Failed Tumwine censure bid exposes enduring bonds between crime and the Museveni regime
By Charles Kamya Ssentamu
The circumstances surrounding the abortive bid to have Uganda’s security minister, Lt. Gen Elly Tumwine censured by parliament, have once again exposed the deep bonds between Museveni’s security establishment and the criminal gangs that torture Ugandans.
Parliament adopted a motion seeking to censure Gen Tumwine on February 5 after he blocked members of the House Human Rights Committee from accessing illegal detention centres, ironically known as “safe houses” last November.
On February 19, Mbwatekamwa Gaffa, the Kasambya County MP who drafted the motion to censure Tumwine withdrew it citing failure to raise the mandatory 153 signatures, which would represent a third of the legislators in the House. Of the 450 members of the house and the 200 plus that passed the censure motion, Mr. Gaffa had secured only 39 signatures for the petition by February.
The abstainers ironically included members of the human rights committee that had had been humiliated by a guard who denied them access to a safe house in Kyengera, in the outskirts of Kampala.
Announcing his decision to withdraw the motion, Gaffa cited threats to legislators by elements that were yet to be identified. However, as if picking their cue from the withdrawal, a group of riffraff who described themselves as “reformed criminals”, held a press conference in downtown Kampala. They proceeded to openly threaten to harm anyone” who touched Gen. Tumwine”, whom they described as their benefactor.
They threatened to unleash havoc on the city if the opposition did not quit and get off Tumwine and Museveni’s backs.
This was the second glaring incident in which self-confessed criminals were pledging allegiance to Museveni, with no apparent sense of fear.
Tumwine’s criminal allies broke cover several days after leaflets bearing the names of legislators that named certain legislators were circulating. The MPs were Allan Sewanyana, Moses Kasibante, Francis Zaake, Egunyu Nantume, Robert Kyagulanyi, Theodore Ssekikubo, Medard Lubega Sseggona and Betty Nambooze among others.
This was intimidation of legislators, further underscoring just how much the Museveni regime has diminished rule of law in the country.
Although the event was aired on national television where the main actors did not even bother to conceal their identity, the police while acknowledging the existence of the threat to the MPs, actually did nothing to apprehend the culprits. Tumukunde, a “historical”; which in Uganda means man of limitless impunity, was openly threatening MPs, who were only trying to do their job to make him answerable for his crimes.
The surfacing of the pro-Tumwine criminal groups, and the inaction against it only is another exposition of Museveni’s suicidal strategies for retaining power. It combines unholy alliances between the regular security forces, and regiments of illegal gangs.
With a presidential election in February 2021, Ugandans are bracing for the worst of the demons that Museveni can unleash on them from his seemingly inexhaustible reserve of bad men.
Elly Tumwine, who also reputedly runs a loan-shacking business within the very chambers of parliament, is one of the scariest of the lot.
His latest activities have proved it.