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Politics

Museveni’s “anti-crime” programme vanishes amidst a wave of murders

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President Yoweri Museveni.

By Moses Ssejjoba

Juliet Nabaasa, 30, a mobile money agent who operated around Nakulabye, Kampala, was shot dead on Friday evening as she returned home from work. She was brazenly attacked by two men riding on a motorcycle who shot her alongside the man who was driving her, identified as Twaha Lukwago.

Nabaasa was killed in the incident but unlike in similar incidents lately, where the gunmen made off with their victims’ belongings including money, this time the assailants did not take her money.

Another incident occurred this weekend, where a boda boda operator was attacked by, again, two men he had taken for passengers. They strangled him and took off with his motorbike. This comes hot on the heels of a spate of murders mainly around Kampala, where over a dozen people have been killed in a similar way in the past few weeks. Among these was one at Nansana, where gunmen, again using motorcycles cordoned off an entire neighborhood and went on a killing spree.

By the time they were done, at least three attendants to the hardware store that had been targeted were dead, and sums of money amounting to nearly 400 million shillings robbed. The fourth attendant recently died in Mulago Hospital. By the time of writing this, his body was being held by the hospital management because the family are not able to pay the huge medical tab that accumulated to tens of millions.

Amidst all this the only excuse police would come up with was that the fact that the gunmen, with their signature motorcycle riding, are highly trained and very organized.

This brings us to the hoax that is the ten-point programme that Museveni presented to Parliament late last year, which he said would ensure total security in the capital Kampala but also in the entire country. The so-called programme was nothing more than a desperate ploy to save face following a series of high profile assassinations that saw senior officials in government and in security killed in cold blood.

Despite this vow that he made to Ugandans during his one-hour speech in the August House nothing has changed. Instead Museveni has been trying to fulfill another promise that he made during his “victory” speech in 2016, following an election that he stole. Speaking from his farm in Rwakitura, Museveni told Ugandans that he will make sure he has annihilated the opposition by the next elections – which are due in 2021.

For this, all political commentators have given him a plus. He has been a busy man fulfilling this particular promise. Over the past few years, Museveni, who is growing more jittery with opposition by the years, has unleashed all manner of brutality on members of the opposition and its supporters. He has depended widely on the militia-like security apparatus he has built over the past 33 years of his misrule, to brutalize the opposition.

To appreciate the seriousness with which he has undertaken to make good on his 2016 promise, look no further than the involvement lately of his personal militia, the Special Forces Command (SFC). The well-facilitated group that is largely made up of officers from western Uganda has been lately seen brutalizing not just opposition politicians but also journalists who dared expose their excesses.

We all saw the attempted murder of the wildly popular People Power leader Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, in Gulu by the same group. So determined to eliminate Bobi Wine was Museveni that the SFC staged a “stoning” of one of his official vehicles in an effort to frame the popular opposition politician.

Luckily for Bobi – but not so luckily for the late Yassin Kawuma his driver – the MP wasn’t in his car when the SFC assassins opened fire, thinking it was Kyagulanyi on the wheel. The brutality of SFC was later to be witnessed on the streets of Kampala when they attacked journalists with sticks in an effort to keep a lid on the violence they were meting out on opposition supporters.

Security officers have therefore been stretched and the issue of quelling crime – which is their cardinal mandate – has taken a back seat to other priorities.

Museveni’s determination to decimate opposition does not end there. He has used billions of taxpayers’ shillings to entrench political patronage, buying off some of the more gullible opposition actors as a favorite tactic. He has also used the ruse of his so-called wealth creation programme to openly campaign while at the same time unleashing his goons on supporters of the opposition, with utmost malice.

Museveni should therefore not be misunderstood when he says he fulfills his promises. He does. But a distinction must be drawn on which are just “air”, and which he will deliver on – normally the more painful one for the general populace.

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