tanzania

David William Donald Cameron is the new prime minister of the United Kingdom.

He won the British election last week surprising everyone and, I am sure, even himself! All the polls had indicated that the country would have a hang parliament, as it was in 2010 or worse.

Incredibly, Cameron increased his vote share to become only the second UK prime minister after Margaret Thatcher to achieve this feat. Although he will rule the country with a small majority, he is in a better position than when he was in a coalition government before this election.

Late in the night after the election on May 7, Cameron made his acceptance speech having won the MP seat in Witney, Oxfordshire again. He expressed hope that his party would be voted back into power and that he would be working towards a greater united United Kingdom. Hours later, he was back on the podium and gave an initial acceptance speech after it was known that his party, the Conservatives, had taken government.

Thereafter he headed to London in his convoy of three cars (it is usually two), ‘visited’ the British queen to be appointed prime minister as their tradition requires, and then he made an official acceptance address at the doorstep of his official address, Number 10 Downing Street. And that was it! If he had lost the election, he would have had to leave the house on the day for the new incumbent. That is their way!

On the other hand, the leader of the opposition Labour Party immediately resigned even though he had won his own parliamentary seat. He took responsibility for his party’s failure to win the election that had seemed so close. The former deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, whose party is the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) that had been part of the coalition government since 2010, also resigned.

The Lib Dems’ performance in the elections was utterly dismal. It seems that campaigns for leader of the Labour Party have already kicked off with three people declaring their intention to stand, plus one who has changed his mind just days later.

By nightfall, on the day after the election, the main cabinet list was out and two days later the full list was announced. It is useful to recall that the official campaign period was declared at the end of March. Compare this with Nigeria’s president-elect, General Buhari, who was voted into office in March but is waiting to be sworn in on May 29!

Here in Uganda, President Museveni is well ahead because he has been ‘visiting’ many regions and MPs of his party have received cash for popularising his sole candidacy in their constituencies. The main opposition party FDC are yet to decide on their candidate but party leaders Olara Otunnu and Norbert Mao resigned their positions – or something similar. Dr Aggrey Kiyingi is also out there campaigning in the diaspora.

The Uganda electoral commission has released its timetable on course for 2016. Is there anything to learn from the British elections?

Last week I luckily had the opportunity to attend a Rotary conference in Dar es Salaam. Together with many Rotarians, I flew with RwandaAir. After the connecting flight from Kigali to Dar, we were all starving. Fortunately the lovely aroma of food encouraged us soon after taking off at lunchtime.

In due course, lunch was served in the usual airplane, foil paper covered containers that were hot and welcoming. Just as I was completing my starter, a few pieces of fruit, someone let out a shriek! We all found out why soon enough.

The hot packages contained one samosa seated on a bed of vegetable sauce!

Amused, my thoughts went back to about 10 years ago when visiting schools in Zanzibar. Our party of teachers was hosted by a wealthy Zanzibari school owner for dinner. We were served mandazi and beef stew. Hungry, we gobbled up the mandazi in seconds and awaited the main meal. Nothing else was forthcoming; mandazi was main course!

Of course no one starved after eating just one samosa and vegetables for lunch or mandazi with beef stew for dinner. Perhaps that is the lesson; it is not necessary to have a heavy course of steamed matooke and luwombo all the time. In any case what do our visitors think of our own delicacy, the nsenene?

Now when you travel on RwandaAir, announcements are made in Kinyarwanda. On Kenya Airways and Air Tanzania it is Kiswahili. So, what language should we consider for announcements when our own Uganda Airlines is re-launched, if ever?


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