Dr Ian Clarke Busuulwa’s bid to win the Makindye Division LC-3 chairman’s job has pulled in attention from various corners of the population. Aside from the obvious physical fact of his external appearance of being white (mzungu), he is also a renown figure within the private healthcare service industry of Uganda. The Irish-born Ugandan owns International Hospital Kampala and International Air Ambulance. He moved to Uganda in the late 1980’s to set up a rural community hospital, north of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city.
In November 2010, Dr. Ian Clarke entered Uganda politics by securing nomination, as an Independent, to contest for the Chairmanship of Makindye Division, one of the five (5) divisions of the city of Kampala. His three pillars in the election are: “good roads, good health and economic development”. Dr Clarke is facing incumbent Moses Kalungi, FDC’s Livingstone Kizito, DP’s Deogratius Kijjambu, and NRM flag bearer Rashid Biruma. Clarke, who has lived and worked in Uganda for the last 23 years, is widely viewed as Kalungi’s main rival in the race.
In a brief telephone interview with Ida Horner, Dr Clarke gives some insight as to what made him become interested in local politics at the community level. He viewed local governance as being “the most responsible and important position in politics” as it addressed local issues most pressing to the people such as garbage collection and delivery of service to the area in which he resided in. “Our people are suffering without good health facilities and roads. My leadership, if I am elected as LC3 chairperson, will be to address these social challenges” he said.
“I will also improve garbage collection and water coverage, and ensure that other social services reach local people,” Clarke added.
However being a foreigner and a muzungu (white person) at that, the reaction of how native Ugandans especially those within his locality viewed his political entrance is one which most would question. A resident of Muyenga hill, Clarke said his inability to speak Luganda would not stop him from communicating with the masses. It was interesting to find that at one political gathering where he had met such opposition from one person to find that it was the crowd which had come to his defence telling the person that “colour was not important”. On the whole Dr Clarke views Uganda as being a non-racial country and his colour has not been a handicap.
With regards to the forthcoming general presidential elections, Dr Clarke as most would-be -politicians tend to be cautious on saying who the outright winner will be albeit he acknowledged that the incumbent had spent a lot of money ahead of these elections. Dr Clarke did state that of the 2 out 3 independent opinion polls, Yoweri Museveni had a clear majority and retains popularity nation-wide except in Buganda. The second runner up, Kizza Besigye lacked support in rural areas.
There was no elaboration on how the Diaspora vote featured in this interview aside from highlighting the main benefit as it were to those that were considering relocating back to Uganda – that being down to the quality of life versus having to accept a cut in expected salary. However the standard of life was in direct relation to the cost of living, i.e., a drop to a salary 1 million UGX/per annum being adequate to cover living costs etc…
Now the international media having been awash with reports of gay rights activist’ death and a proposed death penalty Bill by the Ugandan parliament. The question paused to Dr Clarke was whether he saw David Kato’s death as a coincidence or not, and in general how did he perceive homosexuality within Ugandan society. His response was that he didn’t think David Kato’s death was a coincidence and that whilst Ugandans in general are a people who “live and let-leave”, Ugandan society “was not ready for the open life-style of gay people”. He did believe that the gay Bill was down to someone wanting to make publicity mileage out of it. Well – if that is all what the aim was, it certainaly has been a marathon of a mileage and as for the truth pertaining to the death of the gay activist, that too as with so many other mysteries of life one can only wait and see.
Finally..let’s watch the space for the forthcoming local elections in May to see if Dr Clarke wins the coveted LC-3 post.