Chaka Chaka deportation saga betrays Museveni’s rapidly evaporating veneer of “tolerance”
By Charles Kamya Ssentamu
The surprise siege and subsequent deportation from Ugandan of South African music idol Yvonne Chaka Chaka shows how increasingly erratic and dangerous Museveni is becoming, according to sources familiar with the unprecedented drama.
Chaka Chaka – real names Yvonne Ntombizodwa Machaka – on New Year’s eve was summarily bundled on to a flight to Johannesburg via Kigali under circumstances reminiscent of the 2007 siege of the High Court – when masked security operatives raided the temple of justice to re-arrest five state suspects who had been granted bail.
According to eyewitnesses Chaka Chaka’s entourage was intercepted as they drove out of the upscale Pearl of Africa Hotel in Kampala. She was scheduled to perform at the annual concert at the Buganda Kingdom’s Mengo Palace. Typified by fun, entertainment and musical performances the event is presided over by the Kabaka who uses the occasion to deliver his annual address as he ushers his subjects into the New Year.
Chaka Chaka was supposed to headline the event that was happening in parallel to another one at the Sheraton Gardens. There, regime activist and events promoter Balaam Barugahare had brought in Congolese musician Kanda Bongoman to spice up the night.
It seemingly set the stage for a clash of ideologies since Abbey Musinguzi, an events promoter who has been marked as anti-regime because of his association with Kyadondo East legislator Bobi Wine was behind the event in the Mengo.
Reports now emerging indicate that Chaka Chaka was deported after snubbing an invitation to meet President Museveni, the self-declared temperamental “leopard”. As he has previously warned in his signature gutter language, you don’t “poke the leopard’s anus” and expect to get away lightly.
Chaka Chaka wounded Museveni’s ego, which has lately been punctured by a series of public events in which his appointed influencers and envoys to the ghetto have suffered embarrassing scenes of rejection. Just days earlier on Boxing Day, musicians Catherine Kusasira and Jennifer Nakanguubi aka Full-Figure, had been forced off the stage at Nabugabo Beach in Masaka amidst a hail of plastic bottles and insults.
Clearly disturbed by the turn of events, Museveni had planned to deflect attention from the saga by hosting Kanda Bongoman at his Kisozi Ranch. Possibly trying to upstage Chaka Chaka’s much publicized endorsement of Bobi Wine, Museveni tried to schedule an impromptu meeting with Chaka Chaka.
But conscious of how Museveni would milk the optics of such a meeting with her, Chaka Chaka politely declined. She wasn’t about to be used as a political prop for Museveni!
In possible anticipation of what would follow, Chaka Chaka checked her entourage out of the hotel and was on her way out. Then she was intercepted.
Trying to manage the negative fallout from the incident, police accused Chaka Chaka of trying to engage in gainful work, contrary to the “provisions of her visitor’s visa”.
In typical fashion of the many talking heads that characterize the Museveni regime, contradictions soon emerged. Quoting former legislator and security operative Fox Odoi who was conveniently in the right place at the right time, Museveni apologist Andrew Mwenda gave the following account of events:
“Yesterday in the morning I was at the Pearl of Africa Hotel when the Chaka Chaka saga happened.
Police visited the hotel when Chaka Chaka was making her way out in a convoy of three vehicles. The police politely requested to have a discussion with her and her team. The discussions happened at the drop off area of the hotel.
The police pointed out to Chaka Chaka and her team that they had credible information that she was about to engage in a commercial activity that would contravene the terms of her tourists Visa. That she didn’t declare the correct purpose of her visit both at the time of applying for the Visa and at the port of entry.
Mwenda goes on to publish a litany of other allegations, as if he were a Ugandan government representative. If Mwenda had been more honest, he would have told Ugandans how it was possible that a musician who has throughout the years performed in Uganda now fell afoul of the supposed law.
“Why now, when it has become obvious Yvonne is a friend of Bobi Wine?” irate Ugandans asked. “Is it a sin now to be a president of Bobi?!”
According to analysts however, Mwenda’s allegations validate reports that Chaka Chaka had clashed with some “very powerful person” in Uganda, and sensed that she was in imminent danger. “Otherwise why would she suddenly choose to check out of her comfortable accommodations at a top hotel in the city?”
Other commentators observed that as his sense of insecurity deepens, Museveni is becoming ever more erratic in his decision-making, and dangerous to everybody including his country.