The news of blogger Ashburg Kato defecting to the ruling National Resistance Movement from his mentors in People Power has been a hot item on the menu of most news readers and reporters for the last couple of days, with many from his former side cursing him and labeling him a traitor while the new family welcomed him as a hero.
The defection has without any doubt hit People Power hard as it is bound to affect the overall morale of the rest of the members in the struggle, many of whom especially the youths could have been looking up to the deserted treacherous comrade.
Posing for a photo moment with president Museveni at his Kisozi country farm in Gomba early this month, with Museveni chief fisherman – Balaam Burugahara wearing a face of a game hunter after a successful expedition in the forests, the unsuspectingly excited Kato couldn’t hide his joy. With the gift of five cows for himself and another four-two for each of his two escorts, and a promise of more cash in millions for his ghetto transfornation project, there was no way Bobi Wine was going to keep his man. He knew his mega opportunity to land into things had finally presented itself and he would stop at nothing even insulting his mentor and former confidant- Bobi Wine as long as it would please his new bosses.
One question that has however missed the scrutiny of most news reporters, analysts, NRM loyalists and political pundits alike is ” what’s Ashburg Kato’s worth?” Is he worthy more than the five cows that were paid to get him off Bobi Wine’s shelf? Will he be give more than he received on the rainy day at Museveni’s farm in Gomba?
The answer is NO, and the discussion below attempts to argue out the reasons for the same.
NRM is a party blessed with many social media activists who have served in defence of Museveni and his government with unquestionable loyalty which makes the new concert a less significant recruit. There is an institutionalized group of social media activists known as NRM Social media activists[NRM-SOMA] which has deligently served defending president Museveni and quelling the pro opposition propaganda from the likes of Ashburg Kato himself. It’s a group that understands the methods of the ruling party and a cheap option since they, most of the times work without money. This makes the prospect of maintaining and giving Kato more money a less enticing one for the party as it heads into a crucial period of elections scheduled for early next year.
He is not an intellectual with lots of nothing to add onto the already established NRM party he is joining. President Museveni has obviously coughed big in the past in order to praise away some useful human assets from the opposition. These include; Beti Kamya, Beatrice Anywar, Nakiwala Kiyinji, Jacob Oulanyah all of whom he has integrated into his administration. Unlike in the above case where these were established influential politicians with a lot to add to the party, the young blogger is just a person fighting for his means of survival with no possibility that he could influence an influx of supporters from his former side.
Rewarding Ashburg Kato would most like germinate the seeds of rebellion with the NRM party as many of the Party’s trusted mobilisers would feel offended. There has already been loud voices from some Members of the party lamenting for failing to have their party Chairman meet their demands despite selflessly working for the party for a number of years without expecting anything in return.
Eventhough the President has in the past succeeded in silencing internal opposition to his policy of welcoming and rewarding his former enemies from opposition, Kato’s case is quite unique. He is someone with no name or class for which he would attract some respect from those likely to fight and attack him.
Last and most importantly, NRM never lays down guard against it’s former foes. They might welcome him amidst fanfare and illustrations now but there will certainly be a time for pay back where he will be isolated and face the rash of those he pinched while still the other side.
Recent experience has showed that the photo opportunity for new converts with President is a ploy to dimisitify former opposition influencers so they wouldn’t have any public appeal even when they chose to denounce their new side if their promises are not effected.
The case in point is Kadongo Kamu star – Hassan Ndugga who went on an abusing spree after defecting to NRM and posing for a photo moment with the President. On return from the Luwero match by Museveni in early January, Nduga was excited to announce that he had been promised hundreds of millions to boost his cutex business. Like Kato, he accused his former ally of being stingy and earning big from foreign funders while his deputies starve in abject poverty. After just about two months, he started cursing and regretting his decision to swap allegiance. He has since returned to People Power.
It’s therefore important that whoever is prophesying greatness for the People Power defector to have a second thought before betting on it or lower the stake if at all they should bet on it.
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