Justice Catherine Bamugemereire has earned praises from millions of poor Ugandans for her determination to solve the problem of land grabbing by the powerful in this country. She has earned those praises from the ordinary Wanainchi.
She has also been previously commended for her work by none other than President Museveni; but for different reasons. While the rest of poor Ugandans saw her as the proverbial Messiah, Museveni saw her first as a convenient tool to settle political scores and, secondly as an opportunity to hoodwink Ugandans and the international community that he was doing something to solve injustices that have occasioned his 33-year rule.
It should not go unmentioned that most if not all of the culprits in the land grabbing bonanza across the country were found by the Bamugemereire team to be connected to Museveni. But all that was before an ugly incident that played out in February, when Bamugemereire and her team on the land commission of inquiry visited a highly contested piece of land located on the upscale Mutungo Hill of Kampala.
She was on a site visit that aimed at looking into the contentious property that sits on some 638 hectares, which is being contested by three powerful families, including the Buganda Royal Court. The stakes were high, so Bamugemereire was accompanied by her commissioners – the Deputy Attorney General Fred Ruhindi, and top police commanders within the greater Kampala area.
Armed with nothing but the mandate she and her team were bestowed upon by the head of state, Bamugemereire felt the only way to see through the wrangle was to gain access to the contested property and try to find a solution on the rightful ownership.
Despite warnings by residents, including the area MP, that the property is a no-go area, she prodded on and found herself facing the barrel of a loaded gun to her head! All this played out in the public, thanks to the journalists who had accompanied the probe team to the site visit, as is always the case.
The four UPDF officers who guarded the property held their guns at the entourage in a scary standoff that saw everyone but Bamugemereire scampering for dear life. To cut a long story short, the probe team had to leave without accessing the property, which we have since established is owned by the Museveni family.
Since then, the praises for Bamugemereire, particularly from State House have disappeared. As the commission, and most especially the protagonists in the dispute still pondered on the next move, Museveni laid bare his true colors this last Sunday. During the national celebrations for the so-called Heroes Day in Wakiso District, Museveni bestowed the four officers led by Sgt. Julius Katuliba with medals of honor for “exceptional professionalism” on how they conducted themselves that day.
As Ugandans were still confused about what had happened – some thinking, rather naively, that it was some kind of a mistake – Museveni rubbed it in by sending his motor-mouthed spokesperson Ofwono Opondo to put it in black and white. On Monday, at Uganda Media Centre, Opondo paraded the four soldiers, with their medals dangling from their necks, and introduced them to Ugandans as their new “heroes”.
Forget the real hero in the saga, Bamugemereire, who stood up to the cocked gun with the conviction that she stood for the right and was where she was because of her mandate. This only raised more questions on the real reason this property.
It was already being said by residents around that it was owned by bigwigs in State House and indeed, this website has established it on good authority that this land now belongs to the Museveni family. It does not end there; the land in question is currently being used as a training facility for rebels working with CMI with the goal to destabilize a neighboring country.
A story published a couple of weeks back on this website had the headline, “in Museveni’s books, criminality pays”.
“Heroes Day” was the time for Sgt. Katuliba and his colleagues to collect.