By Charles Kamya Ssentamu
Our dictator Museveni, like he normally does when he is faced with political heat, has taken to his mouthpiece New Vision and penned a lengthy “letter” that is full of political rhetoric.
The letter he titles “article on political public assemblies” is no different from his back-to-back monologues that he called an address on the state of security he made in September last year.
Similarly, it is the same script for his so-called State of the Nation addresses he has delivered over the past decades, long before the majority of Ugandans today were born.
In this article, this website will attempt to deconstruct the different points Museveni has raised – again which are no different from similar ones he has made over the past decade. For purposes of making it easy for our readers, we shall serialize these articles, and this particular one will touch on security, compounded by the right to assembly, which was the main issue Museveni dwelt on.
Of course, like we have said before, Museveni is known to taking to writing these lengthy, empty rhetorical bore-fests every time he gets cornered, and this is happening a lot lately, for reasons well known to most Ugandans.
The latest situation he finds himself in is the international pressure he is getting for his clampdown on people’s freedom to assemble, and the gagging of the media for which he specifically got a backlash from the international community.
“We are deeply concerned with a series of recent incidents restricting the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly in Uganda,” read part of a communication recently issued jointly by a group of diplomats from US, EU Delegation, EU member states, Japan and South Korea, among others.
So to hoodwink Ugandans and indeed the international community, Museveni authored his “letter”, which conveniently does not address the issue of clampdown on the media.
Instead of even addressing the issue of freedom of assembly, specifically suffered most recently by Ugandan politician Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, he dwells on his tired rhetoric of how Uganda is growing at 6 per cent, which is in no way connected to the topic he introduces.
The economic mirage he project is also just that, a mirage, but we shall get back to that in our next article. We want to dwell more on the “freedoms” and “security” that Museveni, in his usual patronizing manner says his 33-year old junta has promoted. Nothing is further from the truth, if you go with the state of affairs in this country.
To start with the clampdown on opposition, we have seen the beatings, framing of opposition figures with unfounded criminal charges and cold-blooded extra-judicial killings trailing the man as far back as 1986 when he took power.
Political opponents like Andrew Kayiira were murdered in Museveni’s purges immediately after he took power, even as he was busy hoodwinking the population that he was ushering in “fundamental change”.
Other murders, including of dissenting former colleagues of the struggle, have continued until today. One could go on and on about these, the likes of Generals James Kazini, Aronda Nyakairima, Noble Mayombo and scores of other political assassinations.
When the autocrat boasts about the “security” he has brought, one wonders what people are to make of the several high profile murders of innocent Ugandans that have continued unresolved. These including Muslims clerics and prominent citizens going back several years; the dozens of women around Kampala that were killed at different intervals; the so-called bijambiya squads that have terrorized villagers across the country; the spate of kidnappings for ransom, and countless similar examples.
To even utter the word “security” in such a context is the clearest example Museveni’s mind has succumbed to senility.
He also continues to attribute the lack of progress in bringing those responsible to book to the thinness of police on ground.
What he does not say is that even those that he claims are on ground, are being used by his junta to not only brutalize political competitors, but also murder many innocent Ugandans in cold blood.
Take the example of Ronald Ssebulime, best known to his friends as Ronnie, who was just a few weeks ago arrested by police for no reason, handcuffed and executed by the same police!
For its brutality, the Uganda Police has been likened to the Gestapo of Nazi Germany because of the way it has been used by the regime to terrorize and murder people.
So when Museveni talks of doubling the number of the current 48,000 policemen, citizens only shudder. It only implies the doubling of terror, armed robberies and other despicable acts they are very famous for.
Back to the right to assembly, senile Museveni contradicts himself when he talks of peaceful processions that were carried out by religious organizations during Easter celebrations. He claims the religious organisation did not seek that permission! With Museveni, nothing surprises anyone any more. Why would religious organizations beg him to make processions? So now Museveni has become God? He then goes on to claim that other Ugandans are denied their right to assemble based on mere suspicion that “they will cause havoc”.
Take the example of MP Robert Kyagulanyi, who in his capacity as a musician tried to organize a musical concert, then sought and got permission from police. But on the eve of the concert, the same police withdrew the permission.
The reason they gave was that they suspected criminal activity would take place during the show and just like that, the man would go on to lose hundreds of millions of shillings, which he put into preparations.
This is not to mention the other hundreds of livelihoods that had pegged their hope on the show for an income.
It is worth noting that Mr Kyagulanyi had staged a similar show last year that was attended by hundreds of thousands of revelers and not a single incident was reported!
This was precedence enough to use for allowing the Easter Monday show but not in Museveni’s books.
In fact, the only reason Mr Kyagulanyi – who was immediately violently arrested the moment his show was cancelled – continues to bear the brunt of this regime is because of the political pressure he continues to mount on the Museveni regime.
Museveni, in his letter only refers to this arrest – during which the Gestapo Police smashed Kyagulanyi’s car to be able to get to him – only in passing, at the very end. He claims he “did not agree” with the violence exhibited by his own Police. This is a thoroughly disingenuous statement in that Museveni himself is the chief purveyor of violence in Uganda.
In the next article, we shall deconstruct the economic mirage that Museveni wants to vainly sell to us.