By Ambrose Kiyimba
The legendary reggae superstar Bob Marley once asked in song, “How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look?” This is where we are as Ugandans; we are far from singing but this questions must be in the mind of every one of us. We are mourning Kirumira and many others who have succumbed to death for standing up to Museveni.
We must recall that Afande Kurumira, as he has commonly been known, came to prominence when he was denouncing Museveni and his primitive ways for running the state. Initially, he concealed his dissatisfaction with Museveni in an attack against his institution pointing out that “if correcting the image of the police requires some of us to be sacrificed, my burial place is Mpigi; that is where people can take my body.”
The widespread adoration that Ugandans had for Kirumira emboldened him into speaking more truth to power; he began calling for Ugandans to do their part to rescue their country regardless of the personal dangers this would expose to them. Mohammad Kirumira reassured Ugandans that this was not mere talk; he was ready to put his own life in the line of fire for this purpose, “expose the mafia to save the state,” he said as he was telling Ugandans to rise up and reclaim their country from Museveni because as long as he was still in power no one could claim to be free “when you speak you die; when you keep quiet you die. Better speak and die when the message has reached to the people; I act as a messiah. My communication to the killers who hold guns is that killing me now is useless because as a messiah I have fulfilled my objectives of communicating to the society.”
Kirumira went to the frontline to denounce human rights violations, including torture, and in a recent communication to media he told them to keep up the shared struggle for freedom in Uganda. His friendship with Bobi Wine created the kind of cocktail that was too much for Museveni to stomach.
It’s clear that both were lined up for elimination. Bobi Wine, with the grace of God, managed to survive the assassination attempt that claimed his driver. Afande Kirumira wasn’t as lucky. Most importantly, the method is clear; so is the message.
The message is a warning to Bobi Wine, who is still in the United States where he is recovering from brutal torture, is to show what awaits him should he return home and continue to challenge Museveni’s power. Since 2012 at least 16 high profile assassinations have taken place in Kampala that were initially targeting the Muslim fraterninty, including Sheiks Abdul Karim Sentamu, Abubaker Kiwewa, Yunus Mudungu, Mohammad Maganda, Abdul Kadir Muwaya, Mustafa Bayiga, Abdulrashid Wafula, and Sheikh Ibrahim Hassan Kirya, among others. It seems these were targeted in order to create the conducive environment necessary for the elimination of others such as Major Mohammad Kiggundu and, recently, Ibrahim Abiriga.
And so, from that point it was easy to blame any assassination on the lawlessness in Kampala and that it was criminals doing the killings. However, these so called criminals have the same methods that prove that Museveni is killing Ugandas using specialists trained in killings; moreover, the kinds of weapons they use often suggest that they are part of the Special Forces Command in tandem with Abel Kandiho’s CMI.
Judge Joan Kagezi, AIGP Andrew Kaweesi, and others, have been assassinated only for Museveni to go to their funerals in the same way he went to the crime scene following the assassination of Afande Kirumira. The reaction from the people is always the same; it shows that that they know what he is up to. Yesterday the Daily Monitor reported that Museveni was “heckle at the crime scene” in Bulenga, “Mzee, see this? We are tired of it. We are tired of you and your men in uniform,” the crowd jeered at the president.
By telling Museveni to his face that they are tired of him, the people are acting in line with the instructions that Afande Kirumira left them with, “Better speak and die when the message has reached the people.”
The pattern in the killings suggests that Museveni is targeting people who are able to expose his brutality and those who he perceives to have political ambitions in order incapacitate their capacity to mobilize Ugandans for change.
If in fact these were criminals doing the killings, then the kind of resources at Museveni’s disposal suggest that he would have apprehended them much the same way he was quick to arrest the 33 suspects who he claims threw stones at his convoy in Arua. A criminal state took over in Uganda the moment Museveni enlisted Col. Kaka and Gen. Abel Kandiho, known criminals, to head ISO and CMI, respectively.
Museveni’s decision to turn to insecurity as a strategy for maintaining power then these two became the ideal candidates for the job; as a result, Museveni quickly resuscitated Kaka from semi-retirement since 2002 and Saleh fronted his long time personal assistant who, for decades, conducted his mafia operations. They took charge of national (in) security.
In other words, the criminality in Uganda today is by design. Ordinary Ugandans now know that Museveni has not failed to curb this insecurity; instead, it is intended to conceal his systematic elimination of his political enemies: its politics by other means.
Kirumira’s widow knows this: “the government knows who is killing our husbands. Whatever is happening the government is aware. Why can’t government stop this? Today they killed my husband, tomorrow they will kill another woman’s husband,” she said.
Museveni isn’t backing down though. He now says that those who continue to challenge his power will force him to turn to the “Luwero methods.” Luwero is the place where death was visited to Ugandans in the thousands during the NRA war in the 1980s.
In the end, those being tortured or killed are targeted for simply pointing out the rot in Museveni’s system. Consequently, the assassination of Afande Kirumira is a message for others who are criticizing Museveni to watch out.
Interestingly, Kirumira knew he was in danger and spoke out against it, “unknown people are trailing me from one place to another, with no clear motive. I am trying to fix a solution,” he said some time in March this year. Since he set the alarm over his impending death, why didn’t Museveni protect him?
Museveni couldn’t because he is the one ordering the killings. Sheikh Shaban Mubajje, the Mufti, in his words of comfort to the deceased’s father, hints to the effect that the killer is known, “the greatest crime you did as a parent was to produce a son who speaks the truth and that was the crime that has led to his death.”
Only Museveni loyalists and a few others in the inner circle of his Bahima ethnic group are safe from elimination, it seems.
“Better speak and die when the message has reached the people,” Afande Kirumira told us. Afande, the people’s Messiah, has not died in vain. Let us take up his message to create many people like him and Bobi wine, the people’s prophet, so that Museveni realizes that we shall not give up fighting for our country. As we continue to mourn, the question keeps ringing in our heads, “How long shall they kill our prophets, while we stand aside and look?”