President Yoweri Museveni recently went to Parliament to try to reassure Ugandans that the security situation in the country is under control. After spending much of the speech on some rant where he mistakenly raised questions about his own identity, he read out a 10 point programme of measures for addressing the runaway insecurity that has seen rampant assassinations and abductions mostly in Kampala. However, it seems Ugandans were able to see through the panic in his delivery and no one thinks Museveni is capable of solving the problem and everyone is out to protect themselves. Days after Museveni’s speech, Members of Parliament demanded to meet the President to address their own security. There, they complained to Museveni how police officers had refused to protect them for fear that they would also be assassinated with them. The police no longer want to guard VIPs. They have come to know that to guard an MP or any other important politician or big official is to invite death.
The MPs feel particularly targeted. Why? The main reason, everyone knows, is that Museveni’s insistence on removing the presidential age limit so as to go on ruling has escalated the resentment of ordinary wananchi. The result is that a politician who was vocal in removing the age limit now feels like he or she is walking around in the crosshairs.
But how did Museveni respond when the poor junior cops in understandable fear for their lives became reluctant to guard MPs? The president ordered IGP Ochola to sack each and officer who refused to risk their lives! Consequently, one question being asked in the streets of Kampala is this: Who will protect the protectors? If the people mandated to protect and have weapons to do so feel insecure, what does that say about the prospects for security in that country under the Museveni leadership? More importantly, ultimately, the decision to take the meeting with MPs is itself an admission on Museveni’s part that his speech in parliament was a total failure and that it did little to reassure the country on security. Moreover, the speech made the MPs quiver and demand more security, what does that say about the security of the Mwanainci?
Which leads to another question. If Museveni has proven inept in handling the insecurity in the Uganda, what should be expected in the coming days? First, he is going to double down on finding others –inside and outside the country – to blame for his ineptitude. Second, Ugandans should brace themselves for a crackdown, Amin style. Don’t look too far for examples. A group of women decided to protest the kidnaps and murders, which specifically targeted women. The publicly known cases of women that had been kidnapped or murdered numbered 82, just between February and June this year. How did the state respond? Museveni ordered the IGP, Ochola, to block the protest by any means necessary. The women were warned that further demonstrations risked their lives. The irony: protesting violence is inviting violence as a solution! Similarly, Museveni has been threatening the opposition. The media was the first casualty. On matters of security it either plays deaf or publishes regime propaganda that places blame on ‘outsiders’ and the opposition. With the media down for the count, the crackdown on the opposition is expected to buy time for a regime that no longer seems capable of getting out of its own way.
Those old enough to have been around in the Amin era know how it ends: A system that can no longer protect women and children cannot stand.